10 March 2012

Box bag tutorial

Truly Myrtle box bag 

I promised you a box bag tutorial didn't I?

Truly Myrtle box bag Truly Myrtle box bag Truly Myrtle box bag 


Here it is!


This bright little number is up-cycled from a merino sweater and a pretty paisley cotton top. I love orange (my bridesmaid wore orange) and this combination, with lavender paisley and cherry red zip, just makes my heart skip.

My box bag is fully lined, has a handle, a zip pull tab and, most importantly to me, NO RAW EDGES INSIDE!

Anyway, let's get started with yours. You'll need:

Truly Myrtle box bag 
Fabric for the exterior of your bag, lining, interfacing, cotton and a zip. If you want a handle and a pull tab you'll need fabric for those too.

My orange bag is 23cm (9") long, 10cm (4") wide and 10cm (4") deep, perfect for a small to medium sized knitting/crocheting project.
But, you could make your box bag any size you like.

Truly Myrtle box bag 
See how the zip curves down the sides?

Measure how long you want your bag to be, and how deep, and add these numbers together. Add another 2cm (1") for seams. Got your total? That is how long your zip needs to be, from zip pull to the tab at the bottom, not including the flappy bits at either end.

My zip was 34cm (13.5") long, from zip pull, to the tab at the bottom. Including the ends, it was 38cm long (15").

How much fabric for the bag?
Your exterior fabric and your lining pieces will be cut exactly the same size, and need to be the same width as the zip length you've calculated above. I cut my fabric 34cm (13.5") wide (across the grain).
To figure out how long to cut your fabric, work out how wide you want your bag to be and add this number to the depth. Double the total, then add 2.5cm (1") for zip seam allowances.


My bag is 10cm (4") wide and 10cm (4") deep. So, I cut my fabric 42.5cm (17") long (with the grain).

 Hope that isn't too much maths! Take it slow and write it all down.

I think that bags benefit from interfacing on both the exterior and lining fabric. It isn't the end of the world if you don't have any, but I think you'll notice a difference if you use it. 
I like iron-on interfacing because it's easy. For this bag I used heavy-weight interfacing for the exterior fabric and light-weight for the lining.

Cut your interfacing the same size as your fabric and iron it onto the WRONG side of the fabric.

Let's get sewing!

Truly Myrtle box bag 
Using a zip foot, sew the zip to the exterior fabric, RIGHT sides together. Start and stop sewing 1.5cm (1/2") from the ends. Back-stitch your seams.


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Lay your lining fabric onto your zip, RIGHT side down, making a sandwich of your exterior fabric, zip and lining (see above). Sew, again starting and stopping 1.5cm (1/2") from each end.


Fold the lining and the exterior fabric wrong sides together and iron the seams flat.

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Right, take a deep breath. I hold my breath when sewing zips too...

Fold the exterior fabric and the lining lengthwise, right sides together. Pin the end of the exterior fabric and the lining to the other side of your zip (the side not sewn yet). You're making another sandwich of the exterior fabric, zip and then lining.

See how you have created two "loops"? That’s what you want.

Sew, again leaving a 1.5cm (1/2") gap at either end.

Truly Myrtle box bag 
Turn the outer fabric right side out and press your seam (You could top-stitch your zip here. I didn't because I prefer not to top-stitch fluffy fabric like wool). 
IMPORTANT! Open your zip half-way. Leave it open!

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If you want a pull tab, make it now. I used the lining fabric to make mine. Cut a piece 3cm (1.25") wide and 5cm (2") long. Iron on some lightweight interfacing the same size.

Fold lengthwise, right sides together and join the sides with a narrow seam. Back-stitch your seam.

Turn right side out, arrange so that the seam lies along the middle of your tab and iron flat. Then, fold lengthwise along the seam and iron the fold (see above).

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Turn the exterior fabric inside out again and lie flat, so that the zip lies along the centre (see above).

At the bottom end of the zip (the closed end), pull the lining back so that the zip is exposed. Pin the zip to both sides of the fabric and sew a seam about 1.5cm (1/2") wide along the end, through both layers of the exterior fabric and the zip.

