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Travel Accessories: Lightweight Laundry Bag

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Fifth in our Travel Accessories series, and weighing in at a mere 1½ ounces, this whisper light voile laundry bag is ideal for travel, taking up virtually no space in your suitcase. If you've never sewn with voile before, you're in for a treat. It's exquisitely silky soft to the touch and easy to sew. For added strength, the drawstring casing is made from a coordinated quilting cotton, also from Anna Maria Horner's Loulouthi collection. I love how the vintage elegance of these prints adds a hint of luxury to the act of packing a bag.

Our Travel Accessories series is sponsored by Free Spirit Fabrics, as part of our Artist Trio Series introducing Anna Maria Horner's amazing Loulouthi fabric collection. You can find Loulouthi at Fat Quarter ShopCityCraftFashionable Fabrics, and Fabric.com.

The finished flat size of the bag is approximately 15½" x 20".

Sewing Tools You Need

  • Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome DC1050)
  • A fine sewing machine needle - size 9/65 (optional but preferable)

    Fabric and Other Supplies

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    • ½ yard of 44-45" fabric for laundry bag Body (the voile is actually 54" wide): we used Loulouthi Voile in VAH17-Perfume by Anna Maria Horner for Free Spirit Fabrics
    • ½ yard of 44-45" fabric for decorative Inset and Casingwe used Loulouthi Stockings in AH44-Foxtrot by Anna Maria Horner for Free Spirit Fabrics
      NOTE: You can get by with ¼ yard if you choose not to fussy cut
      the inset as we did.
    • 1½ yard of soft ¹⁄₈" cording
    • ONE ¹⁄₈" cord stop: we used Dritz Cord Stops
    • All purpose thread to match fabric
    • See-through ruler or yardstick
    • Seam gauge
    • Iron and ironing board
    • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
    • Straight pins

    Getting Started

    1. From the fabric you are using for the main Body of the bag (Loulouthi Perfume in our sample), cut:
      ONE 17" x 40" Rectangle
    2. From the fabric you are using for the top of the bag (Loulouthi Fox Trot in our sample), cut:
      TWO 17" x 2" rectangles for the decorative Inset
      TWO 17" x 3" rectangles for the drawstring Casing
      NOTE: We fussy cut each rectangle to take advantage of the print.

    At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

    1. Fold the two 17" x 2" decorative Inset rectangles in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press.
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    2. With the main Body face up, pin and then baste a folded Inset to both 17" ends, aligning raw edges as shown below. 
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    3. Align the two 17" x 3" Casing rectangles to both ends over the Inset pieces you just basted in place, right sides together. Using a ½" seam allowance, sew the three pieces (four layers) together. 
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    4. Trim the seam allowance back to about 1¼", then press Insert (which is like a little flange) down towards the bottom of the bag and the Casing up.
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    5. In order to create a finished seam on the inside of our bag, we will sew the sides of the bag together with a French seam. Fold the the bag in half WRONG sides together, align the raw edges of the top and both sides. Pin in place. Stitch both sides using a ³⁄₈" seam allowance stopping 2½" from the top on the RIGHT side of the bag.
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    6. Trim the seam allowance back close to your stitching. Do not trim the open end as shown in the photo below.
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    7. Turn the bag WRONG side out. Poke out the bottom corners with a blunt tool, like a large knitting needle or chopstick.
    8. Using a 3/8" seam allowance, pin and then stitch again along both sides, again stopping at the 2½" mark on the one side.
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    9. Turn the bag right side out again. Poke out the bottom corners again… carefully.
    10. At your ironing board, fold in the raw edges on the one side that was left open so they are flush with the sewn seam. Then fold down and press the top raw edge of the top ½".
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    11. Fold and press the top down so its folded edge covers the inside top seam. Pin in place all around,  remembering that you have an opening at the one side seam, which you need to insert your cording.
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    12. Edgestitch the flap in place to form the casing for the cording.
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    13. To reinforce the sides, stitch back and forth between the front and back pieces just above the side seam. Keep the reinforcing stitching exactly in line with your original stitching.

    Inserting the cording and attaching the cord stop

    1. Attach a large safety pin to one end of the 1½ yard length of cording. It helps if you wrap the end with tape, as shown.
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    2. Thread the cording through the casing.
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    3. Depress the top of the cord stop and thread each end of the cord into each of the two holes. Tie a knot in the end of each cord as we did, or knot the two cords together. If you are using polyester cording, you can slightly melt it with a lighter to seal the ends. It doesn't take much, just gently pass the end of the cord quickly through the flame a couple times.
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    Project Design, Sample Creation and Instructions: Alicia Thommas



    Comments (4)

    Christi295 said:
    Christi295's picture
    I made this over the weekend and I love working with the voile - it came out great! However, I think when I make it again I will do the french seams on the "bag" part only, then add the flange piece and the top casing section after. That will eliminate the "bulk" in the casing on the opposite side of the opening. It will require a bit more finishing on the top, but I think over all I will like it better. Great series - the shoe bag is next!!
    Beth T. said:
    Beth T.'s picture
    This would be a big improvement over the crummy plastic grocery bag I usually stuff into my luggage to hold dirty clothes.
    Kerin said:
    Kerin's picture
    Such lovely travel accessories. I remember my mother having beautiful cases for packing much like these. So elegant. My suitcase is full of boring plastic containers and really sadly, ziplock bags. Plastic has its place, but I'm going to upgrade, I love the feeling of little luxuries like these. Thx for the patterns and awesome fabric choices.