Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Diaper Bag Insert

Here we are with April quickly closing in and I can't believe that Fidget is already 6 weeks old and we're figuring out this whole life with a baby thing.  At times pregnancy seems like it was just yesterday and other times it feels like a lifetime ago.  Time and how we experience it can be such a mystery.  

One of my favorite parts of getting out of the house with Fidget, aside from leaving the house of course, is grabbing my diaper bag.  I absolutely LOVE this bag!  Early on I knew that a regular diaper bag probably wasn't for me, I didn't want something super girly or that screamed diaper bag.  I also thought it would be nice if it was something that The Husband wouldn't mind carrying.  Because of this I began looking for ways to either make a diaper bag from scratch, something where I could pick the fabrics used, or use a bag I already have.  That's when I settled upon using my all-time favorite bag.  This leather Fossil bag was what I used when I was a teacher and I absolutely love it!  The only issue was that the bag itself wasn't washable should a bottle leak, wet clothes get thrown in, etc.; I mean, sure, small leaks could be mopped up from the inside but anything big might pose a problem.  That's where the idea of creating my own insert formulated and that's the tutorial I bring to you today.

So let's start at the very beginning.

Here's the bag before I had done anything to it.  It needed a bit of cleaning up before the transformation could begin.
All the stamps I used for checking off music, metronome/tuner, screwdrivers for last minute instrument repairs, it all had to come out.
Because I really want to keep this bag in tip top shape while using it almost daily I made sure to take care of the leather.  Simply following the directions on the bottles means that the leather is protected from the rain as well as conditioned so it shouldn't crack.  It's a simple process that I was able to do in an evening and should only have to repeat about once a year.
And here it is after.  Granted this is after a couple weeks of wear but there are fewer scratches and the leather is a tad darker than it was when I began.
The inside all cleaned out and ready to be repurposed.
 I found this fantastic tutorial over at WarehouseFabricsInc.com for a full diaper bag with a divider down the middle.  I altered the pattern slightly to eliminate the divider as my bag was already somewhat narrow front to back and I wanted to utilize as much space as possible.  If you follow the directions on the website I suggest reading through them a couple of times to get your bearings as I found it a tad confusing to follow.  They also have a lot more pictures for practically every step.

Here are my measurements and number of pieces I needed to create my insert.  The following measurements include an extra 1/2" that was added to each side of a fabric that would have a seam so this is exactly the sizes they were cut to:
  • Front & Back (half will be for the interior of the bag and half for the exterior)
    • 4 pieces of main fabric (the flowers) 11"x16"
    • 2 pieces of interfacing 11"x16"
  • Sides (half will be for the interior of the bag and half for the exterior)
    • 4 pieces of main fabric 4.5"x11"
    • 2 pieces of interfacing 4.5"x11"
  • Bottom (half will be for the interior of the bag and half for the exterior)
    • 2 pieces of main fabric 16"x4.5"
    • 1 piece of interfacing 16"x4.5"
  • Straight pocket
    • 2 pieces of lining fabric (the stripes) 16"x6"
  • Long elastic pocket
    • 2 pieces of lining fabric 22.5"x6"
  • Side elastic pockets
    • 4 pieces of lining fabric 6.5"x6"
All of my pieces cut ready to be put together.
I used a sewable interfacing (of which I'm sure there's a better word to use) rather than iron on as it just seemed easier to me.  You're interfacing should be exactly the same size as your fabric pieces unlike mine which are about 1/4" smaller all around. 
Once your interfacing is fused on sew the two exterior front & back pieces to the exterior bottom piece as shown above.  Be sure to stop sewing 1/2" before you reach the end to allow for sharp corners and to keep from having to sew through a bazillion layers later on. 
Once you've done that and you flip it over you'll see what the outside of your insert will look like.
Now go ahead and add the exterior side pieces.  They should match up at the top and will be too long at the bottom.  Don't panic, this will all sort itself out soon.
And we're almost finished with the exterior of the insert!
Go ahead and finish sewing the exterior sides to the front and back so that you have the basis of the bag but will still have the bottom to complete.  Remember to stop sewing 1/2" from each end.
Here's the bottom at which point you're going to do your best to sew from one seam to the other based on where you stopped 1/2" from the bottom.  This will help to create a nice crisp corner.
And voila, you have the exterior completed!
Now to work on the interior.  Take the two pieces you plan to use for the elastic pockets and sew them wrong side together.  Flip right side out and sew 1/2" from the top.  This creates your pocket to thread the elastic through.  Secure the elastic edges of the lining fabric to the main with a couple of stitches.  Sew straight across the bottom creating occasional pleats in the lining so that the bottom ends up the same length as the main fabric.
Once the top and bottom are secured, determine how wide you want each pocket to be and sew vertically.  Be sure to go over the elastic a couple of times to keep it extra secure.
Moving to the other side, sew the two pieces of lining fabric wrong side together, flip, and sew a seam 1/2" from the top.  This gives you a nice top edge that won't shift as you pull items out.  Attach the lining strip to the main fabric across the bottom and the sides if you wish although the sides will get sewn in later so it's not necessary.  Determine how large you want the pockets on this side and sew vertically to create said pockets. 
Sew the interior sides to the interior bottom like you did with the exteriors.
At this point it got dark and I got carried away so there are some pictures missing.  If you'd like to add elastic pockets to the interior side panels simply do exactly what you did for the longer elastic pockets.  Attache the side panels the same way we attached the exterior sides.  Complete the interior in the same way we did the exterior until we have a box.  BUT when you sew up the edges leave a large whole in the middle of one of your seams.  This is where you will turn the finished project right side.