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Turn over and repeat for the lining (pull the exterior fabric back and sew the zip to the two layers of lining). Try to sew across the zip in the same place, it gives a neater finish.

Turn to the other (un-sewn) end where the zip is open. Stop! This end is a little different.

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Now, I made a little boo-boo here and had to back-track to take my photos. I forgot to add the pull tab! See where I have unpicked my seam? Just goes to show, you can fix most things. I use my un-picker A LOT!

Pull back the lining as you did before, exposing the exterior fabric. Lift the top layer. Place your sewn, folded and ironed pull tab, folded edge in, along the bottom layer of the exterior fabric set in a little from the edge. Lie the top layer back down and then position your zip, so that the tab and the zip are centred. Make sure the teeth of the zip are together.
Pin and sew as before, making sure that you secure the pull tab. You might want to go back and forth over it a few times! (Some box bags have pull tabs at both ends. This isn't tricky, just insert another tab at the other end too, before you sew it!)

Turn the bag over and secure the zip and the two sides of lining, like you did at the other end.

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Don't fret, but we are going to cut the corners out of your lovely sewn piece.

Measure a square at each corner (measure from the seams, see above) and cut. To work out how deep and wide to cut your square divide the depth of your bag in half. Cut a square 1.5cm (1/2") less than that amount. For example, my bag is 10cm (4") deep and I cut out 3.5cm (1.5") squares.

Truly Myrtle box bag 
It all goes a bit weird here, but it ends well, so bear with me ...

Starting at the bottom end of the zip (not the pull tab end), lift and pinch the corners of the cut-out squares together, so that the seam lies at the centre, as above. Pin and sew.

Sew shut both of the exterior fabric openings and ONE of the lining openings.
IMPORTANT!
Leave one of the lining squares open.

Before you start the other end, we'll make the handle.
I used one piece of the exterior fabric and one of the lining to make my handle, but you could use just lining, just the exterior fabric, or another fabric entirely.

I cut two pieces of fabric 23cm (9") long (with the grain) and 10cm (4") wide (across the grain) for my handle.

If you are making a different sized bag, you'll need to work out the length and width of your handle. 
Measure the seam length on the corners that you've just sewn. This gives you the maximum width your handle can be. Add 3cm (1") to this measurement for seams. 
To work out the length, add 7.5cm (3") to the measurement you have for the width of your bag (this number includes 3cm (1") for seams).

Afix interfacing to both pieces.

Truly Myrtle box bag 
With right sides together, sew a 1.5cm (1/2") seam down each of the long sides. Turn right sides out, and press.

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OK, we’re nearly there now. Turn to the other end of your bag.

Sew together the cut-out squares in the lining, like you did at the other end (see above)

Slide the handle into the cut-out squares in the external fabric (inside fabric facing the end, see above). Push the length of the handle inside and pinch the cut-out squares so that the seams lie down the centres (as before). Sandwich the handle between the two sides of external fabric and pin. Sew shut.

Don't forget to back-stitch your seams to secure your handle.

Truly Myrtle box bagTruly Myrtle box bag 
Very carefully turn your bag, through the open corner in the lining. Gently does it.

With the lining facing outwards, fold in the edges and pin the lining opening closed.

You could zoom up this edge with your sewing machine, but I prefer to hand sew this corner shut, as invisibly as possible. It just makes a perfect finish.

Turn right sides out.


You're done.

**** If you've enjoyed my tutorial - you might like to subscribe to Truly Myrtle for more sewing  & knitting inspiration ****

Truly Myrtle box bag
Perfect!





77 comments:

  1. Libby, I hated sewing as a teenager and doubt I'll ever do any again. But I love good design and am so impressed at how you plan out your projects and write about them so clearly. Even a sewing dunce like me can follow them! I totally love this bag and would buy it in a heartbeat if I saw it in a shop.
    Rebecca

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    1. Hey Rebecca!!! Thanks! If you don't want to sew - watch this space - I have some AWESOME giveaways coming!!!! My machine has been running hot!!!

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  2. Thanks so much for this awesome tutorial! I love the no seams!! Yay!!!!! Next time I go to make one I'm using your tutorial :) Off to pin it.

