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Airstream Toiletry Bag

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The curved design of this toiletries travel bag reminds us of the classic Airstream trailers. It's an efficient a size and shape to hold all your bath necessities. We were inspired by the adorable postage theme ribbons by Jessica Jones for Renaissance Ribbons. The classic blue, crisp white, and vivid red of the ribbons are echoed in the turquoise canvas we chose for the bag's base and the scarlet piping that outlines the front and back. And those fun metallic dots on the top cotton are like shiny round postmarks. This bag is bold, bright, and brimming with personality. We can just hear it saying, "Take me traveling!" 

A wide metal zipper is highlighted to either side with more striking ribbons, and since the zipper curves around the entire top, the bag opens wide to make loading and unloading easy. 

Inner panels of wipe-clean polyurethane laminate (PUL) help keep your toiletries tidy.

You can find Renaissance Ribbons at fine in-store and online retailers everywhere, or shop directly from their beautiful site. The Jessica Jones ribbons were absolutely perfect for our travel theme. However, the selection of gorgeous Renaissance Ribbons is wide and deep. You'll find collections from many of your other favorite designers, such as Tula PinkAnna Maria HornerAmy Butler, and Kaffe Fassett.

For today's project, we used invisible thread for all our ribbon stitching. This is not mandatory, but is a nicer look against the ribbon. For best results, you may need to loosen your upper tension slightly. It's also a good idea to lengthen your stitch and sew at a slow and even pace. This type of thread does not stretch as well as regular thread and can break more easily under pressure, especially if it accidentally slides off the spool and wraps around the spool pin. Using a spool cap against the spool helps hold it in place on the pin, and again, going slowly and evenly helps the thread to feed correctly off the spool. Finally, always sew in the same direction along both sides of the ribbon. This will help prevent any shifting and puckering. If you'd prefer not to use invisible thread, we suggest choosing colors to very closely match your ribbon, then take the time to re-thread as often as needed to maintain that perfect match.

You'll notice we used pins to hold our ribbons in place. Another option would be to apply a little basting glue or strips of lightweight fusible web, such as Pellon's EZ-Steam, to the wrong side of the ribbon. Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions and test to make sure the ribbon can be easily stitched without the adhesive gumming up the needle. Some adhesives are not meant to be sewn through.

The bag finishes at approximately 9" wide at its widest point across the front x 6½" high x 4" deep. 

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

 

Getting Started

  1. Download and print out the TWO pattern pieces: Case Top and Case Bottom.
    IMPORTANT: Each pattern is ONE 8½" x 11" sheet. You must print the PDF files at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide rule on each page so you can confirm your final printout is to scale.
  2. Cut out each pattern along the solid line.
  3. From the fabric for the bag's top sections (Metallic Dot in our sample), cut the following:
    ONE 15¼" x 5" rectangle for the zipper opening
    ONE 5½" x 1⅝" strip for the handle
    Using the pattern, cut TWO bag top halves
  4. From the fabric for the bag's bottom sections (Turquoise canvas in our sample), cut the following:
    ONE 13" x 5" rectangle for the center bottom
    Using the pattern, cut TWO bag bottom halves
  5. From the fusible interfacing, cut the following:
    ONE 15¼" x 5" rectangle
    ONE 13" x 5" rectangle
    ONE 5½" x 1⅝" strip
    Set aside the remainder; you'll use a completed panel to cut the front and back interfacing to size.
  6. From the ⅞" Stamps on Blue ribbon, cut ONE 5½" length, centering the "30₵" motif. Set the remainder aside; you'll use a completed panel to cut the front and back accent ribbons to size and center the ribbon's motif. 
  7. From the ⅞" Blue Red Harlequin ribbon, cut TWO 15¼" lengths. 
  8. As above with the interfacing and ribbon, the PUL should be set aside. You'll use a completed panel to cut the front and back lining panels to size.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Zipper panel

