Well, I warned you all that blogging would be a little sparse this summer! I am still sewing, however, and I am super excited to bring you this new tutorial for a fun and useful bag I'm calling The Park Tote!
We're going for fun and functional with this bag! It's a perfect bag for those summer day trips to the park or the zoo. It features an extra long strap so it can be worn messenger bag style, keeping your hands free for strollers handles and toddler hands. The inside has patch pockets on one side and a zippered pocket on the other side for plenty of secure storage. Elastic straps hold water bottles or kid cups and the whole bag zips closed with a recessed zipper! Yes, you will get over any zipper fears with this bag! It's so simple, I promise! We'll walk through it step by step together!
Two bottles of water and some Wheat Thins? Sounds like perfect ammo for a morning at the park or the zoo! On this side you can see the patch style pockets, which you can customize to fit your needs.
And on the opposite side, a zippered pocket for the more valuable necessities of the day like you drivers license, zoo pass and cash/credit card.
Finishing off the bag is a recessed zipper to ward off wandering hands (hopefully there are no pickpockets at the zoo, but those toddlers can be fierce!).
Ready to make one? Here's what you'll need:
- 1/2 yard main outer fabric
- 1/2 yard lining fabric
- 1/4 yard strap fabric
- scraps for zipper facings and interior pockets (about 1/4 yard total, depending on what colors you choose)
- 18-22" zipper for top
- 7" zipper for interior pocket
- 1 yard 1/2" elastic
- sewing stuff (machine, scissors, coordinating thread, rotary cutter/mat are helpful as is a measuring tape, a zipper foot will also be very helpful)
To get started, you need to cut all the pieces for the bag. On my bag, I pieced together some coordinating chevrons and dots because I was using up scraps. The measurements below are the finished size you need to cut for the outer pieces, so if you are piecing things together, you might want to piece it first and then cut it to size when you're done.
Main outer fabric: cut 2 pieces 16" wide x 15" high
Lining fabric: cut 2 pieces 16" wide x 12.5" high
Zipper facings: cut 2 pieces 16" wide x 2.5" high
Strap: cut 1 piece 56" long x 3.5" wide (you may have to sew two shorter pieces of fabric together)
Zippered interior pocket: cut 2 pieces 9" wide x 8" high
Patch pockets: cut 1 piece 15" wide x 5" high
Now we sew! First we'll prepare the lining, which means pockets! For the patch pocket, begin by ironing all four sides under 1/4". Then stitch down one of the long sides. This will be the top of your pocket.
Center the pocket on one of your lining pieces, right side of lining to wrong side of pocket. I placed mine about 3" down from the top. Sew the pocket to the lining piece around the remaining three edges, leaving the top open. If you want to divide your pocket into smaller compartments, stitch a straight line from the top to the bottom of the pocket wherever you choose. I divided mine into two compartments, one about 5" wide and the other 8" wide. This is a good size for a travel hand sanitizer in one side and some tissues and sanitizing wipes in the other, but feel free to use measurements that suit your needs!
For the zippered pocket, take one of your pocket pieces and draw a rectangle on the wrong side of the pocket. The rectangle should be centered about 1.5" from the top and measure 7" wide by 1/2" high.
With right sides together, pin this pocket piece to your other lining piece. It should be centered about 2.5-3" from the top of the lining piece. Sew right around all four sides of the rectangle you drew.
Now carefully cut right down the center of the rectangle, stopping about 1/4" from each end and snipping at an angle out to each corner.
Push the pocket piece through the hole you just cut so it is now wrong sides together with the lining piece. Press well so you have a smooth rectangular window.
Flip the lining piece over so you are looking at the right side of the lining. Center your zipper in the window and pin in place. You can see I really pinned mine like crazy!
Using your zipper foot, topstitch the zipper in place, going around all four sides. Make sure you stay fairly close to the teeth so you catch the whole zipper. To get around the zipper pull, leave the needle down in your fabric, lift the presser foot and slide the zipper pull until you have sewn all the way around.
