To create something with your own hands to use in your everyday life is something very special indeed—you have the freedom to make it suit your individual color palette and style. I made a bag that fits me perfectly: cool Nordic colors with a large and classy Scandinavian statement in the shape of the braided heart, my favorite symbol. You can make this in under an hour and then go on a shopping trip to show it off to all your friends!
YOU WILL NEED
• 32 x 27½ in. (80 x 70 cm) light blue and white polka-dot cotton fabric for the outer bag
• 85 x 3 in. (210 x 8 cm) light blue and white polka-dot cotton fabric for the straps
• 32 x 27½ in. (80 x 70 cm) light blue-and-white striped lining fabric
• 10-in. (25-cm) square white cotton fabric
• 10-in. (25-cm) square lightweight iron-on interfacing
• 12 in. (30 cm) gray/blue cotton lace, ¾ in. (20 mm) wide
• One white plastic button, 5⁄16 in. (18 mm) in diameter
• Two white plastic buttons, ¾ in. (22 mm) in diameter
•White sewing thread
• Basic kit
1) Copy the bag template and use to cut out two bag panels from the polka-dot fabric.
2) Following the manufacturer’s instructions, apply lightweight iron-on interfacing to the back of the white cotton fabric and cut out two half-hearts and eight little leaves. Braid (plait) the “fingers” over and under each other, so you get alternate squares; start by lifting the left-hand finger over the right-hand finger, then take it under the middle finger and over the left-hand finger, The next finger has to go the opposite way and the last finger will need to be braided like the first one. To complete the heart, pull it gently on all sides, so that it all slips into place, then trim off the edges that stick out a little longer than the others.
Position the heart on the front of the bag, about 2 in. (5 cm) from the top and centered on the width, with the leaves in pairs underneath. Using white thread, machine stitch the heart to the front of the bag. Sew along both sides of each “finger,” too, to keep them from moving around. Sew around each leaf and then down the middle to create the central “vein.”
3) Choose a matching blue-gray cotton lace and iron it if necessary. Stitch it to the very top of the front panel, leaving 1 in. (2–3 cm) or so sticking out at each side.
4) Pin the front and back panels right sides together. Machine stitch along the side and bottom edges. Gather the “cut-out” corners together and lay them flat on top of each other pulling out into a straight line. Sew straight across on both sides of the bag.
5) Turn the bag right side out and carefully push out all corners and seams. Iron the bag a little, to make sure all parts are straight.
6) Now make the button strip. From the leftover fabric, cut a strip of polka-dot fabric measuring 3 x 1½ in. (8 x 4 cm).
Fold over 3/8 in. (1 cm) to the wrong side along each long edge, then fold the strip in half and press again. Machine stitch along the long unfolded side.
7) Cut out two panels of lining fabric, the same size as the outer bag panels. Pin them right sides together and machine stitch the side seams only. Trim all loose thread ends. Place the outer bag inside the lining tube, with right sides together, and pin together along the top edge.
8) Fold the button strip in half lengthwise. Place it in the center of the back panel, between the two layers, with the loop pointing downward. Sew all around the opening, sewing over the button strip a few extra times to make sure it is fixed securely.
9) Pull the lining up over the bag, so that both lining and outer bag are right side out, and make sure the button strip is in the right position.
10) Close up the corners at the bottom of the lining, as you did on the outer bag in step 4.
11) Now make the strap. The material I had chosen was not long enough to make my strap in one go, so I cut six lengths each 14 in. (35 cm) long—three for each side of the strap. Round off the corners on one end of four of the lengths: in total you will need four rounded end strips and two straight middle strips. Taking a 3/8-in. (1-cm) seam allowance, stitch each middle strip to the straight ends of the two of the rounded strips. Press the seams open.
12) Pin the straps right sides together, aligning the edges carefully. Using pins, mark a 2½ -in. (6-cm) gap along one long side: this is where you will start and stop sewing.
13) Sew all around the strap, then turn it right side out, using the handle of a wooden spoon to help you. Press the strap flat, then sew all around it twice, spacing the stitching lines about ¼ in. (6 mm) apart, to make it extra sturdy.
14) Buttons—I love them! You can take your pick and either go for a more restrained look with white buttons or go to town and add some blue splash! Here, I opted for white. Add one small white button to the center front of the bag, stitching it over the lace with white thread.
15) Also add one larger button to each side of the bag. Hold the end of the strap to the side of the bag and sew the button to the bag, stitching through the strap, bag, and lining. And there you are—a lovely new over-the-shoulder bag in less than an hour.