Welcome to the first of in a series of 4 learn-to-sew projects by Elizabeth Hill.
Tweens love to sew with scraps. This Sew Easy Strip Pieced Mini Shoulder Bag builds on the idea of sewing small scraps together using the presser foot as the seam guide. It is a perfect project for developing good straight seams and accuracy.  Once they master the steps they won’t be satisfied with just one bag!
Skills:  Straight sewing and Zig Zag stitches
1 ½   yards extra wide double fold bias tape
Variety of 2 ½” wide strips brightly printed fabrics (at least 5)
1/8yard of solid fabric for lining.
1.      Gather all supplies before you start. Mix and max your fabricfor a pleasing design.


2.      Cut 2 ½” strips into 7” long pieces. Arrange on table in the desiredorder. I used two each of 4 different fabrics and 1 reallybright fabric to act as the base for a total of 9 strips.


3.      After you have decided on your fabric strip arrangement begin to sew the strips together with a ¼” seam allowance.  Placeright sides together and stitch along the 7” edge. The arrow points to the inside edge of the presser foot. That is the seam guide for this project.  
 TIP       If you have a mechanical sewing machine a magnet may beused as a seam guide. Don’t use it on a computer machine!
  TIP      Also a sturdy piece of cardboard may be taped to the machine to use as a guide.
4.      Continue sewing strips long edges matching until all pieces have been sewn together.
5.      The next step is pressing. Pressing from the wrong side of the  fabric press seam allowances toward the outside edges on both sides.


6.      This step is optional but gives a nice finished look to the bag.For students it will underscore the importance of being accurate. On the right side of the fabric topstitch 1/8” from the seam edge inside the pressed seam allowance. On mymachine that was just inside the presser foot. See below.


7.      Cut lining from the coordinating bright solid fabric by pinning   right side down the fabric strips to the right side of the fabriclining. Pin and cut out.

TIP       Don’t let students pick up the pinned fabrics for cutting. Pinningand cutting should be done while standing and with the fabricsflat on the work surface. They may complain about being tiredand want to sit down, or that it’s too hard. But the cutting lines won’t be as straight and accurate if they pick up the pinned fabrics.  Demonstrate how to cut fabric with the free handgently holding down the fabric while using the scissors.  The fabric isn’t glued to the table so it can be moved by gently sliding around without picking it up!

TIP      If a student has sewn accurate seams then you can rotary cut alining piece that is 7” x 17 ½”.

8.  Right sides together pin the solid fabric to the striped piece of   fabric.  Trim if necessary so that they are the same length. Pin the top and bottom edges.  Again using a ¼” seam allowance sew the lining to the outside fabric along the narrow edges. 


9.      Turn right side out and press the edges. Top stitch along thesewn edges if desired.


10.    Pin the mini should bag together by matching both ends.
          Baste sides together with a scant ¼” seam.

 TIP     What does scant mean?  Just shy of the 1/4” seam guide. Just inside the line so to speak.



11.    We are getting down to the last step. Time for the bias tape. To decide how much tape to use place bias tape over the shoulderwith the same amount hanging from each side of the shoulder. 

          Place the bag at the ends and keep raising the bag until you   have the length desired. Be sure to leave at least six inches hanging below each side. This extra will be tied below the shoulder bag once the bias tape has been sewn in place. It  serves both a decorative and functional purpose.


12.    Trim off any excess bias tape but don’t forget about the portions that will be tied later. 
13.    Before attaching bias tape to shoulder bag give the tape a nicepressing without stretching it.  Don’t worry about pressing thefolds out of the bias tape. Just remove any creases or fold marks from where it was wrapped around the cardboard.
14.    Be sure you have extra wide double folded bias tape. Open the  bias tape. You will have three folds. Beginning at the bottom of     the bag pin the bias tape so that the narrow fold line is covering the basted stitch. Be sure to leave 6 inches of bias tape free for tying later. Adjust the length of the shoulder strap as needed.Now pin the other side. Again leave six inches of bias tape free at the bottom of the bag.


          Starting at the bottom of the bag stitch the length of the side of  the bag stitching in the first fold line. Remember to backstitchbeginning and end.  Do not worry about sewing the strap at this point. That will be taken care of later. Repeat on the other side.
15.    Now fold the bias tape to the back of the bag and pin in place.You will have a nice finished edge on both sides of the tote bag.   To secure the tape you are going to sew down the center of the  bias tape with a medium width and medium length Zig zag stitch.  Play with some scraps first to find the right stitch size for your bag.


16.    Starting at the bottom of the bag Zig zag stitch down the middle of the bias tape being sure that you are catching all layers within the bias tape.  Do not stop stitching when you get to thetop of the bag instead keep on sewing over the handle and on to the other side of the bag. This will give a nice finished edge to the handle as well as the shoulder bag itself.
17.    To finish the bag tie a knot on either side of the bag with the bias tape that is hanging free at the bottom of each side. Trim if necessary. If you want add colorful pony bead to the bias tapebefore making the knot.


18.    Now your Sew Easy Strip Pieced Mini Shoulder Bag is ready to use! Just right for summer essentials like mp3 players, e- readers, and your sunglasses!
Other articles in this series:
About the Author

Eizabeth Hill is a retired county extension agent who has taught countless 4-H’ers to sew. Elizabeth designs projects for Coats and Clark and she continues to share her love of sewing with youth in her church & community.

2 Responses to Project 1:Strip Pieced Mini Shoulder Bag
  1. Warm Greetings!

    Today, I visit your website and after reading your blog i realize that it is very informative. I’m highly impressed to see the comprehensive resources being offered by your site.

    Thanks and Regards

    Motorised trademill

  2. Thanks for the tutorial. I love the final product! The fabric you have used is lovely and bright!


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