Hardware is usually categorized on the functional side of sewing. It adds a professional finish and allows your project to snap, lock, clip, slip, buckle, and more. For this project, we moved hardware into the fashionable category, applying grommets (large and extra large eyelets actually) and rivets to create a striking starburst design on the front of a bag. You get dimension and texture, plus the openings cut by the grommets allow a second color to peek through from the bag’s lining.
There is a detailed template to download below for our custom starburst design. Using the marking tools we recommend (Dritz Wax Free Tracing Paper and a Serrated Tracing Wheel) makes it easy to give yourself precise guidelines to follow. Prior to starting, do a few tests on scraps of your actual fabric and foam. This type of hardware is actually quite easy to use, but practicing your technique allows you to confirm the proper hole size to cut as well as the force needed (or not needed) to set each rivet and grommet. It is particularly important to give yourself a solid base on which to work. You’ll see in our steps below that we used a small granite block. You could also use a metal block or hard wooden surface. Whichever you choose, don’t skip this recommendation. To properly set hardware, you can’t use a soft surface and expect proper results.
Canvas or a canvas/linen blend is ideal for this project – we used both. A dark solid color is necessary to allow the hardware design to pop; we then added side panels in a print for additional interest. The construction seaming is done at the front and back, leaving those side panels as a smooth, uninterrupted curve.
Fusible foam gives the bag its exterior structure. We also added a bottom stabilization panel: a sheet of plastic canvas inside a removable sleeve. Not only does this provide additional support for the bag to sit upright on its own, the base helps smooth the lining flat and taut so it shows nicely through the front grommets.
The top zipper unit is a clever solution that allows the easiest overall assembly. It’s a bit like making a tiny zippered pouch that fits over the top of the bag like a hat. As with any technique you’ve not tried before, read through our instructions several times to make sure you understand each of the steps. You could even try making a little prototype using scraps and an inexpensive plastic zipper. This is exactly how we do our own testing in the S4H studios: practice makes perfect.
Our bag finishes at approximately 11″ high x 16″ wide at the top with a 10” x 6” inset base. The handles have an approximate 9” drop.
As with most commercial bags, for the longest life, this bag is meant to be spot cleaned. Spraying the outside with a stain repellant, such as ScotchGard or similar is a good protective step. All the elements are machine washable, and on a gentle cycle in cold water, you could get away with a full wash. However, with the pretty front hardware design, it would not be our first choice and tumble drying should not be done at all. Let the bag air dry after any cleaning.
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
- 100/16 Denim Needle
- Zipper Foot
- Walking or Even Feed foot; optional but helpful when working with the multiple layers – or engage your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system, such as the Janome AcuFeed™ Flex system
Fabric and Other Supplies
NOTE: All our hardware and supplies were Dritz products. You can, of course, choose similar hardware from a different brand, but do try to keep the sizing consistent with what is recommended below and make sure our finishes match.
- FIFTY-NINE Double Cap Rivets in nickel
- Cutting and Setting tools for Double Cap Rivets
- SIX Extra Large Eyelets (7/16″) in Nickel with setting tools
- SIXTEEN Large Eyelets (1/4”) in Nickel with setting tools
- Wax-Free Tracing Paper
- Serrated Tracing Wheel
- ½ yard of 54″+ wide mid-weight canvas, denim or similar in a solid color for the front and back panels, base, and upper zipper unit; we originally used 58/60” 9.3oz 100% Cotton Duck Canvas in Navy
- ¾ yard of 45″+ wide mid-weight denim, linen blend or similar for the side panels, handles, and lining pocket; we originally used 45” Tsumiki Puripera Stripes by Kokka in Navy with Blue Metallic
NOTE: The yardage suggested above allowed for specific fussy cutting of our striped fabric. If you have a more random motif, you could get away with ½ yard.