Once you have both the exterior and interior parts complete it's time to put them together.  Turn the exterior piece so that the wrong side is facing outwards.  Next, insert the interior piece into the exterior so that the right sides are facing each other and the wrong sides are out.  Line up the seams and sew 1/2" from the top all the way around.  Remember the whole in the middle of your interior seam?  Now is the time you'll pull the whole insert through that whole and then sew it up.  At this point you could very well call the whole project done, slip it into your purse or bag and be on you way!

Because I intend for this bag to be in heavy use for quite some time I wanted a way of securing the insert to the existing bag in such a way that it could easily be removed to be washed while maintaining the integrity of the existing bags lining such that I could use it as something other than a diaper bag down the line.

Velcro to the rescue!  I lined up pieces of velcro around the top edge of my insert using only the soft side so that it wouldn't catch on things in the wash.
Sewed around the edges so that it is securely attached.
I was then able to line up where the other part of the velcro would attach on the existing lining and hand sewed just a couple of stitches around the edges.  Nothing too much as I don't expect to be pulling the insert out all that often.
And there we have it!
A completed insert ready to be used!
And now that I've had some time, here's what it looks like in use. 
It's been working out absolutely perfectly and I'm even using some of the pre-existing pockets to help keep it that much more organized. :)
Now that I've probably completely confused you please take heart.  I promise it's not as complicated as it looks and if you take it step-by-step any one of you could have an insert for any bag or purse in just a couple of afternoons!  If you're feeling really confused head on over to Warehouse Fabrics Inc where they have a picture for every possible step as well as some extras if you want to create an entire bag from scratch, not just a liner.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Since using the bag I find myself wishing that the interior pockets were deeper, cutting those pieces so they were 8" tall instead of 6" would make all the difference.  
  • I'd also go ahead and use elastic all the way around.  I find those pockets to be much more useful to me on a daily basis.
  • When it comes to the elastic pockets on the long side I chose to have 4 equally spaced pockets.  These have ended up being usable, but just a tad small.  In hindsight I'd rather have had fewer but larger.  So putting 3 on either side would have worked since the ones on the side end up relatively small and work for anything you really need to keep contained.
Please let me know if you have any questions.  If you choose to make an insert or even a bag I'd love to see what you do!

Thanks for reading and happy crafting!

***This post is linked up at Living Well, Spending Less***

No comments:

Post a Comment