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Ribbon & Fringe Bitty Boho Bags

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The seventies hippie style didn't go away, it just came back as "boho." Rich color, mixed-media, wonderful textures, and a loose, unstructured feel are hallmarks of "bohemian fashion." Today's little shoulder bags fit right in. The focal point is the stack of five gorgeous ribbons from Renaissance Ribbons. They provide the artistry and beautifully divide the silk dupioni of the top from the faux suede and fringe of the bottom. A ring of decorative stitching at the top of each bag finishes off the boho blend. Our selection of ribbons was built on Flora and Fauna themes for each bag.

Our Flora and Fauna ribbon stacks are a mixture of patterns from several Renaissance Ribbon designers: French General, Anna Maria Horner, Sue Spargo and Tula Pink. Plus, we added several colors of their beautiful French Grosgrain Ribbon. Can you spot the furry fauna in the photo above?

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. If possible on your machine, use the start/stop button rather than the foot control for consistent speed. 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, choose colors of regular thread that very closely match your ribbon, and 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 Steam-a-Seam, 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.

Each bag finishes at approximately 8" wide x 9" tall, excluding the fringe.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

We used THREE beautiful jacquard ribbons and TWO colorful grosgrain ribbons on each bag. As mentioned above, one bag is a Flora theme, the other features Fauna. The yardage shown includes extra to allow proper fussy cutting of the dominant motifs. You could squeak by with ½ yard of each ribbon per bag, but we recommend starting with a full yard for the very best look. Besides... when is having extra ribbon to use again ever a problem?!

FLORA GROUPING (as shown from top to bottom)

FAUNA GROUPING (as shown from top to bottom)

Amounts shown below are for ONE bag:

  • ⅓ yard of 44"+ wide silk dupioni or similar for the bag's top section and lining; we used Silk Dupioni in Cantelope for the Floral bag and Silk Dupioni in Salmon for the Fauna bag; Fabric Depot has a lovely selection of silk dupioni online from which to choose
  • ¼ yard of 44"+ wide faux suede or similar for the bag's bottom section; we used Passion Suede in Chocolate for the Floral bag and Passion Suede in Wine for the Fauna bag; Fabric Depot aslo has a nice selection of Passion Suede faux suede online from which to choose
  • ½ yard of 20"+ wide medium-weight interfacing; we used Pellon Décor Bond
  • 1¾ yards of ¼" twisted cording or similar for the bag's strap; we used a soft twisted cord in a chocolate brown, purchased locally
  • Scrap or ¼ yard of ¼" faux suede cord or similar for the strap loops; we used a soft flat cord in a chocolate brown, purchased locally
  • ¼ yard of fringe; we used 3" chainette style fringe in soft gray for the Floral bag and in wine for the Fauna bag, both purchased locally
    NOTE: You need exactly ¼ yard (9"); if you are worried about accurate placement, get ⅓ yard.
  • All purpose thread to match both fabric and ribbons or Invisible Thread in Clear for the ribbon
  • Rayon machine embroidery thread for the decorative stitching accent; we used Madeira Rayon in Silver for the Floral bag and Madeira Rayon in Gold for the Fauna bag, purchased locally
  • ONE ½" magnetic purse snap
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Pressing cloth; optional but best to protect both the silk and faux suede as well as the ribbon
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Tape measure
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins
  • Seam Sealant, such as Dritz Fray Check

Getting Started

  1. From the fabric for the bag's top section and lining (Silk Dupioni in our sample), cut the following:
    TWO 4" high x 9" wide rectangles for the top section  
    TWO 9½" high x 9" wide rectangles for the lining
  2. From the fabric for the bag's bottom section (Passion Suede in our sample), cut TWO 7" high x 9" wide rectangles.
  3. From the fusible interfacing, cut the following:
    TWO 4" x 9" rectangles
    TWO 7" x 9" rectangles
    TWO 2" x 2" squares to reinforce the magnetic snap
  4. From each of the ribbons, carefully fussy cut TWO 9" strips (you should end up with 10 strips total: five for the front and five for the back - the front and back should be an exact match to one another).
  5. From the cording for the strap loops, cut TWO 3" lengths.
  6. Leave the strap cording as one length for now, you will trim it to the final size at the end, hopefully trying it on the recipient for a perfect fit. 
  7. Cut the fringe into ONE 9" length.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

NOTE: All our cuts and steps are determined based on our selected ribbons. If you choose ribbons of different widths, you may need to adjust your measurements.

