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Our smaller (and cuter) diaper bag isn’t meant to supplant the full-size, workhorse of a diaper bag; you know the one I mean… the one that holds enough stuff to open your own nursery school. Nope. This one is perfect to grab and go for short jaunts out and about. It’s still big enough, with pockets inside and outside, to hold the essentials: several diapers, wipes, a couple bottles, a special blankie or toy, even your own wallet and keys. The outside fabric is our fave Pretty Bird from Pillow & Maxfield for Michael Miller Fabrics; the inside is the popular PUL waterproof fabric.

Click to Enlarge

Our smaller (and cuter) diaper bag isn’t meant to supplant the full-size, workhorse of a diaper bag; you know the one I mean… the one that holds enough stuff to open your own nursery school. Nope. This one is perfect to grab and go for short jaunts out and about. It’s still big enough, with pockets inside and outside, to hold the essentials: several diapers, wipes, a couple bottles, a special blankie or toy, even your own wallet and keys. The outside fabric is a designer cotton; the inside is the popular PUL waterproof fabric.

The finished bag is approximately 14″ wide and 14″ tall with a 6″ x 14″ bottom panel, and 6″ side panels.

PUL (Polyurethane Laminate) fabric can be a little finicky to work with, but is a great option when you want a thin, lightweight waterproof layer. It’s very popular right now with folks making their own diaper covers. These same people caution against the use of pins as they poke unnecessary holes into the PUL and reduce its effectiveness as a waterproof fabric. They suggest paper clips or basting tape. I totally get this for a diaper cover, which you really do want as leakproof as possible, but for our bag, we did use pins. Our construction is much more complex than a diaper cover, and there are points where matching is essential and so, therefore, are pins. Your lining will still be plenty water-resistant to protect against splashes and small spills, as well as the wet items that inevitably get tossed in.

If you experience skipped stitches on the PUL, it usually means you’re using the wrong needle. We chose a #14 denim needle and had excellent results.

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Our thanks to Michael Miller Fabrics for providing us with the beautiful wonderful Pretty Bird from Pillow & Maxfield for this project. The incredible hot pink, vibrant lime and bright blue was a super fun combo for our bag, but the options available in today’s designer cottons are nearly limitless. Part of the fun will be finding your perfect blend. 

Sewing Tools You Need

  • Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome Skyline S5)
  • Size #14 denim needle for working with PUL waterproof lining fabric

Fabric and Other Supplies

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  • 1½ yards of 44-45″ wide fabric for the outside of the bag: we used Pillow & Maxfield Pretty Bird from Michael Miller Fabrics in Pink Meandering Vines
  • ⅝ yard of 44-45″ wide coordinating fabric for the inside facings: we used Pillow & Maxfield Pretty Bird from Michael Miller Fabrics in Pink Bloomies
  • 1½ yards of PUL waterproof lining
  • ⅝ yard fusible craft fleece
  • ¾ yard heavy-weight fusible interfacing
  • ⅞ yard light-weight fusible interfacing
  • 6″ x 14″ rectangle of extra heavy-weight interfacing (we recommend Timtex Interfacing Craft Pack
  • 2 yards ¼” elastic
  • All purpose thread to match fabrics
  • One swivel hook for keys
  • One 1″ wooden button
  • See-through ruler
  • Wash away fabric marker
  • Scissors and rotary cutter and cutting mat
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

