This was actually the first project I made from Ayumi Takahashi’s Patchwork, Please! book. I had some linen, and I wanted to cut the large pieces needed for this shopping bag before I started to use any smaller linen offcuts in projects like the pencil case and pincushion.
I had lots of fun playing with fabric combinations. I decided not to line my bags with plastic as Ayumi suggests, as my shop-bought shopping bags that are lined with plastic often develop rips and cracks in the plastic lining while the outsides are still fine. I have found that some plastics can be a bit brittle for heavy wear and tear. I hope using fabric will make the bags easier to wash. Making a fabric lining also allowed me to add some surprise splashes of colour on the inside.
I was a little confused by a few sections in the pattern:
- I was not sure exactly what a ¾-inch double fold was. Is that ¾ inches folded twice – a total of 1½ inches – or two smaller folds that add up to ¾ inches – for example, a ¼-inch fold and then a ½-inch fold? I had to look at the picture and fudge it a bit.
- Because of the double fold on the outside of the bag, the exterior bag ends up bigger than the interior bag (lining). To compensate for that, before step 16, I took my rotary cutter to the top of the lining and cut off the same amount as I had folded in step 13. In my case, that was about 1 inch. If you do not crop the excess, the inside of the bag ends up a bit like a Shar-Pei dog – lots of extra wrinkles and folds.
- I used my overlocker to finish the raw edges of the drawstring cover before sewing the short edges right sides together (step 14).
In fact, I used my overlocker to finish all the raw edges when making this bag. I am a naughty girl and often do not read patterns before I start. Sometimes, if it is a simple design, I never read the pattern properly; I just look at the picture of the finished article and only read the sections where I need help. It was only after I had cut everything out that I realised that the seam allowances were only a ¼ inch. Working with linen, which tends to fray, to make a bag that would take a bit of weight, I normally would increase all the seam allowances to at least a ½ inch, but it was too late by the time I put my brain into gear. However, I think overlocking everything will avoid such problems.
It was tricky to find a nice coloured cord to use as a drawstring. I ended up using Russian braid, which I was lucky enough to find in just the right colours. As it is synthetic, I melted the ends so they do not fray.
The bags are a bit floppy and shapeless when empty, but they are wonderfully large, allowing you to stuff even the most awkwardly shaped purchases into them.
I think the drawstring cover is a great idea. We once had an avocado escape a shopping bag and roll under a car seat, where it was not discovered for quite a while. Yuck!
You can learn more about Ayumi and her cute book at her blog, Pink Penguin.