Create the front and back exterior panels

  1. Find the two exterior top panels, the two exterior bottom panels, and the four pieces of fusible interfacing. 
  2. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the corresponding interfacing piece to the wrong side of each fabric piece.
  3. Place each top piece right sides together with a bottom piece. You are aligning the bottom 9" edge of the top with the top 9" edge of the bottom. Pin in place.
  4. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the pieces together to create the finished front and back panels. 
  5. Press the seam allowance open and flat. 
  6. Place one exterior panel right side up and flat on your work surface.
  7. Find one set of five ribbons.
  8. Place the top edge of the first ribbon 3" down from the top raw edge of the exterior panel. This should place it just above the actual top/bottom seam. Pin in place along the top edge of the ribbon.
  9. Using your seam gauge, overlap the second ribbon onto the first ribbon. Adjust the overlap so there is ½" of grosgrain ribbon extending above the top of the second ribbon. Measure carefully across the entire length so the second ribbon is perfectly straight. Pin the second ribbon in place.
  10. Butt the top of the third ribbon in the sequence right up against the bottom edge of the second ribbon and pin in place.
  11. Butt the top of the fourth ribbon in the sequence right up against the bottom edge of the third ribbon and pin in place.

    NOTE: It is very important to the finished look of the bag that your stitching runs as close to the edges of the ribbons as possible and that your thread is a close color match so the seams become nearly invisible. Change thread colors as needed or do what we did: use an invisible thread in the top and bobbin.
  12. Edgestitch the ribbons in place in the following pattern:
  13. Do NOT stitch the top edge of the first grosgrain ribbon. It will remain free as a little flange.
  14. Edgestitch the top of the second ribbon, stitching through both the top of the decorative Jacquard ribbon and the bottom of the grosgrain ribbon. 
  15. Edgestitch the bottom of the second ribbon. 
  16. Edgestitch the top and the bottom of the third ribbon. 
  17. Edgestitch ONLY the top of the fourth ribbon. 
  18. Remove the panel from the machine. Place the panel right side up and flat on your work surface. Find the fifth ribbon. 
  19. Slip this ribbon under the free bottom edge of the fourth ribbon, adjusting it until it extends ½" below the bottom edge of the fourth ribbon. It should be an exact match to the top grosgrain's ½" reveal. Pin in place. 
  20. Edgestitch the bottom edge of the fourth ribbon, stitching through both the bottom of the decorative Jacquard ribbon and the top of the last grosgrain ribbon.
  21. The bottom edge of the fifth ribbon remains free. 
  22. Below is an illustration of the stitching pattern, which helps show how the top and bottom ribbons finish as a little flange - each with a free edge.
  23. Repeat to stitch the matching five lengths of ribbon to the exterior back panel. 

