This is my latest and most frivolous sewing project. What use is a round bag, after all? Well, you can put things in it, and if necessary roll it down a hill. I had the idea for this bag months ago, but then got engrossed in other... well, less round projects. Now I've finally got around to it, and I'm delighted with it! Highly recommended for anyone who wants a round bag.
Because it uses bias tape, this bag is constructed right-side-out, with the bias tape then covering the messy seams. For this reason it's actually pretty simple to put together - fiddly, yes, but none of the inside-out spatial reasoning challenges of bags where you assemble the lining separately and leave a hole to pull it through, etc. etc.
The prototype is a small everyday shoulderbag size, but this tutorial is meant to inspire you - you can use the method described to make round purses and bags of all sizes. Just remember, when working out measurements: the perimetre (length around a circle) is the diametre multiplied by pi (3.14), and don't forget to add a small seam allowance to your non-circular pieces!
Someone told me about Instructables when I had already started on this bag, so the early stages are possibly a bit under-photographed. I will try to make the explanations nice and clear to make up for it.
Step 1: What You Will Need:
• Fabric: for the outer fabric you only need a 54x54 cm square, so it would be a nice way to recycle a pretty square kerchief that no-one ever wears. Cotton is probably best, but I can imagine a silk scarf making a very attractive bag! The fabric shown is a cotton scarf I got for 10 RMB from the Shanghainese chain Hotwind.
• You will need the same amount (54x54 cm) of stiff iron-on interfacing, and the same amount again of your chosen lining material, plus enough to make an extra circle 26 cm in diameter.
• Two zips about 24 cm long
• Two metres of bias tape
• Sewing machine
• Measuring tape
• D-rings and lobster clips and other strap hardware if you can get them; otherwise, the strap fastenings of your choice
Step 2: Cut and Interface Your Pieces:
- Trace and cut a perfect 26 cm circle in one corner of your fabric. A low-tech way to do this is to find a centre-point, then mark dots 13 cm from it in every direction.
- Trace and cut the same circle once from your interfacing and twice from your lining material.
- Cut an almost-square 26x28 cm from your main fabric. This will make the zipped panel. (The extra length is seam allowance for the zip.)
- Cut the same piece from your interfacing and lining.
- Cut one strip 42x10 cm and two strips 42x6 cm from your main fabric, interfacing and lining.
- Iron the interfacing onto your five pieces of outer fabric.
Step 3: Insert the Zips:
- First the main zip for the top. Take all your 42x6 cm strips: you're going to position a zip in the centre of them.
- For the zip itself, I'm just going to point you to this great tutorial on sewing zips beautifully. Obviously, you don't want to make a pouch - you just want to use her technique up to the step that ends "I'm not afraid." Don't accidentally keep following her steps, or you'll end up with a weird pouch suitable only for chopsticks!
- You should end up with something like the picture above: lining on the inside, outer on the outside.
- Next, the front zip. Take your 26x28 cm piece and cut it horizontally about 9 cm from the top. Do the same for the matching lining piece.
- Insert a zip here in the same way. Sorry there's no photo of this - I hadn't found out about Instructables yet!
Step 4: Finish Zip Ends:
This is my improvised way of finishing the zip ends haphazardly as I went along. More experienced sewers will laugh and do it better!
- From what's left of your outer fabric, make little folded pieces long enough to reach from the end of each zip to the edge of the piece.
- Insert them between the outer fabric and the lining, and sew around each zip-end as shown. Don't bother trimming anything yet!
Step 5: Trim Front Panel:
- Now you want to make your front zipped panel into a circle to match the back panel. To do this, first pin or tack one of the lining circles onto the back of the panel as shown. Be careful to position it so that the zip will be just where you want it on the finished front.
- Sew around the circle with the lining side up so you can follow the circle.
- Carefully cut the panel quite close to the circular seam you just made, as shown.
Step 6: Take Stock of Your Pieces:
- You should now have an array of bits that looks like what I have in the picture, except that your long, zippered section already has finished ends. (I did things in a less sensible order.)
Step 7: Secure Lining Pieces:
- Tack or pin your lining pieces to their matching outer fabric, then sew them in place. The zipped panel is already done, but you still need to do the other circle, the wider strip and the outsides of the zippered strip.
- If you tack quite close to the edge, there will be no need to undo the tacking later because it will be covered by the bias tape.
Step 8: Assemble Outer Ring, Part 1:
- Pin the two strips together first and adjust until they fit exactly around the outside of the circles. The better they fit, the fewer lumps and bumps you will have to deal with around the edges.
- Sew together, trim ragged ends, iron ends open as shown, and sew down with zigzag stitch.
- Important: only do this for ONE side of the outer ring for now. Leave the other pinned, not sewn, to allow for last-minute adjustments!
Step 9: It Begins to Take Shape:
- Sew around the edge with the flat back panel facing down - I find this is easier to control. Again, the tacking and seam will both be covered later by the bias tape.
Step 10: Assemble Outer Ring, Part 2:
- Now that you can see how the ring fits the back circular panel, adjust if necessary and then sew the second seam as with the first one. Again, trim the ends, iron them open and zigzag them down. Finally, tack and sew the gap closed.
- Now you should have something like the second pic: a lined, fabric bowl with a zip in it!
- N.B. NOW would be a good time to attach the strap loops as described in step 14. Learn from my mistakes!
Step 11: Attach Front Panel:
- Sew around this last seam - woo! We've got a few steps to go, but at least it finally looks like a bag.
- Now is a good time to trim any rough or overly wide edges before the next step.
Step 12: Zigzag:
Step 13: Bias Tape:
- Prepare your bias tape first. Unless you've got pre-folded bias tape you'll need to iron it in half (lengthways) and then in quarters (edges meeting in the middle) and then in half again. If you've got one of those machines that does it for you then I salute you.
- Tack the bias tape carefully around the two round edges. Take care that it lies evenly so that the sewing machine will catch the tape on both sides.
- And sew your bias tape in place! Go slowly and carefully and take the tacking out when you've finished. Now you have a nice round bag which you can roll around the room.
Step 14: Strap Loops:
- Cut two pieces about five centimetres wide, eight centimetres long, fold them in half and sew them up one side.
- Turn inside out and iron flat. Turn ends in about half a centimetre.
- Slip a D-ring on each and sew it (laboriously, and with much cursing at self for not doing it earlier when one should have) onto the outer ring just above the pretty zig-zag seams you did in steps 8 and 10. I sewed an X-in-a-box shape and went over it twice just to be sure.
Step 15: Adjustable Strap:
The last, easy part.
- You'll need two lobster clips and a three-bar buckle as shown. One end of your strap loops around the middle of the buckle, the other just loops around one of the lobster clips. Use pins to decide the length you want.
- I used synthetic strap material so I just lightly melted the ends with a cigarette lighter to stop them fraying. Then I sewed the ends up with the old X-in-a-square trick as shown.