Thursday, May 31, 2012

Boxy Travel Bag + Tutorial

Before I came home for the SNAP conference, I decided I wanted to make a little travel bag that would fit my make-up, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc. I wanted to be able to wipe down the inside of the bag in case of my make-up spilling, but I also wanted to be able to wipe down the outside of the bag too after staying at multiple hotels (I am kinda a clean freak and hotels gross me out). I came across this Lou Lou Thi laminated cotton the week before I came home and I snatched it up knowing that it would be perfect for this project.

This was my first time working with laminated cotton and I kinda have mixed feelings. I love that it is thinner than oilcloth and definitely not as stiff as oil cloth, but that being said, I still thought it was kinda hard to work with. The main reason being that since I used it for both the outside and the inside of the bag, I had a hard time getting it to feed through my machine since it has a tacky feel to it. It would just stick to the presser foot and also where the feed dogs come up. I figured out a solution to help with it sticking though (I will share it with you in a bit)

I would definitely use it again, but probably not for a front and back of anything like I did this time.

So here is how I made my bag. I am just warning you now that I don't recommend using laminated cotton for both the inside and outside of the bag unless you are experienced with laminated cotton! Consider yourselves warned! ;)

Here is how I made my bag....

-4 pieces of fabric that are 9x14 inches
(This laminated cotton is 58 inches wide, so I bought 1/4 yard of it. That was enough to make the entire bag. If you didn't want to use the laminated cotton, you could just use 2 fat quarters of fabric. one for the inside and one for the outside.)
-2 pieces of leftover quilt batting that are 9x14 inches
(if you don't have leftover quilt batting, then you could use fusible fleece- BUT- you can't not iron the laminated cotton so fusible fleece would only work if you weren't using laminated cotton. You just need something to give the bag a little padding so you could use anything thicker like fleece, felt, etc.)
-One 14 inch zipper
(I used a vintage metal zipper that was 20 inches long so I had to shorten it. Here is the tutorial.)

Step 1: Cut out you fabric. You should have two 9x14 inch pieces for the outside of the bag, two 9x14 inch pieces for the inside of the bag, and then two pieces of quilt batting (or whatever you are using) that are 9x14 inches.

Step 2: Get ready to sew your zipper on. Start by taking one of the outside pieces of fabric and lay it right side up and (When you are working with laminated cotton you can not use straight pins to hold layers of fabric together because it will make a permanent hole in the laminated cotton, so I found that it was easiest to use tape to secure my zipper. If you aren't using laminated cotton than pin away- no worries!)

Once your zipper is taped in place, lay your other fabric piece right side down on top of the taped zipper and then lay your layer of batting on top of that. Now you are ready to sew your zipper in place.

Step 3: Sew your zipper in place. When you open up the fabric it should look like this.

Repeat step 2 for the other 2 pieces of fabric and piece of batting and sew in place. When you are all finished, it should look like this opened up.
Step 4: Top stitch the seam so that the fabric lays completely flat and also has a more finished look.

Ok.. Here is where I used the trick that helped me manage the laminated cotton better. I put masking tape  where I planned to sew. It helped the laminated cotton not stick so bad to the presser foot and things moved much more smoothly. The only downfall is that you have to remove it after sewing through it and it can be kinda tricky.

Update** One of my readers left a comment suggesting painters tape since it is less tacky and would pull off easier- Genius!! ***

Step 6: Fold the bag in half so that the zipper is on the left side and the raw edges are together on the right side. (the right sides of the bag should be facing each other in the middle of the fold). Once it is folded in half, sew a 1/4 inch seam along the raw edges.

Step 7: Lay your bag flat so that the zipper is centered and the seam you have just sewn is centered on top of the zipper. (make sure your zipper is open halfway so that you can turn your bag right side out after sewing) Sew on both sides.

Step 8: Make box corners on all 4 corners of the bag. Here is a great tutorial if you are not sure how to make a box corner. For my bag I made my corners 3 inches tall. If I were to do it again, I would probably do 2 - 2 1/2 inches but having it this tall has been kinda nice.