  1. Download and print the Outside Pocket Pattern, Long Strap Pattern and Short Strap Pattern.
    IMPORTANT: These patterns consist of six, four and three 8.5″ x 11″ sheets respectively. You must print these PDF files at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page.
  2. Butt the pages together to create each full pattern. Do NOT overlap. Tape together.
  3. The two strap patterns print out and butt together left to right to form each piece. The pocket pattern is a bit different. Butt together pages one, two and three in a vertical column. Then, butt together pages four, five and six in the same manner to form a second column. Now, butt together the two columns to finish the pattern. You are initially working vertically to tape everything together, but your finished pattern will be a horizontal piece.
  4. Cut out each pattern along the solid line. Transfer the patterns’ pleat and seam line markings to the fabric with a fabric pen or pencil.
  5. From the fabric for the outside of the bag (Pink Meandering Vines in our sample), cut:
    TWO 15″ x 21″ side panels
    TWO 7″ x 15″ bottom panels
    ONE 4″ x 4″ square for button loop
    ONE outside pocket, using our pattern
    ONE short strap, using our pattern
    ONE long strap, using our pattern
  6. From the fabric for the inside facings (Pink Bloomies in our sample), cut:
    TWO 3″ x 21″ facings
    ONE short strap, using our pattern
    ONE long strap, using our pattern
    ONE 3″ x 4″ rectangle for swivel hook
  7. From the PUL waterproof lining, cut:
    TWO 13″ x 21″ side panels
    ONE 11″ x 27″ panel for pleated pockets
    ONE 11″ x 21″ panel for flat pockets
    ONE 7″ x 15″ bottom panel
    ONE outside pocket, using our pattern but REVERSED
  8. From the fusible craft fleece, cut:
    TWO 15″ x 21″ side panels
    ONE 7″ x 15″ bottom panel
  9. From the heavy-weight fusible interfacing, cut:
    TWO  3″ x 21″ facings
    ONE outside pocket, using our pattern but REVERSED
  10. From the light-weight fusible interfacing, cut:
    ONE short strap, using our pattern
    ONE long strap, using our pattern

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the light-weight interfacing to the wrong side of the outside long and short straps. Fuse the heavy-weight interfacing to the wrong side of the two 3″ x 21″ inside facings. Trim the heavy-weight interfacing for the outside pocket as shown, and fuse it to the wrong side of the outside pocket.
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  2. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the craft fleece to one of the outside bottom panels and the two outside 15″ x 21″ side panels.
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Straps

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  1. Match each outside strap to its coordinating inside strap (Vines to Bloomies in our sample), right sides together. Align the pleat marks and all raw edges. Pin in place.
  2. Sew each pair together, using a ½” seam allowance, leaving the bottom edge open. Trim close to the stitching line all around.
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  3. Turn right sides out. Press. Topstitch ¼” from the edge. Form pleats by folding on the marked lines and basting in place.
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Front pocket and body of the bag

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  1. Following the pleat and the stitch-line marks you made on the outside pocket piece, sew the outside pocket to the PUL waterproof lining along the upper edge, using a ½” seam.
    NOTE: It is especially important the vertical stitch-line is correctly marked on your fabric.
  2. Turn right sides out and press. Top stitch ⅜” from the edge, forming a casing. Insert elastic into casing with ½” extra extending out each end. The pocket unit should lay flat.
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  3. Place the outside pocket on one of the outside 15″ x 21″ side panels. The lower edge and short side of the pocket should match the edges of the panel. The opposite edge of the pocket extends beyond the panel.
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  4. Pin in place from the short end back toward the marked vertical stitch-line and up toward the casing.
  5. Machine baste the pocket to the side panel. Start in the corner at the casing, stitch down, pivot at the bottom corner, stitch along the bottom edge, and stop at the marked vertical stitch-line.
  6. With your fabric pen pencil (make sure it’s one that washes away or fades with exposure to the air because you are marking on the front of the project), extend the marked vertical stitch-line past the top of the pocket slant to the upper edge of the panel.
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  7. Stitch along this marked line from the lower edge of the panel to the upper edge of the panel, backstitching across the casing to reinforce this point.
  8. Match the left side of the pocket with the left edge of the side panel, and pin in place. Form pleats by folding on the marked lines, and pin pleats in place.
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  9. Pull the elastic until gathers form and the upper edge of the pocket lays flat against the side panel. Pin, and baste in place along the remaining raw edges of the pocket. Trim the excess elastic even with the edges.
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  10. Lay the remaining outside side panel right side up on your work surface. It should lay in the finished direction – with the 21″ sides top and bottom and the 15″ sides left and right. Mark a vertical stitching line 6½” in from the left edge of the panel. Stitch along the line.
  11. Place the two side panels right sides together, aligning the 15″ sides. Stitch along both sides, through all layers, with a ½” seam allowance, to form the body of the diaper bag.