  1. Find the 15¼" x 5" rectangle for the zipper opening and the 15¼" x 5" rectangle of fusible interfacing. 
  2. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric panel. 
  3. Cut the fused panel exactly in half so you now have TWO 15¼" x 2½" strips.
  4. On both strips, fold back one 15¼" side ¼" and press well to create a finished edge. If you have a directional print, fold back what will become the center edges to either side of the zipper.
  5. Find the zipper. Place it right side up and flat on your work surface. 
  6. Place one strip to either side of the zipper. Each strip's folded edge should be aligned ½" away from the zipper's teeth. 
  7. Pin the strips to either side of the zipper. 
  8. Thread the machine with thread to match the fabric in the top and bobbin.
  9. Machine baste the strips in place. 
  10. Baste across the ends of the zipper as well to secure.
  11. Find the two 15¼" lengths of  ⅞" Blue Red Harlequin ribbon.
  12. Place one length to either side of the zipper, aligning the inside edge of each ribbon with the folded/basted edge of the fabric strips. Pin in place (or use your favorite method to adhere the ribbon as described above).
  13. Re-thread the machine with invisible thread in the top and bobbin or carefully select all-purpose thread to match the ribbon. We used invisible thread. 
  14. Edgestitch each length of ribbon in place along both long sides. 

    NOTE:
    For all the stitching next to the zipper, the fabric strips as well as the ribbon, start with the zipper half way open. Stitch to the middle, where you can start to feel you're approaching the zipper pull. Stop with your needle in the down position. Twist your fabric around slightly and carefully close the zipper. Re-position and finish sewing to the end. 

Complete the center loop with its handle

  1. Find the 13" x 5" rectangle for the center bottom and the 13" x 5" rectangle of fusible interfacing. 
  2. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric panel. 
  3. Align one end of the fused bottom rectangle right sides together with the top end of the zipper panel (the end where the zipper pull sits when the zipper is closed). Pin in place.
  4. Re-thread the machine with thread to match the fabric in the top and bobbin.
  5. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch in place.
  6. Repeat to stitch the opposite end of the fused bottom rectangle with the bottom end of the zipper panel, forming a loop. Pin in place. Double check that the loop in not twisted anywhere along its length. 
  7. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch in place. Trim away the excess zipper if necessary.

    NOTE: It is really quite easy to cut a metal zipper. Simply cut one side and then the other. However, don't use your good sewing scissors!
  8. Press both seam allowances towards the bottom panel (the Turquoise in our sample)
  9. Edgestitch along the two short seams within the bottom panel. 
  10. Find the 5½" x 1⅝" top fabric strip, the 5½" x 1⅝" interfacing strip and the 5½" length of ⅞" Stamps on Blue ribbon.
  11. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric strip.
  12. Fold in each long side ⅜" so the two raw edges meet in the middle. This creates a ⅞" strip finished on both sides. 
  13. Place the folded fabric strip and the ribbon wrong sides together, aligning all four sides. Pin in place (or adhere using your favorite method).
  14. Thread the machine with invisible thread in the top and bobbin or carefully select all-purpose thread to match the ribbon. We used invisible thread. 
  15. Edgestitch the ribbon to its fabric lining along both sides. 
  16. Pin the handle in place at the zipper top side of the loop. It should be placed just below the line of edgestitching that is holding the seam allowance in place. Align the raw ends of the handle with the raw sides of the loop. This will cause the handle is bow up slightly. This is correct as you don't want the handle flat against the bag or you won't be able to easily grasp it.

