Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Bag Lining- It's a Good Thing

So, let me start off by saying I FREAKIN' LOVE my new sewing machine.  It's a Brother XR-9000 and it.is.awesome.  It truly has made lining my bags so much faster than that machine-that-shall-not-be-named could ever dream of doing.  Seriously- I love this machine!  

I've been asked about how I line my bags and I even shot a video over a year ago.  It was supposed to be my first Martha Stewart-esque video that would guarantee my own show on DIY channel.  However, it was over 3 hours of raw video and, considering I did a very non-Martha boo boo by burning the skin off my arm while ironing (yes, seriously), I decided that I'd let Martha retain her mogul status.....for now.

I basically figured out how to line my bags by putting together bits and pieces of things I found on the internet as well as being a maverick on my machine and then learning from my numerous mistakes.  However, I've finally got a system that works for me and decided that still photos can work almost as well as a video in a "how-to" tutorial... 

Hello and welcome to Gege Crochet Living!  Today we'll be demonstrating how to line and finish crocheted and felted hand bags.  For our demonstration today, we'll be using this absolutely scrumptious bag that was crocheted from my pattern, soon to be found here at Gege Crochet.  Let's get started, shall we?

First, you'll want to measure your bag's length and width. You may need to jot it down to remember it; however, I need no memory aids and am able to quickly add 1" to each measurement for a 1/2" sewing allowance. I measure with a level since it will make a perfect outcome and I like perfect. Since this bag will have a flat bottom, I also make note of the bottom width (precisely 2.5" for this bag).
Find the midpoint of the flap and insert a magnetic clasp.  

Fold the flap of the bag down and find where to place the second half of the magnet on the bag, being careful to place it precisely in the middle of the bag.  You may need to refresh your memory of your computation by looking at your notebook; however, I wouldn't know this by experience.

To ensure a perfect fit for your lining, utilize a spare piece of newspaper and measure out your dimensions. Using this newspaper as a pattern, pin it to your fabric. Of course, ensure that the fabric is folded in half and that the bottom of the pattern is pinned on the folded edge.
Once you cut your fabric, iron it on the folded edge to make a crisp crease on the mid-line.  Then, measure out 2.5" for the bottom of the bag by ironing and creasing 1 1/4" on each side of the mid-line.

What's that?  Oh, no.  The measuring level is not upside down.  Your eyes are.
Now, fold over the top of the bag 1/2".  Iron and pin into place.  Repeat on the other side, as well.
If you are making a pocket, and let's face it, why wouldn't you? then, now's the time to get it ready.  Figure out the size that you want and add 2" to the width and 1" to the height.  Cut out your paper pattern and pin it to your fabric which is, again, folded in half, wrong sides together.
On the raw edges of the pocket, fold and iron slightly less than 1/2" and then fold over and iron an additional 1/2".  Pin into place. 
This is to ensure that no raw edges are seen, even on the inside of the pocket.  What use is a pretty purse on the outside if the pocket is ugly on the inside?  Could you live with yourself?  I thought not.

To ensure the lining for the handles is the perfect width, measure the handle attachments and multiply by 4.  Mine was 3/4" so I need a 3" width for my fabric.
Once again, use a paper pattern and cut out 4 pieces of fabric (I use a 6" length for a long enough tail to handsew to the bag.) Iron in half, then fold each side to the middle and iron again.
Fold the sides in and then fold in half and pin into place.

Now that all of the pieces are measured and pinned into place, we can begin sewing.

Starting with the handles, sew a straight line close to the raw side of the fabric.  Turn the fabric the other way and make another seam the same distance from the other edge.  If you are not making a decorative edge *snooty giggle* then this is all you need to do.  
If you are going to go the extra mile and make your bag perfect, then utilize one of the many amazingly awesome decorative stitches on your Brother XR-9000 and make a masterpiece.

 Repeat for all four handles. 
Insert the lining into the handles, fold over and sew together.  The handles are now ready to be pinned into the bag.

Now, repeat the decorative stitches along the pinned top edges of the bag lining.  

Next, get the pocket (if you are putting a label in your pocket, now is the time to pin and sew it into place).  Sew along the pinned edges with a matching color (I used an "invisible" thread).

Once the pocket is finished,  pin it to the lining (ensuring it is centered) and then sew with a contrasting color to the lining.
When the pocket is in place, fold the lining right sides together and pin along the sides.  Sew 1/2" along the edge.  You now have a lining for a flat bag.  However, since our bag has a bottom, we are not quite done yet.

Iron the side edges flat, snipping the folded bottom of the edge (where my fingers are in the photo) so that it will be completely flat.

Now, fold the bottom of the bag into a point at the side.  You will see the crisp edges that you ironed for the mid-line and the 2 1/2" bottom.   See how you can draw a straight line from the top of the first ironed edge to the other?

Pin the fabric down and sew a straight line from one top of the crisp bottom edge to the other.

This is what it looks like if you did it correctly.  If not, you fail at life.

Trim off the triangle tip.  You now have a lining for a more boxy shape.  Even though our bag has a more rounded edge, this shape works well for our purposes.

To make the bottom of our bag flat and sturdy, use a piece of plastic canvas and cut to the proper size. 

Place it in the bottom of the bag and pin into place.  Be sure to look at the outside of the bag to make sure it looks even.

Turn the bag inside out and pin the handles into place, as well. Take your time to ensure they are centered around the flap. Crooked handles do not a perfect bag make.

Begin hand sewing the bottom and the handles into place. Since felt is so thick and full of little woolly tangles, you merely need to catch some of the felt with your needle rather than go all the way through the bag to the front.  Yes, I am using a thimble.  My heart is made of stone, not my fingers.
Once the handles are sewn in, flip the bag right-side out again and pin the lining into place, ensuring that the pocket is centered with the flap.
Using either a matching thread or the "invisible" one used previously, sew the lining into place with a very basic running stitch.  Again, no need to go all the way through the bag- just be sure to catch some of the felt with your needle. 
I go around a second time to ensure a tight stitch.  Where the needle is up the first time around, it will be below the second time, making a solid stitch line all the way around.

The lining is now sewn into place- all that is left is sewing the decorative accessory to the front of the flap, both for a beautifying effect and to hide the magnetic clasp.


I hope you enjoyed today's Gege Crochet Living.  Remember, sewing a lining into your bag is a good thing.

Know what else is a good thing?  My Brother XR-9000.  Did you catch that label?  Yep- totally full of win.