- ⅝ yard of 44″+ wide quilting weight cotton in a solid color for the lining and base insert; we used 44” Moda Bella Solid in Steel
- ¾ yard of 20”+ wide fusible foam; we used Pellon Flex Foam One-Sided Fusible Foam
- ¼ yard of 45” mid-weight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon Décor Bond
- ONE 16”+ zipper – we recommend a metal zipper in a color to match your solid canvas; we used a 22” metal zipper in navy, cutting it to fit
- ONE sheet of plastic canvas or similar; optional to further stabilize the base – you need just one 6” x 10” piece
- All-purpose thread to match fabric
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Small sharp and pointed scissors
- Craft scissors for cutting the zipper
- Iron and ironing board
- Small hammer to set rivets; we recommend a soft leather mallet or a ball peen hammer
- Heavy metal, stone or wooden block to use as a cutting and hammering surface
Getting Started and Starburst Template
- Download and print at least TWO copies of the Starburst Template.
IMPORTANT: This pattern download consists of ONE 8½” x 11″ sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page.
NOTE: You need one copy of the template to mark the main lines and a second copy to mark the center points for all the hardware. We recommend printing extra copies so you can practice your marking and inserting on scraps prior to starting.
NOTE:Width and height is shown below for each piece so you understand the proper orientation, however, with the solids, you can rotate and cut to best fit.
- From the solid feature fabric, cut the following:
TWO 11″ wide x 12″ high rectangles for the exterior center panels
ONE 11″ wide x 7″ high rectangle for the exterior base panel
FOUR 17” wide x 2” high strips for the zipper unit
FOUR 1⅜ wide x 2” blocks for the zipper end tabs – this width was sized to fit our zipper width; measure your zipper and adjust the width as necessary
- From the print feature fabric, fussy cut the following:
ONE 11” wide x 7” high rectangle for the lining pocket
TWO 7” wide x 12” high rectangles for the exterior side panels, making sure your two panels are an exact match
TWO 2½” x 27” strips, again making sure your two strips are an exact match
NOTE: Below is a diagram showing how to measure and mark to isolate a feature for your straps.
- From the fabric for the lining, cut the following:
TWO 16¾“ wide x 10¾“ high rectangles for the main panels
ONE 10¾“ wide x 6¾“ high rectangle for the base
ONE 11” wide x 7” high rectangle for the lining pocket
ONE 21½” wide x 7” high rectangle for the plastic canvas pocket
- From the fusible foam, cut the following:
TWO 10″ x 11″ rectangles for the exterior center panels
ONE 10” x 6” rectangle for the exterior base panel
TWO 6” x 11” rectangles for the exterior side panels
- From the mid-weight interfacing, cut the following:
TWO ¾“ x 27″ strips for the handles
ONE 10” x 6” rectangle for the lining pocket
- From the plastic canvas, cut ONE 10” x 6” rectangle.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Fuse the exterior panels
- Find the four exterior panels (front, back, and two side panels) and the four 11” high pieces of fusible foam.
- Center a foam panel on the wrong side of each exterior panel. The foam should be centered side to side and top to bottom, which means there should be ½” of fabric showing beyond the foam on all sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
Create the front design
- Find the printed templates, the tracing paper and tracing wheel, and the front center panel, which should have its foam fused in place.
- Collect all the eyelets and rivets and their insertion tools.
- Set up everything in an area where you have a sturdy block of stone, metal or wood on which to hammer.
NOTE: As mentioned above, this type of hardware is easy to use, but we always recommend practicing in order to confirm the proper hole size to cut as well as the force needed (or not needed) to set each rivet and eyelet.
- Place the exterior center panel right side up and flat on your work surface. Place a printed template over the panel. The template should be centered side to side and the bottom edge of the bottom center eyelet should be 1½” up from the bottom raw edge of the panel. Pin at each corner.
- Un-pin one bottom corner and slip the Wax Free Tracing Paper behind the template with the colored side facing the fabric. There are five colors included in each package. We chose yellow to best show up on our navy solid. We also cut our long sheet in half, stacking the two halves in order to have enough to cover our entire template area.
- Re-pin the template and find the Serrated Tracing Wheel and a see-through ruler.
