Monday 14 January 2013

Handmade Shopping Bags for a Christmas Gift

The second handmade gift I gave at Christmas were these fold up shopper style bags for my mum. I used this tutorial from Sew4Home (which is a brilliant website containing a huge number of tutorials and templates for making all kinds of crafty projects perfect for gift giving). I got on ok with the tutorial but definitely found some of the instructions confusing and a bit of a strange way to go about things. The tutorial's aim was definitely to help you get all your raw edges enclosed and get everything as neat as possible but the way they got you to sew up the handles was really difficult to understand! 

I do think some of the problems I had were partly my own doing as I kept second guessing where the tutorial was going and thinking that I knew a simpler way to achieve the same effect! I was also trying to adapt the tutorial slightly to suit the fabric quantities I had available. The tutorial calls for cutting two pieces from the template for the outside of each bag and then two full pieces again for the inside, so the bag is completely lined and the whole thing is double layered and sort of reversible. I wanted to make two bags one with the patterned exterior and plain grey lining and one the reverse. I didn't have enough of the patterned fabric to cut four full pieces so I decided to finish the lining of the grey bag half way down inside. This meant I had to use different finishing methods for each bag and I got in a bit of a tangle when it came to turning things right side out. 

But I got there in the end and was quite pleased with the neat finish I acheived. I'm definitely getting better with my machine!

I got the patterned cotton online from Spoonflower. If you haven't heard of it before it's a fantastic website where you can upload your own print designs and have them printed onto a variety of natural fabrics. Once you have done this you can make them available for other people to buy as well! The prices aren't all that cheap but the fabrics are beautiful quality and for this sort of custom service I think it's well worth the cost. This print I have had pinned on Pinterest for quite some time and is from someone else's beautiful collection based on US cities (this one in particular was from the New York range). I chose it for my mum as she loves the Art Deco style, she loves New York and in particular the Chrysler Building which this really reminds me of AND these are just her sort of colours!

The grey cotton I bought in A1 Fabrics on Goldhawk Road a while back. It just might be my favourite fabric shop in London; they have a brilliant range at amazing prices, including haberdashery upstairs and you never feel hassled as you can do in some of the other more affordable stores.

Overall I was really pleased with the finished product and thought it was a great personal gift for my mum because of the fabric choice. I did feel the handles ended up quite wide yet with quite shallow/narrow holes to put your hand through, so I might change that if I made these again. Maybe it was just the way I made it!

Speaking of my Mum at Christmas, she spoilt me rotten as always and along with a gift membership to the V&A (which I am so excited about; I've been back to the Hollywood Costume exhibition already!) this was carefully wrapped waiting for me on Christmas morning! Hooray for wonderful Mum's!


  1. Your bag is great, and I absolutely LOVE the printed fabric! Also, what brilliant christmas presents, I have Gertie's book too, and it's very good.

  2. How wonderful of your Mum! The bags look awesome even if they were a bit of a mind bender at times...

  3. This bag is AWESOME! Love the print - so pretty!


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