Sunday, October 7, 2012

Braided Block to Boxy Bag Tutorial

A couple months ago one of my Sweet Followers (Melissa) requested a tutorial for The boxy bags I made this past summer.  Sorry it has taken me soooo long to get this up for you Melissa,better late than never though :)

A little note and apology first,the note,this post has a lot of pictures,and I am sorry for the poor quality of some of them.  I had stop mid way through and go make dinner.  When I got back to the tutorial the sun had gone down and the lighting sucked :(  Sorry!

Boxy Bag Tutorial:

Items needed for this bag:

  • one zipper (mine is 14" but a 12" will work fine)
  • four pieces of fusible interfacing (8 1/2" x 8 1/2")
  • two lining pieces ( 8 1/2" x 8 1/2")
  • two Braided Block pieces also (8 1/2" x 8 1/2") or any 2 (8 1/2" square pieces)
  • two 3" x 4" pieces of coordinating fabric (for tabs)
  • thread,scissors,sewing machine,ruler,pencil,iron,rotary cutter

We are going to start by preparing our tabs.  Take one of the 3" x 4" tab pieces and fold in half length wise (as pictured above) press.  

Wrong sides together,as above,fold each side back into the crease you just made by pressing your fabric in half.

It should look like this (if you can see the gap?)  Again,sorry for the poor photos!  Press again.

Fold in half again,and press once more.

Now,take to your machine and edge stitch each side of the tab.  (around an 1/8 inch from the edges)  Repeat the above steps to make the second tab.

Here are both of my tabs,set them aside for later on. 

Now take one of your outside braided block pieces and one of your fusible interfacing pieces,place the interfacing shinny/textured side up,place your braided block piece wrong side down on top of the interfacing.  Take to your iron and press,following manufactures directions.  Repeat with the other braided block piece and both lining pieces.

Take one of the lining pieces and lay it right side up on your work surface,place your zipper right side up on top of it.  Making sure the top most edges are even all the way across.  (line up the edge of the zipper with the top edge of the lining square) As in the photo above.

Now take one of the braided block pieces and place it on top of the zipper,wrong side down,as shown in the picture above.  Making sure that all three edges are even/lined up across the top.

Now you are going to pin all three together.  Here you can just place your first pin in from the edge by a 1/2",or you will need to take your pencil,and draw a line at 1/2".  Likewise you will do the same on the other end.  Either place your pin at the 1/2" mark,or draw a line.  The reason being you are going to start sewing at the first pin/pencil mark,and stop sewing at the last pin/pencil mark.

Here we are at the sewing machine,now before we start sewing the three pieces together,you need to take off your regular foot and replace it with your zipper foot!  Okay,now we are ready to sew.  Note that I am starting right where my first pin mark is,at the zipper head end.  In other words,the zipper head is just behind my pressor foot,while we will be sewing toward the tail of the zipper.  If you are using a pin to mark your starting point (like I am) remove the pin before starting to sew.

 Here is a photo of where I stopped at the 1/2"mark.

Fold your lining and braided block pieces wrong sides together and press as close to the zipper as possible,without touching the zipper.

Next take your second lining piece and lay it right side up,take the first half of the bag,that you just finished and lay it on top,lining the top of the zipper with the top edge of the lining piece.  (mine is not lined up,so that you can see how it should go)

This piece is going to be placed right sides together on top of the finished half of bag and zipper.  I have laid it out like this so that I can make sure I have the pattern desired for the top of the bag.  (see how I have the spools of thread and blue batik on either side of the zipper?)  If you are using solid pieces instead of the braided block pieces,this step isn't necessary.  You can just lay it on top of the finished piece,right sides together.

Like before we are either going to mark with a pin or pencil at a 1/2" in on either end,and will start and stop sewing at those spots.  Then press as for the first side/half.

Now all the pieces are attached to the zipper,and we are ready to topstitch/edge stitch along the zipper.

Remember that we are Not starting to sew at the edge,but are starting in a 1/2" from the edge,just like before.  Also you will want to once again change out from the zipper foot back to the regular foot.  Top stitch about an 1/8" away from the edge closest to the zipper,remembering to also Stop stitching a 1/2" away from the other end.  Repeat for the other side of the top/zipper.

Both sides are now topstitched.

