Bag Making Tips, Arabesque by SewSweetness

Last weekend I made the Arabesque Bag from Sew Sweetness, by Sara Lawson.  You can get the free pattern here from Craftsy.  This is probably the 3rd bag I’ve made from one of her patterns and they never disappoint.  The instructions are always very clear with great photos and she takes you step-by-step to create a great bag.  The purpose of this bag was to have a special one to traipse around on quilt shop hops.  I changed up the pattern a tad to make it cross-body so I have my hands free to fondle all that pretty fabric.  🙂

I found this adorable fabric last week at my local quilt store.  I had a variegated teal thread I thought would be perfect and a bright blue zipper in my stash.

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Tip #1:  When you have to cut foam or interfacing that must match exactly in shape and size to form one piece when fused or sewn to another, cut the fabric to size and cut the other piece just a bit larger all around.  Then sew and trim.  You will save yourself a ton of wonky-seam frustration and the end result is a beautiful smooth perfectly sewn piece.  In the case of fusibles, I iron in the center first to within about an inch from the edges with the sticky side of the interfacing up and the wrong side of the fabric down.  Then I trim and go back afterwards with the iron to fuse the edges together.  This prevents sticky residue on my iron and ironing board.

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Tip #2:  When sewing the zipper, leave the pins in the pin cushion.  Sorry I didn’t capture photos of this but I NEVER use pins or clips on a zipper.  If you want to master zippers, 1/4″ Steam-a-Seam (Lite or Regular) is your best friend.  Put the SAS on the zipper, adhere the zipper to the fabric in perfect placement with your iron and then sew.  Easy and a perfect result every time.  I checked on YouTube for a video showing how to use SAS in zipper placement but couldn’t find one.  There’s a lot of SAS videos, but not one for zippers.  I guess I will have to do one myself!

Tip #3:  When sewing bulky fabrics, begin sewing in the middle of the stitch line somewhere to give yourself something to hang on to from the back to help the feed dogs do their job.  The box seam on a bag is the shortest sewn part of the bag.  If I had started on one end, no forward movement would occur because of the bulk.  I pin down the seam allowances on both sides so they don’t get all smushed up under the presser foot and begin a couple of stitches behind of center seam.  Pull the pins before sewing over them.

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Whatever the seam, either with foam or Soft-n-Stable, I begin the stitch a couple of inches down from where I would normally begin and sew to the bottom.  Then I flip it over and finish the seam from the other end.  It’s an extra step but I don’t need a leader and the seam is always straight and true from one end to the other.  Here I’ve done the first part and have flipped it over and starting  the finish.

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Here’s  the finished product.  I totally forgot to quilt the bag darn it.  Side #1.

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Side #2.  I fussy cut the center designs on both sides.

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See how straight that zipper is?  That’s Steam-a-Seam my friends.  It comes in sheets or rolls and you can get it everywhere from Walmart to Amazon.

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I cut the length of strap to fit me perfectly.  I’m ready for a Shop Hop!

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3 thoughts on “Bag Making Tips, Arabesque by SewSweetness

  1. Brilliant result and some great tips there – I’ve never heard of steam-a-seam but it looks like it warrants further investigation. Fancy you, of all people, forgetting to do the quilting!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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