Homemade sling bag

I am so excited about having figured out an easy way to make these drawstring bags. I have been all over the internet looking for a simple pattern and in the end, I had to sew one up myself to get it figured out. It all began when we (our church) decided to donate items to the local school to help out the children who might come without any supplies for the first day of school. This is one of my pet projects as I remember one year going without all of my items on the first day, and it was a disaster for me. It wasn’t that we couldn’t afford it, though I am sure money was always tight for my mother. It was mainly that when you are out on the farm and school starts about the same time as harvest, well you can figure what waits. I am sure that I had enough to get by for the first week, and got whatever I needed after we were able to take a shopping trip, but for me this has always been a nightmare. Anyway, I tried very hard to always be the mother whose children had what they needed and sometimes even what they wanted that wasn’t on the teacher’s list. So, as for the bags, here is what I decided to sew from the stash of material that I found in church when we dug out all of the quilts.

School supplies packed up.

School supplies packed up.

The pink bag and the one immediately below it are the ones that I sewed. This is what they looked like without the strings in them. Below are the bags after the strings.  So the big issue is how did I do this? And by the way, the material of these two is more of a canvas. It was in with the quilt material, but I figured it would go better with a denim quilt, and I plan to figure these out with used jeans. I will get that accomplished.

Strings in

Strings in

I began by looking up a good size for a bag like this. The information I found said the bags should be about 12 inches wide by 15 inches long. The red bag on the bottom of these bags on the first picture is a bit larger and a professionally made bag, so I realized that I could go just a bit bigger in the sizing, and the pink and dark gray ones that I did are just a hair bigger. The sample one that I made first is closer to the 12×15 size, and I might use it for skeins of yarn, but I wouldn’t use it for books or something heavy because the material is a light cotton, and I don’t think it would hold up that well. Here is the best step by step that I can give you of what I figured out and did.

Shows the finished size in relation to a notebook.

Shows the finished size in relation to a notebook.

I began with a single piece of material 36 inches long and 13 inches wide. I folded it in half with right sides together. The fold was the bottom ( as in bottom of notebook) the bag. Stitch the side seams 1/2. Here is the trick. I left an opening on each bottom of about 3/4 to 1 inch. I stitched to 14 inches from the bottom of the bag. This allows for making the casing on the top of the bag. See picture below.

Opening on the bottom.

Opening on the bottom.

Next I pressed that seem open, and as I pressed, I also pressed the part above where I stopped stitching because it needs to be stitched open to make the casing. Here I did what almost looks like the way you put in a zipper. Check the drawing below. I didn’t stop and take pictures as I should have so this is the best I have.

IMG_5620After you have stitched and pressed, take either side of the bag at the opening and use it as #1. Begin by stitching up to the top. have both of your tops folded over about 1/4 or 1/2 an inch. stitch across the top (2) , turn down (3) to the other side and when you get to the part where the bag was stitched do a few back and forth stitches to reinforce that area. Finish by going up (4), across the other top (5), making sure the bag is the same length on both sides, then down (6) to where you started, and reinforce again.

Trim up all of your threads then turn your tops down so the top you just stitched is just above the opening on the side. Next stitch that across both sides, and this creates the casing for your string.

Open casings.

Open casings.

Finished casing.

Finished casing.

At this point you should turn it to the right side. Now it is time to add your string.

 

Shows completed

Shows completed

To figure the length for your string take the bag you sewed and measure the length and the width and take both times two. 2L+2W= string. Cut the string and thread it through both tops with an even amount coming out on the other side. One string for each side. Bring the two ends to the bottom and slip them into the hole you have left when you stitched up the seams.

Poking strings into bottom opening.

Poking strings into bottom opening.

This is the part that gets a little tricky. Keeping those strings in place, turn the bag inside out again. On the first bag I did, I lined them up carefully and pinned them into place so that I could sew over the top to secure them. You need to make sure that the strings are not caught in the seem on the side, so push them tight against the bottom of the bag. I have two pictures of how I did this. By the second bag, I didn’t even need to pin it because it is easier to do than to explain it.

Holding the strings in place

Holding the strings in place

On this picture you can see that my machine needs to have the bobbin adjusted and a few other things, but the stitching was good enough to hold the string. My trick is to run over it forward and backward several times. I did see one showing of how to make these bags where they sewed a little loop to the bag and just tied the strings to it. My luck the strings would let loose when my bag was full.

Pinning the strings in place.

Pinning the strings in place.

In this first bag that I did, I held the strings in place in a couple of areas. I also used old shoe strings in this bag rather than purchasing something new. I think that I will try to use up my stash of old shoe strings before I buy anymore string, but I am going to need to put them in some bleach for a soaking because they are rather dirty looking.

This is all I have on the sling bag directions. I hope this made sense and that it is something you can use to make a bag or two of your own. It took me hardly any time at all to sew up. The hardest part of the first bag was getting the material to line up because it was striped and rather out of shape. The other two bags were a snap, and I hope to make many more with lots of differences in them. Happy Sewing to you!!

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