Archive for February, 2016

The Big Red Bag Toutorial

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016


This tutorial  is designed to supplement my pattern for The Big Red Bag.  You need to order the pattern to get all the details and measurements. Click here for ordering information on As you can see below, I have illustrated my Big Red Bag in blue.


The bag is so big that I used a stiff, sew in interfacing to support the sides and bottom of the bag. The technique is quilt-as-you-go onto Hobbs, cotton fusible batting. This way the fabric strips do not pucker during sewing. The batting fuses on both sides and I use rolls of the stuff for my bags, table runners and wall hangings. If you can’t find it at your local quilt shop call me and I will send you some.  It is 96″ wide and you order it by the yard.

I glue stick the batting to the interfacing. Don’t iron the batting yet. It needs to be covered with fabric first. I mark the piecing lines onto the batting. All the measurements are in the pattern. These guide lines help keep your piecing straight.

The pattern has a front, back and bottom section of batting/interfacing . Refer to the paper pattern for directions. All the seams are 1/4″.




Fuse the first strip to the batting.  Start on the left side. Use the guide line at the top of the batting. The bottom of the strip will be trimmed of later. I use parchment paper to keep the iron from touching the batting. As the bag gets covered with fabric strips the paper is no longer needed.


Lay a second strip on top of the first fused strip and sew using a 1/4″ seam. The right sides are facing.


Flip back the second strip and fuse it to the batting. Keep the iron away from the batting. Use a hot, dry iron for the fusing.


Continue sewing, flipping and pressing the strips to the batting/interfacing bag unit until it is covered with fabric strips.


Turn the bag unit over and trim the strips even with the interfacing.  Do second side of the bag.  The pattern has a front, back and bottom section of batting/interfacing . Refer to the paper pattern for directions.


Make the decorative trim strip for the top of the bag. Fold a 1″ strip in half and press. Lay this pleat along the edge of a top trim strip and sew very carefully. After sewing, flip the pleat over and press well.

Lay the trim strip along the top of the bag unit and press to the batting. Do the other bag unit.


Glue the batting to the interfacing to create the bag bottom. There is an extra shorter piece of extra thick stabilizer like Timtex glued to the center of the interfacing. It is secured by the quilting. Fuse a piece of fabric to the batting. Mark the quilting lines. They are centered on the bag bottom. Machine quilt.


Make the handles using the pattern measurements. Fuse a strip to the edge of the handle fabric. Fold the batting section and fuse the other side of the batting strip. Press a 1/4″ seam along the opposite edge of the handle. Fold, the fabric with the 1/4″ pressed edge over on top of the batting fused section and topstitch along the folded seam. Top stitch the other side of the handle.


Sew the handles to the bag. Make a button loop according to the diagrams on the pattern. Sew it to the center of the top of the back of the bag. Now sew the bag front to the bottom to the bag back as shown.


Fold the bag in half. Match and pin the trim strip and the pleat. Sew both sides of the bag shut. The bag is getting thick now and you need to be using a #90 top stitch or #100 denim needle, good, strong polyester sewing thread and a decent sewing machine that can handle all the layers without skipping stitches.  Mark the bottom corners with the plastic template as described in the pattern.


Cut out the corners on the bottom of the bag.


Here is what it looks like as you rotate the bag to sew the bottom seam that creates the sides of the bag.


Sew the bottom on both sides of the bag.



Here is the sewn seam that creates the sides of the bag. Isn’t this cool?


Now turn the bag inside out and admire it. Here is a side view showing the matched pleat and trim strips.


Make the bag lining. Sew the two pockets to the lining as directed. I usually make at least four pockets on each side so they don’t sag or snag inside the bag. I usually do a narrow section for pens, too.


Fold the lining in half with the right sides facing and sew the side seams. Leave a 6″ section along one pocket divider open for turning the bag inside out later. Mark and cut out the bottom corners of the lining the same way as the bag was done.


Rotate the cut lining to sew the bottom.


Sew the bottom on both sides of the lining creating the sides.


Insert the bag into the lining with the right sides facing.


Match the side seams and pin the lining to the bag. Never sew over the pins. It can cause expensive damage to your machine.  Sew all around the top of the bag.


Now pull the bag through the opening on the side. Squeeze and scrunch the bag to fit, being careful not to rip the lining in the process.


Check all the lining seams and be sure there are no pleats. Adjust and rip & sew as needed. If you were accurate with all the cutting and sewing everything should match and fit just fine.


1/4″ of the lining will show along the edge of the bag. Press the lining edge well. Pin the lining around the top of the bag so it  stays flat and smooth. Then sew around the top of the bag just under the lining. Match the bobbin thread to the lining color and the top stitching thread to the bag.


Try some different color combinations of button stacks for the bag.


Here is the one I choose. I used a hot pink 2 1/4″ giant Dill button as the base and then added felt circles and smaller buttons that bring out the bag fabric colors. The directions are in the Big Red Bag Pattern . More button stacking ideas are available in my Button Stacking 101 booklet.

If you are like me, you are already onto making the next bag.

Thank you for buying my patterns. I do not mind if you sell a few items make from my patterns to support your fabric habit.  Please give me designer credit so I can make a living selling patterns. It is not cool to mass produce these items without obtaining permission.