Hack Your Pattern patterns sewing tutorial

Pack Your Bag Closure Hacks

Hey friends! It has been much longer than I expected since I last posted. Summer was full of all things not sewing related, and as a result, I didn’t have much to write or post about. I did get a chance to sew several pieces this summer, but most were basics for my family. I am in progress on my Bridgerton dress (which I drafted the bodice for in June…but forgot about the skirt and the ball is next weekend 😬)…I digress. Anywho, Ellie and Mac released this adorable little bag pattern*, and I couldn’t resist making a few of them. Anyone who makes a few of anything knows you always have to find a way to make it your own, right?! Well today I am sharing with you two different ways to modify the closure. For the first part, I’ll show how I modified my son’s to have an elasticized opening instead of squaring off the edges as instructed in the tutorial. For the second part, I’ll show you had to add a drawstring with grommets/eyelets (with optional cord stop).

Part 1: Elastic Closure

This mod is super easy and calls for nothing extra other than a piece of 3/8″ or 5’8″ elastic. You will need to stop following the tutorial when you get to the step where it tells you to close the opening in the liner. Do not close the opening yet. Instead, tuck the liner into the bag so that the edges are neatly aligned.

One you have done that, you are going to sew a casing in the bag through both layers, from one side of the flap to the other. Backstitch at the beginning and end. The width of your casing should be whatever size elastic you’re using, with an extra 1/8″ for easily getting the elastic inside. I couldn’t figure out a neat way to draw this, but hopefully you get the point 😜

After the casing is created, cut a piece of elastic that is 80% of the entire circumference of the opening (including the flap area). You will actually not need this entire piece, but I found it easiest to have a long piece of elastic for this step. Thread one end of it into a bodkin or safety pin. Go through the opening in the lining and find your casing. Next, thread the elastic from one edge of the casing, around the bag, and out the other, being careful not to let one end slip back inside. Pull the elastics to scrunch up the opening until it is as wide as the flap and tie the ends in a knot, but not too tight in case you need to untie later. After this step, you can check that it looks the way you want, tighten the elastic, or even loosen it.

To secure the elastic edges, sew a couple backstitches along the opening of the casing on each side. Trim off the knot and any excess elastic, then close up the opening in your liner. Your new bag is ready to go and super easy for younger ones to easily get in and out of without everything spilling out.

For a few extra details regarding this bag, this one is a size small with the kids’ length straps in cotton webbing. All hardware used is 1″ (25mm). I used regular quilting cotton, but I used fusible fleece on all pieces, including lining, to give structure to the bag (with the exception of the liner on the outer pocket piece).

Part 2: Drawstring Closure

For this mod, you will need a drawstring of your choice, and two grommets/eyelets. The size of either is personal preference. Optional is a cord stop.

To install the grommets, you will sew your bag according to the tutorial until you get to the Liners section. Before continuing on to the Bag Formation section, you will press the seam allowance toward the liners and topstitch in place. Choose your grommets and position them at the top center of the back, leaving just a little room above them so they aren’t caught in the seam allowance. Mark placement and install your grommets according to the instructions for your tool.

Jump back into the tutorial and continue following it until it’s time to close the bag liner. Do not close the opening yet. Instead, tuck the liner into the bag so that the edges are neatly aligned.

This is where it gets really similar to the method I used for the elastic. You are now going to sew a casing in the bag through both layers, from one side of the flap to the other. Backstitch at the beginning and end. The width of your casing needs to accommodate your grommet size. I recommend placing the bag underneath your presser foot or using a ruler to determine width and ensure you stitch evenly around. Since I couldn’t figure out a neat way to draw this last time, I just stitched it this time haha! Hopefully it’s really clear.

After the casing is created, cut a piece of drawstring (or create one using whatever method you want) that is 80% of the entire circumference of the opening (including the flap area). You will actually not need this entire piece, but I was using a premade drawstring and it was pretty long so I went with it. Thread one end of it into a bodkin or safety pin. Go through the opening in the lining and find your casing. Next, thread the first drawstring end from one edge of the casing, out through one of the grommets. Remove the bodkin and thread the other end of the drawstring through it. Go back inside the bag and come out the other grommet.

Now we will tighten the bag and remove the excess drawstring. Reach into the liner opening and pull the drawstring until there is about 8-10″ coming out of the grommets. Note: You can make them much shorter than this, but if you do not have a cord stop and want to be able to tighten then tie in a bow, this is a good length. To secure the drawstring, sew a couple backstitches along the opening of the casing on each side. Cut the drawstring section still in the bag, trim off the excess, then close up the opening in your liner. Your drawstring should look like this. If you’re adding a cord stop, press the little button and push both ends of the drawstring through it and tighten to your desire. If you’re not, pull the drawstrings to tighten and tie in a bow. All done!

For a few extra details regarding the bag, this one is a size small with the adult length straps made in my main fabric. All hardware used is 1″ (25mm) so I did have to reduce the strap widths to 4″ so that the finished straps would fit. I used African wax fabric (which is 100% cotton) for the exterior, and I used fusible fleece on all outer pieces, as well as both flap pieces and one of the outer pockets to give structure to the bag. The liner is Kona cotton with midweight interfacing. I also added an interior pocket (which is not recommended in the tutorial) but I just made it 1″ less wide and 2″ less tall and it fit with no problem.

Places in the US to grab hardware & stuff

Amazon usually has options that ship quickly, but I caution you that the measurement may not be 100% accurate. I have had times where I’ve ordered grommets, snaps, or even a pack of bag hardware that claimed to be a certain size but was actually off. My last package says 25mm, but they are all actually 19mm (3/4″) when compared to other hardware I had on hand.

My favorite place is Wawak, but the hardware and webbing seem to be on backorder until November in most sizes and colors, as of this post. If you can wait, I always love the quality of the products ordered from them and the pricing is very reasonable.

In a pinch, I grab adjustable slides or d-rings from JoAnn. They’re more costly than the online options, but aren’t too bad when you’re able to use a 50% off coupon.

I hope you’ll find this blog helpful and enjoy making many more of these bags, trying out all the closures. Have another closure idea or other hack you wanna see? Leave me a comment and maybe I’ll try it out! See y’all again soon.

*Links in this post containing asterisks are affiliate links. What that means is when you purchase from them, I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. I appreciate all of your support!

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