DIY Overnight Bag
Hi, I am Cyndi Marziani from bdancewear.com. In this demonstration, I will show you how to make a reversible bag that can be used for many purposes including as an overnight bag. I like to put presents in here for my favorite little dancers or even big dancers, a bag they can use later for other purposes. I also made one as a gift for my adult sister-in-law. It is reversible. It is beautiful. It fits tons of stuff inside. I often use them myself for carrying presents or other articles.
If you are looking for a quick bag to use for wrapping a gift, this is the perfect thing. You could use colors or patterns that reflect the holiday, special occasion or interests of the recipient. If you want a smaller bag, just cut the pieces in sizes to make a bag in the size for you want. Then, bunch it up at the top and tie a ribbon around it. It could still be used over and over after the gift has been “unwrapped.”
- Several pieces of material in coordinating
or complementary fabrics and patterns
- Matching thread
- Measuring Tape
- Fabric marker, tailor’s chalk or small piece of soap
- Sewing Machine
- Choosing Your Materials
Because this is a reversible bag, we need both solids and patterns in matching, coordinating and/or complementary colors. For this bag, I chose coordinating grey solids and patterns. You should choose colors and patterns that mix in a way that is pleasing to you or, if you prefer, you could choose only a number of solids. You can use as few or as many different fabrics as you wish.
- Cutting the Fabric
I want this bag to be a very big bag so that it is a nice size utility bag. Consequently, I am going to cut pieces that will be adequate to accomplish that goal. If you want a smaller or larger bag, adjust the sizes of the pieces so that it results in a smaller or larger bag.
Because it is reversible, I have cut each of the different fabrics in several pieces as outlined. For the straps, I have cut strips 34” long and 5” wide. You need two of these straps. For band that goes horizontally across the top of the bag, I have cut two pieces that are the width of the bag which in this case is 45” and the straps are 6” tall. You need two of these. And then for the actual bag fabric, which in this case is the patterned material, I have cut two different coordinating fabrics that in my opinion look good together. If you use a patterned material, you want to make sure to decide which direction the pattern will face up or down and then ensure that each piece of fabric runs the same direction. I have chosen two grey patterned fabrics – one is a chevron pattern and the other is a flower-like design. One pattern will be on the inside of the bag and one on the outside. With the chevron pattern, it doesn’t really matter which direction the fabric goes. I am going to cut one piece of each fabric that is 23” long and then the width of the material which is 45” wide.
- Sew Bottom Portions of the Bag
I am going to start with the chevron pattern. The first step is to turn the fabric inside out so that the resulting piece is 23” tall and 22 ½” wide with the seam on one side. Unless you are very confident in your skills, you should carefully pin the open sides together before you sew it together. You will also need to sew a seam next to the edge that is folded. I sew it like there is no seam because it looks a little funky if you just leave the fold and makes it difficult to later sew the gusset. But it is easier not to cut that fold open and it makes it a little bit stronger. Just pretend there is no fold and that it is an open seam, also. Sew the side with the open seam first. Next, sew the other side together treating it as if there was no fold. Last, sew the bottom seam of the bag together.
Make sure that all of the seams are at least 5/8” and make sure to backstitch at the top and bottom of each seam to secure the stitches. You also want to make sure that any selvage is within the seam so that when you turn the bag inside out, the selvage does not show. That may necessitate making the seam more than 5/8”.
Once you have sewn the sides and bottom of the bag, the next step is to sew a nice big gusset on both sides of the bottom of the bag. The way to do that is to open up the bottom and line up the bottom seam and the side seam creating a triangular effect. You will want to make sure that the seams all stay lined up and that the amount of material on both sides of the seam are equal. For this bag, I want a nice big gusset. Consequently, I am going to measure the gusset so that the bottom of the triangle is 4” across with the seam in the center of the 4”– 2” to the left of the seam and 2” to the right of the seam. Since I have a measuring guide on the front of my sewing machine, it makes it easy to measure the 4”. It is a good idea to mark the 4” from one side of the triangle bottom to the other because it is really important for that stitch line to be straight. If your machine does not have that guide, use a ruler or measuring tape. I am marking the line for the bottom of the triangle with a Sharpie so that you can easily see it in the video. I normally do not recommend using a Sharpie to mark sewing projects, but in this case it would be okay since it will be on the inside of the bag. However, you want to make sure the Sharpie will not bleed through the material. It is also a good idea to pin the 4” bottom of the triangle. Next, just sew along the line you have just -marked making sure to backstitch at each end. This creates the 4” gusset. I am also going to show you what a 6” gusset looks like. For this particular bag, I am going to create a 6” gusset. That will make it a nice big, beefy bag. A 6” gusset makes the bag a little fatter. In order to strengthen the gusset and keep it nice and flat, I like to fold the pointed end of the gusset towards the center of the bag on the bottom seam and tack it down by sewing along the bottom seam. Whatever you do with the gusset on one side, make sure to do the same on the other side. An easy way to make sure the gussets are the same is to match the gusset you just make with the other end of the bottom seam and do the same thing on the other end of the seam. An alternative to sewing the gusset down would be to trim the pointed end away and then sew what is left of the triangle to the bottom of the bag. The most important thing to do when creating a gusset is to make sure that the side seam lines up with the bottom seam.
