My plans to participate in a three day session of classes at a friends house with a Pilates instructor who was visiting from out of town, inspired me to finally get around to making a travel bag for my yoga mat. Truthfully, I only managed to make it to two of the classes, but my yoga mat travelled there in style!
Step 1: Gather Your Materials and Equipment
- measuring tape
- chalk pencil
- sewing machine (thread and needles)
- exercise mat that rolls up!
Step 2: Measure and Cut Out the Tube
Measure the distance around your rolled up mat (circumference) and add about 4" (1-2" for ease of getting the mat in the bag and 2-3" for your french seam) to the width of your fabric.
Measure the width of your mat (or the length of your rolled up mat) and add 3" for seams and finishing. If you want the top 4" or so of your mat sticking out of your bag like mine, (to make it easy to get in and out of the bag) you can make the length of your fabric shorter or wait til you get to the last step to decide.
Cut out your piece of fabric.
Step 3: Sew Side Seam (French Seam Optional)
For the side seam, there are a couple of options:
Regular seam: Put the good sides of your fabric together lengthwise and sew a 3/8" seam up the side of the tube. This will leave an unfinished seam inside, which you can zigzag the edge of to reduce fraying.
French seam: I decided to use a French seam, which will leave a finished looking seam inside and outside your bag. I found this french seam instructable, if you need more a bit more information.
Pin your fabric lengthwise, with wrong sides facing, and sew a 1/8" seam down the side. Then turn the tube inside out and press the seam to one side, and pin in place (good sides are now facing) and sew another seam this time a 1/4" down the side. This will catch the rough edge of the fabric inside the seam.
Step 4: Measure and Cut Out Bottom Circle
To determine the size of the fabric circle needed for the bottom of your bag, you first need to determine the radius (the distance from the middle of your circle to the edge of the circle).
To determine the radius of your circle:
- Flatten your sewn tube from the last step and measure the width. Mine was about 7".
- Multiply this number by 2. In my case 7" x 2 = 14" - this will give you the circumference of your bag.
Knowing the circumference of your bag, allows you to figure out the radius by using a mathematical formula. This isn't too hard, just use a calculator if you need to. The formula is 'circumference (C) = 2 x ∏ (3.14) x radius(r)' or C = 2(3.14) x r
- We already know our circumference = 14" and ∏ = 3.14
- Therefore (insert your circumference)14" = 2 x 3.14 x R
- 7" = 3.14 x R
- 7" divided by 3.14 = 2.23"
- Round this up to 2 1/4"
This is the radius without the seam allowance. Add 1/2" to this measurement to get your final fabric radius - mine was 2 3/4".
Using a compass and a chalk pencil (I used masking tape to attach the pencil) and set your compass width to your radius, in my case 2 3/4", and draw a circle on your fabric.
Cut out your circle on the chalk line.
Step 5: Make Your Strap
For the strap, you will need a piece of fabric about 12" longer than the length of your mat and 3-4" wide. The length of the strap will depend on your body size and how you like to carry your bag, so error on the side of too long, you can always cut some off!
With fabric good side up, lay a piece of string down the middle, that is longer than the fabric and overlaps both ends. Note: using the string is optional, but I find it helpful especially when turning small tubes (the string will be used to help turn your strap tube good side out after it is sewn).
Fold your fabric in half length ways (good sides facing) with the string tucked back into the fold. Sew across the top of your tube to secure one end of the string to the tube. From the same end of the tube, sew a 1/4" seam down the side of the tube, making sure to keep the string away from the seam.
If you added a string, you can now pull gently on the string to begin to turn the tube in on itself. Continue until it is completely turned right-side out. Cut off the string.
Finally, press your strap flat with the seam running down the middle of one side.
Step 6: Adding the Strap and Sewing on the Bottom
Turn your tube inside out, with the good side facing to the inside (admire your french seam). Pull the strap up through the inside of the tube and slightly past the end. Pin the end of the strap to the inside of the tube (with a little bit extending past the edge) with the seams from the strap and tube facing each other. Sew the strap to the tube, using a basting stitch (wide) and an 1/8" seam allowance. This will hold the strap in position when you are sewing on the bottom.
Preparing to add the bottom:
I find it helpful to mark (at least) the quarters of your circle and tube, with pins before lining them up to each other and pinning them together to sew. To do this, fold your circle in half and mark each end of the fold with a pin and then fold the other direction lining up the pins to mark the quarters with pins. Do the same with the tube and then pin the tube and circle together (good sides facing) by lining up the pins and removing them and pinning the fabric together. I usually add a few more pins, between each of the quarter pins, to help ease the bottom into position and line up the edges well.
Once you are happy with the position of your circle bottom, sew a 1/2" seam around the edge, checking to see that the edges are staying lined up as you sew. If you think your fabric might fray easily, run a zigzag seam along the edge.
Turn your bag right side out.
Step 7: Finishing the Top Edge and Adding the Strap.
Next you will need to decide on the length of your bag and strap.
For my bag length, I left about 4" of my mat exposed to make it easier to get the mat in and out. Cut off your bag leaving it 2" longer than your desired, finished size. Then fold 1" of fabric to the inside of your tube (bad sides together) and sew a 3/4" seam and put aside.
Next you need to figure out the length of your strap. It is a good idea to roll up your mat and put it into the bag, and attach the strap with pins to see how it feels (leave it a bit loose). Cut your strap to length, remove your mat, and pin your strap to the edge of your bag, lining up the edge of your bag and the end of your strap with the seams facing each other (see photo). Sew the strap to the bag using a 1/4" seam allowance.
Finally, fold over the top edge of your bag to the inside 1", pin and sew about a 7/8" seam (catch the edge) and then add a 3/4" seam to help the edge lay flat and to secure the strap.
Step 8: Pack Up Your Mat!
Roll up your mat, stuff it into your awesome new travel bag, and throw it over your shoulder on your way to the gym!