- Carefully trace the wheel along each line of the template, using the ruler as a guide – much as you would use a rotary cutter. It is important that you go slowly and keep your tracing very accurate to insure the starburst pattern comes out evenly. You should press hard enough to actually cut into the template paper a bit.
- Remove the template to reveal your starburst guidelines.
- Find a new template and center it in the exact same manner. Lift it up as needed to insure the traced guidelines match the template’s lines. Pin the new template in place.
- Find the Awl. Punch a hole through each of the center points for all the hardware.
- Make sure you make a hole at the center point for every insertion point. It is okay if the awl goes through and pierces the canvas.
- Insert the tip of a marking pen or pencil through each of the holes to make a dot along the lines on the fabric below.
- When done with your two-step marking process you will have a precise map to follow for your insertion. Go slowly and carefully throughout your marking. In order for the starburst pattern (or really any pattern) to come out looking great, you have to make sure the lines and center dots are precise. Take your time, checking often against the printed template.
Insert the rivets and eyelets
- Cut a small hole through all the layers at each marked point.
- We used the Dritz Double Cap Rivet Tool Set, which contains both setting tools and insertion tools, to do the initial cut for all the holes. The cutting tool makes a perfectly sized hole for the rivets and a good “starting hole” for the eyelets that you can expand with tiny scissors. You could certainly continue to use the awl or scissors to open the holes, but the cutting tool makes a sharp, precise hole that is exactly the same each time – a better option when creating our precise pattern.
NOTE: Two things will make your cutting the most successful: 1) Make sure you are working on a hard surface. We used a granite block. A metal block or a super hard block of wood would also work. If clean or covered with a protective layer, you could even take things outside and work on the sidewalk or driveway. 2) There is a little opening near the end of the cutting tool that is for cleaning out the tip. You are cutting through things, which means those little bits you’re removing are inside the cutting tube. A straightened paper clip or sturdy straight pin is a good thing to use to slip into that opening and push out the debris. The cleaner the end of the tip, the cleaner and easier the cut.
- Following the template as your placement guide, start your insertion with the rivets.
- Insert the top half of each rivet through from the front…
- … through to the back. Set the bottom half of the rivet in position. The Dritz Double Cap Rivets are cool because the back half simply snaps into position so it doesn’t shift around.
- Place all 51 rivets.
- Flip the panel and place the top of a rivet onto the concave side of the anvil. Remember, make sure you are working on a super hard surface.
- The setting tool should have a matching concave end. Place this over the back half of the rivet. Hammer together the two halves, using smooth and even swings. You don’t need to take out all your frustration on the poor rivet. Just a few solid whacks should do it.
NOTE: If you’re brand new to the technique, you can take a look at our Metal Rivets tutorial prior to starting the project.
- Move on next to the Large Eyelets. Open up the initial holes a little bit with a pair of small, sharp scissors. Don’t over-cut. You can trace the center opening of the grommet as a further guide.
NOTE: Take a look at our full tutorial on Setting Metal Grommets for more tips on marking and cutting.
- Insert the eyelet top through the hole. As with the rivets, insert each of the top halves from front to back. There are 16 Dritz Large Eyelets. Place a back ring in position over the top half.
- Set the back ring against the anvil (on the solid surface) and position the setting tool over the top. Hammer to set the two halves together.
NOTE: Unlike the rivets, the back half of the eyelet/grommet does not stay quite as securely in place. So, it’s better to hammer together the eye/et/grommets one at a time.
- Finally, move to the final six Extra Large Eyelets. Again, cut open the initial holes a bit with small, sharp scissors.
- Insert the top half of each eyelet from front to back.
- If the center of your eyelet doesn’t clear the layers, pull it out and enlarge the hole just a tiny bit more until the neck of the eyelet goes all the way through. As mentioned above, cut just a little bit each time. You don’t want to cut too much or you can end up with too big of a hole and a loose eyelet. The center of the eyelet can push through an opening smaller than itself (kind of like a mouse!).