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    1. Thanks Shannon! Just give me a yell if you have any questions! : )

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  3. Thanks so much for this tutorial! I've been looking for someone to tell me how to create a box-bag, and here you've done it!

    citystitchin.blogspot.com

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    1. Hope you enjoy it Emily-Jean! Let me know if you get stuck!!!

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  4. Wow that's really cool! I think the orange is a great color for it.

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    1. I love the orange too Kris! Check out the knitting week - you could win it!

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  5. You are so clever! What an awesome little bag and made all from recycled clothing no less! My sewing machine has been collecting dust lately, but this might just inspiring me to make one!

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  6. Thank you. I just found your bag tutorial, it is what I have been looking for,
    I have purchased many fabrics to create myself several bags for knitting projects.

    Thank you
    Mary

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  7. Wow, what an amazing blog! I'm definately going to be reading through more of your tutorials - this one is lovely and the photos are great! Thank you for sharing - found you on ravelry :)

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  8. Thanks Faye! I am am having a great time making my blog!!! Lots more fun to come : )

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  9. Wow. That's amazing. So neat, and so cute! I've got no patience for sewing that kind of thing, but you have done a fabulous job - and what a great tutorial!

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  10. Beautiful! If I had a sewing machine (and knew how to sew, heh), I'd be all over this.

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  11. This looks like a great tutorial, I just wish I could sew! Now I want to see your Orange bridesmaids dresses though...

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  12. This is really great - so helpful! So well done!

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  13. Wow, so handy. Great instructions for a well made bag. Will you be selling these bags too?

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    1. Hadn't thought I would - but we'll see : )

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  14. This is STUNNING! I just pinned it for future reference.

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  15. Awesome! I too am pinning! Thanks for the great tutorial!

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  16. This is so fantastic! I am determined to learn how to make one. Really pleased to be following along.

    Rosie
    http://craftbotics.blogspot.com

    x

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  17. Hello! Thank you so much for this fantastic tutorial! All the photos and instructions were perfectly clear. I made my first one today and shared it on my blog: http://gksagenda.blogspot.com/2012/04/new-obsession.html -- and have put your blog on my reader! So glad to have found you!

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  18. Thank you very much for sharing. Found your tutorial via pinterest, when I was looking for an easy way to line up my oilclothebags. And now I can´t stop sewing!

    Greetings from Germany
    Caroline

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  19. So I really really need a bag like this for my knitting project.....can I just cut an old jumper without it all pulling apart? I have never cut through knitting before and am slightly nervous.

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    1. Fantastic for knitting projects. I love mine :) This orange one will be given away next week as a prize in the Knitting & Crochet blog week.
      As for old jumpers. You could just cut into it - whether it falls apart will depend on how loose the gauge is. A normal sort of jumper won't fall apart. I quite like throwing them into the washing machine and seeing if they'll felt a little - makes for a denser fabric. If it says superwash on the label it won't felt (well, not much). Also, use a stiff interfacing. You'll really notice a difference. I like the iron on ones for jumpers and carefully iron it on so as not to warp the jersey too much. Sews like a dream after that and no falling apart. Hope that helps! X

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  20. Hiya

    Loving the tutorial, just a couple of questions as I am rubbish at maths. Firstly, what length zip do I need if I want to make my bag 6, 7 or 8 inches long? And when sewing the zip, you say to leave 1/2" from each end, is that from the end of the fabric or zip start/end?

    Salma
    xxxxx

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    1. No problem :)
      How deep do you want your bag?
      Say you want a bag 7 inches long and 3 inches deep - you'd want a zip that was 7 (length) + 3 (depth) +1 (seams) long. So, 11" long. That's the actual zip part - not the extra fabric bits.
      And, sew 1/2" from the fabric end AND the zip start/end - they should line up. (not the fabric bits, the actual zip pull and tab)
      Hope that helps! X

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  21. Thanks for the GREAT design! I'm going to help my 14 year old daughter and a few of her friends make these. One question though: If we increase/decrease the size of the bag, what is the best way to calculate the proper size for the corner cut outs? I'm going to make mine a tad bigger, 10"x6"x6". Thanks for your creativity!

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    1. You're right Sophia! For a deeper bag the cutouts need to be longer.... I'll amend the tutorial :)
      For your bag I'd make the cut outs just under 3" square. That way they'll make a corner of 6" high.
      Happy sewing!

