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Sunday, 26 April 2015

Handbags and Wallets Part 5

I had a lot of fun conceptualizing different handbags and one of the designs We have already made the Paneled Bag in Parts 2-4 of the series, but I also came up with was for a round bag. I started playing around with a pattern to see where it would take me when it occurred to me that this would be a fabulous concept for a vanity bag. The pattern for this bag can be downloaded here from

Pattern design
It always sounds more complicated to design and make rounded objects than it really is. Although the base and the lid would be round, the sides are really nothing other than a long straight and wide stretch of fabric, or in the design phase, paper. I only needed to determine the circumference and the height of the bag.

I decided the bag would need an extra long zipper, reaching almost all the way around, so the top could flip open and give easy access to the contents inside. That meant that I would need a small strip of fabric to attach the lid to as well, unless I wanted to attach the zipper to the lid itself. I do not fancy putting a zipper on a round lid and opted for the extra pattern piece instead. This piece is much narrower than the bottom piece, but equal in length.

The formula to work out the radius of a circle when you know the circumference is r=C/2π. Alternatively, if that sounds daunting, you can simply fold the paper pattern for the side panel to form a circle, measure the diameter with a ruler and divide that by 2 to find the radius. Once you have determined the radius, you can set your compass to it.

Circumscribe the circle. This will be both the lid as well as the base/bottom of the bag.

It would be real handy to have a handle on a bag like this, so I designed one very quickly. I determined that a whole A4 page would work perfectly for this purpose. I’ll demonstrate this when we construct the bag.

Pattern Layout
It was time to move on to the fabric. I very rarely lay a pattern fully out before I start cutting because I find that too much fabric goes to waste that way. I much prefer to lay pieces out individually, cut them out and lay out the next piece in the gaps left by the first. This is why it is difficult for me to take photos that will show you a proper layout. These pieces were cut from the fabric: the handle x 1, the lid/bottom x 2, the large side panel x 1, the small side panel x 1.

These pieces were cut from the lining: the lid/bottom x 2, the large side panel x 1, the small side panel x 1.

Construction – support elastic
Wanting to use the bag as a vanity case, I decided to add an elastic support to the lining that would assist in keeping bottles upright. I cut some wide elastic to the same length as the panel. I pinned it to the middle of the panel.

I secured the elastic in place with stay stitches on the sides.

I then stitched at random intervals through the elastic to create smaller ‘pockets’.

Construction – the zipper
Since the bag was approximately 53 cm in diameter, I would need a zipper of between 45 and 50 cm in length.

I pinned the zipper to the top side panel. The right side of the fabric should face the right side of the zipper.

I then pinned the lining to the other side of the zipper, sandwiching the zipper between the fabric and the lining. The right side of the lining should face the wrong side of the zipper.

Sew as close as possible to the zipper. Do not sew any further than the zipper openings or you will not have a place where you can attach the lid to the bag.

I pinned the fabric for the bottom side panel to the elastic, lining it up with the other fabric.

I sandwiched the zipper between the lining and the fabric when I pinned the lining in place. For a tidy finish, sew as close as possible to the zipper.

We are now going to close those small openings where the zipper ended and we still had some seam left over. Fold the zipper ends and the lining away so it doesn’t get caught under the needle. Pin the seams of the fabric together and sew the seam to run exactly into the zipper seam. This is a bit tricky, so be patient and slowly.

This is what it should look like when it is done. Remember to do this on both ends of the zipper.

Repeat the steps for the lining as well, doing it on both ends of the zipper.

Iron the seams open and the zipper flat.

We will be putting the finishing touches on the bag in the next blog.
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