I love these simple little bags, and have been making them to keep my knitting projects safe and tangle-free. A small version is perfect for in-progress socks, but it's easy to up-size the pattern as I've described below.
Inspired by Japanese bento and furoshiki and sometimes known as azuma bukuro, these bags can function as the ultimate reusable gift-wrap.
At first I made them from a single piece of linen, but then I decided a lining from Liberty lawn would be even better.
Here's a tutorial so you can make one too. Of course you don't have to use linen or lawn, but I like the way the weights of these fabrics work together. Choose a light to medium-weight fabric for the bag outer, and a lightweight cotton for the lining.
Click on any of the images to see a larger version.
LINED BENTO BAG
You will need:
:: linen fabric :: lightweight cotton for lining :: sewing machine :: scissors, needle and thread :: tape measure or ruler :: iron :: pins :: embroidery thread to match :: pinking shears (optional) ::
Preparing the fabric:
Cut two strips of fabric, one from the linen and one from cotton. The length of the strip needs to measure three times the width. For example, the strips could measure 10" X 30" (this would produce a large bag) or 9" X 27" (which produces my favourite size).
For the ease of photographing this tutorial, I've used strips measuring 7" X 21", which will make a small bag.
Press the fabric strips and make sure they're exactly the same size. Place right sides together, pin and sew around the edge with a 1/4" seam, leaving a gap for turning near the right corner on one of the long edges.
Press seams and trim the corners carefully. Also trim any extra fabric from the seam allowance as it's best not to have any bulk. Turn right-side out and press the piece well, especially in the corners. Also press down the gap you left for turning.
Lay the piece out on a flat surface, linen (outer) side up, so that the long edge with the gap is along the top. Fold the strip into thirds, and finger press along where these points are. Then unfold the strip again (see below)
Take the third segment on the right of the strip, and fold it so that the corner matches up to the other fold (as in the photo below). Pin, making sure you'll enclose the gap when you sew. Sew across this part, reversing at either end. Try to sew as closely as you can to the edge.
Now flip the piece around so that the sewn edge is facing towards you, and fold the corner down to meet it, as in the picture below.
Take the corner marked as * A * above, and match it up to * B *, linen sides facing each other. Keep the diagonal fold of the way. Pin along this seam and sew close to the edge, reversing at either end:
Now it should look like this: (lining side out)
Press all the interior seams well so they sit as flat as possible. Next you can square off the corners if you like, by sewing across them like this:
Do this to both corners, and remember to reverse at either end of the seam. Because these are going to be raw edges inside the bag, you can either leave them as is or snip them off with pinking shears:
Turn inside out and press. You can also add some hand-stitching to reinforce the two points where the bag pieces intersect: (as you can see I quite like the wabi-sabi look)
And then you're ready to wrap something up! In mine I've got alpaca yarn and needles to make a wee baby hat - my job for this evening. Hope you enjoy the tutorial and have fun making one.