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Parisian Market Bag Tutorial

 Feel like sewing? Would you like to make a sweet little bag for the markets? Just roomy enough to fit your little purchases in from your latest browse through the flea markets.

 Finished bag measures 46 cm(18 inches) across at the base and 36 cm(14 inches) in height (not including handles).
 This bag is fully lined and requires a teeny bit of sewing knowledge. Please read through instructions thoroughly before starting.

Unless mentioned, all seam allowances are 1.3cm (1/2″).

You will need

2 x rectangular pieces of fabric 56cm x 61cm ( 22″ x  24 “)- one is for the outside and one piece for the lining
Another rectangular piece 76cm x 23cm (30″ x 9″)- for the band around the top
For the straps/handles- 2 strips of fabric  76cm x 11.5cm (30″ x 4  1/2″)
fabric marker and tape measure
sewing machine

Cut out all of your pieces of fabric and have you tape measure, pins and fabric marker handy. I used fabric by Tilda for the outside of my bag and handles and some linen for the lining.
Next we are going to put the pleats in the outside piece of the bag.

Step 1: Take your outside piece of fabric and using your tape measure-along the shorter side 56cm (22″)- find the centre of the rectangular piece. This should be at 28 cm(11″). On the wrong side of the fabric, mark the centre with your fabric marker.

Step 2: Using the centre mark as a guideline, start at the centre mark and measure 6.5cm (2 1/2″) increments along the top. Measure 3 lots of 6.5cm (2 1/2 “) on each side of the centre mark. See photo below- these are the orange marks.  Mark each measurement with your fabric marker. You should have a total of 7 marks- 3 on each side of the centre mark.

Step 3

To know how big to make you pleats you will need to mark them in. Where you have placed your 6.5cm (2 1/2″ ) marks, you will need to measure 1.3cm (1/2″ ) on either side of the mark. See above photo- these are the yellow marks. Your pleats will be 2.5cm (1″ ) in size. Hope I haven’t lost you here…just look at the photos above to see what I mean.

So now you have your pleat marks. Now you need to make your pleats and lay them down. Your pleats are going to face into the centre.

Still on the wrong side of the fabric-to make your pleats, match the 2 yellow marks together on each side of the orange mark. See first photo above. This forms your pleat. Now lay your pleat down flat, the fold part faces to the centre. When you turn your fabric over to the right side, each pleat should face into the centre. See photos 3 and 4 above. Secure each pleat as you go with a pin.

With your machine, baste stitch (this just means adjust your machine to the longest straight stitch) your pleats into place with a 1/2cm (1/4″) seam allowance. Remove pins. In the photo below the pleats have been baste stitched into place.

Repeat on the other end of the piece of fabric. You know have a rectangular piece of fabric with pleats at each end. Fold in half, matching the two pleat ends together. Pin down each side. Straight stitch each side of the fabric. The pleat ends form the top of your bag. Trim your seams. Finish the raw edges and press the seams open.

Repeat the above steps with the lining fabric. Press pleats into place with a hot iron.

You can now leave the bag pieces as is, or you can sew a gusset in the bottom of your bag. I find that a gusset makes the bag sit better and creates a bottom to your bag- giving you more room. The decision is up to you. You don’t have to sew a gusset if you don’t wish to.

How to sew the gusset

 Making a gusset is really easy, but please read through the instructions first. The hardest bit is understanding how to fold the fabric. If you are lining your bag you will need to put a gusset in both the outer and lining pieces.

Note: For the photos, I’ve used my linen lining. After making the bag, I’ve changed the pattern slightly. Your piece will look marginally different in that you will have pleats along the top opening.

Step 1: To make a gusset, with your outside fabric “bag,” place your piece flat on the table.It looks like a square.

Step 2: Now match the opposite side seams together. So the side seams are now in the centre of your bag (photo 2).

Step 3: This is the tricky step…match the bottom corner points of the bag on either side of the base, so you have now what looks a little like a house. Look at photo 3 below, the open end of the bag is at the bottom of the photo- side seams are in the middle and are matching. The base of the bag has formed a pointed “roof.”

Step 4: Take one point and measure 1 1/2″ from the point along the seam. Mark.

Step 5: Using your marker, draw a straight line across  and secure with a pin. Repeat with the other corner.

Step 6 and 7: Straight stitch along your line.

Step 8: Trim the point, leaving 1.3cm (1/2″) seam allowance.

Step 9: Repeat with the other point. Finish raw edges. Repeat with the lining.

Well Done!! You have now officially sewn a gusset!

 Step 10: Repeat with the lining piece. Press seams.

Attaching the handless

 Turn your outer bag piece right side out. Turn your lining piece right side IN. Insert your lining piece inside your outside piece. Wrong sides should be facing each other. Match side seams and pleats together. Pin.

Put to one side. Take your 2 long strips of fabric that you are using for your straps and fold 1 piece lengthways, matching right sides together. Pin along the length of the strip. Repeat with the second strip of fabric.

Straight stitch down the length of one strip and then the other (photo 1 above). Press open seams, and then using a knitting needle/chopstick, turn your strip of fabric right side out. Press. Repeat with the second strip.

You should now have 2 long strips of fabric, right side out. These will make your handles on your bag.

Take your bag (with the lining pinned into place) and from the outside edge on the right side, measure in 8cm (3″) towards the centre. Mark with a fabric marker (photo 2 above). Repeat on the left side and measure and mark. Turn the bag over and repeat on the other side.

Take one strip of fabric and match the middle of the open end with the mark on your bag. Pin (photo 3). With the other end of the strip, pin the strip into place on the same side (photo 4). Mark sure your handle isn’t twisted. Turn the bag over and repeat with the second strip of fabric on the other side of you bag.

Put to one side.

Take your last remaining rectangular piece of fabric- the band piece (30″ x 9″).

Fold in half lengthways and press (see photo on the left below). Match the 2 short ends together, pin. Stitch a straight stitch along the seam. Trim the seam allowance, finish the raw edges and press the seam open. You should now have a wide, circular band.

With the seams facing out, slip your band over your bag piece and handles. Match side seams together and edges together along the top of the bag. Pin into place (see photo on the right above).

Sew around the top opening of your bag. Trim seam allowances and finish raw edges. Fold band up. Press. Unpick your basting stitches if you can see them on the outside of your bag.

Finishing touches

 Pin handles into place- straight up and facing towards the top opening of the bag (photo 5 below).

Starting at the base of the handle, straight stitch along the outside edge of the handle, very close to the edge of the strap. Sew all the way around the handle until you get to the other side. Be careful you don’t do as I did and accidently stitch the opposite side of the bag unknowingly underneath!!

Repeat on the other side of the strap.

Flip the bag over and repeat with the other strap. Press.

At this point you have finished your bag. I like to give my bag a more finished look and around the top opening of the bag, where the band joins the rest of the bag (photo 7), I like to straight stitch very close to the seam. This is called “stitch in the ditch.” This just makes your bag sit a bit better and gives it a more professional finish. This step is entirely optional.

So…TA-DA! Finished…

All in all this bag shouldn’t take longer than a couple of hours from start to finish. You can make them bigger or smaller, just adjust the sizes of the pieces of fabric used.

Now you just need to find some markets to go to this weekend.


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