Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Making a Ruffled Bag

It is finished!

What do you think? I am really happy with the way it turned out and better still it cost me $0!

Gotta love a bargain like that.

I'll attempt a tutorial for anyone who is interested but be warned I am no expert and I made it up as I went!

* * * * * * * * * *

I used leftover drop canvas (from my lounge covers that I made) and I used a magazine as a guide to the size that I wanted. I will mostly use the bag as a book bag for when I am teaching kids church etc so it needs to be a good size for books! I allowed enough room for a few magazines/books to sit comfortable in the bag along with my purse, phone etc. Make sure you allow enough material for seams (I left about 1cm all around). I cut out two rectangles about 32cm x 40cm. I allowed an extra 3cm at the top of the bag to fold over the lining and leave a tidier finish.

I stitched two long sides together to leave one rectangle 62cm x 40cm

I cut out four strips of material 10cm wide, 1cm either side for hems leaving my ruffles 8cm wide. Each length is about 2x the total width of the bag (120cm). I hand stitched loosely along the top of each strip and then pulled the thread until achieved the ruffles and a strip that was 62cm long, then tied of the thread. This is apparently not the easiest way to do this. After my bag was finished I was informed that you use the sewing machine on the longest straight stitch setting to sew three lines along the strip and then pull the threads together to create even ruffles, work with about 40cm at a time.

I arranged and pinned the ruffles along my 40 x 62 rectangle starting at the bottom of my bag, I pinned then stitched each ruffle before starting on the next ruffle up as I overlapped the ruffles. Each ruffle is 8cm wide however because I overlapped them they take up 28cm of the bag (remember to leave 1cm for a seam at the bottom).

Fold the bag along the stitched seam with the ruffles on the inside and sew along the bottom and the other side, being careful not to catch the ruffles in your seam. I don't have an over locker so after using a straight stitch to sew the bag together I trimmed the seams neatly and then used a zig zag stitch to prevent the material from fraying.

Once the bag was sewn on all three sides I measured the inside of the bag and made an inner bag to become the lining using cut off jeans (an old pair of Nicholas' that I shortened for him). I didn't have a lot of the denim and in order to have enough material to make the lining I had to unpick the seams and hem to stretch as much out of what I had. Fortunately I had just enough to line my bag. I stitched the right sides together same as the bag then turned it out the right way. I made pockets using some more scraps of canvas.

Because I used offcuts I worked with what I had but I made sure I had a pocket for my mobile phone. Any thing else was a bonus. I hemmed/edged the canvas pockets and then pinned them onto the lining remembering to allow for the hem/fold at the top of the bag. It would have been easier to sew the pockets on before I had sewn the inner bag together but I didn't think of it before hand.

 Once the pockets are in place the inner bag needs to be turned out the other way and then slipped into the ruffle bag. Once you have it all lined up then pin both bags together at the top.

I made the shoulder straps by folding a long strip  of material in half and sewing it together than turned it inside out. I ironed the straps so that the seam was in the middle.

To finish putting the bag together I sewed the lining and the ruffle bag together at the top about 1cm in from the top edge. Once I had zig zagged around the edge, I then folded the top over to create a hem of about 3 cm. I folded the straps in under the hem and pinned them in place. This way once I had sewn around the top of the bag the finish was all neat and tidy. I decided to stitch around the hem three times because I like the way it looked and it held the shoulder straps in place better.

I attached a safety pin to the back of each of the material flowers I made, that way I can change them around whenever I want.

Not perfect but it is handmade and I love it!

I hope I explained it well enough and if you want to know anything else please ask I will try to help you as best as I can!

Happy Hump Day!


PS. My inspiration was this bag from Jeanne Oliver Designs.


  1. Love it! Good call on the dropcloth. I made my version of her bag in June...but used burlap. I failed to add a hem to each ruffle, so there are quite a few threads hanging. I've used mine almost every day, and love the style!

  2. Anonymous20 July, 2011

    Hi Nellie! Oh, I do love me some ruffles! Your bag is gorgeous...I'm so impressed :)Thankyou so much for your lovely comments over at my blog, I really appreciate them.
    Cas x

  3. Love it Nellie, it's gorgeous! You're very clever xx

  4. very very cool nellie and i love that you made it'll have to let us know how it travels!!!! big smooch lisa xx

  5. Clever girl... it's gorgeous! x

  6. You did a fabulous job! Love that it is all reused stuff. People are going to stop you and ask where you found that....

  7. It's gorgeous!! Love the style and the fabric. You are very clever x

  8. love your work!thanks for the tutorial- want to try it!


  9. LUV this, Nellie! How adorable! I'm no sewer, but to my eyes you did an amazing job! lol!

    xoxo laurie

  10. Hi Nellie, you have done a great job on the bag. Gosh you have been productive.
    You mentioned slip covers for your couch. Have you made some and how did it go? I have bought some drop cloths and am about to give it a go. Any tips for me? Deb

  11. Nellie your ruffle bag is beautiful. I love the colours you chose, denim and linen are my favourites, they look great together. The flowers are very pretty too. It looks perfect. xx

  12. I'm completely lost but I love the result!

  13. Hello
    Its a totally gorgeous bag - love the girly ruffles and the denim options for the flower

  14. Hi Nellie. Just trying to catch up! I LOVE your bag. You did such a wonderful job, it is GORGEOUS, and those ruffles *swoon*!! Also love your sweet little heart hanger:) Hope you have a fabulous day ~ Txx

  15. It's adorable! I love how you repurposed all of the materials from other sources! Please check out my blog!