Front and back panels

  1. Find the two top halves and two bottom halves cut from the pattern pieces. 
  2. Place both top and bottom pairs right sides together. Pin together along the center horizontal sides. 
  3. Re-thread the machine with thread to match the fabric in the top and bobbin.
  4. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the top and bottom halves together.
  5. Press the seam allowances open and flat. 
  6. Use one of the completed panels as a pattern to cut two pieces from the interfacing.
  7. Then, use one of the complete panels to also cut two pieces from the PUL for the lining.
  8. Find the remaining length of ⅞" Stamps on Blue ribbon.
  9. The horizontal ribbon is not simply centered over the top and bottom seam. To confirm the placement of this ribbon, place the panel next to the handle end of the loop. The bottom of the horizontal ribbon should align with the top of the handle ribbon as shown in the photo below. 
  10. With this placement confirmed, center the ribbon to showcase the motif and pin the ribbon in place. 
  11. Repeat to match the remaining panel and remaining ribbon. 
  12. Thread the machine with invisible thread in the top and bobbin or carefully select all-purpose thread to match the ribbon. We used invisible thread. 
  13. Edgestitch each length of ribbon in place along both sides. Trim the excess ribbon to match the curve of the fabric panel. 
  14. Find the two PUL lining pieces. Place them flat on your work surface.
  15. Place one exterior panel right side up on each PUL piece, aligning the raw edges all around. Pin the layers together around the perimeter and place a few pins in the center to stabilize.
    NOTE: We are using pins with our PUL rather than clips because we are not worried about it being watertight - just easy to wipe clean. You can certainly use clips if you prefer. You can also machine baste the two layers together, staying very close to the raw edges all around. For more on working with this substrate, check out our Working with PUL tutorial
  16. Find the piping. Starting at the center bottom of one exterior panel, pin the piping in place all around the perimeter. Start and end with an extra 1" to facilitate finishing. Trim away the excess, you'll use it on the second panel. 
  17. Machine baste the piping in place all around. We continued to use our Janome Satin Stitch foot and moved the needle to the left; you could also use a Zipper foot
  18. Trim, overlap and stitch to finish the ends.
    NOTE: If you are new to this technique, take a look at our full tutorial on Making and Attaching Piping
  19. Repeat to add the piping to the remaining exterior panel. 

Stitch the front and bag to the zipper loop and encase the seams

  1. Find the zipper loop and open the zipper all the way.
  2. Find one of the completed exterior panels. Place it right sides together with one side of the zipper loop. As a starting point, align the two ribbons (the horizontal ribbon with the handle ribbon) as you did above when figuring ribbon placement. 
  3. Continue pinning all around, easing as needed to keep the panel as flat as possible against the loop. 
  4. Flatten the layers to fit under your presser foot. 
  5. Attach a Zipper foot. Using a ½" seam allowance, which should bring you right up to the piping, stitch all around. 
    NOTE: The key is to stitch right along the piping cord. If that is not an exact 
    ½" seam allowance, don't worry. Simply keep the seam allowance as even as possible and stay right up against the cord.
  6. Repeat to insert the remaining exterior panel. This side will be a bit more challenging to wrangle under the presser foot because you no longer have an open side. However, by making sure the zipper is all the way open and working to flatten the layers, you should be able to go all the way around without a problem. As with all things that may present a challenge, go slowly and stop – with your needle in the down position – to adjust the layers as needed. 
  7. Turn the bag all the way wrong side out.
  8. Find the double fold bias binding. Cut a length to fit around one complete panel seam allowance. Wrap the binding over the seam allowance, encasing the raw edges to give the seam allowance a finished edge inside the bag. Leave 1" extra at the tail for an overlap. Pin in place all around. Don't be afraid to use plenty of pins. 
  9. Fold back the tail of the binding and overlap the head for a clean finish. Pin in place. 
  10. Still using a Zipper foot, stitch the bias binding to the seam allowance. You are stitching only through the seam allowance; do not stitch onto the main bag itself. 
  11. Repeat to bind the remaining seam allowance on the opposite side. 
  12. Turn the bag right side out and press. 

Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas   
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild

Section: 

Comments (2)

Elena O. said:
Elena O.'s picture

This is an adorable bag! I made it using the same fabrics and ribbons shown in the tutorial. Great idea!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Elena - Thanks for letting us know how well your project turned out. So glad you enjoyed the pattern!

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