Quilt As You Go Shopper – Our Free Bag Tutorial

I just love this Quilt As You Go Shopper! I always prefer to have a homemade shopping bag than an ugly plastic bag. During lockdown I wanted to make myself a bright and colorful Shopper. I thought the Quilt As You Go technique would make a fabulous bag so I’m sharing this with you as a free bag tutorial.

I love the QAYG technique, there is something about cutting up all of those scraps and turning them into something beautiful. Recently, I have been looking for a quick project, something non-dressmaking, and decided QAYG was just the technique to use.

The joy of Quilt As You Go is that you can create any size fabric and use it to make your item. Firstly you should check out our Quilt As You Go Fabric Baskets online class before making your Quilt As You Go Shopper. This will teach you the basic technique.

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If you have already done the class you can jump straight in and make this beautiful bag.

My Quilt As You Go Shopper – free bag tutorial

I wanted a bag big enough to use for a decent shopping trip, a picnic, or a trip to the beach.

So let’s get started!

What size for your Quilt As You Go Shopper?

So firstly, work out the size you want your bag to be and cut your strips accordingly. I wanted a bag sized roughly 25″ wide x 18″ tall, so I ended up cutting 2.5″ x 9.5″ strips. I ended up making 8 panels of 6 strips with them. Sewing the panels together into 2 sets of 4 panels.

This meant I needed a total of 64 strips to make my bag.

I chose a 1/4″ seam allowance but you can add your preferred seam allowance to your calculations.

Once your strips are cut you should decide which order, if any, you wish to sew them in. You can do it random or follow a pattern.

Let’s Start Sewing

Start by using the basic technique to attach the strips to the wadding, topstitching each side as you go.

Remember that the first strip should go down onto your wadding with the right side up. The next piece is laid onto and sewn on the inside raw edge, where the pieces meet. Press open the pieces and use a seaming tool or your fingernail to press the pieces flat. Ideally, you want to avoid an iron at this stage.

Then topstitch either side of the seam. I prefer to sew quite close to the seam edge on both pieces of fabric you have just sewn. The stitching lines should look like train tracks by the time you are done.

Attaching the strips.

Once all of the strips are sewn to the wadding, I like to sew down each extreme edge. These edges are not usually sewn but I like to edge stitch them just to make sure they stay in place.

Edge stitch each loose edge.

I usually like to sew production-line style, so I finish off all my strip panels before moving onto the next stage. I sewed 8 panels, 4 for each side of the bag.

Trimming up your panels

As a word of warning, don’t be alarmed by the way your panels look before trimming! Use your rotary cutter and board to get a nice clean edge, this will make all the difference, I promise! Once you are done, trim down all the panels to the same size, removing all excess thread and wadding.

The way to decide on how to trim the panels, is to measure them all and see if you have one smaller than the others. Trim this one to the best size you can and then trim all the others to the same size. The joy of Quilt As You Go is that you can make it up as you go along. We aren’t following any rules or patterns. If you panels end up bigger or smaller that originally intended, just call it artistic licence!

Trim all your excess wadding to neaten everything up. free bag tutorial

Sewing the panels together

Next, we will sew the panels together. Sew them as 2 panels across x 2 panels down, being the same on each side. You may not need to do this stage, depending on what size you have made your bag. It’s up to you whether you have made one big panel or smaller individual panels.

When you are sewing panels together, the important thing is to line up the seam lines. Pin them in place here and sew together using your chosen seam allowance.

Pin and sew your panels together.

Next up is to cut out our corners to create the boxed corners. This will give your bag a gusset, or bottom, perfect for carrying your picnic to the beach!

Cut out the corners to make your gusset – free bag tutorial

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Preparing the corners

I cut 3″ squares from the edge of the fabric for my corners. Remember you need two on each main bag panel and they should be at the bottom edge of your bag. this is four corners to cut in total.

