Companion Carpet Bag Sew Along Day 2


Hello again from Reece at Happy Okapi! I'm back for the next set of Sew Along steps. If you're new here and want to join, there's still lots of time. Find details including discount code here.  Did you see the great prizes posted by Samantha the other day?! If you were looking for some extra motivation to join in, I think that should help! Here's a recap of how the sew along will be laid out:

  • Day 1 I like to do all the prep work, including fabric selection, gathering of supplies, cutting, and fusing/basting.
  • Day 2 (That's today!) Here is where I prefer to get all the fussy work out of the way, like pockets, piping, and zippers if possible. 
  • Day 3 Final assembly!! We take all our pieces and put them together to make our gorgeous bags!! (The extra exclamation marks are because this is my favourite part, and I get soooo excited about it)
I've also created a tutorial for you to make your own handles if you like, you can find that tutorial here on my page.


Let's make the zippered pocket! Take one main lining panel and your interfaced zipper pocket piece and place the pocket piece right side down on the right side of the main lining panel, with short edge of pocket piece 1/2" from bottom edge of main panel for small bag, and 2" from bottom edge of main panel for large bag, pin in place. On the wrong side of the zipper panel, draw a box that is about 6" by 1/2" (the length will be determined by your zipper size). The box should be centred side to side, and approximately 6" from the bottom of the zipper panel for the small bag and 6.5" from the bottom of the zipper panel for the large bag.

Now take this over to your machine and sew around the box.

Then add a center line and diagonal lines to meet the line (see picture below). Very carefully cut those lines, being sure not to cut into stitching.

Pull the zippered panel through the hole you've just cut and finger press, then press flat nice and smooth.
Back of main lining panel after sewing on zipper panel, and pressing in place.

Front of main lining panel after sewing on zipper panel, and pressing in place.

Now place zipper down (teeth side down) over zipper hole on the wrong side of the main lining panel and secure with pins, wonder tape, or even scotch tape (I use this often and just remove easily after sewing zipper in place). Then switch to your zipper foot, and sew from right side of the main lining panel all the way around the box close to the opening.

Fold the zipper panel together, matching up edges, and pin or clip together, and sew around remaining 3 edges.

Turn over and admire your main lining panel with a zippered pocket!

Now on to the slip pocket on the remaining main lining panel: take your slip pocket piece, fold in half, matching short edges, press, and sew sides and bottom, leaving a turning hole along the bottom, being sure to backstitch at start and stop of turning hole.

Trim corners, and turn through gap. Use a turning tool or chopstick to gently point out corners.

Tuck in seam allowance over turning hole, press all over, and topstitch along folded edge. Pin in place on lining main panel (the one without the zippered pocket), it should be side centred and about 1 1/4" from the bottom of the main lining panel. Stitch along sides and bottom to secure to panel, and close the turning hole.

Finally, the outside pocket: we'll start by installing the magnetic snap. I use one of my husband's old screw driver handles to flatten the prongs of my snaps, and it works quite well, so I suggest finding something similar to save your hands a bit. To position the magnetic snap, I fold my panels in half and lightly finger press to find the centres, then use the washer and a marker on the wrong side of the panels to mark my spot. The pattern suggests 1" below the top of the pocket piece, and you want to make sure you don't go much higher than that or you'll run into trouble topstitching later on. I use my seam ripper to very carefully cut holes in my extra stabilizer piece and pattern pieces for the prongs. To find correct placement for the main panel snap, lay the lining pocket panel over the main panel, and match up sides and bottom, then mark through the prong holes.  Make sure to install the snap on the lining pocket piece and the other half on one outer main panel. I like to install the male half on the pocket piece, and the female half on the main panel piece, but I'm not sure there's a hard set rule or reasoning behind that.

If you're using piping or trim, now's the time to attach it. See my blog post about piping for some tips. You'll want to add it 1/8" from the top edge of the outer pocket piece and baste in place.

Now place the lining pocket piece, right sides together with the outer pocket and stitch in place along the basting stitch line.

Now turn right side out, press, and topstitch 2 lines of stitching. I like to make my topstitch length just a bit longer than my regular stitch length. Baste finished pocket in place onto main panel, the magnetic snaps should line up.

Or, you may decide your fussy cutting was pretty good, and forego the piping altogether. 

Bag Feet

All the pockets are done! Now we can add the bag feet. 

Before we assemble the outer bag, I'd like to suggest that if you are making the small bag and using handle connectors that need to be machine sewn, you may wish to add those now, as I found it difficult to manoeuvre my small bag to sew them on once assembled, but didn't have any problems with my large bag. If you are adding them now, refer to the pattern for placement, but you'll need to adjust for seam allowances. 

Fold the outer gusset in half and make a tiny notch within the seam allowance or mark to note the centre. This step reminds me of college math, and chemistry, making charts and graphs. I found the easiest way to make accurate marks for my bag feet is to make long lines with my quilting ruler 1 1/4" in from each long gusset edge, and then 3" on either side of centre line for small and 4.5" on either side for large bag. Make a hole with your awl where the lines intersect. 
Repeat for extra stabilizer. For plastic canvas, just place it over the stabilizer and mark holes (they'll be visible through plastic canvas).
Now we'll assemble the outer bag. Match centres of gusset and one outer main panel and pin or clip at centre. I like to pin the end of the gussets to the top of the main panel after the centre is pinned, then pin evenly in between, and stitch gusset to main panel.

Repeat with remaining main panel and other edge of gusset.

With the outer bag still wrong side out, reach through the inside (actually the outside) with a purse foot and poke through one of the holes created earlier. It may help to shine a light a from behind the bag to visualize the holes better. Once the purse foot is through the outer gusset, while still holding it in place, place the extra stabilizer and plastic canvas over the gusset and put purse foot prong through matching hole, sandwiching the plastic canvas between stabilizer and bag gusset, open out prongs to secure purse foot in place. Repeat with remaining purse feet.

Turn bag right side out. I think that's enough for this week. Next week we'll finish the bag! 
Are you on Instagram? I'd love to see your progress! Use #CompanionCarpetBagSAL so we can follow along with you too.

My completed Companion Carpet Bag in Natural History, by Lizzy House for Andover Fabrics.

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