Right, Imogen, hope you managed alright making your piece of patchwork! Now we're ready to turn it into a bag... First step is to create the handles. Here you have a choice, you can either use two fabrics and have them different on each side, or just one. Now decide on the length you want... I've gone for roughly 27 inches. Also, I want mine to end up as 3/4 inch wide; if you've made a bigger bag though, I would go for wider handles.
In order to end up with 3/4 inch wide handles, I've cut strips which are 1 and 3/4 inches wide, as I'm going to join two strips to have different front and back, which means losing 1/2 inch by sewing them together. If you decide to use only one fabric, you can cut it 3 inches wide. Ideally with handles it is good to use one long piece of fabric, as any weight in the bag strains the join. However, my plain purple is long enough, but my patterned fabric isn't, so I'm going to have to join strips. I sewed the join several times over to strengthen it.
Next step, place your strips right sides together and sew down the longer length, using your 1/4 inch foot on the sewing machine. Open up the seams and iron them flat.
Next stage, gently fold each side into the middle, and iron flat.
Now fold in half. By now, your handles is the thickness of four pieces of fabric.
If, like me, you have used two different ones, you now have different front and back.
Using the 1/4 inch foot again, sew down the full length, starting with the open edge. When you reach the bottom, sew up the other side.
Your handles should now be complete! Set them aside for now.
Take your patchwork, and place it on a piece of wadding which is slightly bigger round all four sides. Smooth it out, making sure there are no wrinkles. Pin each square, using quilting pins.
Now decide how you want to quilt it... With the last set of bags, I did diagonal lines across some squares. However, as this bag isn't symmetrical, I would need to stitch every square. Instead, I have quilted in the ditch across the width of each seam.
When you've finished, trim away the excess batting.
Now it's time to fasten on the handles. If you've used two fabrics, decide which you want on the outside. I want my patterned side facing out, so I've fastened it IN at this stage. Pin them in place, and stitch across the top using your 1/4 inch foot. I normally stitch several times to strengthen the handles.
Now you need to measure carefully the size of your piece, and cut a matching piece from your chosen lining fabric. My patchwork at this point measured 24 inches by 9 and a 1/4.
Set your lining aside, and fold your outer bag in half, with right sides facing. Now sew up each side of the bag, still using the 1/4 inch foot. When you've finished, turn it out. It will now look like this, but without the lining.
Fold your lining in half, and sew all the way up one side. On the other side, sew from the top, then stop and leave a space which is about 4 inches. Then resume sewing to the bottom. (This is possibly the most important step so far. I can also guarantee that if, like me, you end up making hundreds of these, there will be at least one occasion when you forget to leave the space... This will prove very frustrating when you can't turn the bag out the right way!)
Ok, now the really tricky part. Have the patchwork side, ie the outside of the bag, inside out. Tuck the handles inside carefully. Then place your lining inside the bag, with the right side facing the patchwork. Pin round the top.
Carefully stitch all the way along the top.
Now use the small gap you left in the side of the lining to turn the bag the right way... Check that you are happy that the handles are secure. Then sew the turning space closed.
Push the lining inside the bag, and topstitch around the top edge for neatness. Sometimes I leave it hanging up with a book inside for a bit first, as that helps to smooth out the inside.
Hooray, your bag should now be complete! Throw in a book and some chocolate and head for the park ;-)
If you use this tutorial, please leave a comment! Better still, send me a photo!