Quick and Easy Trick-or-Treat Bag
October 13, 2009
My 16-month old has developed an obsession with Eric Carle's Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (Also known as "bo-bah" in our house). For Halloween this year I will be making him a brown bear costume using Kwik Sew's baby and toddler pattern KP-3099, and to pull it all together I have made him a "Brown Bear" trick-or-treat bag.
Bags are surprisingly simple to make. There are a couple different ways that you can construct a bag from practically scraps. I picked two methods to show here. The first style, for the outside of the bag, has a front and back panel and a long strip for the gusset (3 total pieces). The second style I used for the lining, and has only two pieces with boxed corners to create the bottom and sides shape. While I label the parts of this bag as "inside" and "outside", in reality the bag is actually reversible.
QUICK NOTE - This tutorial is geared more towards someone who is still fairly beginner level, but basically knows their way around a sewing machine. Those with more experience will probably already know everything below, plus better ways to do it (Please feel free to leave a comment and share any nifty variations and tips!).
DOUBLE NOTE - There will be math. I promise I will try to keep it simple, and I will also give definite measurements. However, my goal is to give you the basic principles for how to construct a bag no matter what size you want it. The bag I made is child-sized, but once you know the basics of construction you can scale yours up, down and everything in between.
Brown Bear Bag
Measurments: 11.5" x 11.5" x 4"
3/8" seam allowance
1 Brown Bear panel (BV-907)
1/2 yd coordinating cotton print (I used BV-951)
1 yd light or medium weight fusible interfacing (optional)
If you do not want to use the panel you can just find another 1/2 yd coordinate. The panel fabric was a little more transparent than I would have liked, so I used the interfacing to make it less see through and give it body without being too stiff. You may exclude this step if your fabric is dark or if you do not care if your bag is floppy.
Creating the outside:
- Cut out two 12.25"x"12.25" squares consisting of 4 panel motifs. Each square should be 2 smaller squares across and 2 down. The easiest way to cut it without measuring is to just cut around the outer edge of the green border surrounding the four small squares. The green border will essentially be the seam allowance.
- Cut the striped strip of fabric from the edge of the panel, trimming the selvage. This will become the bag handles.
- From the coordinating fabric, cut a 36"x4.75" strip of fabric for the gusset.
- If you are using interfacing, cut two 12.25"x12.25" squares and a 36"x4.75" strip.
- Apply the interfacing to the panels and gusset strip according to the instructions.
- For the top two squares on each of the right sides of the front panels, measure and mark the middle of top of each square (roughly 2.75" from the begining of the white space). This is where you will line up the handles.
- To create the handles, fold the striped fabric in half lengthwise, wrong sides together. Press. Fold the raw edges in toward the middle crease, leaving you with 4 layers of fabric (see image). Press. Cut two 9" pieces from this strip and edge stitch the long, open side (you can leave the ends open).
- To assemble the outside, lay the gusset piece on top of one of the panels, right sides together, with the short edge of the gusset lined up with the top l and the long side lined up with the right side of the panel. Pin in place. Bring the gusset side up and and around the corner, and continue pinning it to the bottom of the panel, then back up the left hand side (Hint - to make going around the corners easier, try making a tiny snip in the seam allowance of the gusset right at the corners). Once it's all pinned, you should have the basic shape of the two sides and bottom of the bag, with the ends of the gusset lining up with the top of the panel (if not, try repinning it). Stitch in place.
- Position the straps inside the two markings you made earlier, lining up the outer edge of the strap with the mark. The raw edges of the straps should be in line with the top of the panel, so that the strap is upside down. Pin in place.
To create the lining:
- From the coordinating fabric, cut two 14.25"x16.25" squares.
- Sew together along sides and bottom, leaving the top open. Press seam allowances open.
- At the bottom corners, measure 3" up and 3" over from corner. Draw a square. Using the square as a guide, bring the side and bottom seams together and box the corners (See Moda Bake Shop for better instructions). Trim 1/4" from the seams.
To bring it all together:
- Line the two bag pieces up with right sides together. The Side seams of the lining should be in the middle of the gusset sides. Pin in place.
- Stitch around the top of the bag, stopping a few inches short to leave an opening to turn. Press the seams.
- Turn the bag right side out and top stitch to finish the top edge of the bag and to reinforce the handles.
- Voila! All done! Your bag is now ready for whatever your little one might put in it. Plus, it's reversible!
Let's say you don't want to make a Brown Bear, Brown Bear bag. How do you go about figuring out how much to cut? Math time!
To make a gusseted bag:
For the front and back panels -
Length = Finished length + 2xSeam Allowances
Width = Finished width = 2xSeam Allowances
For the Gusset -
Gusset Length = Panel side Length + Panel side length + Panel Width
Gusset Width = Finished width + 2xSeam Allowance
YIKES! Here's an easy example. You want a bag that is 14"x12"x5" with a 1/2" seam allowance
Length = 14+.5+.5 = 15"
Width = 12+.5+.5 = 13"
Gusset Length = 15+13+15 = 43"
Gusset Width = 5+.5+.5 = 6"
To make the boxed-corner bag:
Length = Finished length + 1xSeam Allowance + 1/2 Finished Depth
Width = Finished width + 2xSeam Allowance + 1x Finished Depth
Example: You want a bag that is 14"x12"x5" with a 1/2" Seam allowance.
Length = 14+.5+2.5 = 17"
Width = 12+1+5 = 18"
To make the guide for the boxed corners, mark ad 5"x5" square at the bottom corners.
Halloween is right around the corner. Instead of sending the kids out with boring pillow cases or generic, store-bought containers, make them a trick-or-treat bag that goes with their costume!
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