- Drop the back ring into position, place the setting tool, and hammer into position in the same manner as for the Large Eyelets.
- Stand back and admire your cool metal starburst!
Assemble the exterior tube
- Collect all four exterior panels, including your beautiful front panel. All the panels should already have the foam fused in place.
- Pin a side panel to either side of the back panel. Stitch each panel in place with a ½” seam allowance.
- Pin the front panel to the remaining free raw edge of the right side panel. As above, stitch in place with a ½” seam allowance.
- Press all the seam allowances toward the solid canvas.
- You now have four panels sewn in a row. The drawing below shows the bag in a flat perspective.
- Make sure the machine is threaded with thread to best match the fabric in the top and bobbin. Lengthen the stitch.
- Topstitch along each seam within the center panels.
- Place a pin or make a small clip at the center of the bottom of each side panel, as indicated by the red asterisk in the drawing above. You’ll use this later to set in the base panel.
- Place the remaining 12″ raw edges of the exterior panel right sides together. Pin in place, creating a tube open at the top and bottom.
- Re-set the stitch length to normal.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch together.
- Lengthen the stitch again to match the previous topstitching, and run a line of topstitching along this final seam. This topstitching is a bit trickier since you are working with a tube rather than a flat piece. If you turn the tube wrong side out you can slide the seam under the needle with the fabric facing right side up. Go slowly, flattening the fabric to either side as you sew.
Insert the base
- Find the 11″ x 7″ exterior base panel and the 10″ x 6″ fusible foam panel. Center the foam on the wrong side of the base panel so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all four sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Find the exact center of each 7″ side of the base panel and place a mark at this point.
- Find the exterior tube (the body of the bag). Find matching center points along the open base of the tube. Remember those two marks you made at the red asterisks from the drawing above? Those are your side panel center points. Flatten the bag with these marks at the exact outer edges to find the center front and center back points. The center front point will be directly below the Extra Large Eyelet at the bottom of the starburst. The center back point will be directly opposite the front point.
- Turn the exterior tube wrong side out.
- Starting on one side, pin the base panel right sides together with the body of the bag. Align the center point of the base panel with the center side point of the bag. Pin in place. Continue to match the remaining three center points: base to bag.
- Re-set the stitch length to normal.
- Starting at one corner of the fusible foam, and using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along the first side. We like to start with a short side. Stop the seam at the opposite corner of the foam. In other words, your seam is starting and stopping ½” in from the edge of the fabric panel.
- Remove the project from the machine. Reposition to stitch the next side in the same manner. To help make the turn, you can clip the bag at the corners. You are clipping into the corner at a diagonal at a depth of about ⅜”. This frees up the seam allowance so you can more easily stitch each side of the bag independently, starting and stopping at each corner.
- Repeat to side the final two sides/corners in the same manner. Clip the corners when the stitching is complete.
NOTE: If this is a new technique for you, check out our full tutorial: How to Insert a Rectangular Base into a Tube.
- Turn the exterior bag right side out and press the base. Set aside.
Create the lining
- Find two main lining panels, the two lining pocket pieces, and the pocket interfacing.
- Center the interfacing on the wrong side of the front pocket panel (the print panel). There should be ½” of fabric extending beyond the interfacing on all four sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Place the fused panel right sides together with the lining panel. Pin around all four sides, leaving an approximate 3” opening along the bottom edge.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch around all four sides. Remember to pivot at the corners and lock your seam at either side of the opening. Clip the corners.
- Turn right side out through the bottom opening, gently push out the corners so they are nice and square. A long blunt tool, such as a chopstick, knitting needle or point turner works well for this.
- Press flat, pressing in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
- Measure to find the center of the pocket and draw in a vertical guideline. You’ll use this to divide the pocket into two sections.
- Place one of the lining panels right side up and flat on your work surface. Position the pocket right side up on the panel. It should sit 3″ down from the top raw edge of the panel and be centered side to side. Pin the pocket in place along both sides and across the bottom.
