Thursday, February 11, 2010

Valentine Mail Bag--Tutorial!

So I've never written a tutorial and I'm no expert sewer, in fact, I'm not very precise so please bear with me. When I saw this mail bag online it was unavailable, from a large retailer, so I thought I could make it and gave it a try. I think I did a good job recreating it.

First, you'll need to cut all your pieces. I'm using a quilting weight red for the front and a heavy weight canvas stripe for my lining and applique and straps which I happened to have on hand.

Two pieces 7.5 by 16.5 inches for the back that wraps around to create the front flap. (This measurement is .5 inches less than mine, as I felt it was a little long). It doesn't show it in this photo, but you should also round your corners on this piece and the front. See later photos. I just used about a 2.5" diameter circle and marked it on the back of the piece and with the front and back together I cut them both at the same time.

Two pieces 7.5 x 9 inches for the front. It doesn't show it in this photo, but you should also round your corners on this piece and the back. See later photos. I just used about a 2.5" diameter circle and marked it on the back of the piece with them together and cut them both at the same time.

Two pieces 4 x 17 inches for the straps (since I've made the bag, my daughter has been wearing the bag, as a backpack, instead of hanging it. So if you anticipate your child doing this, you could make your straps longer as 17" is a little tight for my 5 year old)

Two pieces 2.5 x 22.5 for the sides (I also put interfacing on my quilt weight piece so that the bag would have some stability)

With some steam a seam or iron on interfacing attached cut a heart and the word MAIL, you'll also need some rick-rack and I used two sets of dot hook and loop tape (velcroe)

Now lets make the straps. I made them just as you would make bias tape or quilt binding. Iron them down the center horizontally and then press each side towards the center seam again. Now refold and press once more. Also unfold the end and press in about a half inch and press again so all raw edges are encased. I also hand sewed a hook and tape dot on one edge so that it could be undone to fit on our chairs. This isn't entirely necessary depending on your chairs. Ours are wide and if I hadn't done this, they wouldn't have hung well. Now sew all the way around your straps doing and edge seam.

Time to applique. Lets get one thing straight--I'm in not good at this, so don't judge me! On the back piece, (the larger one) using what will be the front of the fabric find the middle and place your heart right side up and pin in place. Now applique that on with a small zig zag stitch and also applique a key hole. Do the same for the word MAIL on the smaller piece which is the front of the mail bag. This will be at the bottom but leave room for the seam. I put it about 3/4 up from the bottom. Once you've finished your applique, put the two main pieces and the side piece with the lining pieces right sides together. Notice how my corners are rounded now. Now we are ready to put in the rick rack and sew these together.

I marked a line on each side at 9" from the non-heart side. Then starting at that mark start pining in your rick-rack right next to your edge. It shouldn't be peeking out at all. Just leave the tail out at the beginning and the end. Wrap around and pin around the corners as best you can and as you are sewing make sure you keep the rickrack even with the edges of your lining and front fabric and stitch all the way around the pieces with a 1/4" stitch (backstitching at the beginning and end) leaving about a 3-4" opening for turning.

Do the same for the front piece and the side piece again leaving openings for turning. Turn and press all pieces and you should have something like this! You don't need to worry about finishing the holes that you left for turning as they will get closed up when sewing the pieces together.

Next sew the side piece to the front piece that says mail on it. Pin it first so that you make sure it is even and matches up nice. I used an edge stitch here and found it easier to stitch with the side facing me as opposed to the front piece. Sew carefully around the corners to avoid puckering. Pressing it flat with my finger as I sewed it worked well for me.

Next pin the straps to the back piece the longer one, slightly under where the rickrack begins. Make sure they are even with each other and sew them on with a X and a square. Maybe you can do a better job than I did. You can also sew your spouse piece of hook and loop tape on at this point as well which would probably be easier than at the end like I did.

Now sew the back to the side, making sure to pin first so that it all matches up well and is even. Again I found it easier to work with the side facing up on the sewing machine.

For the mail slot I marked about a 3.5-4" line and made a narrow rectangle on the top closer to the back of the bag to make sure the mail would go in the bag and just stitched an tight zig zag applique stitch and started a hole with my seam ripper and then cut carefully within the narrow box I had made.

I used some iron on letters I got at Michaels for her name and simply followed the instructions but you could embroider it on at the beginning before you stitch the lining and front together if you are good at that type of thing as well. I think a magnetic purse clasp would be nice as well for the flap but I didn't have two laying around and I have to make two of these so I for went that. I may add a button to the front flap since that is cheaper and my kids need to practice buttons anyway.


Desirae said...

what a cute valentine holder! I think this bag could be used for all kinds of things, too. great job. :-)

Anonymous said...

Your attention to detail made it so easy..even a caveman could do it! ;-))

Alana R said...

This is really cute. Love the directions!

Lydia said...

What a fabulous bag thanks for the mini tutorial that is fantastic

LollyChops said...

This is such a fantastic tutorial! You really came up with a totally cute bad! I love the little flap most of all!

HUGS and thanks for sharing!

Dolly said...

I love that you took the time to make this and it turned out so nice. Always be proud of your accomplishments!

Arin Yttre said...

I' ve been looking for something to make for my 3 year old daughter for valentines day and I came across your tutorial. I love how easy you made it look. So let me tell you that I am crafty, but definitely NOT a sewer ( at least not anything big). I followed your tutorial and I think it turned out pretty good. I was wondering if you mind if I post a link to your tutorial on my blog page for this? Http://
Thanks for taking the time to do this.