“How’d You Figure?”

My nephew’s seven year old son is starting second grade tomorrow and has let me know (today) he would like me to make him something to keep in his backpack where he can keep some extra masks so he doesn’t have to wear the same mask all day.  Makes sense:  timing a bit late!  Anyway, this evening I will be working on his mask carrier and I will get it to him after school tomorrow.

Whenever I make clothing, I always use a pattern.  I just don’t have the knack for creating garments with the correct proportions unless I do.  When creating home décor and accessory projects, I often go without a pattern.  If you have never tried something without a pattern, let me give you a guide to help you have a much greater chance of success.

First thing to do is to decide how I would like the finished product to look.  In this case, I will be creating a quilted, lined bag that will open in the middle (think facial tissue box style), with no zipper.  This will make the masks easy to get into and out of the bag.  I will be using bias tape on either edge of the opening so there will be a clean finish.  I want the bag to measure slightly larger than the masks so getting the masks in and out will be very easy for a seven year old to manage.  After deciding this bag needs to be made from super hero fabric, I am ready to start from the finished product and go backwards to get the measurements I need to start. I measured a paper mask and it measured 7” x 4”, minus the ear straps.  I will make the 4” measurement twice that since I want to wrap the two halves of the bag to meet in the middle.  Since I want the masks to go in and out easily, I will add ½” to each of those measurements.  This ½” extra also allows me to box the corners to, again, make getting the masks in and out easier.  Next to consider are the seam allowances.  I will use ¼” seam allowances everywhere, so each cut piece gets another ¼” larger.  I’m now at a cut size of 7 ¾” x 8 ¾”.  Last thing to keep in mind is that this will be a lined, quilted bag.  Quilting, depending on the density of the quilting, usually takes up fabric, so I will add another 1” to each measurement to account for this fabric shrinkage.  I’m now at 8 ¾” x 9 ¾” for my initial cut pieces.  I always err on the side of too big, so I will make my cuts at this guesstimate size and cut down the finished quilted material to 7 ¾” x 8 ¾” when I am ready to construct the bag.  The sewing sequence will, again, be worked out from the finished product back to the beginning.  I will cut then quilt the fabric, trim the fabric to my 7 ¾” x 8 ¾”, sew the bias strips to each side of the opening, sew the ends closed and box the corners.  If I have measured correctly and sewed consistently, I will have a quilted bag for our second grader’s big year!  Happy Sewing!

The fabric on the batting is the cut piece and the fabric on the right is how I will be folding the fabric to create the opening. I used both pieces, wrong sides together with the batting in between for the quilting.
I used a simple serpentine stitch for the quilting. I used my quilting guide bar to quilt 1/2″ apart.
Once finished quilting I was ready to cut the excess batting and fabric away.
I then sewed the 1/4″ single fold bias tape to the two sides of the opening. Almost done!
This is how I will sew the bag together. The two strips of bias meet in the middle. Time to turn the bag to the inside and sew the ends shut.
Time to see how I did. The bag of masks should fit inside my quilted bag with no struggle.
The finished product fits a whole package of paper masks easily. It’s off to second grade we go!