The Uptown Commuter Bag

I foolishly forgot to bring a bag for hauling my computer back and forth between the condo where I live and the McColl Center where my studio is.

This is the condo.

Maria Shell Uptown Commuter BagThis is the McColl Center for Art + Innovation.

Maria Shell Uptown Commuter BagThis is the commute.

Maria Shell Uptown Commuter BagI know it is not far, but it is a significantly longer distance than the one flight of stairs that I am used to. The truth is, my computer never moves when it is at home. But now it does, and I need a bag.

I was using this bag. Which was okay, but not very stable or fashionable.

Maria Shell Uptown Commuter BagI like this bag–especially the depth built into the bottom of the bag–but it is not wide enough for my computer.

Then I visited Modern Fabrics.

Maria Shell Uptown Commuter BagWhere I discovered their remnant bin. The fabric in the bin was $5.99 a pound. I can afford that. I had no idea this was going to be one of those times I go crazy making the same thing over and over again until I get it out of my system. I will take comfort in the fact that I am not the only one out there that does this.

Maria Shell Uptown Commuter Bag I picked my palette.

Maria Shell Uptown Commuter BagI drafted a pattern.

Maria Shell Uptown Commuter BagI added two and 1/2 inches to the bottom of the bag pattern, so that I could create the depth that the black bag had.

Maria Shell Uptown Commuter BagAnd I made this fancy bag.

Of course, I was so excited I forgot to document my process. So, I made the bag again (and again) with photos. This photo tutorial features photos from several attempts at making this bag. These instructions can be used to build your own lined bag using what ever pattern you choose. I recommend drafting a pattern from a bag you love.

First, you piece together fabric to make four bag pieces. You do not have to piece the fabric unless you want to–I like to do a combination of pieced and non-pieced. Two for the actual bag and two for the lining. If this goes well, the bag will be reversible. You also cut out four handle pieces–two for the bag and two for the lining.

Finish all edges with a zig zag stitch and top stitch all pieced seams. You don’t have to do this, but the end result is a very sturdy and attractive bag. I think of it as “Beauty on the Inside”.

Maria Shell Uptown Commuter BagNext prep your pocket if you want one. In my opinion pockets are required, but it is your bag. Depending on the fabric, I may line the pocket or not.  I attach the pocket to the proper lining fabric–or if you want it to be on the outside of the bag, you can do too.

Maria Shell Uptown Commuter BagNext, you lay the bag and the handles out this way. Trust me; it will help prevent confusion later on.

  • Next to the cutting table you have the an outer bag piece and handle with the right side of the fabric DOWN.
  • Then you place the first lining piece and handle right side UP.
  • After that comes, the second lining piece and handle right side DOWN.
  • Finally, the last outer piece of the bag and handle right side UP.

Got it?

Now pin the proper bag piece to the proper handle on the RIGHT side only. It will look like this.

Maria Shell Uptown Commuter BagStitch each handle to the appropriate bag piece RIGHT sides together. Iron open, and top stitch the seam down.

Now pin the bag pieces together RIGHT sides TOGETHER and stitch. Do the same to the lining.

Maria Shell Uptown Commuter BagI stitch each seam individually instead of going around the parameter without stopping. I believe this creates a stronger neater looking bag.

Maria Shell Uptown Commuter BagOnce they are stitched, trim the corners.

Maria Shell Uptown Commuter BagThen iron the seams OPEN. This will reduce bulk.

Maria Shell Uptown Commuter BagNow for the fun part. Fold the bag and the lining so that you have the bottom of the bag facing up and the side seams facing down like this. Using your ruler, draw a line that is 2 1/2 inches from the corner point. Draw a line there.

Maria Shell Uptown Commuter BagStitch on that line. This is what creates the depth of the bag. It is a clever trick. Press those seams towards the bottom of the bag and lining.

Maria Shell Uptown Commuter BagWith RIGHT sides together. Pin three different seams as shown here. One seam goes from the long end of the handle to the short end. The next seam goes from the long end of the handle to the short end. And the final seam goes from the long end of one handle to the OTHER long end of the handle. I know you all are just wanting to look at the pictures, but you might have to READ the instructions too. It works. Really.

Maria Shell Uptown Commuter BagThe only seam that is not pinned and stitched is the short handle to short handle seam shown here.

Maria Shell Uptown Commuter BagStitch all three seams. Now we must turn the bag. Those of you who have participated in oven mitt making mania know what you are getting into here. It is the most difficult part of the process. Depending on the bulk of your fabric, you might have to massage the handle into turning. It will happen, but it does take time.

Maria Shell Uptown Commuter BagTurn the seam that has not been stitch under about 1/2 inch and press and pin. It will look like this.

Maria Shell Uptown Commuter BagThe last step is to top stitch all of those seams. You are done! And you have a bag that looks something like this.

So then, I started thinking what would some bags made out of FANCY fabric from Modern Fabrics look like?

Maria Shell Uptown Commuter BagTo be continued….

This entry was published on October 11, 2014 at 6:15 AM. It’s filed under Things I Make and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

6 thoughts on “The Uptown Commuter Bag

  1. Nice bag.

  2. Lennie Washington on said:

    This is an easy way to make your own size bag! And a good reason to visit Mode n Fabrics, which I love. Thanks Maria.

  3. Thanks for visiting Modern Fabrics and your blog! More fabric being shipped to you today! We hope to see your work in person one day, sorry we did not get to your studio before you left, I really like what I see on your blog.

    James and Ewa, Modern Fabrics.

    • Ewa and James! Thank you for having such an amazing store. I will be back in May. In the meantime, I will be using all your lovely fabrics to make some fun creations. Thank you!

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