Well, I think that sewing does not have to be an expensive hobby. And especially for a gift, it is the time that you put into it that shows your love, so you don't have to spend a lot on the materials for something cool.
The first thing that I did was take a stroll at one of my favorite places - a thrift store in town. I picked up a small fleece throw and a pillowcase for a grand total of $1.50 - yay! I liked that the pillowcase has a nice print on the open edge, so I will use that for the flap of the bag.
Ok, here we go!
You need an outside fabric and a lining fabric and some fleece or batting or whatever for the inside. This gives it stability.
You can use any fabric for this that stable (no stretch).
I am using a pillow case, so that is both, my inside and lining.
Probably a good idea to wash and iron the pillowcase first. :)
I know that this sounds backwards, but if you are using recycled materials, you need to see what you have to work with first.
A pillow case is pretty much the perfect size for this bag.
I am going to make it so that it will hold a couple of spiral notebooks or a binder, and it will be wider than longer.
This pillowcase is 20" x 30". I also need to make the strap. So with 1/2" seams, the bag will be about 13" wide and about 10" high. That should fit everything perfectly!
Turn the pillowcase inside out and iron it or crease it in half so that you get a crease right down the middle. Lay the pillowcase on top of the fleece with the design side closest to the fleece. That means that the side that will be the lining is on top. (This may not matter with other pillowcases that have all over designs)
Now pin the pillowcase to the fleece (pin it the cutting way - parallel to the edge).
Just a heads up on cutting. You will be cutting off about 3" on each side, but that measurement is not the important one. Due to the nature of a used pillowcase, there might be some variances in the dimensions. The important part is the 14 x 30 piece that you will be cutting right out of the center - leaving approx. 3 x 30 on each side. See? This way, we can take advantage of the stitching that is already done for the strap. The bag part needs to be totally squared off or it won't work. The strap can be made to work if it is not exactly straight. :)
All that to say: For this step, use the crease right down the middle that you made earlier to measure off of. Place your ruler on your pillowcase so that the 7" mark is on the crease. Place a pin at the 0" and the 14" mark on both sides of the pillowcase. Now use your ruler to make a line. Draw it in with a pencil. Pin along this pencil line, as it is now a cutting line. (you only need to pin on the inside (bag side) of each line.)
You are now going to cut it out. Trim the fleece to match the edge of the pillowcase. Now, cut along your pencil marks. Be careful because you are using both sides of it! Make sure that you cut both the pillowcase AND the fleece!
You are doing great!!!
Take out all the pins in the strap pieces and separate them. Place one fleece piece on top of the other one. You will sew a seam in one end which will create one long piece of fleece.
Now take the other pieces and cut open the fold. (at the end of each strap piece) This will allow you to open the pieces and lay them flat. Place them right sides together and sew a seam at one end. I have chosen to sew this seam on the design side, so that the design will be in the center of the shoulder strap.
Then flatten it out. You might want to iron it flat at this point! Make sure that you tuck in the ends of the straps and iron them flat as well.
Now, set this aside for a few minutes.
OK, no, not time for a snack. Well, unless you need a break. Sorry, couldn't resist that one.
Remember the big rectangle that you have sitting there? You need to turn the pins from the cutting way (parallel to the edge), to the sewing way (perpendicular to the edge.)
Now take a look at your rectangle. Put a pin at the middle point of the long edge on one side (just pick a side). Put a double pin (that just means 2 pins together) 2" on either side of that middle pin (along the edge). Go to your sewing machine and start sewing at the one double pin and go all the way around and stop at the other double pin (still using that 1/2" seam allowance). You will be leaving a 4" opening. Are you with me?
Take out all the pins and clip the corners off. Now just reach through that opening and turn it all right side out. Iron it all flat, including the opening, so that it LOOKS like it is sewn shut.
Lay it on your table face up and find the flap side. (in my case, that is the side with the design.) Now you are going to measure it again. With the seams it has shrunk down to 29" x 13", which is perfect! You are going to put in a pin at 9" down from the flap side on both of the long sides. For the next step, we will call this pin "B" (Bag top).
OK now that wasn't so hard, was it? We are almost done!
With the right side facing up, bring the bottom up to the first pin (pin "B"). Put a pin where the fold is on both sides. We will call this pin "F" (fold.)
Now take your strap and put the middle of the bottom of the strap at the (fold) pin "F". Pin edge to edge all the way up to the other pin "B" and then starting at the (fold) pin, pin all the way up to the edge of the bag. Do this on both sides. (make sure that your strap does not twist! And also, if there is a design on only one side of the strap, the design faces inside.
Note: in case you were freaking out because there were some un-sewn seams, they get sewn in this step!!!
uh... yeah... Sew it starting at the bag edge, down, around the corners (make sure that you pivot the corners) and back to the last pin. Really reinforce the start and end points. Sew both sides.
Turn the bag right side out. All the seams should look really neat, both inside and out.
This is going to be a great in-between bag! I can put a 1" binder and a spiral notebook inside. It is perfect for class!
Please let me know if you try this!