Ok, so the new school year is fast approaching and the lists of handmade school items can feel intimidating. My husband sewed everything for our two oldest sons, but I finally worked up the courage to tackle the sewing machine when our third child started hoikuen. Funny thing is once I got the hang of it, I really loved sewing! I particularly love to sew bento bags, so here is a step by step tutorial. Give it a try!
Three pieces of fabric- 2 measuring 28cm X 17 cm for front panels, 1 measuring 28cm X 20cm of contrasting fabric for base, two 65cm pieces of cotton cord/string, scissors, ruler, chalk or pen for marking fabric, bodkin (or tweezers or safety pin for pulling string) hot hemmer (or hem gauge), not pictured- iron and pins
NOTE- You might notice in the photos that I used a serger to finish the seams, but this is not necessary so don`t stress about it.
1. Pin the 28cm length of side panel fabric to 28 cm length of base fabric, right sides facing together. They will overlap.
Check direction of print before sewing, place print upside down so will face up after sewn.
2. Sew both side seams of fabric with 1cm seam allowance. Follow the numbers to the right of presser foot for guidance. See the 0 next to the fabric? That is the 1.0cm mark. Back stitch at beginning and ending of fabric. That means when you begin or end sewing, stop after a few stitches and go back over those stitches to reinforce.
3. After sewing sides, open up and press with iron. This is a really important step – don`t skip!
4. Top stitch along the the base fabric. Basically sew very close to seam (where the fabrics meet) on the right side of fabric to secure the seam and also to make it look nice.
5. Open up to one long piece, it should look like this.
6. Fold in half, right, sides of fabric touching. Be careful to line up side seams to match, iron and pin.
8. Once folded, measure 18cm from bottom of both sides and mark with chalk or pen.
9. Sew with 1 cm seam allowance from the 18 cm mark down to fold (not pictured). Remember to back stitch.
10. Now you need to fold back the top edges 1 cm. Use the hot hemmer (pictured in left photo) for folding hems, iron after folded. If you think you might sew occasionally, I recommend buying one of these!
11. Sew the folded edges of both sides to just below the previous 18 cm mark. You will need to open up flat on the sewing machine, sew down and stop just below 18cm mark, pivot, sew a few stitches and pivot again sewing back up, this is shown in contrasting red thread.
It will look like this:
12. Now, pinch the base against itself. Usually, I try to make sure the center seam matches the crease of the fold on opposite side to make sure it is even. Iron!!! Repeat on other side.
13. Measure with ruler 5 cm from center seam in both directions, (10 cm total) mark, pin and sew. Repeat on other side.
14. Cut off excess fabric, about 1-cm away from seam, will look like triangle. You can see how the wide base is created.
15. Now, finish the top seam of bag. Fold the fabric down 1cm and iron. Repeat on other side.
16. Fold again, this time 2cm and iron. Repeat on other side of bag.
17. Pin and sew. The cord needs to pass through the casing of fabric, so it is important to leave the space in the middle open. Do your best to sew close the fold where the fabric is folded under (not the top of the bag!). Go Slow and remember to back stitch at beginning and ending!
18. Basically the bag is sewn, you just need to pull the cord through which is easy if you have one of the handy little bodkins (if you don`t have one, you can use tweezers or a safety pin). Thread like a needle.
19. Push the eye through the casing you have sewn. Pull out other side making sure the cord is still hanging out original opening. Then push though the loop of fabric on other side of bag.
20. Pull the cord out of the side where you started, meeting the front end of the cord. Tie a knot. Cut off excess. Repeat with other cord for other side of bag.
YAY! You are finished! Give yourself a pat on the back, drink a glass of wine, reward yourself with a Netflix marathon!
HI! I live in Northern Japan on the Oga peninsula and love making crafts with my children and enjoying the beautiful surroundings with my family.
I also run a small company, Sora, that sells handmade clothing, bags and accessories! www.sorajapan.org