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Handmade Diaper Bag

When I was evaluating what we needed for our new addition, I figured that though a diaper bag would have been fun, it wasn’t a necessity. I already had two – a large, neutral, olive/drab bag and a smaller, similar colored bag with a soft green and blue camouflaged flap. Neither one were SO boyish that they couldn’t be used for Elise, but where’s the fun in that? Girls need accessories, right?!

Years ago, when I worked at a quilt shop, I became familiar with a pattern from The Creative Thimble called “Professional Tote.”  It’s a wonderful bag that is created, not by using pattern pieces, but using your rotary cutter and mat and has lots of useful features.

I got everything for my bag at fabric.com, first choosing a laminated cotton from designer Amy Butler for the main fabric, then finding a matching pink cotton canvas to use as my contrast. Because this canvas is also used on the bottom of the bag, I ended up layering it with some clear vinyl I had on hand to coordinate with the laminated cotton, but also to help keep it clean. Where you see the contrast on the pockets of the bag, it’s actually lining the entire pocket – cut slightly longer than the laminated piece, sewn right sides together, then folded over to the back and stitched in place from the outside.

If you do not have a Teflon Foot for your sewing machine, this is a must for working with vinyl and laminated cotton!

I have one for each of my machines and they are generally very inexpensive, as feet go. They slide right over those otherwise sticky surfaces and make sewing them a breeze!

I know people who work with lots of leather also use a roller foot, which might also work, but I have never used one before. Have you?

The front of the bag features two pockets – one where the contrast is with a zippered pocket on the front of it.

The back side has a large pocket the width of the bag where you can add velcro or a magnetic closure.

As you can see in all the pictures, there are also two side pockets. The pattern calls for cording or rat tail with cord locks, but I had some elastic on hand and thought that would be a fun variation. You already have the casing there from stitching the lining in place!

The straps are made from webbing and if you can’t find the right color for your bag, there are instructions for covering them with fabric. What I like about the straps is that they go all the way around the bottom of the bag, under the pink contrast, so they will bear whatever weight you pack in the bag.

For the lining, I chose a natural 10 oz canvas because the pattern actually calls for Decor-Bond interfacing to be fuzed to the main fabric to make it more substantial and then recommends using a quilting cotton for the interior. Since my main fabric was laminated, I was unable to fuze any interfacing to it as it cannot be ironed so I needed something to help make the bag more sturdy. On a side note, I had never worked with laminated cotton before and it was thinner than I anticipated. However, with this canvas as the lining, the bag has a perfect feel (though I was glad to have my industrial machine to use. There were places where the canvas was 6 layers thick – the whole project ate up 4 needles!).

The inside of the bag is very practical too, with several pockets. On one side there are two flat open top pockets with a center pleated pocket featuring a velcro flap. There is also a large center zippered pocket. A lot of diaper bags come with some kind of vinyl pocket for soiled clothing, but I think I’ll just stow some plastic grocery bags in that center pocket for such a reason. 🙂

The other side has two slim “pen” pockets with a larger center pocket and an optional swivel hook or D-ring for a key fob. I can envision clipping the binky holder to it or your car keys if you plan to use the bag as a dual purpose diaper bag/purse.

And of course, you can see the big zipper in the top that opens all the way for easy access and closes to keep everything in place. Though I had made this bag before and I remember it being great, I’m really thrilled with the prospect of using it for Elise’s diaper bag. I love the fabric and how it turned out…and if for some reason DH takes her out on his own, he can always use one of the olive drab bags!