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Ruffle Bag Tutorial and Pattern

 I am really excited to share this with you guys, becuase I am 100% positive that you guys can make it better than me. Seriously. You all are going to get to the end of this tutorial with your gorgeous, finished bag and say "That's it? Huh. That wasn't hard at all".


So let's get started.
Materials:
3/4 yard of outer fabric
1/2 yard lining fabric
1/2 yard of canvas or 1.25 yards of fusible interfacing 
Thread that coordinates with your outer fabric
Magnetic snap (optional)
Pattern piece (Just match up the pages so the triangles on either side form a diamond. One page will overlap the other.)
First, we're going to cut our pattern piece, and then our fabric. You'll need:
From outer fabric:
two body pieces
5 2.5x45 inch strips of fabric (these are just 2.5 inches selvedge to selvedge) NOTE:If you are not using a serger to finish the strips for the front of the bag, cut 2 2.5 inch strips (handle), and 3 3.5 inch strips for the front embellishments.
From lining fabric:
two body pieces
If you want pockets inside, cut those too
Interfacing:
2-4 body pieces of fusible or sew-in interfacing (If using fusible, I would use two layers of a medium weight fusible. I'm using canvas that I sew in, so I'm only using 1 layer)

Ok, now that we have all our materials together, let's get started. First, let's get the strap out of the way. Place two strips of your outer fabric right sides together, and stitch down both long sides. Turn the strap right-side out (use a safety pin as a bodkin to help) and press. Topstitch along both sides of your strap about 1/8 inch from the edge. Set aside.


Next, let's work on the body of the bag. Start by attaching your interfacing to your OUTER bag pieces, either by fusing according to manufacturer directions, or sewing it in.

Now for the fun part! Pleats and ruffles! First, you need to finish the edges of the remaining fabric strips. How you finish them is up to you entirely. On my original bag, I used my serger and a basic 3-thread overlock stitch. On this bag, I'm using my rolled hem function on my serger to finish the edges on the strips.

Don't have a serger? THAT IS TOTALLY OK. I remember reading tutorials before I had mine, and when I would get to the part where they would tell me to serge, I would be all bitter and "blah blah blah, look at you with your fancy machine". So, my point is, no need to be bitter like me. You can finish the edges by pressing the edges under 1/4 inch twice and topstitching, so the raw edge is encased. The edges of your pleats will be bulkier to sew through, but I think it is probably still manageable.

Once you've finished the edges of your strips, we'll attach them to the bag.

You want to take one of your strips and pin it about 5/8 of an inch from the top center of your bag.

See what I did here? It's wrong. Dont do it. Pin the strip down with the RIGHT side facing the right side of your bag, not the wrong side like I did here. This was easily remedied by just turning that edge under and pinning. 
Fold the strip back on itself and being your pleats.

Because we want the pleats to curve, the TOP of your pleats will be deeper than the bottom of your pleats. As you go, pin the pleats to THEMSELVES, but not directly to the bag. Later, we are going to flip this pleat upside-down and stitch it from underneath. 


Continue pleating and pinning until you've completed your curve and your strip is again perpendicular to the top of your bag.  
 

Now, we are going to flip our pleat UP and away from our bag, and pin the end of the pleated strip to the bag RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER.

Ok, you're almost done with the top pleat! We just need to stitch it down. First, stitch across the top underside of the pleat.


When you flip it down, it should look something like this:

Ok, now cut your excess strip off a few inches from your stitching line. We're going to tuck the extra strip under the pleats as a little bit of padding and texture.

Now top stitch the pleat down along the edge where you finished the strip.

And you should have something that looks like this:

YAY! Phew, are you still with me?

Ok, now grab the rest of the strip that you just used for the top pleat. Crank the stitch length and tension on your machine all the way up to the maximum setting, and sew right down the middle of your strip, being sure to leave long thread tails on the ends.

You'll end up with one long glorious ruffle. We're going to pin it to the bag, starting at the top left edge and working around to the right. You want the edge to get caught in the seam when you sew the lining in, so start pinning right at the top.
 There are pins in there, I promise.



Once you're done pinning, sew right along your gathering stitch, and then trim off your extra ruffle. It should look like this:
 YAY! The hardest part is done.

I know on Wednesday I said I'd have this up "tomorrow", but it's still technically Thursday SOME places, right? That counts.

Ok, so when we left off, we had finished the first pleat and first ruffle. Lets keep going.

Grab your next strip. While lifting the ruffle away from the bag, pin your strip at the top left edge of the main body piece, and begin pleating. Continue this pleating until you reach the other side of the bag.You want to pin your pleats so the finished edge will be hidden by the ruffle just above it.

You can pin these pleats directly to the body of the bag, as we are going to sew them down from the top, rather than from underneath like the previous pleat. Once you've pleated all the way around, topstitch the pleats to your bag.

TIP: Stitch in the direction that your pleats are pointing so that your presser foot is flattening the pleats rather than lifting them. This may seem obvious, but it's easy to forget!


Now, stitch down the bottom of the pleat.

Now your bag should look something like this:

Ok, we're almost done with the embellishment! Grab that last strip of fabric and ruffle it the same way you did the other ruffle. Pin it to the bag so that it covers the bottom finished edge of the pleat above it. 

Stitch in place, following the gathering stitch down the center. 

YAY! The front of your bag is done! From here on out, it is pretty basic bag construction.

1. With right sides together, stitch the outer body pieces together with a 3/8 inch seam allowance along the bottom curve. TIP: When I construct bags that don't have a flat bottom (so, the weight of the bag contents will be on the seam), I sometimes put a strip of fusible interfacing OVER the seam inside the bag. This just gives that seam extra reinforcement. Totally optional step.

2. Grab your lining pieces. If you want a pocket, make it and attach it to the lining body. Now is also the time to install your magnetic snap if you want one.

3. Sew the lining pieces together with right sides facing, being sure to leave AT LEAST 3 or 4 inches for turning the bag right side out.

4. Grab your strap that you made earlier and make a "strap sandwich". Place the outer body of your bag inside the lining with right sides facing. Pin the strap to the side seams of the bag, and make sure it is INSIDE the bag. SOMEONE here may have accidentally sewed a strap so that it ended up inside the lining once or twice without noticing it. So, don't be me.

5. Sew all the way around the top of your bag witha 3/8 inch seam allowance. MAKE SURE THE WRONG SIDE OF THE BODY OF YOUR BAG FACES YOUR BOBBIN. Huh? Did that make sense to you? If not, leave a comment and I'll try to explain better. Basically, you want to have the flatest surface possible to sew your main bag and lining together, and if the poofy part is facing down, toward the bobbin, it is really bumpy sewing. So you want your ruffles facing UP when you sew. Make sense?

Also, I found it helpful to use my narrowest presser foot while sewing the outer bag to the lining. You want to be able to sew as close to that top pleat as you can WITHOUT SEWING OVER IT. I found a zipper foot worked best, but you can use whatever you've got on hand.

6. Turn your bag right side out and stitch your lining shut, either by hand or by machine.

7. Press the heck out of the top edge of your bag. I don't topstitch this bag around the top. I just didn't like the way it looked when I tried it. You should feel free to do so though if you like. If you were going to topstitch, I would go from underneath one ruffle all the way around the back and stop underneath the other side of the ruffle - no topstitching over the ruffles and pleats.

You should have something that looks like this:




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