Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Quilting Bags - Tutorial

I love quilted bags! Quilting a bag is such a great way to add extra structure, visual interest and more importantly, it can bring WOW factor to almost any fabric! I love finding a solid, gorgeous vinyl and then kick it up even more by quilting it. Many big fashion houses have their own quilted bags - I think it is because it just adds class! 

However, many people are hesitant about quilting bags, and especially vinyls, but I'm going to try to take away all your fears about that with this post - and hopefully inspire you to try quilting your bags!

This is my Singapore Sling Bag, made with a gold vinyl which I quilted in a diamond shape. This bag would have had much less visual interest, and would probably look rather "plain and boring" without the quilting.  

This is the exact same vinyl as the Singapore Sling Bag above, just quilted differently with an alternating pattern that I will show you below.  Isn't it amazing how different it looks? This is my Beginner Bag pattern, soon available for free in my Facebook group

But cotton fabric looks fantastic quilted too! Here I've used a gorgeous solid yellow Kona cotton fabric and quilted only the bottom of the bag for that extra contrast. You don't always have to quilt the entire bag, just a small part can be a beautiful addition. 


You will need: 
* A dual feed foot: or "walking foot" that will feed your fabric evenly top and bottom. 

* Foam interfacing: I highly recommend "By Annie's Soft and Stable", there's no other foam interfacing in my eyes that gives the same beautiful "puff", nor stands up as well to wear as this one. But Pellon Fusible Flex Foam, Bosal in R-Form or similar very works well too. 

* A new needle: Preferably a topstitching needle if you have, as you don't want skipped stitches when you're quilting. Don't skip this, neat perforation is especially important when working with vinyl, but makes a difference on cotton too. Do not use a leather needle when working with vinyls as it will cut up the vinyl and weaken it. 

* Fusible Web/Spray Basting Glue/Thin fusible interfacing or similar: If your foam isn't fusible or if working with vinyl or similar like cork that can't be pressed from the front. Read below to see what you need for your choice of fabric and foam.

HELP:  If you have issues with skipped stitches or tension, see my guide to this here: Skipped stitches & tension issues help

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First, you have to attach your fabric to be quilted to your interfacing, how you do this is a little different depending on your fabric and interfacing choices. 

Prevent shrinking:
If you don't pre-shrink your cotton fabric or don't interface it properly, heavy quilting can shrink your fabric excessively (with some woven fabrics, such as home decor weight woven fabrics, this can happen despite all precaution because of mixed fiber contents and loose weaves). 

When working with cotton and fusible interfacing, before cutting your pieces: Press all cotton fabric on the cotton setting of your iron with steam, to pre-shrink the fabric. This is to prevent shrinkage and that undesirable crinkling when we fuse the interfacing. 

I highly recommend that you interface your cotton fabric with a thin, woven fusible interfacing before quilting it, to get a more profession "feel" to the bag, like Vilene G700 woven fusible, Pellon SF101 Shape-Flex or similar. This will also give your cotton extra strength to withstand wear and tear and it will also prevent excessive shrinking from the quilting of the bag, which can otherwise happen with cotton or other woven fabric.

If working with cotton and fusible foam:
Then just fuse the foam pieces to the wrong side of your exterior fabric, making sure it’s carefully centered if your foam is smaller than your fabric. 

If working with cotton and non-fusible foam:

Basting glue: If you have spray basting glue at home (like 505 Basting Spray), you can simply just spray baste the foam to your fabric using the spray.

Fusible web: Take the fusible web, fuse one side of the fusible web to the foam interfacing (this way we make our own “fusible foam” by adding fusible web to the foam).  

Remove the paper covering the fusible web if you haven't already and fuse your foam pieces to the wrong side of your exterior fabric, making sure it’s carefully centered if you exterior is smaller than the interfacing.

If working with vinyl:

Basting spray: If you have spray basting glue at home (like 505 Basting Spray), you can simply just spray baste the foam to your fabric using the spray. 

Thin fusible interfacing: 
I have a YouTube video showing how I do this here: Adding Foam Interfacing to Vinyl
Place your exterior pieces right side down on your ironing board. 
Sandwich and center the foam between your exterior piece and a lightweight fusible interfacing piece of the same measurement as your exterior. Place the glue of the fusible interfacing down towards the foam. Cut a slit in any corners in the thin interfacing to make it easier to fuse the interfacing over any darts/corners or similar. Press the interfacing in place, centered on your foam and continue pressing down the sides to your exterior fabric, keeping the foam centered. 

Since we're only pressing the seam allowances of the vinyl, we don't have to worry about potentially ruining the vinyl by pressing it to hotly from the back. However, nearly all vinyl can take pressing from the back, even all the 3D vinyls I've worked with have been able to take a medium heat pressing from the back without losing shine or structure. But if you're unsure, you can always try on a scrap first.  