Top Tip : check out the direction of fabric for which end is the bottom

Pin your panels together ready for stitching.

Sewing your panels together

Now pin your panels together, with the right sides facing each other. Make sure your corners are lined up. Pin in place.

We will next sew the straight sides in three individual steps. First, from the top left-hand edge to the cut-out corner, locking your stitches when you start & stop. Next, sew across the bottom, from the cut-out corner to the other cut-out corner, again lock stitching. Finally, sew from the other side of the cut out boxed corner to the top right-hand corner.

You should not be sewing around your cut out corners, leave those stitch-free for the time being. Now let’s move onto the Boxed Corners!

Boxing the corners is next.

The easiest way to do a boxed corner is to pinch each side of your cut out square and pull outward. This will flatten the square shape to make a straight line and will line up your seams to the middle.

Think of it this way, you are taking the flat bag and giving it width. Taking it from a 2d thing to make it 3 dimensional, I hope that helps!!

Pin your boxed corner in place.

Sewing your boxed corners

Pin your boxed corner in place as shown above and stitch at 1/4″ from the raw cut edge. Then stitch across the seams. Make sure you lock your stitches at the start and finish. You can stitch this seam again if you wish to add extra strength.

Next, I attached my handles. I had some spare handle fabric leftover from another project and just used those. Decide where you want your handles to be located and stitch them in place. Making sure they are in the same place on both sides.

The handles raw ends should line up with the raw edge on the front and the back of the bag. Make sure your handle is straight and not twisted before sewing in place.

Top Tip : Stitch back and forth a few times to make sure the handles are strongly sewn in place.

The Lining Fabric

I chose to make my lining from a little bit of leftover linen fabric. Measure your final bag size and add a seam allowance, then cut the two panels for your lining. You should repeat the same process detailed above for boxing the corners.

Sew the lining pieces as we did with the bag, avoiding the corners just as we did before. You will need to leave a hole for turning the bag though once you are finished. I prefer to do this on the bottom edge of the lining. Just leave a gap in your stitching of approximately 4-5″. Making sure you lock your stitches to avoid them popping when you do your turning.

I added a simple patch pocket to the inside.

If you wish to add a simple patch pocket, add this to your lining now too. I added a simple 9″ pocket to on side of the lining fabric, perfect size for your keys or phone.

Attaching your lining.

Once your lining is complete we need to attach it to the bag. Put the bag and lining right sides together and pin around the top. I usually have the bag right side out and turn the lining wrong sides out. Slip the bag inside the lining and match the raw edges around the top of the bag. Making sure to have our handles inside the bag and not outside!

Sew around the top edge using at least 1/4″ seam allowance, but I sometimes use 1/2″ for extra security. I always backstitch over my handles to make sure they are super strong.

Final steps

Do a visual check to make sure everything has been caught in your stitching. Then turn the bag through your turning hole, pulling the bag and lining into their correct positions. At this point, I give the bag and lining a little press. Making sure to press the lining and bag in place at the top edge of the bag, before you topstitch next.

Turn your bag and top stitch around the top edge.

This final stage is a finishing topstitch around the top of the bag. I lengthen this stitch to make it a 3.5 on the machine, it copes better with the handles and looks better.

This stitch performs a number of functions. It holds the bag and lining in place, it gives extra security on your handles and makes the bag look finished.

I added two lines of topstitching across the top of my bag, mimicking the Quilt As You Go stitching.

Your final job is to stitch up your turning hole and give your beautiful bag a finishing press.

All finished and ready for an outing!

I hope that this has inspired you to make your own Quilt As You Go Shopper. Maybe take your QAYG skills and turn them into a whole range of items. Please feel free to share this free bag tutorial with your friends!

If you are looking for more free things to do during the lockdown, then check out our Youtube Playlist. #stay at home simple sewing projects for lockdown

I would love to hear what you think of my bag and if you make your own I would love to see pictures!

Happy sewing!

Nikki x

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