How to make a quilted bag

A few weeks ago I got a bee in my bonnet and decided to make a quilted bag that I can use on market days, and of course every other day. Honestly, it was going to be for market days only, but it turned out so great, I’m using it every day.

I wanted something that I could wear across my body, so that I didn’t need to be concerned about it falling off my shoulder or getting snatched.

Enter the Sling bag from Made It patterns in the UK.

How to make a quilted bag using the sling bag pattern
Picture from Made It Patterns

**Note that I’m not affiliated to the pattern maker, I merely used their pattern and I think it’s a handy one to have around.

As you can see, the bag isn’t sold as a quilted bag pattern. In fact, it doesn’t mention quilting at all, and the fabric needed to make the bag is something more along the lines of denim or canvas. It has to be something stiff to keep its shape. And I reckon a quilt will stand up nicely, right?

Use a walking foot and stitch randomly spaced lines. And see that I’ve only done half with batting (there’s a crisp crease down the middle where the batting also ends.)

I do suggest that you make the bag once, as a test, to understand how it fits together. Similar to a toile. That will give you a good idea of what you can do with your quilting.

I made two (three if you count the tester) – one using batik fabric with simple straight quilting using my walking foot. And another using a foundation piecing approach.

Did I mention this pattern has 3 different sizes to make?

The foundation piecing approach

Cut your pattern pieces from calico or your preferred fabric – but it’s not going to show anywhere so don’t use your good fabric. And cut batting for those pieces too.

The direction of the strip piecing will determine the length of fabric needed (that’s only if you’re going down my route. I’d love to see a crazy patch of this bag, but I’m now out of bag mode again. Three of these were enough).

I grabbed a bunch of running quarters, but they didn’t give me a long enough strip so I did take 2m pieces from my stash as well.

Draw your foundation on the pattern pieces. I pinned batting on the other side so that it was quilted as I stitched. This particular bag has pattern pieces that are folded over, and it’s fully lined so I didn’t add backing fabric. The batting can make the bag bulky, so on pieces that are folded over like the bag strap, I only used batting on half of the piece.

And then it’s just foundation paper piecing, on fabric and you’re not going to rip out any papers later! Win-win.

I did this for every pattern piece. Remember that you’re now going to construct the bag using the instructions with the pattern that are super easy to follow. She even tells you when to take a chocolate chip cookie break – that’s my kinda pattern!

Tidy up the edges so that you have your pattern pieces ready to put the bag together.

I did try to add a zipper to the main bag, but it’s simply too bulky with all the layers. But, even in South Africa, I have happily walked around with my bright pink batik quilted bag. Any attempt to grab something out of your bag will not go unnoticed! You can always add a button to the closing flap.

I was considering a coordinating mask or two, but then all the lockdown restrictions were lifted – yippee!

Tips

  1. Choosing a bag pattern to use for a quilted bag isn’t tricky – just make a mock up first.
  2. Any bag can turn into the great hole of disappearance. Use a lighter coloured lining so that you can easily find stuff.
  3. Even with a lighter lining it still is a great hole of disappearance, but the zipper bags are super handy. I even added some to my final bags.
  4. Don’t rely on the length of the sling according to the pattern. Measure yourself and use that.
  5. I won’t make this bag to sell using quilt fabric – it’s just too expensive. But it’s soooo pretty! If you do want to make and sell this one, go for cheaper fabric and remember to check the copyright on the pattern.
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