Companion Carpet Bag Sew-Along Day 1


A big hello from Reece at Happy Okapi! I'm so excited Samantha has asked me over for this Sew-Along.  If you've joined me in a Sew-Along before, you're probably familiar with my organization style, but I'll lay it anyway for everyone.

  • Day 1 (that's today!) I like to do all the prep work, including fabric selection, gathering of supplies, cutting, and fusing/basting.
  • Day 2 Here is where I prefer to get all the fussy work out of the way, like pockets, piping, and zippers if possible. 
  • Day 3 Final assembly!! We take all our pieces and put them together to make our gorgeous bags!! (The extra exclamation marks are because this is my favourite part, and I get soooo excited about it)
Let's talk fabric!
From what I've seen of this style of bag, a traditional carpet bag is made with a heavier fabric, like an upholstery fabric. I'm less traditional, so I like to use quilting cottons because they come in such a vast array of colours and prints. The great thing about this pattern, is that it can be completely up to you (and maybe your machine) what type of fabric you choose. Mix up types of fabric if you like too! A vinyl gusset would be fantastic! If you're looking for inspiration, I suggest heading over to Instagram and searching for #CompanionCarpetBag to see some truly amazing bags. I like a large scale print for the large of this bag, and I've now chosen a medium scale print for the small bag. Be mindful of any fussy cutting you may need to do with your print of choice. I'll share my tips for fussy cutting further down when we get to cutting.

Here are some examples from the Bag of the Month Club winners! Far left is from Crystal of Cloth Albatross, showing a beautiful quilt-as-you-go exterior; the centre is mine, with an all-quilting cotton exterior; and the right is Kristy's from Rock Baby Scissors, with an Essex linen gusset and frame channel.
Interfacing and Stabilizers
The interfacings and stabilizers you use will likely depend on the main fabric you chose. Since I'm using quilting cottons, I will use a foam stabilizer, like Pellon Flex-foam, for my bag. If you're using a heavier weight fabric, then a fusible fleece will give a good result. For the lining, the pattern calls for a medium weight interfacing, and my preference for that is Pellon Craft-Fuse, for a crisp, firm body when paired with the foam. You may also want to use some woven fusible interfacing (like Pellon Shape-flex) for pockets or even an extra layer on the exterior. 

Refer to the pattern for the notions required. You can get the internal tubular frame and the hardware (magnetic snap and purse feet) at Emmaline Bags and Bobbin Girl. For the handles, you can either buy premade, salvage a pair off a thrift store bag (see my post here about second-hand treasures), or make your own. You can follow my tutorial on how to make your own vinyl handles on my site

Handles I made myself (the long, tan-coloured ones) and a pair from a thrift store bag (the shorter blue ones).
Getting Started
First, you'll need the pattern! If you still need the pattern, head over here to get it, and don't forget to use code CCBAGSAL to save 10%. I only print the pattern pieces and refer to the pattern on my tablet, but do what works for you. For the rectangle pieces, I prefer a rotary cutter and quilting ruler for fast, accurate cuts. Tip: Print 2 each of the pattern pieces (or trace them onto scrap paper) and tape them together instead of cutting on the fold. I find this method allows me to visualize the whole piece I'm about to cut, better than folding. I also find my cuts tend to more accurate this way.

Cutting and Fusing
You may wish to make yourself a cutting chart if you are using multiple fabrics. Here's mine as an example. Then you can just check off or highlight once you've cut them.I like to match up my pocket to the print in the main outer panel. I'm sure there are other ways to do this, but here's mine: I first cut out the main panel, then I place the cut piece over another spot in my fabric where the images match up. Then I trace the bottom of the panel piece, move it out of the way and fit my pocket pattern piece in its place, matching up the bottom from the outline I just marked, then finally, I continue marking around the pattern piece to complete the piece. I hope this picture helps! Note: I've marked the wrong side of my fabric, but since this bag pattern is symmetrical from side to side, it doesn't matter which side you do it from.

Not too shabby, eh?

If you're not keen on matching them up, that's ok too!

For fusing, just follow manufacturers suggestions. If you're using a foam stabilizer, you may wish to quilt your woven to it, in which case, should probably be done before cutting out the pattern pieces. You could also just baste (long stitch-length) along the outer edges of the pieces within the seam allowance.

After the fusing and basting, we're done! Gather up your interfaced and stabilized pieces, along with the hardware and notions, and I'll see you here next week! 

Be sure to check my blog for how to make your own vinyl handles, and a quick tutorial on making your own piping. 

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  1. I wanted to make the small Companion Carpet bag...guess this SAL is the perfect opportunity & motivation!! to pick out my fabrics! :-)

  2. Hi! I'm having printing issues with the C - Outer Pocket for the 12" Frame cutting off the bottom line. It was a little better with my work printer but still no line under the Mrs H logo. I'm US based. Should I be using A4 paper or something different? The 1 inch box seems to be measuring correctly.

    1. Hi Nicole, I'm not sure what could be happening. I'm in Canada and I just use what we call "letter" sized paper and print at actual size, or 100%.

    2. Thank you, Reece! I was able to take it to a local print shop and they printed it for me on Legal paper with a special orientation. Not sure why the pocked kept getting chopped off for me on letter, but all is good now. :)


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