Fringe and seam front to back

  1. Find the 9" length of fringe. Place it along the bottom edge of the front exterior panel, aligning the insertion tape of the fringe with the bottom raw edge of the fabric. Pin in place.
  2. Sweep the majority of the fringe to the center of the panel. Along the outer edges, you may need to trim away one strand of fringe to insure you have a clear ½" seam allowance. You don't want the fringe to get caught up in the seam. You can trim away now or simply pull away and trim after you seam front to back. 
  3. Place the exterior front and exterior back panels right sides together, sandwiching the fringe between the layers. Again, be extra careful to insure the fringe is out of the way of the seam allowance. You can even tape it in place.
  4. Align all the raw edges of both panels, being especially careful to align the ribbons.
  5. Pin along both sides and across the bottom.
  6. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners. 
    NOTE: If using the silk and faux suede combination we used, for an extra professional finish, change your thread colors as you stitch from the silk to the suede. Both of these substrates can have a tendency to pull a bit. So, to insure your seams are clean, it's best to make sure the thread is the good match to the fabric. 
  7. Clip the corners.
  8. Press down the top raw edge ½" all around. 
  9. Turn the bag right side out. Release the fringe if taped in place. Press lightly. If using silk and faux suede, use a pressing cloth.
  10. Find the two 3" lengths of cord for the strap loops.
  11. Place one loop over each of the exterior bag's side seams. The bottom ends of the loop should be flush with the bottom raw edge of the folded top of the bag. The width of the loop should be centered to either side of the seam. Pin each loop in place. For extra security, you could hand baste the loops in place.

Lining and magnetic snap

  1. Find the two lining panels. Along the top edge of each panel, fold back the raw edge ½" and press. 
  2. Measure to find the exact center along the folded top of each panel. 
  3. Find the two 2" squares of interfacing. 
  4. Slip a square under the folded top edge at the exact center of each panel. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse in place.
  5. On one panel, confirm the exact center point by drawing a vertical line. Next, measure ¾" down from the top folded edge. Create a horizontal mark at this measurement, intersecting the vertical center point mark. 
  6. This intersection point is where you want the TOP of your snap. Place the back of the snap at the mark and trace the two cut lines. 
  7. Finish the insertion of this half of the magnetic snap. Then repeat to insert the remaining half in the same position on the remaining lining panel. If you are new to this technique, we have a full tutorial on How to Insert a Magnetic Snap Closure
  8. Place the two lining panels right sides together, aligning all the raw edges and making sure those two halves of the snap are a perfect match. Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom.
  9. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners. The silk dupioni loves to ravel. We recommend finishing your seam with a zig zag or your favorite finishing stitch. We have a great four-part series on Machine Sewn Seam Finishes
  10. Clip the corners.

Finishing

  1. Find the exterior bag. It should be right side out. 
  2. Find the lining bag. It should be wrong side out. 
  3. Slip the lining inside the exterior so the two are now wrong sides together. 
  4. Align the side and bottom seams. The lining is cut just a bit shorter than the exterior so the bottom seam of the lining should sit nicely above the thick bottom seam of the bag, creating a smooth finish inside.
  5. Align the top folded edges of the exterior and the lining. The two folded edges should be perfectly flush all around. Adjust the folds of one or both as needed. Pin in place all around.
  6. Select a decorative stitch. We used Stitch #16 on our Janome Memory Craft 9900
  7. Re-thread the machine with the contrasting rayon thread in the top and bobbin. 
  8. Stitch around the top edge of the bag to secure the layers together. Go slowly and carefully to insure your decorative stitch line stays nice and straight. We lined up the edge of our foot with the top edge of the bag. This was just the right width to allow us to easily pass above the magnetic snap. Test this distance on your own machine by placing your foot right next to the snap prior to starting. Then, adjust your presser foot placement and re-set to stitch around, starting and stopping at a side seam. 
  9. Find the length of cording for the strap and the seam sealant. Slip one end of the cord through one strap loop and tie a secure double knot. 
  10. Put seam sealant on the short end of the tied cord, extending out from the knot about ¼" to ½". 
  11. When the seam sealant is thoroughly dry, trim the excess cord tail.
  12. If possible, try the bag on its intended recipient. It is designed to be worn cross body, but should also work as a simple shoulder hang. Measure for the cross-body option on your recipient, adjusting for the best fit. Knot the opposite end of the cord through the remaining strap loop in the same manner
  13. If you are unable to try on the bag, a 50" length is a good average.

Contributors

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

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