Next we are going to take the two braided block pieces and pin them right sides together like in the above photo.  Don't worry about the zipper being kind of twisted,that is normal.  Likewise the two lining pieces should be pinned right sides together.  Notice though that I only have two pins holding this part together?  You can also see (hopefully)  that there are also two pencil marks in between the pins?  I have left approximately 3 1/2" space between the pencil marks.

We are going to sew across where we have pinned from Edge to Edge on the braided block side.  On the lining side we are going to sew from the Edge to the pencil mark ONLY!  Make sure to leave the space in between the marks Un Sewn/Open!

Sew your braided block side from edge to edge.  Okay,now we need to sew the lining side.  I started sewing at the edge,see the line right in front of my pressor foot?  That is the line where we will Stop sewing,make sure to back stitch here,as this is the opening used for turning the bag right side out!  Now  clip the threads and move the fabric up to the next pencil line/mark start sewing here,again making sure to back stitch!  Sew to the edge.

This is what your lining piece should look like,see the open spot there in the center?  Your braided block should Not look like this,it should be sewn All the way across!

Lay your braided block side down on the table like in the above picture.  I am holding the lining up, so you can see just the braided block laying down.  You could press the folded edges,I just finger pressed them.  Centering the zipper.

Here I have let go of the lining,and centered and finger pressed it right on top of the braided block pieces.

Remember the tabs we set aside earlier?  Take one of those and fold it in half lengthwise. See how the folded end is facing the bag?

That is how you want to place it in between the two layers of the braided block,with the raw edge even with the raw edges of the braided block pieces.  Notice that this is the tail end of the zipper part of the bag.

Take to your machine and using a 1/4" seam,sew across the end,from edge to edge,making sure to sew back and forth across the zipper part a couple of times.  (you can pin the zipper to keep it in place,I basted mine instead of pinning)  * NOTE * See in the photo above how I have folded back the lining?  This is very Important!  You only want to sew the braided block pieces,Not the Lining pieces here!

Here it is  all sewn together.  The extra bit of stitches is a basting stitch,which I did not have you do,but you can baste the tab and zipper too if you like.

Notice that you do not see the zipper head in the above photo?  That is because I have un zipped it about 3/4 of the way,so it is now hidden inside the bag.  It is Very Important that you do this,or you will sew across the zipper and then will Not be able to un zip the zipper and then will have to get out the Grim Ripper :(

After un zipping the zipper you need to pin (or you could baste it together) together the zipper so that the teeth line up.  Making sure that the pieces do not come apart while sewing the tab in.  Repeat the steps to attach the second tab and sew the end of the bag together.  Remembering to fold the lining pieces under so that you do not sew them also.

Cut off the excess zipper from both ends.

This is how it will look.

Now to make our bag boxy!  Can you see that I have taken the scissors and sniped just to the stitches?  This will make it a little easier to fold out the corners.  Fold out the corner so that the crease from the fold and the seam are lined up exactly. (or as close as possible)

Here is another picture from the side.  I have found that it helps to stick your hand,or fingers inside the opening and move the corner around to help line things up.

Once you have the corner folded out take it to your work surface and mark a line across it at 1 1/4".

This is how it should look.

Take to your machine and sew on the line from edge to edge,making sure to back stitch at the beginning and end.  Trim off 1/4 inch out from the seam you just sewed.  Like you would for a seam on a quilt block.  Now repeat this process for all of the 7 remaining corners!

This is what your bag should look like now,that all of the corners have been made boxy!

Time to start turning your bag right side out!  Using the opening we left start pushing and pulling your bag right side out.

Almost there!  Make sure to push out the corners,yes,all of them :)  Once you have it all turned and the corners pushed out,you can either hand sew or machine sew the opening closed.

Zip it up and there you have it!  A finished Boxy Bag :)

A peek inside.

The bottom of the bag :)

After typing up this post I have decided that a lot of my problem lies in the yellow cutting mat I took the photos on.  So in future I will be taking the pictures on the white table beneath it instead of the mat.

Hope that everyone experienced and in-experienced alike are able to understand the tutorial and make their own Boxy Bag :)  If you have any questions just email me,and I will do my best to answer them!


  1. I am intimidated by my sewing machine and zippers scare me...BUT you make sound so simple! I think your pictures really show what you are trying to explain!

    Thank you for linking up to {Im}Perfect Sunday!

  2. Thank you so much for the tutorial!!! I love it and my bag!!!

  3. Writing a tutorial takes some time, but thank you for taking the time. Such a cute bag! I'm adding it to my list for Christmas ideas.


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