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  22. such a great tutorial! thanks so much for sharing :) x

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  23. We really love your Box Bag tutorial, and we want to share it with all of our readers at www.WeAllSew.com! We will be featuring a link to your tutorial here at your blog this Friday. Please let me know if you have any questions about being featured at WeAllSew. - Erika

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  24. awesome timing, was just hunting for a knitting bag tutorial. Now I want to find a gorgeous woolen jumper!

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  25. Very classy looking bag.......

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  26. This is the coolest looking bag. Love the fabric and color combinations - and the design. Can't wait to try it. Thanks!

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  27. In looking at this bag for a lunch tote, I thought the end 'handle' could become a water tote for the bottled water. I plan to tweek the idea and will let you know how it comes out. Fenyak@hotmail.com

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    1. I'd love to see how this turns out! do let me know...

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  28. Your bag is lovely! The combination of texture and color is so cheerful- I felt happy just looking at it. :) I've not sewn a zipper before, but your tutorial is so clear I think I can manage it. Thanks so much for the inspiration!!

    Julie C

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  29. I LOVE that you repurposed for this. What a great idea. Great tutorial too. I'm not quite sure I understand all the steps but I figure I will just take it slow and hopefully a lightbulb will go off. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  30. Are you sewing over the entire zip at the end or just the fabric to the zipper? Thank for a great tutorial - I'm slowly going step by step :)

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  31. Thanks so much for sharing this. I wanted to make a bag like this but all the tutorials I found had unfinished seams on the inside, which I didn't like. I just couldn't figure out how to do it without the seams showing. Turning the bag through the open corner is just brilliant! And it really easy to make. This is a great project for using up some of my leftover fabric pieces, and they will be perfect for gifts!

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  32. Just saw this through Pinterest. Beautiful work!!

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  33. Just finished a bag. Didn't have any interfacing so ita a bit floppy, but it will do the trick! Awesome tutorial, found you on pinterest. Thanks so much!! I can't wait to check out more things on your blog!!

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  34. THANK YOU!!! I made one for my friend, she will start master school and I wanted to give her a surprise, my husband is all "wow" by how pro it looks, and I was very worried that the whole bag was going or not going to pass through the hole :S (panic moment...). I didn't use interfacing but synthetic "padding" I don't know how to call it, it works well and makes it fluffy. So, in short, thank you very very much!

    tini

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  35. Thanks for a great tutorial, I made one this morning for my daughters pencil crayons. I fear zippers no more.

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  36. What a brilliant tutorial! I just made one because I need something to put nappies (diapers) in. I am so chuffed! I even managed to figure out how to put a zip pocket in the side. Thanks for this!!

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  37. Dear Myrtle,

    Thank you so much for this great tutorial. I made one for my son to carry his crochet stuff with him to scool.
    You can see a picture on www.maakselsCarlaK.blogspot.be
    Love,
    CarlaK

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  38. Thank you for the tutorial. I am eager to give it a try. I also poked around your blog a little to see what you have knit on Ravelry and I love your style. Thanks for sharing. Happy knitting today!

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  39. Thank you, I just finished my first bag following your tutorial and it turned out great!

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  40. Dear Myrtle,

    Here is the link to my version thanks to your great tutorial. Thank you for sharing this and allowing me to show it too.

    http://filchezmoi.fr/truly-myrtles-box-bag-la-trousse-en-forme-de-boite-de-truly-myrtle/

    Best regards,

    Naomi

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  41. Hi Myrtle,

    I just wrote a blog post myself about making a box bag inspired by yours. If you want to have a look please go to:
    http://daughterofaseamstress.weebly.com/3/post/2013/01/little-project-knitting-bag.html

    Thanks for the inspiration.
    Leanda

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  42. Thanks for the tutorial! I really enjoyed it! I just finished my first bag and have plans for 2 more. Wish there was a link here to share a picture!
    Thanks again!
    Amanda

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  43. Thanks for the tutorial! I made mine on a Friday night before needing it the next day to carry my toiletries while traveling. I like to live on the edge like that ;) . Your zipper instructions were flawless and my zipper turned out perfect no seam ripper required. My mother also loved it and even requested one for Christmas. How perfect would it be with some homemade balm and sugar scrub?
    Thank you,
    Jayme

