Monday, June 6, 2011

Shabby Chic Ruffled Tote, aka The Girly Girl Bag

I call it the Girly Girl bag. I've been wanting to make a new tote for a while but had some difficulty carving out a chunk of time to do it.

Then I saw a bag like this on Pinterest. And fell in love.

Here's how I made it. You'll need:

Linen, 33"x25"
Muslin, 33"x25"
2 yards of 1/2" eyelet trim (I had about 12 in. left over)
10 different coordinating fabrics, cut into 10.5"x7" pieces. You'll need 40 for this bag.
Bag handles (I got mine at Joann's)
2 yards grosgrain ribbon (you'll have some left over)
Ticking for binding and handle attachment
Cut out all the pieces. You'll be very happy you did this. It makes the going together easy-peasy when you can just grab what you need and sew, sew, sew. A rotary cutter and cutting mat makes this job go fast. 

But not too fast. You don't want to make a mistake miscalculation.

I laid out my linen bag piece and laid the handles on it and placed the trim on the bottom just to check the proportion. Looked good to me so I went with a 24"x16" bag.
Red is one of my favorite colors right now so I chose reds and pinks and creams. Plus, it meshed nicely with the shabby chic look I was going for. But I would love to do this in light blues and yellows and creams.
Fold the linen bag piece along the 33" sides, leaving the fold along the 25" side. Sew 1/2"seam along the 33" (since it's been folded it's now 16.5") sides. I double stitched these two seams. You'll end up with a rectangle that measures 16.5"x25". Flip bag right side out.
Measure 1.5" from fold at bottom of bag and mark with a pencil. It looks like 1.25" but that's just because I hit the ruler before I took the photo. You want to measure the same distance as your eyelet trim, in case you're using up materials you already own and may have a different size trim. Your trim should be flush along the bottom of the linen bag.
Sew top of eyelet trim along the line you just made, going all the way around the bag. Make sure you don't sew your bag together! You'll probably have to slide off the bottom piece from your sewing machine and only use the base plate arm for this (see photo above).
When you get to the beginning, sew a little bit (maybe 1/4") past the beginning edge. Cut trim and lay flat.
Sew a zig zag stitch from the top of the eyelet trim to the bottom, connecting the two ends. I used a light pink thread because I thought it looked pretty. It's fairly easy to maneuver the linen bag out of the way to only stitch the eyelet trim.
Measure 5.5" from top of eyelet and draw a line. 
Now it's time to make your ruffles. Sew ten of the colored fabric pieces together, matching the 7" sides together. I used 1/4" seam allowance for this part. When you have all ten pieces sewn together, run a zig zag stitch along one long edge. This is the bottom of your ruffle.

Run a basting stitch along the other edge, about 1/2" from edge, using a long stitch length. I used the longest stitch length I could on my machine. When finished, grab the top thread and start to gently pull on it. You'll have to slide the material down to get it to ruffle. I found that my machine created ruffles by itself when I used the long stitch length. See them in the back of the machine?

You need to fit five pieces of fabric on each side of the bag so you'll have to play around with how much to ruffle to get it to fit. This is much easier than it sounds. The first ruffle took the longest, by the fourth ruffle, I was a pro-ruffler.

*Caution! Don't pull your top thread too tightly or it will snap. I speak from experience.
When you've got the ruffle properly sized, pin it along the line you marked out above the eyelet trim and sew the first ruffle layer down. I sewed it along the basting stitch.

Watch out that you don't sew your bag together. Again, I speak from experience.

When you get back to the beginning, overlap the pieces about 1/2", cut, and zig zag the edges together like you did for the eyelet trim.

Yay! First layer done.
Measure 3" from top of first ruffle layer and mark a line. 
Make your second ruffle layer, pin it down, and sew, sew, sew.

Yay! Second ruffle done.

Measure 2 1/2" from top of second ruffle layer and mark a line. Make your third ruffle, pin it down, and sew, sew, sew.

