Welcome to Part 2 of the “Tween-y Bag” Tutorial: Making the Front Panel. Before proceeding with the tutorial, please read the introductory post, “Getting Started,” to find out important information.
Here is the material list for the Front Panel:
• Two 12 inches x 10 inches pieces for Panel 1 and 2 (the Liberty of London fabric)
• One 12 inches x 9 inches piece for Panel 3 (the Kona fabric)
• One 12 inches x 27 inches piece cotton batting
Once you’ve read Part I and decided on which fabrics to use, you’re ready to get started on making the Front Panel. The first thing you need to do is cut Panels 1, 2, and 3 based on the above dimensions. These three fabric pieces sewn together, along with the batting, will make up the Front Panel.
By the way, I love using a rotary cutter for something that is perfectly square. It’s such a great investment. And make sure that you purchase a durable rotary mat too! Here’s a wonderful tutorial on how to use a rotary cutter, from PurlBee.
Next, sew Panel 1 onto Pane 3, aligning the sides that measure 12 inches.
When you are putting two fabrics together, make sure to put the right sides together. When I say the “right side,” I’m referring to the side that will show up on front (sorry, it’s a little difficult to determine which is the “right side” with this fabric since both sides look the same … I’ll make a note to use a better fabric for the next tutorial). Whenever I put two right sides together, I imagine the fabrics “kissing” each other … LOL. I know it’s silly, but that’s how I remember which is the right side of a fabric. Or just think … front = right; back = wrong.
Once you put the fabrics together, get out your pins and pin the sides down. Don’t be shy – use as many pins as possible. The more pins you use, the more secure your fabrics will be. I call this a “Hellraiser” process because there are so many … well, pins! I also mark the ½ inch seam allowance with an erasable pen (please note that all the seam allowances in the pattern is ½ inch) . This way, I know exactly where to sew!
Now, you’re ready to sew Panel 2 onto the other side of Panel 3. Repeat the same steps you took to put Panel 1 and Panel 3 together. Don’t forget to pin the two fabrics down, and draw a straight line with an erasable pen again.
Next, you’re going use the iron to open up the seams. What I mean by this is that you should run your iron between two, closed seams to open them up. Please trust me when I tell you that this step makes a whole a lot of difference. By taking this extra step, you’ll end up with wonderful, clean seams when you turn over the fabrics.
Now, you’re ready to get your batting out and cut it out to match the size of the Front Panel (should now measure at 12 in x 27 in).
I’m sure if you go to a proper sewing class, an instructor will tell you to have all the pieces cut, ironed, and ready to go before you begin sewing. Well, I’m a little bit more … how should I put this … carefree (or lazy) … so, what I do is place the Front Panel directly onto the batting and simply cut around it. This way, you don’t have to take the extra time to measure yet another fabric, and you’re guaranteed to have the exact same size that you need.
You don’t have to be exact with your cutting at this time. You’ll have a chance to go back and clean up all sides.
I used the Bamboo Batting that I’ve purchased at a neighborhood JoAnn’s (you can purchase it online at other retailers too). I love how soft it is, compared to other polyester batting in the market.
Now, you’re ready to quilt the Front Panel and the batting together. Again, use as many pins as possible to secure the Front Panel with the batting.
You’re going to quilt in four different places: Two on the patterend parts and two on the solid sides. This allows two fabrics (the Front Pane and the batting) to stay together, and also provide a nice design to the bag. Since this is the side that will show up on front, make sure to take the time to sew straight lines. Don’t be afraid to re-sew, if you’re not happy with how they turn out.
Once you’ve sewn and quilted the four parts, take the rotary cutter and trim around all edges, so that the Front Panel and the batting are exactly the same size.
At this point, the Front Panel should measure at 12 inches (width) and 27 inches (length).
Now, you’re ready to sew two sides together. Lay the Front Panel on a table, with the right side facing up. Bring the bottom of the Front Panel to alight with the top. You should only see the batting side (wrong side) now.
Take the pins and pin down both sides.
Note: This is important so please take note. When you fold and pin the Front Panel, it should be folded in a way that the solid fabric aligns perfectly.
Please take the time to do this before you sew down the sides; it makes a different when you turn the fabrics over. This is something that will differentiate a bag that is “homemade,” versus something that is “handmade.” “Handmade” is wonderful but “homemade” gives a slightly unprofessional feel.
The seams should look something like this.
After you sew both sides together, make sure to iron both seams open. Turn the fabrics over, and voila, you’ve just completed the front of the bag!
Congratulations! You just completed the Front Panel! Now, you’re ready to proceed to Part 3 of the tutorial, Making the Lining! YAY! 🙂
If you want to jump to other tutorial posts, here are the links:
Part 1: Getting Started
Part 3: Making the Lining
Part 4: Making the Bag Strap and Drawstrings
Part 5: Putting it all Together