One blogger, Rachel of Stitched in Color I think, mentioned she’d reviewed her annual plan recently to see how she was doing against what she had set herself for 2017. It made me recall I’d done some targets for 2017 and thought I’d amuse myself and review mine knowing full well there’d be some New Year enthusiasm in there. Yes some targets have been met, but others have fallen dramatically by the wayside. One such was to be more organised both in my sewing room and sewing process. This has been a major fail.
My sewing room had become an absolute mess, to the point of disorganisation and chaos. I can live wth mess provided there is some method to the madness. Now when I say chaos I am not talking teenage boy room disaster zone of which sadly I have a great deal of experience but just dust, bits and pieces on the floor and heaps and heaps of random stuff.
So what to do. It needed more than just a tidy and clean, it needed a rethink.
In theory I’m lucky with storage. I have a lovely chest of drawers, another less lovely but perfectly functioning set of drawers and a large book case. All of course absolutely rammed full. Some sort of vague organisation at the heart of it but generally a mess.
The main culprit was the innocent Hobbycraft tote. The sun may be shining down on it but it is evil…..
I use these to hold projects either WIPs or material bought for a specific project in mind. They are great in the sense they are cheap, they squash down and are sizeable enough for even the largest project but they look ugly but worst of all when you are searching you have to open each bag and when they are squashed with loads of other identical bags that’s easier said than done. I did experiment with a clear vinyl window but they just looked tatty as you can see in the picture below
As the drawer was full these bags were everywhere, hanging behind the door, dumped on the bed and floor, snooked into corners. In fact rather worrying all the tricks of the trade my children use to hide mess.
Then I remembered my foray into Maria Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying. I had throughly embraced this in a major sort through of my clothes and bedroom storage ahead of a refurbed bedroom last year. I know her style is not for everyone ie the concept of only holding onto things that give you joy but the ruthless approach worked for me as did storing things vertically which seemed to create so much more space.
So to apply that to these project bags as they most certainly did not give me joy but the contents did. I just needed better project bags. I needed to be able to see into them, be different sizes and crucially they needed to be able to stack upright. I knew there were vinyl project bags out there. I couldn’t find any patterns for what I had in mind. I could find flat project bags and pouch types but not cube see-through bags.
So to do my own….
I started with this version. I did a straight copy of a see through bag that held toiletries I use for air travel. Oh what a disaster and so difficult to get that binding on. Ugly ugly….
Rethink needed so went for prototype 2…. a box construction with zip on top…… better…
It then dawned on me if I wanted to stack them vertically then having a see through side wasn’t very clever so why not make the same construction but put the vinyl on top so to prototype 3.
Functional but the zipper sewn directly to the vinyl wasn’t attractive and needed fabric strips either side so to prototype 4.
Success!! This was just what I was after….. so a cottage industry was born and I churned these out. They were surprisingly quick to make once you got into a rhythm and what a difference so much more space efficient let alone convenient.
and look at that drawer now….
If you fancy making your own I’ve done a tutorial
This project bag is a simple construction but I should make it clear at the outset that it is unlined and floppy which works for me in that there is less bulk for storage. If you want a lined box pouch with more structure then another pattern is probably the answer.
As a see through bag I used vinyl. If you’ve not sewn with vinyl before here are just a few tips.
- flatten the vinyl by a gently pressing under a piece of fabric (can’t empahsise that enough) and then let it cool for a couple of minutes under the fabric overlay so its nice and flat
- do a few practice pieces on scraps just to see how your machine/machine foot behaves. I have a Pfaff with a built in walking foot and although I used a teflon foot it didn’t make any difference. I found it relatively easy to sew through, less easy to position hence….
- use glue if you find it too slippy to use
- Try and sew with fabric side down. If you can’t do that then lift the fabric/vinyl up so that the only sticky bit is under the needle and being pulled along by the feeddogs
For a finished project bag size bag 9” length, 3 1/2” deep and 7” then the fabric requirements are listed below. This is a medium size bag but will hold a fair amount. The one I’m making in the tutorial holds pieced blocks and spare fabric for a lap sized quilt but not the backing. For that you need the largest size. Dimensions for a large and small size bag are given below. But the beauty of this design is you can make them any size to fit your storage. The height of my drawers is 7” so that’s why mine are that height. All seams 1/4″.
you will need
1 x 11” by 6” clear vinyl (large size 14″ by 7″, small size 8″ by 5″)
2 x 10” by 7” large side panels (large size 13″ by 7″, small size 7″ by 7″)
2 x 4” by 7” narrow side panels (large size 4.5″ by 7″, small size 3.5″ by 7″)
2 x 1.75” by 11” strips (large size 1.75″ by 14″ strips, small size 8″ strips)
1 x 10” by 4” bottom panel (large size 13″ by 4.5″, small size 7″ by 3.5″)
1 x 12” zip (large size 14″, small size 8″)
Non permanent fabric marker pen
Prepare the strips and zip
1. Prepare the strips by folding and ironing in half lengthwise. Starch for crispness. Then fold the long sides to meet at fold line. Finally fold in half to make a strip, iron and glue it to hold it together.
2. Glue the vinyl piece to right side of zip but not too close to zip itself.
3. Glue one of the strips onto the vinyl/zip unit so it sits on top of the vinyl close to the zip teeth and then sew down both sides of the fabric strip using a zipper foot (or not I never bother!). It should look like the picture under 4. below
4. Cut the vinyl by placing the zip teeth on a line on your cutting mat and cut 2” from the zip teeth
5. With the remaining strip of vinyl repeat on the other side of the zip and then sew down the fabric strip and trim as above.
6. Move the zip pull to midway on the zip and then trim the zip to 10”.
7. Sew across the ends on the zip to ensure the zip pull doesn’t get pulled off the zip. I’ve done this so many times 😢. You now have the zip unit.
Sew side panels onto zip unit
8. First mark all the pieces 1/4” in on all corners of side panels and the bottom. The gauge below is a lie , I just eyeballed it and it was fine !
9. Sew the long side panels rightsides together to the zip unit. On the sewing machine put the fabric on the bottom, you will easily be able to see the 1/4” marks through the vinyl and ONLY sew between your 1/4” marks.
Repeat on the other long side panel.
10. Now sew the shorter side panels by placing them rightsides together with the short side of the zip unit again fabric side down and only sewing between the marks. It should like this when you’ve sewn it.
11. and when all panel sides have been sewn on the rightside should look like this.
12. Now turn it over so the underside of the zip unit is showing and then trim the vinyl from the corners to reduce bulk. .
13. Next we need to sew the side seams rightsides together again sewing between the 1/4″ marks. Undo the zip (important!) and now by pinching the corner of the zip unit, position the two sides rightsides together and sew down to the bottom of the bag but only up to the 1/4″ mark and repeat on all 4 sides.
13. The bottom of a side seam should look like this.
14. Place the bottom piece right sides together on the bottom seams, matching the 1/4” marks and sew from 1/4″ mark around the bottom swivelling at each corner by leaving the needle down. Make sure that the rest of the bag is tucked away while you are sewing.
14. Turn it inside out and press the fabric seams. Finger press the seams with the vinyl and finish off the inside seams if you like a neat finish.
Now fill with your project…
Do let me know if you try this and if there are any glitches in the instructions or a better way.
Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts