Ruched Bag Tutorial

I’m busy working on a super secret project this month, so I’m bringing home a couple of the tutorials I wrote for Sew McCool last year! I had so much fun working with Deanna and I really credit her for getting me started writing tutorials – I hadn’t realized how much fun (and work – but mostly fun ;) ) they could be!

Ruched Bag Tutorial {{FriendsStitchedTogether for Sew McCool}}

I use this bag every single day – it’s big enough to be used as a “transition” diaper bag (with two toddler, I’ve moved from a thousand diapers, wipes, sippies, and clothes to toys, snacks, sunglasses, and shoes…) but small enough and cute enough for any occasion! The finished bag ends up about 13″ high and 19″ wide. Using pre-made handles makes this a super fast project! I finished four in two days for Christmas last year :)

You will need:

  • 1 yard quilt weight cotton fabric for the outer shell. If you have a directional print, you may need more.
  • 1 yard lining fabric – I have used both a canvas and a quilt weight cotton with good success. There are enough layers that it stands up fine, although if you decide to interface the lining you will need two pieces that are 14″x20″.
  • 56″ of 1/4″ elastic.
  • Two premade handles (mine are from JoAnn’s) – or you can make your own. If you make your own handles, you’ll need extra fabric for them.
  • All seam allowances are 1/2″ unless stated otherwise.

From your main fabric, cut two panels that are 30″ high by 20″ wide. From the lining fabric, cut four 14″x20″ panels and any pockets that you want (I cut two 7″x7″ for a zippered welt pocket and two 6″x7″ for a patch pocket). Cut your elastic into four 14″ pieces.

Place your outer panels wrong side up. Draw a line 6″ from each side – you will have an 8″ panel in the center. I found it easiest to fold the fabric in half and mark one side at a time. This will also mark the center for you.

Ruched Bag Tutorial {{FriendsStitchedTogether for Sew McCool}}

Pin the elastic along the line, matching the edges and the center.

Ruched Bag Tutorial {{FriendsStitchedTogether for Sew McCool}}

Set your machine to a narrow zigzag stitch. Starting at one end of one elastic, make a few stitches to secure the seam. Pull the elastic tight with one hand in front and one hand behind your presser foot to gently pull the fabric through slightly as you sew (this is impossible to get an action shot of!).

Ruched Bag Tutorial {{FriendsStitchedTogether for Sew McCool}}

Repeat with the other piece of elastic and run a long basting along each long end. Lay the outer fabric on top of one of the lining panels, wrong sides together. Pull the basting stitch until it gathers the edges to fit the lining. Baste the two pieces together with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Ruched Bag Tutorial {{FriendsStitchedTogether for Sew McCool}}

Repeat for the other panel. Place the two pieces right sides together and sew both short sides and the bottom.

To box the corners:

  1. Trim the corner, being careful not to cut the stitching.
  2. Fold the corner into a point. Make sure the seams are lined up exactly and pin.
  3. From the point of the seam, measure up 1.5″ and mark a line across. It will be 3″ long from side to side.
  4. Sew along the marked line and finish the raw edge.

Ruched Bag Tutorial {{FriendsStitchedTogether for Sew McCool}}

Add any pockets to the remaining lining pieces. I used the 7″x7″ pieces for a zippered welt pocket (tutorial here) on one side. For the other side, I sewed the two 6″x7″ pieces wrong sides together, leaving a 3″ hole to turn it right side out and then topstitched to close the hole. I placed both pockets three inches from the top of the lining pieces.

Repeat with the remaining lining pieces, but leave a 4-6" section unsewn at the bottom of the bag. Make sure this is at least 3" from each edge.

Sew the lining pieces together at the sides and bottom, but leave a 4-6″ section unsewn at the bottom of the bag. Make sure this is at least 3″ from each edge.

Ruched Bag Tutorial {{FriendsStitchedTogether for Sew McCool}}

Box the corners as before.

Slide the outer bag into the lining, right sides together. If you are using handles that need to be sewn into the seam, add them in between the lining and the outer, placing them right on top of the ruched elastic.

Repeat with the remaining lining pieces, but leave a 4-6" section unsewn at the bottom of the bag. Make sure this is at least 3" from each edge.

Stitch around the top of the bag. Turn it right side out through the hole at the bottom of the lining. You can hand stitch the hole closed or machine sew it close to the edge (this is what I always do).

Ruched Bag Tutorial {{FriendsStitchedTogether for Sew McCool}}

Push the lining into the bag and topstitch around the top. If you are using handles like mine, sew them on. And now you have a bag with easy access that’s large enough to carry not only your own stuff, but your kid’s too!

Ruched Bag Tutorial {{FriendsStitchedTogether for Sew McCool}}

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