Yay! Third ruffle layer done.

Make fourth ruffle layer, pin it along the top edge of the linen bag, and sew, sew, sew.

Yay! Finished with the ruffles. 
Now for the lining.

If you haven't already done it, cut the muslin lining 33"x25". Fold in half just like you did for the linen piece and sew along the 16.5" sides using a 1/2" seam allowance. Double stitch. We want these bags sturdy.
Insert the lining into the bag, wrong sides together, and pin along the top edges. 
Sew the lining into the bag, going right along the seam you used to attach the fourth ruffle layer to the linen bag. 

Make sure to straighten your ruffles as you sew so they don't get caught in your presser foot. 

Voice of experience again.
For the binding:

Cut a piece of ticking 2.5"x 50". Pin along the top edge of the bag and sew 3/4" from top edge. This will cover the stitching you've done attaching the fourth ruffle layer and the lining. 

Sew small sections at a time, going slowly, and fix and straighten your ruffles as you sew. Make sure they don't get caught in the presser foot. Again.
Flip the binding over the top edge of the bag, turn the edge of the binding under, tucking that raw edge underneath and pin it (see photo above).

Sew the inside edge of the binding down as close to the bottom as you can. You don't have to worry about sewing a perfectly straight line since it's going to get covered by the grosgrain ribbon in the next step.
The binding is on.
I placed the grosgrain ribbon along the bottom edge of the ticking, covering up my seam line from sewing the inside binding edge down. 

See? I told you sewing a straight line wouldn't matter.

Sew along the top edge of the ribbon and along the bottom edge of the ribbon.
When you get to the edge of the ribbon, cut about 1/2" extra, turn under and stitch across.

Sorry. I forgot to take a picture of this.
To attach the handles:

Measure 6" from side seams of bags and place a pin. Do this on both sides of the bag.

Make some tubing out of ticking by cutting a strip 2.5" x (the length of the ticking), using a 1/4" seam allowance. Flip inside out and cut into 4" pieces.
Put one of the 4" pieces through the ring on your handle and pin into place. I made sure to place the pins so that I would be sewing underneath the top ruffle layer. 

Can you see the two little pin marks in the center of the two photos below? I didn't think the first photo was clear so I took a second photo and placed my center finger near the pins. 
You'll have to maneuver the top ruffle layer so that you don't accidentally stitch it while attaching the handles. This was not difficult. Just tedious.
Sew the ticking piece down using an "X" shape. I tried to take a photo of that, below, but the thread is too light to see this.

To make the "X", I sewed along the narrow piece of the ticking two times, about 1" apart and then sewed diagonally between those two seams.
Can you see the "X", as clear as mud, in the center of the photo above?

Trim the edges of the ticking pieces. Trim all your hanging threads. All one thousand of them.
K came along at an opportune moment. 

I made her model for me.
To finish the bag, I made a fabric rosette using this tutorial. 

I sewed on two short pieces of ribbon I had for the tails, then I sewed the fabric rosette to the bag, in the center of the rose. I hand stitched underneath the rose, connecting it to the bag so it wasn't too floppy.

I used Fray-Check on the edges of the ticking on the inside of the bag and the tails under the fabric rosette on the outside of the bag.
The Girly Girl bag.

Love it.


  1. IF I sewed..this would be the FIRST thing I would make. It's really lovely and interesting!
    You are so very talented, Miss C!!

  2. wow!!! This came out amazing! its so cute and unique. I think you need to open an Etsy shop of your own!

  3. Thank you all for the nice words!

  4. You never cease to amaze make it look soooo easy!!!

  5. Wow...You're one talented lady! You do make it look so easy...but fun! I can't wait to see it in person!

  6. Oh my goodness! I have a girlie girl who is going to flip for this!! Thanks for sharing.

    Blessings, Debbie

  7. I'm so glad you all like it! Thanks for the nice words =]