Thursday, 8 March 2012

Snap Bag Tutorial

I did promise this last week, didn't I?  So now I'm making good on my promise.

Start with two fabric rectangles, one outside fabric, one lining fabric - mine are about 7" x 14". Your finished bag will be roughly 6 1/2" square from these measurements.

Think about any directional prints that you use - no one likes to see an upside down bird on a bag!

Put the fabrics right sides together, and sew around them using a 1/4" seam, and leaving a gap of about 4" at the bottom IN THE CENTRE (yes, that is important, and remember to check which way the bottom is,  no birds with headaches, please!).

This is to show you the gap - and you can see that when I'm about to turn something 'right way out' I like to reinforce the stitching near the hole with a brief forward and backward run.

Now snip the corners off, turn the fabrics right side out, and iron (or at least finger press)  all around the edges including the gap area where you can turn the seam allowance under ready for later.

Fold the fabrics in half, and run a line of sewing down that line.  You should have two equal sections, both with small openings near the bottom of that stitched line.

Now cut some metal measuring tape to size.  You need to cut each of them to the same size, and be aiming for 1/4" to 1/2" smaller than the width of each section.  To be honest, I started cutting them 1/4" shorter, but finished cutting them a scant 1/2" smaller as otherwise it was making later steps more difficult!

 I cut my tape with (very) sharp kitchen scissors.  If you find that someone 'helps' you by pushing the lock off the tape that you have stuck out from your metal measuring tape, so that the end disappears into the tape cover, don't worry.  There is usually just one screw to undo in order to expose the rest of the tape and the spring.......go on, guess how I know!
Now cover the ends of the tape with duck tape - this will help protect the fabric from those sharp corners of the metal tape.  You can choose whether to aim for a 'tight' end, or whether to make a 'tag' at the end of 1/8" which is just tape sticking to tape - then you can sew through this to anchor the tape into the bag in a later stage if you wish to.  I prefer not to do this, as the glue on the tape I was using made the needle a bit too gunky for comfort.

Whichever you choose, you will want your smoothest side to be on the plain side of the tape, the least smooth side on the numbers (concave) side to get the best finish later on.
Time to poke the tape into the two 'pockets' now.  They are shown in the right position above, but you need to make sure that the numbers (concave) side is facing the lining side for the snap to work properly.  When you've manipulated them into the right place, run a line of stitching along under them to hold them in place.  I like to make this fairly right, without being so close that I sew through the metal tape......

Finally you can fold your fabric into it's finished shape and sew all around it.  I haven't got a photo that show it well, but you need to make sure that the outside seams from the top to the bottom of the tape 'pockets' that you have just sewn are really strong.  Although I thought that Zig-zag was quite nice, straight stitch would work just as well.

As you sew around the square you will sew over the two openings at the bottom - just make sure that you seam allowances are folded in properly when you are sewing them.

Ta-da!  You have a finished snap bag!

I hope that you enjoy anything that you make.  I think that smaller would be successful, but if you were making an opening that was bigger than this you might want to use a double thickness of tape to make a stronger 'snap'.  Just make sure that you get the pieces facing the same way so that they work properly still.

Of course, if you are Gill, you are the lucky winner of this example, so you don't even have to raid your tool box to get a snap bag, I'll be sending this one to you!

I hope that the rest of you enjoy the tutorial.  Happy snapping!


  1. This is really cute--I guess, though, that it wouldn't be such a good idea to "borrow" my sweetie's tape measure??? Julierose

  2. I can see the temptation to make loads of there! Thank ou. (who was your helper? A little person? Or the grown up????)

  3. Great tutorial Plum, now how can I accidentally break that ruler?

    If you need to get a really sharp corner on a gap for turning, it can be a good idea to do 2-3 stitches perpendicular to the end of the opening at each side. This then forces the fabric to turn over smoothly. Just read that, and I'm not sure it makes sense!

  4. I'm Gill! Where's my bag please?!

  5. I'm Gill! Where's my bag please?!


Thanks for leaving a comment! I always appreciate it and will try to respond.