DIY Project Bag with a Vinyl Window
A transparent project bag can store and keep together the supplies for 1 project– elastics, fabric pieces, thread, buttons,... and with the vinyl window, you can see clearly what’s in the bag. Things don’t fall out, you can take it to a class and it is nice to look at if you use your favorite fabrics. This is not a new, original idea. You can find lots of tutorials online. This is my version. I simplified it a bit so it became a beginner-friendly project. Of course, if you plan to make these to sell, you will probably want to add some extra topstitching and hide the raw edges better by adding some bias tape or binding.
This an organize-your-sewing-room project. Yay!
I often have different sewing projects going on at the same time. Well, maybe ‘going on’ is not the right word for it. Some projects can lie around for several weeks or months. I’m easily sparked with enthusiasm to start something new. Lots of ideas but... too little time. I start drawing a pattern after dinner, cut the fabrics and then…Oops, I don’t have all the supplies. I’m missing some interfacing, a little trim or matching fabric... And what happens? The unfinished project lingers in my sewing room, somewhere, and I get a new idea a couple of days later, forget to go to the store, and I start a new project. Depending on my time and enthusiasm, the first project stays unfinished for... a while (or longer) and takes up space on my cutting table. Sounds familiar?
Of course, there are also projects that never seem to be finished, like face masks for example.. I hope this is one that we can almost ‘archive’ and forget about, but well, the past year and a half, my face mask supplies sat in a plastic bag in my sewing room and from time to time I dug up the face mask bag to make some new masks. A project bag is definitely more elegant than a plastic bag and easier to store.
The finished result is a project bag with a zipper, a window and a little handle, about 14 inch by 15 inch in size.
What You Need to Make a Project Bag
- Fabric for the outside 21 inch x 20 inch
- Fabric for the lining 17 inch x 15 inch
- Transparent vinyl for the window 11 inch x 11 inch, I used 100% polyurethane
- A zipper, minimum 13 inch long. I’m using an 18 inch zipper. I just cut it down to fit the bag.
- Medium weight to heavy weight fusible interfacing to give the backside some stiffness: 15 inch x 15 inch
Cut the Different Fabric Pieces for the Project
- Lining fabric: 1 piece 15 by 15 inch + 1 small piece of 8 by 2 inch for the handle
- Outside fabric : 1 piece 15 by 15 inch + 3 strips: 15 by 2 inch + 2 strips 11 by 2 inch
- The interfacing: 1 piece 15 by 15 inchCut the transparent vinyl: 1 piece 11 by 11 inch.
Also, cut a couple of 1-inch wide tissue paper strips. I use those to sew over the vinyl easily later on.
Reinforce the Lining
Apply interfacing onto the lining fabric. I use a mid-weight fusible interfacing. If you want, you can also add batting and quilt the big outside fabric piece and lining to one another.
Assemble the Handle of the Project Bag
Make the handle. Sew the long sides together, right sides facing each other. Turn right-side out and iron flat. Sew the 2 ends onto the lining, right in the middle of one edge. Look at the picture below to see how you can do this.
Install the Zipper
- Take 2 fabric strips
- Pin or clip the edge of 1 strip to the zipper coil, right sides facing
- Sew it down with a zipper foot
- Finish the raw edge with pinking shears
- Now topstitch on the zipper. I use a regular foot for this step.
Repeat the previous steps for the other edge of the zipper with the 2nd fabric strip
Trim the zipper and lock the end of the zipper by sewing over it a couple of times.
Install the Window of the Project Bag
Put the vinyl flat on your table. You will need pattern weights as it will roll up. Clip an 11 inch strip right sides facing on the vinyl. Don’t use pins or you’ll make holes in the vinyl. Put the tissue paper strips between the vinyl and your presser foot. I just clip them onto the vinyl. You can rip them away afterwards. Attach the strip, stitching at ⅜ inch seam allowance.
Do the same thing on the opposite side of the vinyl with the other 11 inch strip. Press carefully on the cotton. Press both seams flat carefully. Make sure you do not iron directly on the vinyl. You can also add a topstitching if you want.
Assemble the Project Bag
Now grab the part with the zipper. Attach it to the top side with clips, sew, press open. Grab the last 15 inch strip. Attach it to the bottom side of the vinyl. First clip, right sides facing, sew at ⅜ inch, fold open, press on the cotton and add a topstitching, if you want. To have neat edges on the inside, I trim them with my pinking shears.
Before you move on to the next step, I trim all parts to the size of the 15 x 15 square and I must admit that because my sewing is not very accurate, I also had to trim a part of the square, the width now being 14 inch. You should cut the side strips at 2.5 inch or 3 inch instead of 2, if you want a perfect square bag in the end. When you cut down the zipper, make sure to hold the 2 parts together with a clip or a quick stitching.
Open the zipper at least 3 inch. Place the part with the window right sides facing with the outside fabric. Pin or clip them together. Sew all around at ⅜ inch.
Now we will attach the lining fabric. Place it with the right side on the wrong side of the window. Pin or clip together, sew all around on the stitching that is already there, but this time you need to leave an opening at the bottom edge. Make it at least 3 inches wide. This is a turning hole, and you’ll need some space for the zipper and the vinyl to go through.
Trim the edges a little.
Turn the bag right side out through the turning hole. Now you can close this opening with a hand stitch. When that is done, you have to turn your fabric right sides out through the open zipper.
Adding the lining separately from the outside fabric and 2-step-turning makes the raw edges disappear between the lining and the main fabric. If you attach the 2 fabric layers in 1 step, you will see the raw edges on the inside of your bag. It’s up to you!!
I already made two project bags this week! You can make them in any color or size you like, with a smaller window. They are easily washable and customizable. I'm very curious to see what your verversion looks like!
Because of the success of this project bag tutorial, we decided to add a project bag to the Madam Sew store for the people who don't feel like making bags themselves or need some bags urgently. We developed this bag with all of you in mind. A studry bag, see through, lot's of space for all your sewing tools and notions. Check out how lovely the Madam Sew project bags turned out!
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For the PDF download of this tutorial CLICK HERE