Here's a fast project that can be made between the "Hey Mama?"s and the "Hey Honey?"s.
The Placemat Bag
1) What to Buy:
Buy a placemat with a little heft to it. If it's too thin the bag will be too thin, and there's not a quick way to add interfacing in this project.
Make sure the placemat looks good folded in half (with the fold down) since that's how the bag sews up. There are some adorable placemats out there but they don't all look good folded in half!
Photo: Red Tag Sale Placemat (and same placemat folded in half)
2) Making the Handles:
The handles are 1"x3" rectangular cutouts in the center of the short sides. Lay the placemat right side down on the table. Working on the back or lining side of the placemat, measure the short sides of the placemat. Mark the centers with a pin. Measure down 1" at the center mark. Using a water soluble pen (or chalk), mark that spot, then measure 1 1/2" to either side of the center and mark those spots too. Draw a line between these marks. Now measure down another inch from the line, mark, and draw a line. Square these two measurements off so that a rectangle 1"x 3" is in the center of the short side of the placemat, 1" from the edge.
Photo: Marked handle (click to see larger photo and the marks)
Next, set the machine to buttonhole stitch (zigzag about 1/8" wide at about .5 - 1.0 stitches). Zigzag around the line once or twice, keeping the line to the inside (to the left of the zigzag). This will stabilize the fabric.
Photo: Sewn handle
Cut the fabric out of the inside of stitching, as close to the stitching as you can get. Zigzag again around the edges, making sure to catch any raw edges inside the stitch. Go around two or three times until it looks nice, depending on the color and makeup of the fabric.
Photo: Cut Handle
Photo: Finished Handle
3) Sewing the Sides:
With the placemat folded right sides and handles together, stitch up the sides about 1/4" from the edge. Back stitch at the top. The sides are already finished so there's no need to worry about raw edges.
Photo: Pinned Seam (small seam allowance)
4) Creating the Gussets:
Smooth out your bag flat, right sides still together. Place a pin in the bottom crease right at the side seam. Measure up 1" from the bottom and mark with the water soluble pen. Turn the fabric over, still inside out, and mark 1" up from the bottom on that side too.
Photo: Marked Gusset
Looking at the photo, open the bag (still inside out) and place the bottom of the bag on the table. Press down on the corner seam to make a triangle with the seam straight up and down from the point to the base. Verify that the bottom fold is directly under the seam. Use the pin for direction. The marks should now make a line at the base of the triangle. Sew across these lines from edge to edge to form the gussets.
Photo: Open Gusset
Photo: Sewn Gusset
5) Turn your bag right side out and enjoy!
Photo: Finished Gusset