Okay, so at this point in time, you should have two plaited straps, a lining for the bag, and a patchwork “outer” part for the bag. Both the lining and the outer bag are still flat at this stage, but now have to be sewn into “tubes”. This is where things feel “wrong” when handling the bag. Nothing sits flat, and the fabric feels all twisted as you are trying to sew. This is normal. If you look at the lining in a completed bag, the seam actually travels around the inside of the bag in almost a spiral from top to bottom. Hence the “twisted” feeling when trying to match up the appropriate seams.
On the photo below, I have labelled the seams that need to be matched up. Basically, the two edges (the labelled ones) get stitched together in a manner that carries on the staggered format of the patchwork strips.
If you mark the bag in the places that correspond to the letters above, and then match each mark to it’s partner (A to A, X to X) and sew, you should end up with a tube as follows…..
You now need to do the same with the lining, but you don’t have the seams to help line things up, hence the reason for marking where the seams would be. Use these markings to help match things up and stitch in the same manner as the outer bag.
Now to begin creating the base. Line up the points on the bottom of the bag as shown below. Stitch the outer edges, from crease to point. Do the same with the lining. The first photo shows the base, with points matched up, and the second photo shows where the base has been stitched.
Now the base needs to be prepared for the next row of stitching. Find the corner that corresponds to the one in the centre of the picture above. It will be two layers of fabric on top of one another. Grab each layer of fabric at the corner and pull apart from each other (as if you were opening a sealed bag full of crisps or similar). This will bring the seams you have just stitched into line with each other. Now you should have a straight edge to sew, as in the photo below.
DO NOT do the above step with the lining, or you will not be able to turn the bag in the right way later! Only the first seams of the lining base get stitched for now.
Turn the outer part of the bag, and the lining, so that one if the right way out, and the other the wrong way out. Place on inside the other so that right sides are together. Match the corners of the bag and lining that you pinned/marked previously.
Ensuring the handles aren’t twisted, insert them between the lining and the bag layers, with the ends at each corner. The two ends of one handle should be in adjacent corners, not opposite ones. Pin everything in place and stitch.
When stitching the outer corners, stitch across them rather than in a point. Stitch back and forth across each corner a couple of times to ensure the handles are secure and will take the weight of the bag contents without the stitching pulling undone.
Clip the inner corners as shown.
Now you can turn the bag in the right way through the hole left in the lining base. Check that the handles are securely caught up in the stitching before closing the gap in the lining. I like to turn the edges of the gap to the inside and machine stitch it closed as shown below, but hand stitching will provide a neater finish.
At this stage, I like to topstitch around the top edge of the bag. It keeps things sitting nicely, especially in the corners, and is just one more layer of stitching to help hold the handles in place securely.
Now you should have a finished bag. Congratulations!!
I hope to write another post soon, showing some variations, such as pockets, a bag in which the lining is not done separately, and a lining option which makes better use of fabric than the method explained here.