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Here's where I differ from most people, when I quilt my bags with straight line quilting - my best friend is painters tape! I always keep at least two widths of good quality (I use 3M) painters tape. It's not only great to hold things in place temporarily when sewing bags, it's also perfect for marking your lines, it doesn't take any time to remove (unlike chalk markers or water dissolvable pens etc) and it assures a perfectly straight line! 

What widths you choose is of course up to you, but the two top ones is what I use the most, and what I'll use in the tutorial below. If you can't find a width you like for your project, tape a larger size it onto a baking sheet, and cut it to size using your ruler and rotary cutter. The baking sheet will preserve the stickiness. This is why you want good quality painters tape, the good quality I can re-stick 10-15 times, while the bad one maybe 2-5. 

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Marking the first line
Here you should really let your creativity flow! But I'll be showing you how to make the pattern on the Beginner Bag above, so it's an alternating width diamond pattern. Try out angles for the lines with your quilting ruler, and when you have one at what you feel is a pleasing angle for your first line, use your ruler as a guide to ensure you place your tape along it's edge, to ensure it's perfectly straight. I started with my 1 1/2" wide tape here and placed it from corner to corner. 

* It is important to remember how you placed your tape at this first line, as you want your diamonds to not come out wonky on your bag so your handle placement for example won't look weird or off in comparison to the quilting, so I always snap a photo with my phone to make sure I remember. I'll talk more about this when we get there. 

Switch to the dual feed foot/walking foot on your machine, lengthen the stitch length to somewhere between 3.5-5. I recommend you try your settings on a scrap of your fabric with the same interfacings on it to see what you think looks good with your thread and fabric. On the scrap you can  also make sure your tension is good, if you have tension issues, I have a post on that topic here to sort you out: Skipped Stitches & Tension Issues

Follow the tape and sew a line from end to end. I actually backstitch one or two steps when starting and stopping these seams as with the long stitch length, I don't want to risk them coming undone during construction of the bag. Then sew a second line along other other side of your tape. Do not sew your lines every other direction (going back and forth) as that will cause your fabric to pull in opposite directions, sew all lines from the same direction. 

When you've sewn both lines, take your painters tape of a narrower width and stick it down, edge to edge with one of the seams. Sew the new line. Repeat until you've covered the entire piece with every other width lines. 

When it's time to start on the lines on the other diagonal, place your ruler like you did when you made your first lines. Remember that it's important to get the same angle as the other diagonal lines so here I matched up the same corners again. Continue the same way with every other tape width all over the piece.

Voila! We have a beautiful pattern all over our fabric! And as you can see, since we made our pattern even, the handles will be perfectly centered on your quilting - and on your bag! 

For the Singapore Sling Bag above, the diagonals are more slanted and that gives me a flatter diamond shape which I thought looked nice. Here I used electrical tape , instead as I had used up my painters tape for actual masking when painting our spare room. ;) 

If you don’t wish to quilt in straight lines, you can draw your design on the foam interfacing of your piece and quilt from the back (just increase your top tension a bit extra, to ensure a nice looking stitch on the bottom, i.e. the right side of the fabric). Or go crazy and print a beautiful design you found online, tape or clip the printed paper in place on the back of your exterior, and quilt on the foam side just stitching over the paper to follow your desired design. Just make sure you print on poor quality paper (easy to tear away) so you can remove the bulk of the paper fairly easily, and make sure you secure your threads by backstitching in the seam allowance when you start and stop your seam.   You can get as creative as you want here! I'll expand this tutorial with more information and photos of that process later as the weather has been too bad for photography lately. 

Please don't hesitate to ask in the comments or in the Facebook group if you have any questions! I'll leave you with a few of my quilted bags for quilting inspiration.

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It doesn't have to be complex or time consuming to quilt a bag, this Hollywood Handbag in Kona Cotton fabric looks great with simple straight line on the body part of the bag only. 

Beginner Bag, cotton fabric quilted in a diamond shape. 

Don't be afraid to play around with free motion quilting! For this Hollywood Handbag I quilted monstera leaves on the inside of the exterior. Makes for a bit of extra interest when you open the bag.

This Fresno Foldover bag is sewn in a quilting cotton with denim look. Quilted only the front with a simple diamond pattern but using twin needles to get the cool look. However, as it's interfaced with a simple quilt batting instead of a foam, there's much less puffiness to the design. 

1 comment:

  1. could you please tell me that is anybody do the tutorial on beginner bag on youtube? I am a beginner and would like to see it. Thanks


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