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  44. Funny how the world circles around... I've KAL'd with you at luvinthemommyhood and just did a google search on boxy pouches and saw this. Love the use of an old sweater! I've made a few before but wanted different looks and the big handle on the end of this one is great. Lovely to run across you blog again. I should probably subscribe!
    :)

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  45. Myrtle,

    I must thank you for this wonderful tutorial because I'm going to make this bag in several sizes. I saw one person with this bag and she did not wanted to share 'her secret' as to where she got the pattern. I was so sad but tonight on Pinterest I saw it and typed your name on google!!! Thank you for sharing your knowledge.
    Regards,
    Viv

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  46. You were featured on my 'figuring out box corner measurements' blog post. Check it out:) http://baileymarieandme.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/box-corner-bags-making-your-own-measurements/

    Craft love, keep it up!

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  47. Thanks for this great tutorial, I have used it to aid me in creating a couple of printable pencil case patterns on Spoonflower and have mentioned your blog in the description which can be seen here (http://www.spoonflower.com/designs/2301183). I hope this is ok,

    All the best,
    Candy

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  48. I've got this bag as birthday present last year from my best friend Caroline (see comment from April 2012). And yesterday evening I started the first try on my own. Four and a half hours later, I've learned lots of new vocabularies and finished the bag.
    Thanks for your easy tutorial (and the photos, too)!

    Greetings from Germany,
    Stephanie

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  49. Hi, I am keen to make this bag: http://bit.ly/162Jkay would you say I can use the tutorial to make that happen? Thanks!

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  50. hello and thanks for this lovely turtorial! I love that you have included so many pictures! I've just made my first boxbag today and I'm allready planning another one. However I have a question. I hade a problem with the seems loosening a bit when cutting the corners and pinning and sewing them, do you have any tips avoiding this? It might be that I took too many wrong turns understanding how to do this and this created stress on the seems?

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    1. Thanks :) Glad you enjoyed it.
      Maybe you could backstitch your seams further up - where you think you'll cut the corner out? I think working carefully helps, but reinforcing the seams should help stop them unravelling.

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  51. oh, by the way, could i use aserger forthis project?

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  52. Just finished the bag. Great to do once I got over my initial panic re. perceived difficulties and just carefully followed the instructions. Starting bag no.2. Lovely Christmas presents for friends.

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  53. Thanks for this tutorial! I have just made three of these as Christmas gifts (one as a gift for me). You can see them there:
    https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-k_bC3fRsAxQ/UratbVYUpSI/AAAAAAAABMM/9Jm-CmCWla4/w600-h400-no/IMG_6662.JPG

    The middle one is mine and I topstitched around the zipper and handle because the fabric was much thicker. Next time (because I'm definitely making more!) I'll topstitch them all. I'll also make the pull a bit bigger, and probably have two on each bag.

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  54. Just made this bag as a way to ease myself back into sewing. Really thorough and clear tutorial thank you! Phil already dreaming up other uses (so at least he is on board with more fabric purchasing then!)

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  55. love it! i made this bag, this weekend. it's a belated birthday present for a dear friend.
    i'm new to sewing and had to re-read a few steps, but everything went smoothly. the recipient LOVED her gift and i know can make a few for myself. i will make one small change to personalize it for my use, otherwise, you have the perfect tutorial! thank you so much for taking the time to share it with the world. i have a feeling i'll be making quite a few of these.

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  56. Hi Libby, I love this tutorial, but I have a question. Do you think your calculations would work on a bag that is not a square? Like instead of it being 4" wide and 4" deep, what if I wanted 5" wide and 4" deep? I plan on trying it out myself, but just thought I'd ask you first.
    Thank you!

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  57. This is such an awesome bag and thank you so much for including a tutorial.

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  58. I just made this bag...took me about 2.5 hrs total, great directions!!
    Thank you so much!!!

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  59. I loved this bag - made it for my sister's two boys and added genuine leather to it (handle and zip tab) so they'll feel like little grown-ups ;-) Best regards, Hanna from Stockholm

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