Bottom of the bag

  1. Place the outside bottom panel with the fusible fleece wrong side up on your work surface. Fold under one short end of the remaining fabric bottom panel ½” and press. Place this fabric panel over the fleece, right side up. Align the unfinished edges. Baste the two pieces together along the three raw edges. The short side with the folded edge should not be basted.    
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  2. The side with the folded edge (which forms a little pocket) is the wrong side of the bottom panel.
  3. With the body of the bag wrong side out, insert the bottom panel into the bag. Align the right sides of the bottom of the bag with the right sides of the bottom panel. Match the corner points of the front pocket to the ‘front’ two corners of the bottom panel, the match up the ‘back’ corners exactly opposite. Pin in place, adjusting as necessary and using plenty of pins to insure the panel sits in the bag evenly and square.
  4. Using a ½” seam allowance, sew the bottom panel to the body of the diaper bag, matching each side and clipping at the corners. Start and stop at each corner.
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    NOTE: Take care to not catch the folded edge of the bottom panel in the stitching. You need this ‘pocket’ to be open to allow you to insert the stiffener that will create the solid bottom of the bag.
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  5. Trim corners, and insert the piece of Timtex into the bottom panel pocket.
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  6. Hand stitch the ‘pocket opening’ closed. Turn the diaper bag right side out.
  7. Pin the short strap to the side of the diaper bag with the pleated pocket. Pin the long strap to the opposite side.

Inside pockets from the waterproof PUL

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  1. Fold down ½” along one long side of the 11″ x 27″ PUL panel. Topstitch ⅜” from the folded edge to form a small casing. Mark the panel for pockets: space the first vertical line 8½” from the left and a second line 9″ from this first line.
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  2. Insert elastic into the casing with ½” extending from each end. The pocket unit should still lay flat at this point.
  3. Mark one of the 13″ x 21″ PUL panels for pocket placement, space the first line 6½” from the left and the second line 7″ from this first line.
  4. Place the 11″ x 27″ panel with elastic over the 13″ x 21″ panel marked for pocket placement, both with right sides facing up. Align the first set of marked lines with the lower edges even, and pin in place.
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  5. Stitch along the marked line, back stitching across the elastic.
  6. Align the left edges of the two pieces of PUL and pin in place. Pull the elastic from the left, adjusting the fullness to fit the pocket width. Pin the elastic in place. Create a box pleat at the lower edge of the pocket to accommodate the lower fullness. Machine baste along the side and across the bottom of the pocket. Trim excess elastic.
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  7. Align the second set of marked vertical lines, keeping the lower edges even. Pin in place. Pull the elastic from the right, adjusting the fullness to fit the pocket width. Pin the elastic in place. Stitch along the marked vertical line, back stitching across the elastic. Create a box pleat at the lower edge of the pocket to accommodate the lower fullness and machine baste in place along the bottom edge.
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  8. Finally, align the right edges and pin in place. Pull the elastic from the right, adjusting the fullness to fit the pocket width. Pin the elastic in place. Create a box pleat at the lower edge of the pocket to accommodate the lower fullness. Machine baste along the bottom and side of the pocket. Trim excess elastic.
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  9. Place the completed inside PUL pocket unit right sides together with a 3″ x 21″ inside facing piece along the upper edge.
  10. Stitch together, using a ½” seam allowance.
  11. Press the seam toward the facing and topstitch ¼” from the seam. This completes the first section of the diaper bag lining.
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  12. Fold down ½” along one long side of the 11″ x 21″ PUL panel. Topstitch ⅜” from the folded edge to form a small casing. Insert elastic into casing with ½” extending from each end. The pocket unit should lay flat. Mark the panel for pockets: space the first line 6½” from the left and a second line 7″ from this first line.
  13. Mark the remaining 13″ x 21″ PUL panel for pocket placement, placing the first line 6½” from the left and a second line 7″ from this first line.
  14. Place the 11″ x 21″ elastic casing panel over the 13″ x 21″ panel with both right sides facing up. Align the sides and lower edges, and machine baste in place.
  15. Align the marked vertical pocket lines on both pieces and pin in place. Stitch along these marked lines, back stitching across the elastic. Trim the ends of the elastic.
    NOTE: For this pocket unit the elastic acts as a stabilizer, but is not gathered.
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Key hook, button loop, and completion of the lining