The next step is to do the same thing to the other fabric – from sewing the side and bottom seams to creating the gussets. It is important that the bottom of this second body of the bag match up with the first one. Again, the easiest way to make sure things are the same is to physically match them up, i.e., the seams and gussets of the second bag to the seams and gussets of the first. As a result, you will end up with two matching bags that fit inside each other.
- Sew the Straps
Now I am going to sew the straps. This is the handle so you want to make sure all the stitches are nice and strong. First, I am going to fold the fabric strap in half lengthwise with the right sides facing each other and stitch down the length of the strap. Then, I am going to backstitch back and forth across the end of the strip. As usual, you want to backstitch top and bottom. Once you have sewn that end seam, clip material on the corners of the strip where you have sewn this seam and poke the sewn end into the center of the strip. Since this strip is wide enough to accommodate a yardstick in the center, I am going to place that “pooched in” end of the strip on the end of a yardstick. Then I am going to slowly slide the material down the yardstick. If the strip is not wide enough to accommodate a yardstick, find something else that will fit – a stick, a pencil, a knitting needle or whatever will work. Once the closed end of the strip has been exposed from the inside of the strip, you can remove the yardstick and just pull the rest of the fabric through. Since this strap will be inside the bag between the two layers of fabric, I am going to cut the sewn end of the strip off so there will be less bulk.
Now, you have a couple of choices. You can leave the strap as it is or you can top stitch along the length of the strap. It is probably a good idea to at least top stitch the edge of the strap where the stitches are to reinforce the strap.
- Sewing the Top Strip
The next step is the strip along the top of the bag. There will be a total of four pieces. The first step is to line two of the pieces together with the right sides facing and stitch the end seams. This will give you a circular strip. Do the same with the other two top pieces. Since this bag is reversible, I want to make sure that both top pieces look good. To determine where the straps are going to go, I am laying one of the top pieces down on the table and laying the ends of the strap on one side of the top piece. I prefer to lay the straps down where they are visually pleasing. Then, I am going to measure how far one of the straps is from the seam. In this case, it turns out that the strap is 6 ½” from the side seam. To make sure the straps are placed evenly, I want to measure from the seam, not the edge of the bag. I am then going to put the other end of the strap the same distance from the seam on the other side of the bag. Last, to make ensure the straps are evenly placed, I am going to fold the top piece in half and match up the seams and the placement of the straps. Leaving a few inches of the ends of the strap inside the bag, the next step is to sew both ends of the straps down to the top strip. I like to zigzag across that seam a couple of times to reinforce the straps.
I have shown you how to cut the fabric and how to sew the inside and outside fabrics together. Now, I am going to show you how to sew the rest of the bag together. Please excuse all of the loose threads. Because part of the video did not come out, I had to take the bag a part so that I could refilm that portion of the video.
- Sewing the Rest of the Bag Together
The next step is to pin the edge of the gray top piece that is opposite from the straps to the body of the bag. Make sure the outside of the fabrics are facing each other and match up the seams on the top piece and sew the body and top piece together. When you open it up, this is what the bag would look like when it is done except the very top of the bag is not finished off. Next, do the same thing with the remaining top strip and remaining body of the bag.
Now, turn one bag inside out and insert it into the other bag so that the right sides of each bag facing each other. Make sure that the side seams of the inside bag and outside bag are lined up. Also, tuck everything inside bag until the bottom seams and the gussets line up. Pin the top of the two bags together so noting move around. I recommend you start pinning it at the side seams and then evenly around the top and include where the straps are sewn to the outside bag. Mark a space around the top that you will leave open so that you can pull the bags through so they are both right side out.*
Stitch around the top of the two bags using a 5/8” seam. It is important to have this seam allowance so that you can turn the raw edges into the opening when you re topstitching the bag. Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of the opening. You will want to use a regular stitch to make it nice and strong. Do not rush this because you will want to make sure it is a nice, clean, straight line. If you mess up a little do not worry about it. Once you flip it around, nobody will notice. Now that I have stitched all the way around except for the opening, I am going to pull the fabric through the hole so that the bags are both right side out. We have all of these layers to pull through because it is reversible. It is good to have a small hole for finishing off but sometimes not so good for turning. So, just keep pulling the fabric through. Once you have pulled the material through the opening, tuck the inside bag into the outside bag and line up the gussets again.
The last step is to close up the hole. I am used to doing this so I am not going to take the time to pin it close. But, I highly recommend you pin it closed so that the top edge stays even and the raw edges of the material are inside the seam. Then topstitch all the way around the top close to the edge. I line up the edge of my pressure foot to the edge of the bag as I sew in order to keep my topstitching even all around the top of the bag and sew a few stitches over the beginning stitches to secure both the beginning and the last stitches. That way you will not need any backstitching. Sometimes the opening will be apparent even when you topstitch the top. For that reason, I like to go back and sew a second stitch next to the edge. You could also hand stitch that opening if you wish or you could use the alternate method shown at the * below.
So, that is how you can make a great little, or big, DIY Overnight Bag.
Note: If you want to embroider a name or any decorative work on the top strip of the bag, you can do that before you sew the two bags together.
*Instead of leaving the opening in the top seam of the bag, you can leave the opening in the side seam of the inside bag if you prefer. It is the same idea as the steps shown with the opening in the top of the bag. When sewing the inside bag, just leave an opening one of the side seams. You can then pull the bags through this hole until both bags are right side out. Then topstitch that side seam closing up that opening or you could carefully close the side seam with hand stitches making sure that your hand stitches are small enough and tight enough to close it up tightly and so they do not show.
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