Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Well it's alright to be little bitty.......

Little Bitty Bag

This is a great gift idea and a way to use up those fabric scraps. I filled them with girly goodies and will be giving them as holiday gift - cosmetic bags. It finishes up at 4.5" high, 7" wide, and 1" deep at the bottom
For this sassy little bag you will need a sewing machine (with zigzag feature), a zipper foot, 9 inch zipper, basic sewing supplies, a piece of thin cardboard to create a template (I used a empty cereal box), an iron and a serger is optional .

I would rate this as an easy project - but the zipper on a slight curve could be a challenge, if you have never sewn a zipper before please practice on scraps. In the pictures you will see different base fabrics, I was doing assembly line sewing and made 12 bags instead of just one.
For the base I used cotton duck/cotton canvas from JoAnn's, but you could use denim (great recycling idea). You need a somewhat sturdy fabric for the base, the base will become the inside of the bag and where the fabric strips are sewn. Here you can see I found cotton duck in bright orange, cream and green. Cut a 9.5 " by 13" rectangle from your base fabric.
*TIP: use a light to medium colored fabric, this makes it easier to see what your storing inside.

For the outside of the little bitty bag I used 12 - 1.5 inch strips of fabric for one bag. You can use fat quarters cut into strips or scraps sewn together to make the strips. I used the large floral fabric as my color palett to help choose more fabrics from my stash. I used 10 different fat quarters, but it would look just as good if using only 3 different fat quarters.

ETA: try this link for my pattern

The above link should open as aPDF and print in the correct size  - but check the size everyone's printers are different!! Use the dotted line at the bottom and trace this twice on your cardboard making a pattern with two tops (one up and one down) and the bottom in the middle. (scroll down some to see my cardboard template)  Save your template to use later.

Using a long ruler draw a line from one corner to the other. **If using cotton duck or canvas there is no wrong or right side for your base fabric, but if using a base fabric with a wrong and right side you will draw the line on the wrong side of the fabric (do not worry about seeing the line, you will be covering the line with the fabric strips and this will become the outside of the bag). Then draw a second line 1/4" away from the line you just drew. The second line is the guide to line up your fabrics and begin sewing.

Line up two strips of fabric right sides together, place on the base fabric with the raw edge of the fabric on the second line (or the 1/4" from center line). This will make the actual seam line go from corner to corner.

Sew using a 1/4" seam allowance. Press open, next line up another strip right sides together and with raw edges together sew 1/4" seam. Then do the same on the opposite side.

Continue adding strips to cover the base fabric (if you look closely you will see I have two corners not covered, but I checked with my template I then trimed the corners off).

Using the template trace the outline on the base fabric (do not worry about the lines being seen as they are in the seam allowances). This outline includes your seam allowances and will be the line to which you cut out the pattern.

Finishing the edge stops the fabrics from fraying. I used my serger to finish off the edges and cut them at the same time, by lining up the outline with the cutting blade and using a 3-thread overlock stitch narrowed to 1/4".

***If you do not have a serger - no worries!! Cut the pattern out on the line you drew using the template and then zigzag the edge and your ready to go to the next step.

The zipper goes on the curved edge of the fabric. Place the zipper right side down on the right side of the outside, line up the edges together and pin in place. *Tip: line up the bottom zipper stop to the raw/finished edge of the fabric (see below). Use a zipper foot and sew on the zipper. *Tip: when half way through stop with needle in the down position raise the presser foot and move the zipper to the out of the way, as the zipper pull can be bulky and hard to sew around. (in the photo above I started sewing from the bottom of the zipper and then half way I move the zipper to the bottom)

After sewing one side of the zipper, you need to see where to line up the next side. To do this fold over the zipper and note where to zipper stop is, use this as a reference to line up the next side of the zipper. Fold the fabric in half with the outside/strip-ie sides together. Pin the zipper with the zipper edge and raw/finished edges together again noting where the zipper stops are. Sew just as before, and also use the tip to move the zipper pull again if needed (I did).

Unzip the half-way finished bag and turn rightside out, then slowly/carefuly zip the bag closed. Finger press and use an iron to press the curved edge with the zipper.

You should have something that looks like this - your almost done - YEA!!

Now top stitch the fabric on the outside, not only does this make it pretty it stitches down the zipper and keeps it out of the way. This can be tricky but go slowly and start from the top of the zipper and work to the bottom of the zipper using the zipper foot. I used a thread color to match the zipper but that's up to you.

Turn the bag inside out and leave halfway unzipped. *Tip: do not leave zipper closed, this causes a problem when you want to open it and the zipper is sewn closed - ask me how I know. Starting at the bottom of the bag (folded edge) sew up the sides, making sure to put the finished edge/zigzaged edge in the seam allowance, stop just on the zipper tape (do not go all the way off the edge) back-stitch to lock your stitches. Then trim the corners as shown above (see my finger ;0) this will remove the bulk from the corners when you turn them.

To create the bottom of the bag fold the side of the bag down with seam allowances open and line up the side seam to the center bottom (is that clear as mud?). See picture above, the bottom of the bag is on the bed of the sewing machine the side is facing up in my fingers and the zipper is wide open and to the left. (I may need to add more pictures to explain this) Stitch the little corner, back stitching at the start and finish. *Tip: Now if you don't want to make the bottom this way - well then don't it's ok and your finished!

Turn the little bitty bag rightside out, finger press to make nice and neat.

You now have a Little Bitty Bag to give someone a little bitty smile  :0)

If you make a bag please show it off on the LaBellaColori flickr group, I would love to see them.

and for fun.................


  1. They look like they were a lot of work. Thanks again, I love it. Its coming to Michigan with me, perfect travel bag for make up.

  2. What pretty bags, love the strip piecing. Thanks for sharing. :D

  3. How cute is this?! Can't wait to sew one of my own.

  4. Had a little trouble with the zipper but not too much. Love it! Plan to make more as extra holiday gifts!

  5. I just made eight of them, all different colours. They are awesome and will be great for Christmas gifts. I have to remember to keep one for myself.
    The zipper takes a bit of skill but after the first one the rest is easy.
    Loved the pictures that went with the instructions.
    Well done and thanks for sharing.

  6. I spray Scott guard on my bag inside and outside to help kept it clean when I finish it.

  7. Gorgeous. This is perfect for using up some of my scraps. Thanks for the tutorial.

  8. Buen tutorial. Parece fácil y rápido de hacer.

  9. I love the string quilt look. I have lots of scraps and will be making these bags for friends and family!


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