As I was doing more and more baby prep, (a WHILE ago, because…..)
One of the things I wanted to make for myself was a diaper bag. I wanted something sturdy, but flexible– and, if possible, something cute. Since it’ll act as my purse for a good while, why not?
I thought the best way to go would be a pretty basic messenger bag, only bigger than most of the ones I found.
I found a few tutorials that really started me off nicely. This tutorial from “Cold Hands, Warm Heart” gave me the lovely idea of a belt for the strap. As far as actual method, I most closely followed the way that was used for making this reversible bag on “Very Purple Person” . So, if you need some clarification on my process, taking a look at the tutorial for the reversible bag could help. 🙂
For fabric, I had two pair of black jeans which I absolutely detested (not that I have anything against black jeans, I just hated how these fit me), as well as a red cotton sheet for the liner.
Denim works very well for bags, I think. It’s sturdy, it looks nice, in general, and if you actually do use a thrifted pair of jeans (or two!) you could get any color you want, from acid wash to mustard, to plain old black. Not to mention pre-made pockets! 🙂
What you’ll need is this:
- about a yard of outer fabric, and the same amount of liner fabric (two pairs of jeans has you covered on the outer fabric)
- a belt (preferably a sturdy one, about 1/3 as wide as how thick you want the capacity of your bag to be)
- a small skein of yarn, or some other flap stand-in, like a placemat, decorative napkin, etc.
- a sewing machine/hand sewing equipment, including a denim needle for your machine, and a leatherworking/sailcloth needle for hand sewing.
- a button or large bead, if desired.
Since I’m still very much a novice with sewing, I thought I’d start even simpler. The actual fabric pieces are 6, in total, along with the strap and flap pieces:
- 2 rectangular pieces with 2 rounded corners,
- and 1 long rectangle the total length of the sides and bottom to box it out, and the same again of a liner fabric.
- *The strap is made of a suitably wide belt, about 1/3 the width of the rectangle pieces,
- and the flap is a crocheted semicircle, based on this tutorial from Inner Child Crochet. I made a few alterations in the last few rows, but nothing too fancy. 🙂 I’ll explain here in a bit.
- When you’re measuring the length for the sides&bottom piece, be sure to go slowly, and to shape your tape measure to the contours of the side pieces. (You wouldn’t want to have this piece cut too short!) To make sure it’s the right length, You can even hold off on cutting the end of the rectangle until after you’ve pinned the length of it to a side piece, so that you know for sure.
- After you pin the three pieces together, sew them to each other, right sides in. Make sure to backstitch, or go over it twice if your machine doesn’t have that feature, so that the seams are secure. Leave the top opening of your bag un-sewn, for now. **(Word of caution: don’t hurt your machine! If you use denim, like I did, it really helps to have a denim needle. I broke two innocent universal needles for this project.)**
- Simply repeat these steps in the liner fabric, so that you have two bucket-looking things of fabric.
- when you have both the liner and the outer fabric pieces sewn into the right shapes, put the liner fabric “bucket”, right sides out, inside the outer fabric “bucket”, right sides in. This way, when you turn everything like it should be, there’ll be no exposed seams. Pin them together, especially at seams, to keep everything matched up.
- sew the top openings of your outer and your liner fabric together, except for one length of it along a straight area, at some place. (I did this on one of the short sides of the rectangle.)
- Turn your bag right side out! Just pull the thing through that hole you left open. Check your seams for any gaps, and situate the whole bag with the liner inside the outer fabric, just as if it were done.
- Make sure the raw edges of your opening are down inside the opening, pinning it shut, if necessary, and then sew a seam for the whole top opening. This’ll close up the hole you used to turn, and it gives you the opportunity to add something, like a different colored thread, bias tape, rickrack– whatever strikes your fancy. (I did none of this.)
- Take that belt you have, buckle it at a good point, near the maximum closure, whatever looks nice to you. Cut the belt on one side of the buckle, on the side where the excess of the belt overlaps it. (If you picked a braided belt, be sure to use binder clips on either side of your cut to keep the pieces in place, and superglue to make them stay where you want them. You might want to refer to the tutorial at “Cold Hands, Warm Heart”, which I mentioned earlier. To attach the strap, place the belt in the center of one of the short ends of your bag, and fold the corners in, to meet in the middle over your belt. **Using a leatherworking needle, (Very important!) and some sturdy thread, (I used crochet thread) hand-sew through all layers of the fabric, as well as the belt. Make sure to go over it twice, for security. Do this for both ends. (If you have a machine that can handle this, kudos to you. I didn’t want to push my luck.)
- Crochet the flap! (If you don’t want to, you could use anything that would work, like a bandanna, a place mat, or a decorative napkin, etc. Let me know how it goes, if you do!) The only criteria for this flap piece is that it be a semicircle (or triangle, or rectangle) with one flat edge reaching from one corner to the other of one of the long sides of your bag. I followed the tutorial from InnerChild Crochet, for 16 rows. Row17: 1 hdc/previous row’s stitch, with 1 ch between each hdc.
Row 18: 1 hdc in each ch-space, 1 ch between each hdc.
Row 19: 1 hdc in each ch-space, 1 ch between each hdc.
Row 20: 1 hdc in each ch-space, 1 ch between each hdc.
Row 21: 1 hdc in each ch-space, 1 ch between each hdc.
Row 22: 1 dc in each ch-space, 1 ch between each dc.
Row 23: 1 dc in each ch-space, 1 ch between each dc.
Row 24: 1 dc in each ch-space, 1 ch between each dc.
Row 25: 1 dc in each ch-space, 1 ch between each dc.
Row 26: 1 tc in each ch-space, 2 ch between each tc.
Row 27: 1 tc in each ch-space, 2 ch between each tc.
Row 28: 1 tc in each ch-space, 2 ch between each tc.
Row 29: 1 tc in each ch-space, 2 ch between each tc.
Row 30: sc 5 AROUND each chain to the edge of the semicircle.
–>sc 2 rows along the flat edge of the semicircle, to make sewing it on easier.
- Sew on the flap piece. If desired, add a button or large bead capable of going through the holes in the edge rows of the piece to hold bag closed. I’ve been using mine sans button, but I’ll put a button on it one of these days. Preferably one of my handmade ones. Remember those?