Turn the lining piece back over so you are looking at the right side of the pocket piece. Lay your other pocket piece on top, right sides together and stitch the pocket together around all four sides. Make sure you just stitch the pocket together! Don't stitch it to the lining :)
Admire your handiwork! You just made a zippered interior pocket!
Okay, while we're having so much zipper fun, let's get the main recessed zipper going for the bag. If you are using thin cotton for your zipper facings, you might want to consider applying interfacing. I fused some lightweight interfacing to both of my zipper facings and it gave them a lot more stability.
First take one of your zipper facings and lay out your zipper face down lined up with one long edge. The zipper pull should be right at the end of the facing. Don't worry if the zipper hangs off the other end, we'll trim it later. Using your zipper foot, sew along the top edge all the way down the zipper.
Then place that facing piece right sides together with one of your lining pieces so the zipper is sandwiched in between. Stitch down the length of the zipper again, staying as close to or sewing right on top of your first line of stitches as possible.
You should now be able to take the facing and pull it up and over so it is wrong sides together with the lining and the zipper will be sewn in between them.
Now we're going to start adding layers, so if my explanation doesn't make sense, just look at the pictures :) Take your second zipper facing piece and line it up with the other side of the zipper (the side you haven't sewn yet). The facing should be right sides together with your first facing and the zipper will be face down on the facing. Sew all the way down the zipper.
When you flip up the second facing, it will look like this.
Now grab your other lining piece and place it right sides together with the other linine piece (it should be up against the last remaining bare side of the zipper) and sew it all the way down.
When you flip everything open and press, it should look this this. Two facing pieces wrong sides together with lining pieces and the zipper sandwiched in between on both sides.
We're hitting the home stretch now! Time to finally use the pretty outer fabric for your bag! Grab one main outer piece and sew it right sides together with one of the facing pieces (opposite from your zipper). Flip it out and press.
Do the same with the other outer bag piece/facing.
As a final detail for the interior, let's add some elastic straps to keep water bottles and cups in place. Note: in this picture, I only used one piece of elastic per side. After using the bag, I found I really needed two pieces to hold a full water bottle upright. So, do as I say, not as I photograph! Grab your 1/2" elastic and cut four pieces, about 9.5" long. Fold them in half with the raw edges together. Take one side of your lining and pin the elastic along the sides. Pin them as pictured, only use two pieces of elastic per side. I would suggest pinning the top piece about 5" from the top of the bag and the second piece about 3.5'-4" below that.
For the strap, I would recommend applying interfacing for strength. Iron each long side under 1/4" then fold the entire strap in half lengthwise and press. Stitch down each long side.
Lay out the strap on the right side of the outer bag pieces as show, making sure the strap isn't twisted at any point. The ends of the strap should overhang each end of the zipper just slightly.
Unzip the zipper at least halfway (very important!) and then pin the strap down on either side of the zipper.
Lay out the bag so the lining pieces are right sides together and the main outer pieces are right sides together. Using a 1/2" seam allowance, sew all the around the bag, but be sure to leave about 4-5" open at the bottom of the lining so we can flip the bag right side out later!
To box the corners of the bag (so it will stand up and have a better shape), mark out a square at each bottom corner of the bag outer and the lining. My square was 2.5". Mark the square on both sides of the fabric.
Pinch the corner of the bag making a triangle so your lines meet going straight across and pin in place.
Sew right along the line and then trim off the excess fabric about 1/4" away from the seam.
Pull the bag through the hole you left at the bottom of the lining so both pieces are right side out. Hand stitch or machine stitch the hole closed.
Push the lining back into the bag and press along the top edge between the zipper facing and the bag outer. Topstitch 1/8" from the top edge to keep the lining securely inside.
And you're done! I really hope you enjoyed this tutorial and will make one of these bags for yourself! It's such a fabulous bag even if you don't have kiddos and all their stuff to cart around! We keep it stocked with our park/zoo essentials! Hand sanitizer, tissues, wipes, chapstick, sunscreen, water and snacks! The long cross-body strap is a lifesaver for me because I always have a hand free for each twin, which is a necessity! I made mine about 6 weeks ago and I think it's already the most used bag I've ever made. So go make your own! And enjoy summer!