Once you complete all 4 box corners, turn the bag right side out and you are finished! Ready for travel!! :)


  1. Love this! Thanks for the great tutorial and the link to the box corner tutorial.

  2. Great idea. I really like this one. There are many gifts that could come out of this.

    Allison (adayinthelife)

  3. try using painters tape instead of masking tape. It's a bit less tacky and easier to remove

  4. Ashley! You are amazing! This is so cute!

  5. This is so cute! Wish i knew how to sew

  6. Laminated cotton...who knew!!! So did you find it online or in a fabric store?? I have never seen it before! Makes me want to try this project. Although sewing Zippers stresses me out!! I don't know why, they can be ripped out just like any other seam, but for some reason, zippers give me anxiety! LOL...I may be a bit weird!

  7. Thanks for the great tutorial! Especially the box corner info, that will be handy. There's a local store that has some amy butler laminate available, but I think I'll try this first with all cloth so I can iron the heck out of it!

  8. Love it it's beautiful and the fabric is adorable!

  9. This is too cute! I have to learn to is a goal of mine this summer!

  10. Hello Ashley,
    I have been wanting to make a square travel bag. Thanks for sharing this tutorial.
    Smiles, Paula

  11. I love the laminated cotton idea! I am going on a trip this summer and I can't wait to make one myself! Thanks for sharing this tutorial!

  12. I love it. It looks great and I love that it can hold a lot of things without being super big.
    Thanks for sharing this tutorial.
    Greetings from Germany

  13. Very cute fabric!! I love it! TFS!! Stopping by from Show Me What Ya Got linky party and your newest follower. Here is what I shared this week:

  14. Oooh - I can't wait to try this! Thanks!

  15. Hi Ashley ( The Nightcrafter (***)),

    its i very nice little bag and im jelious that u can handle this kind of laminated fabric.

    Have a nice evening,

    Greetings from berlin


  16. Wow! Love this, please share it! Link it up with me on my Wow Us Wednesday, ok? Over at

  17. What I am in search of is not so much the gratification of a curiosity or a passion for worldly life, but something far less conditional. I do not wish to go out into the world with an insurance policy in my pocket guaranteeing my return in the event of a disappointment, like some cautious traveller who would be content with a brief glimpse of the world. On the contrary, I desire that there should be hazards, difficulties and dangers to face; I am hungry for reality, for tasks and deeds, and also for privation and suffering.

  18. Awesome tutorial, big thankies for sharing it ♥

  19. Instead of using type why not just buy a nylon foot for your machine.. this avoids sticking .. or even use a roller foot..

    1. That is a great idea. To be honest, I am kinda a cheap skate so I didn't really want to put any money into a foot that I would rarely use since I don't work with laminates much, so the tape was a cheap fix for me. In the future if I start to work more with laminates I will have to check into one of these feet! Sounds like they would make things much easier!! Thanks for the tip! ;)

  20. I didn't read all the responses so maybe someone said this already but if you lay tissue paper (any color like you use for gift wrapping) down on top and underneath, then sew, it slides through easily and tears away easily.

  21. Tissue is great for silk too! I recommend buying a walking foot for sticky fabrics, but like you said, only if you will be doing it often. Great bag, thank you!

  22. My father was in the (Canadian) Air Force and I am sure he had a kit bag in this same shape. If I remember correctly, there were elastic holders inside for stuff like toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, etc. Of course that would be easy in the service as everyone's stuff was the same size and configuration.

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  24. Love it!
    My tip with working with laminate or plastic, vinyl, (not tried it with leather yet) is baby powder. Just put about half a teaspoon in your hand and then rub it over your palm and then rub it on the material you are planning on sewing. A walking foot or a non stick foot helps too.


Thanks for taking the time to comment. I honestly love reading every single one! If you have a question you would like answered- be sure to include your email so that I can get back to you!

Thanks so much for stopping by! Have a great day!
xoxo, Ashley