I'm a sucker for organization and decor. When I find time for Pinterest, I find myself constantly pinning baskets, boxes, shelving units, and other storage ideas. This little cloth bag caught my attention on so many levels: it's pretty, functional, non-breakable (I have a walking eight month old who is getting into EVERYTHING already), and I could make it myself since it's made entirely of fabric.
As I skimmed the tutorial, I noticed that the author borrowed the cloth bag idea from yet another craft blogger (Don't you just love the Internet? So easy to share!). I learned from the original creator that you need to use interfacing to give these bags their nice shape. Interfacing is a material that stiffens a fabric by being ironed or sewn onto it. The blogger couldn't remember what type of interfacing she had on hand, but tried to describe it to her readers: "It's like a thick paper, not as thick as card stock, but thicker than printer paper."
That got me thinking. Why would I have to buy special interfacing when it sounds like a stiff, yet flexible paper will do the same thing? I started searching around my apartment for paper products, and found my stash of paper grocery bags. They seemed like the perfect thing to try since they are bendable but still strong enough to carry groceries around.
I decided to construct the outside of the bag first. I made a little fabric "sandwich" with the brown paper bag as the "bread" and my red patterned fabric as the "meat" (the "right sides" of the fabric were facing each other). The brown paper bags were surprisingly easy to handle with the sewing machine. This first seam joined one of the sides and the bottom of the bag.
I continued sewing pieces together until all four sides were attached to the bottom piece. The giant "plus sign" should have fabric on one side, and brown paper bags on the other side.
Next, I connected the sides. I sewed the side edges together with the fabric facing in, and then turned the bag inside out. Turning the paper inside out was probably the trickiest part of this whole process, but it didn't tear at all. I was already loving the way the paper was holding up the fabric so nicely.
After making the outside of the bag, sewing the lining together was a piece of cake. You can see how the lining fits nicely inside the brown paper bag.
To create a clean, finished top edge, I trimmed about an inch of the paper bag off. That way, I could fold the red patterned fabric over the edge. Then, I could sew the folded lining to the inside of the bag.
I folded and pinned everything in place. Then, before sewing, I made the handle, which I wanted to be tucked between the pinned layers.
The handle was constructed by sewing the long edges to each other, making an inside out tube. After turning it right-side out, I ironed the tube so that the seam was centered on one of the flat sides. Then, I sewed two seams along both edges of the handle to maintain the flat shape.
Next, I pinned the handles in between the layers of the bag.
Finally, I was ready to sew the top edge of the bag. Originally, I thought I would sew one continuous seam around the entire bag, but the side edges had too many layers. So, I decided not to sew over the corners at all. I sewed four separate seams, one on each side, carefully removing pins as I went, and sewing right over the handles when I came to them.
The bag looked great, but I wanted to make even more defined edges. So, I flattened the edges of the bag and ran seams along each one. This created the sharp square lines I was going for.