- Edgestitch the pocket in place along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners. This closes the opening used for turning.
- Stitch along the drawn guideline to divide the one panel into two pockets. For the neatest look, use a lock stitch at the top and bottom if possible. If you do not have this feature, leave the thread tails long and knot them at the back to secure.
- Place the two lining panels right sides together, sandwiching the pocket between the layers. Pin in place along both sides.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along both sides, forming a tube open at both the top and bottom. Press open the seam allowance.
- Find the lining base panel. It is inserted in the same manner as the exterior base panel above. However, since there is no interfacing on the lining to use as a corner start/stop guide, draw in a ½” box at each corner.
- Find the center point along each side of the base panel.
- On the main lining the side seams are your side center points, so you need only find the front and back center points
- Pin the base panel to the tube, aligning all the center points.
- As above with the exterior base insertion, stitch the base in place one side at a time, starting and stopping your seam ½” in from the corners.
Create the plastic canvas sleeve
- Find the 21½” x 7” lining panel.
- Fold it in half, right sides together, so it is now 10¾” x 7”.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along each 10¾” side. The top remains open.
- Along the top raw edge make a simple double fold hem. To do this, fold back the raw edge ¼” and press. Fold back an additional ½” and press again.
- Topstitch all around close to the inner fold.
- Turn right side out and slip the plastic canvas inside the sleeve.
Create the top zipper unit
- Find the zipper, zipper strips, and zipper end tabs.
- If your zipper is longer than 16”, as ours was, you’ll need to cut it to size. The entire opening is 16”, but the zipper opening itself should be 15”. Measure from the top of your zipper’s pull down 15” and place a pin. Then measure an additional inch and cut away the excess. There should already be about 1” of zipper tape above the zipper stops at the top. Metal zippers are easier to cut than you might think. Simply cut between the teeth — but don’t use your good scissors!
- Find the four 1⅜” x 2” end tabs. On each tab, fold back one end ½” (making the tab 1⅜” x 1½”) and press well to set a crease. Rather than pressing, you could draw in a line across the tab at the ½” mark.
- Unfold so the crease lines are visible.
- If you are familiar with adding end tabs to a zipper, you know the tab is usually added to just the front of the zipper. In this case, our zipper unit is bridging front to back at the top of the bag so both sides of the zipper will be visible. This means there must be a tab on both the front and the back of the zipper.
- Place one tab underneath the zipper at the top end, aligning the crease line right above the top zipper stops. Pin in place.
- Place a second tab over the top, flush with the first tab and sandwiching the zipper between the layers.
- Repeat to add the remaining two tabs at the bottom of the zipper. In this case, the visible crease line should sit just below the 15” pin mark.
- Stitch through all the layers along the visible crease lines both top and bottom.
- Press the tabs away from the zipper so the tabs are now wrong sides together at both the top and bottom.
- At the bottom, cut away the excess teeth below the seam to reduce bulk.
- The next steps are similar to making a zippered pouch.
- Open the zipper about half way.
- Find two of the 17” strips. Center one strip along one side of the zipper. The end tabs will extend a bit beyond either end of the strip. This is correct, concentrate on centering the strip on the zipper.
- Flip over the zipper and place the other strip into position. The two strips are right sides together with the zipper tape sandwiched between the layers. The raw edges of the two strips should be flush on all sides. Pin in place through all the layers.
- Attach a Zipper foot.
- Stitch the length of the zipper.
NOTE: All with all zipper insertions, when you feel you are approaching the zipper pull, stop with your needle in the down position. Raise the presser foot and twist the layers slightly so you can access the pull and move it out of the way of the presser foot. Once clear, drop the presser foot, re-position the layers, and finish the seam.
- Press both strips away from the zipper teeth so the strips are now wrong sides together.
NOTE: With many of our zipper installations, we edgestitch along the zipper teeth to keep the layers flat. But with this clever installation, the layers need to remain independent, so the pressing step is important. Get your layers as flat as smooth as possible.
