My 3 Monsters: {Mama's Got a Brand New Bag}

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{Mama's Got a Brand New Bag}

True story:  I am the president of our church congregation's organization for teenage girls, or Young Women.  I carry what feels like 30 pounds of notebooks, teaching manuals, scriptures, and sundries around in my "church bag" every single Sunday during our 3 hour block of meetings.  I go through a lot of tote bags.  I'm pretty hard on them.

It was time again to get a new tote bag {by get, I mean make, but you already knew that, right?}, but this time I wanted to get something a little bit special.  I made a smaller ruffly book bag for my 16 year-old niece for Christmas and fell in love with it.  In fact, I almost didn't give it to her, but shhhhhh!  Don't tell her that.

If you're on Pinterest, like, at all, you've no doubt seen bags like this all over.  They're pretty simple to make and you can get everything you need from your local craft store for less than $15 -- way less if you have coupons.

You will need:
  • a pre-made canvas tote bag
  • 1/2 yard each of four different fabrics  {mix and match for fun -- or buy a bunch from the same line that are meant to coordinate.  I like a less matchy look.  I tell my kids,  "Things don't have to match.  They have to go together."  There's a difference.  Yeah, I have gray and brown and four different lines of fabric going on here.  It's my bag and I like the way it goes.}
  • ribbon and embellishments {that adorable owl was only $2.50 on sale at Hobby Lobby!}
  • hot glue gun and/or sewing machine

Step 1:  Prepare your ruffles.

Cut each fabric into 3 or 4 strips, approximately 3 inches wide.  Save the extra fabric for embellishing later.  Sew the strips of each fabric end to end until you have a very long 3 inch wide strip of each pattern.  You can leave the edges raw for a cute, scrappy look, or make a narrow turned hem down each long side of the strips for a more finished look.  I opted to meet both ideas right in the middle and zig zag stitch down the long edges.

Then gather each long strip on one side.  My favorite way to make ruffles is to set the stitch length on my machine to the longest setting and crank up the tension as high as it will go.  When you run the fabric through your machine, it gathers right up.  Make sure to change the settings back when you're done or you'll be sad.

Step 2:  Attach your ruffles to the bag.

Pin your bottom ruffle to the canvas bag so that the bottom edge of the ruffle sits about 1/4 inch above the bottom edge of the bag when it is opened as if it were full.  Sew the ruffle to the bag.  It gets a little tricky getting the bag to fit through the sewing machine, especially on this first row.  Just keep wrestling with it.  Each additional row gets easier to work with and the stitching will be covered up by the next ruffle so it doesn't have to be perfect.

Do the same for each additional row of ruffles, making sure that the bottom of the new row overlaps the previous row by about 1&1/2 inches.

For a no sew version, you could take your long strips of unruffled fabric and hot glue them directly to the canvas bag, bunching it up to create a gathered effect as you go. 

Step 3:  Embellish it up.

Use your excess fabric and ribbon to create rolled rosettes and bows.  Whatever your heart desires, just hot glue it right onto the bag.  I found the adorable owl pendant for cheap so I decided to tie a bow through the bail and glue that on, too.  You could stencil or iron-on a cute saying or name.  For my niece's bag I put "I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie" because she's a huge Sir Mix-a-Lot fan.  Just kidding, she likes to read.

I adore my new bag!  Sunday can't come soon enough so I can show it off to all my girlies.

Hope you're having a great weekend, friends!

Lil\'LunaThe 36th AVENUE


  1. This is fantastic! Love it. The fabrics are some of my favorites. Great job.

    New follower--gorgeous blog!

  2. So stinnkin' cute Amy! I love it :)


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