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  1. Fold the 3″ x 4″ rectangle of inside fabric (Bloomies in our sample) in half lengthwise matching the long sides (it is now 1½” x 4″). Stitch with a ½” seam.
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  2. Turn right side out. Press, centering the seam on one side. This is the loop for the swivel hook. Insert the loop through the swivel hook and match the ends.
  3. Center the loop above the right hand pocket of the flat PUL pocket unit and pin in place.
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  4. Sew the remaining 3″ x 21″ fabric facing piece to top edge of this flat PUL pocket unit, right sides together with a ½” seam allowance. You will be securing the loop as you sew. Press the seam toward the facing. Top stitch a ¼” from the seam. This completes the second section of the diaper bag lining.
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  5. Sew the two PUL lining units right sides together at the side seams, using a ½” seam allowance.
  6. Sew the 7″ x 15″ PUL bottom panel into place, matching a seam to opposite corners of the bottom panel and a line of stitching to the alternate corners.
  7. Sew with a ½” seam allowance, starting and stopping at each corner. Trim the corners.
  8. Fold the 4″ x 4″ outside fabric square diagonally and stitch ¼” from the fold. Trim away the excess and turn right side out, using a safety pin or loop turner. Press flat.
  9. Find the top center point of the side that will be the ‘back’ of your bag (the side without the pocket). Make a mark at this center point with your fabric pencil. Then, still using your fabric pencil, draw a short horizontal line along the ½” seam line.
  10. Fold your loop in half and pin it at the center point mark you just made above. Adjust the loop so enough of it extends past the seam line for the button to pass through easily. Don’t guess. Test it with your actual button. Pin the loop in place.
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  11. Stitch the loop down, running forward and backwards several times so your loop is secure and can stand up to lots of wear and tear. Trim away the excess.

Finishing

  1. With the body of the diaper bag wrong side out and the lining right side out, slide the lining inside the bag – so the two pieces are now nested and right sides together.
  2. Match up the top raw edges all around, aligning seams and corners of the bottom panels. Make sure the two straps are sandwiched in between bag and lining but the ends are hanging free. (You won’t be able to actually see the straps because they are between the bag and the lining, but you just need to make sure they don’t accidentally get caught up or tangled when you slip the lining inside the bag.)
  3. Using a ½” seam allowance, sew the lining to the diaper bag along the upper edge, enclosing the straps and the button loop in the seam. Leave about a 3-4″ opening for turning the bag.
  4. Turn the diaper bag right side out. Push the lining down inside the bag, poking the corners of the lining’s bottom panel into the corners of the bag so the bottom lays as flat as possible.
  5. Press, making sure the raw edges of your opening are pressed in so they are flush with the sewn seam.
  6. Topstitch around the top of the bag ¼” from the edge, closing the opening.
  7. Sew a button in place on the front panel of the bag above the outer pocket, matching its position to the button loop.
  8. Tie the two straps together with a square knot, adjusting to your preferred length.
     
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Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas  
Sample Creation, Pattern Design and Instructional Outline: Michele Mishler

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