- Repeat to sandwich the remaining free edge of the zipper with the two remaining strips.
- Stitch in place through all the layers, and just as above, press away from the zipper teeth.
- Open up the unit so the back zipper strips are right sides together and the front zipper strips are right sides together with the zipper itself running down the center.
- Flatten the unit and pin across each end.
- Using a ¼” seam allowance, the next step is to stitch across each end. But, you won’t be stitching straight across because the unit needs the flexibility at the center to fold and curve at each end. Instead, stitch from the outer edge into the center zipper seam and stop at that center point and lock your stitch.
- Rotate, and stitch from the opposite outer edge into the center. Yes, this does leave a teeny tiny gap at the center, but with all the seams coming together at this one point, any gap is buried.
- Trim away the bulk along the new seams as well as at the existing center zipper seam.
- Turn the unit right side out. The end tab will form a little triangle with the end seams wrapped around it. Tidy and cute!
- Fold back the remaining raw edge of each of the four strips ½” to create a clean finish to the entire unit.
Assemble the layers and add the handles
- Find the lining. Turn it wrong side out. Find the exterior bag, it should be right side out.
- Slip the lining inside the exterior so the two layers are now wrong sides together. The lining pocket should be against the back of the bag.
- Push the lining all the way down and align the two base panels. Then, adjust the side seams of the lining as needed so they are at the center of the exterior side panels. When the lining is sitting straight inside the exterior, pin in place around the top.
- Find the zipper unit. Pull apart the layers and slip the unit over the top of the bag. One strip should be against the front of the exterior, the other strip should be against the lining. Pin in place.
- The ends of the zipper should sit at the center of the side panels. When pinning in place, it’s best to start at the corners and pin into the center of the front and back panels.
- If your machine has a free arm, now is a great time to use it.
- Lengthen your stitch.
- Open the zipper all the way.
- We continued to use a standard presser foot. You could also switch to a Walking foot or engage your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system.
- Topstitch around the entire zipper unit through all the layers, staying very close to the bottom folded edge of the unit (we kept an approximately ⅛” distance from the fold). Go slowly! Stitching around the sides will be a bit tricky because of the bulk and the fact that it’s harder to flatten. Again, consider a Walking foot. You can also stop and hand-walk the needle for a few stitches at the bulkiest point. Because you are stitching on a solid with matching thread, a few little stitch hiccups will be hidden within the weave of the canvas. We’ll admit to tearing out our topstitching once and re-grouping to try again. No shame in do-overs we always say!
- Find the two long handle strips and the interfacing strips.
- Fold each strip in half right sides together to set a center crease.
- Unfold so the crease line is visible, using it to align the interfacing. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Press in each long raw edge ½”. Then press in each end ½”.
- Fold in half again along the original crease so all the folded sides are flush.
- Edgestitch across each end and down the one long side.
- Mark the position for the handle ends.
- The bottom of the handles are 3” down from the finished zipper opening and the handles are spaced 5” apart – to 2½” to either side of the center of the main panel.
- Mark these inner corner points: 3” down and 2½” from center.
- Mark the position of the two rivets on the end of each handle. Measure ½” up from the bottom of the handle and place a mark. This will be the bottom of the first rivet. Measure ¾” up from the first mark and make a second mark; this will be the bottom of the second rivet.
- Use your Cutting Tool to make the two holes in each handle end first.
- Then, place the handle ends back into position against the bag. Make sure the positioning is exact and the handle ends are indeed straight.
- Insert a marking pencil through the holes on the handle and mark onto the bag.
- Remove the handle and use the marks to cut holes in the bag. We found it easiest to start the hole with an Awl and finish with the Cutting Tool.
- Place the handles back against the bag, aligning the holes. Make sure there are no twists in the handle loops. Also make sure your lining is as straight and flat as possible directly behind the handles. Pin the lining in place if need be to keep it smooth during the rivet setting.
- Insert the rivets in the same manner as you did above when creating the starburst design.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Leah Wand