When I was little I used to go to dance classes. I was always the slightly dumpy kid who was doing their ‘naughty toes’ when everyone was pointing their ‘good toes’, or was on the shuffle when everyone else was on the hop step part. Let’s just say I sucked at dance. Anyway, my mum dug out my old ballet bag recently which was this cool 80s duffel bag, so I wanted to use the style of it to create a bag for Harper’s ballet things. She’s been doing ballet for a year and thankfully it doesn’t look like she’s taken after me in the grace stakes.
You will need:
- ½ metre fabric
- ½ metre lining fabric
- ½ metre interfacing
- 2.5m cotton tape
- 1.5m bias binding
- 1.5m piping cord
- 12 inch zip
- Tailor’s chalk
- Sewing thread to match cotton tape and zip.1. Begin by cutting out your pieces as follows:
- For the main body of the bag cut three 15″ x 23″ rectangles (one from the outer fabric, one lining fabric and one interfacing)
- For the end pieces cut two pieces out of the outer and lining fabrics each and two pieces out of the interfacing. Click here for the template.
For the main body of the bag, iron the interfacing onto the wrong side of the outer fabric and place the lining fabric wrong sides together with the outer fabric. Use a zig zag stitch to sew along the edges to keep all the layers together.
Attach the zip to the fabric by laying it on top of the fabric so they’re right sides together, then use a zipper foot to sew it in place. Start just after the zipper part and sew along the one of the edges.
Then undo the zip and go back and sew that first bit. Iron (minding the teeth) flat and top stitch on the right side of the fabric. Then turn the bag inside out and pin the right side of the zip to the right side of the bag and repeat as before. Top stitch as before.
To add your handles, measure and mark the middle point on the right side of the outer fabric. Then measure and mark 3in above and below this. Add the same marks near the zip so you get your handles straight.
Pin your cotton tape onto the bag. Start by pinning one end on the mark made above the centre mark and pin horizontally along to the zip looping round by 20in and pin down the other side along the other mark you’ve made. Make sure there are no kinks in the tape. Continue to the other side looping again and stopping where you started. Mark 2in down from both sides of the zip on the edge of the tape.
Sew in place with your normal machine foot. You want to get as close to the edge of the tape as you can. When you get towards the zip, stop at the 2in mark you’ve made, sew across and then down the other side of the tape. Repeat all the way around the tape. To finish off, sew a 1in box with a cross in at each end of the tape.
To make the piping, open up your bias binding fully and place your cord inside. Swap to your zipper foot on your machine and sew your cord inside the binding, getting as close to the cord as you can so it’s tightly encased.
Pin your piping onto the right side of the outer fabric (of the two end pieces), lining up the edge of the piping with the edge of the fabric. You want to bend the piping around the corners. Make snips in the excess binding so you can smoothly curve the piping around. Sew the piping onto the fabric, lining the zipper foot as close to the piping as it can go. Repeat for the other end of the bag.
Now here comes the slightly fiddly bit – sewing the ends into the main body of the bag. I’ll be honest, this took me a few attempts and quite a lot of getting annoyed at my machine and myself. Place your end pieces wrong sides together, with the interfacing in between them.
Zip up the main body of the bag and turn it inside out. Then pin one of the end pieces onto the end of the bag where the zip closes. You want your outer piece facing into the bag, then your interfacing and lining piece facing out (see photo below). Make sure your zip is at the top and in the centre of the end piece so it runs straight along the top of the bag. Once you’ve pinned it all in place, sew together, placing your zipper foot as close to your piping as you can.
Open up the zip a little (otherwise you’ll never be able to turn the bag out!) and pin the other end piece onto the other end of the bag. Sew in place. Trim any excess bits of fabric and thread and turn the bag out.
Harper is in love with her bag and is so proud that she gets to carry her ballet things in it. Every week since the start of term she takes the bag to show her teacher, Miss Lucy… and then the bag has to watch the lesson. It’s equal parts sweet and bonkers, just like Harper is.
~ Laura xx ~