Smocking close-up

Back when reusable shopping bags weren’t quite as trendy, I had a few ordinary-looking black ones. When I first had my hand at smocking (thanks to this great tutorial), I decided to use my “practice smockery” and revamp that old bag in one fell swoop.

If I were to make this bag again, there are some steps I would modify, but here’s a tutorial on how it was done this time around. To get the smocked look, use the aforementioned tutorial to yield an area of 11.75″ by 16.5″. If you’ve smashing fabric and need of a grocery bag, ignore my smockery and get to sewing.


The Finished Product




How to Make It

  1. Start cutting.Of the lining, you’ll need:
    • 1 of piece A (8.5″ by 43.5″)
    • 2 of piece B (11.75″ by 16.5″)
    • 4 of piece C (1.5″ by 46.5″)

    Of the main fabric, you’ll need:

    • 1 of piece A
    • 1 of piece B
    • 1 smocked piece B (it doesn’t need to be trimmed just yet)
    • 1 rectangular 4″ by 46.5″ piece (not displayed in pattern diagram)


  2. Pin together wrong sides of lining and fabric for piece A, then sew a straight line around the perimeter.02sidebottom

  3. Take your newly sewn piece A and iron the fabric side 16 inches away from each end. This is optional, but will help when you are sewing together the bag.03ironpiecea

  4. Flip garment over and mark a line down the center, 11.5 inches away from each end (and 4.5 inches away from the line you just ironed). Fold and, with fabric sides facing, iron down this 11.5″ line. This step is also optional, but it will make the bag naturally close along these ironed lines.04ironsidescenter
  5. This part is a bit tricky to explain, so I’ll let the diagram do most of the talking. This entire step, too, is optional.Flip the garment over, fabric side up, and fold so that the edge where the lining and fabric meet is along the 16″ fold (see diagram). Iron from this edge to where the 14.5″ line ends. Do the same in the opposite direction.


  6. Fold each short end (8.5″) of the garment by one inch, then pin and stitch a straight line. You’re now done with the sides!
  7. On to the straps: First, you’ll need to take two lining pieces of piece C and sew them flatly along the perimeter. These won’t be seen, so it doesn’t what type of stitch you use. Do the same with the remaining two lining pieces of piece C.
  8. Take your fabric piece C and pin together down the center (see picture). Mark about 1.6 inches from the fold with a pen or marker. Stitch over this line with something secure (e.g. a straight stitch with a short stitch length). Do the same with the other fabric piece C.08strapspinmark
  9. Trim and turn pieces inside out. Thread a lining piece C through each piece and, voila, you have made your straps.
  10. Pin one finished strap (piece A, fabric with lining inside, which you just completed) to the right side of lining piece B. I pinned mine about 1 inch away from each side.

  11. For each lining piece B, sew on a strap. You may want to sew on a box like I did to strengthen the straps.

  12. Now it’s time to do the front and back of the bag. Pin together the wrong sides of lining piece B and fabric piece B, then sew along the perimeter. Trim edges.
  13. Do the same for the smocked piece B (unsmocked side to lining wrong side), but you may want to whipstitch the sides together first to ensure that nothing gets warped while sewing.12pinwhipstitchfront

  14. Time to put everything together. Pin wrong sides of front part and side part together, then sew near the perimeter. Pin and sew the back part on accordingly.
  15. Pin your ribbon over the places where the sides meet the front and back, then sew. To finish off the top of pieces B, you can either zig-zag stitch or sew on more ribbon to bind the whole thing.
  16. Admire your work!
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