Twist and shout!
Hello everyone and welcome to today’s tutorial. Today, I will be showing you how to make an elvish bag of holding. Not only is this an interesting looking back that is sure to turn heads, but you can also create it out of leftover scraps of fabric, making it the perfect way to use up scraps and make less waste. It is essentially a twisted cinch bag. But don’t let it scare you! It’s actually very simple to make.
Ok, so this is what we’re going for. My elvish bag of holding was made out of leftover scraps of fabric from my First Speaker gown as well as from what was left of the fabric I used in my Saber cosplay outfit. You can choose to use different colors as I did, or you could use just all the same color and still get something beautiful:
Does it look scary? It’s ok! Just take a deep breath!
So, this is what you’re going to need:
Fabric scraps (wide enough for the pattern, either different colors or the same colors), pins, a sewing machine with thread, interfacing OR stiff fabric (I used a pretty silk placemat for this), a cord or ribbon (for the cinch)
Optional materials include:
Grommets/eyelets, trim, buttons/jewels, fabric for lining
Step 1: The Pattern
To create the pattern, you will essentially be creating an elongated rhombus. You can experiment with the length and width of this in order to create different bag shapes and amounts of twist. For my elvish bag of holding, I used a piece of computer paper. Along the shorter side of the paper, I measured from the corner and made a mark 2.5 inches in. Then, I turned the paper and did the exact same thing on the other side and from the angle opposite what I had just marked. Next, I drew a line from one CORNER to the MARK on the other side, flipped the paper, and did the same back the other way. When cut out, this creates the elongated rhombus shape I was talking about.
Next, decide which way you want your bag to “spin” and mark which part of the pattern is up.
Step 2: Cutting
Next, I cut out the pieces for the bag using the pattern I had just created. I wanted to alternate between three different fabrics, so I found scraps big enough to fit the pattern pieces and cut them as normal. Eventually, I had six panels of three different colors:
Step 3: Basic Construction
Now we need to get all of the pieces to fit together into one continuous piece. This can be a little tricky to get started, but it goes quickly once you get the hang of it.
Once you’ve established your color pattern (if you need to), lie them out as shown above. Next, take the first two pattern pieces, match up one full length of a side, and fold them together with the right sides of the fabric facing each other. Pin.
Depending on what seam allowance you choose (I chose .5″ for this project), stitch up the pinned side. When you unpin it, you have a couple of options. Since you want the seam to lie flat inside the bag, you can choose to press the seam open. Or, if you’d like to get fancy (or if the fabrics really don’t want to be ironed, like my fabrics I chose), you can pin them open and stitch up the sides to keep the seams pressed flat. In my case, I pinned both parts of the seam to one side and stitched it flat, using the original seam as a guide. This not only keep the fabric flat, but creates a neat and tidy appearance, adding to the “twirl” effect of the bag.
Once you have taken care of the seam, you can repeat the same step for the next piece of fabric and continue until all six (or however many panels you choose to use) are sewed together in a row:
Step 4: Twist It Up!
Ok, now comes the scary part. This is going to feel very unnatural, but I can assure you that it’s not as bad as it seems. Just breathe!
Now we need to make the bag into a round tube. It’s not as simple as just folding the seams together and sewing it up, since you’ll realize very quickly that it creates a very distinct twist shape that doesn’t lie flat.
Begin at one end (trust your cutting!) and pin, as though it were flat on the table:
Continue down the seam, lining up the two panels of fabric. Remember that the bag is going to curve as you pin. Don’t fight it! Just go with the flow until the whole seam is pinned together:
Now it’s time to feel even more unnatural. It’s very easy to start this bag on the machine. But as you get towards the center of the tube, it becomes difficult to manage. Stitch it up as normal, but remember that it’s going to twist as you sew it up. Make sure to turn the bag as you sew–going slow and paying particular attention to making sure that your seams are matched up evenly:
Step 5: A Finishing Touch
Now that the bag is stitched up, it should look like it has a very distinctive twisting shape if you turn it inside out. However, if you’ve been creating finishing stitches the entire time (like on my bag) it means that you still have one more line of stitches to complete.
Being mindful of the abrasive relationship between pins and your fingers, pin the seam down as you did when the project was flat. Again, remember that the bag is turning. Make sure that you don’t pin the seam to the fabric on the other side of the bag or it will not stitch up evenly:
Now it’s time to not panic. This can be a little tricky. Just be sure to go slow and check your work as you go. Beginning at one end, begin to stitch it as usual. However, you’ll soon find that the twist becomes very odd to work with. Just keep with it and pace yourself. You’ll get there! The needle is actually beginning to work its way towards the inside of the tube, so your entire project will end up wrapped around the needle at the end, which is fine. If you’re fairly confident that you’re not going to sew into your own hand, you can try using your hand as a guide from the inside of the tube. This can help keep excess fabric away from the needle so that you don’t sew your beautiful bag to itself!:
Once you’re done stitching it up, reach inside and cut the thread with scissors. Then carefully slip it back out from beneath the needle. And viola! The first part of your elvish (or whatever you want to consider it) bag of holding is complete!
See? That wasn’t so difficult!
All right, now let’s move on to how to complete the bag so that you can wear it out with your Elvish finest.
Step 6: Bottoms Up!
To create the bottom, find something circular within your house which is roughly slightly larger than the full circumference of the bag. For this step, I usually like to use a drink coaster for the correct size. Trace the circle onto your stiff fabric, or if you needed to use interfacing, apply the interfacing to your fabric, then trace out the circle. Cut it out.
With the bag inside out, pin the cut out circle to the bottom. Make sure that the pattern that you want on the OUTSIDE of the bag is on the INSIDE during this step!
Being mindful of the pins, stitch around the circumference of the bottom on your machine. Once you are finished, remove the pins and stitch around one more time on the outside of the circle you just stitched, in order to add a bit more stability:
Now, when you flip the bag back to the right side, you will see that you actually have a nice little bottom!
If you don’t care about lining the bag, you can skip straight to Step 8 at this point. But if you don’t want to keep reaching into your bag and feeling threads, this would be a good time to add something on the inside to make it a bit smoother.
Step 7: Line it Up!
For the lining of your bag, you first need to figure out how much lining you need. Measure the length of your bag (from top to bottom) in inches, then add an extra two inches to provide yourself some sewing room (after all, it’s better to have more material than less so that you can finish it nicely!).
Next, measure the circumference of the bag and add an inch to that measurement to accommodate a seam. This will indicate how much fabric you need to cut to line the side of the bag. In order to line the bottom of the bag, cut a circle the same size as the one you used for the bottom of the outside of the bag.
Once you have cut your fabric, stitch it up into a simple bag using the same construction techniques you used for the outside of the bag. You will now have two bags of roughly identical size.
Next, eyeball it and create a simple fold-over seam on each bag, turning the fabric to the inside and just straight stitching to finish off the edge. Hooray! Two bags!
Note- Make sure that the lining bag ultimately ends up INSIDE OUT once you place it into the outside bag.
Step 8: Cinch it Good!
Ok, guys, we’re almost done!
Now, you have a couple of different options for how you want to be able to close your Elvish Bag of Holding. After all, you’re going to want to ensure that all of your Elvish goodies don’t tumble out into space. So you can really get creative with how to want to close your bag. You might want to consider a button of some sort, though you would still need to attach a ribbon or something so that you can hold onto it. Or you might want to attach a simple fabric sleeve to the inside or the outside through which you could feed a string, so that you can cinch the bag closed. The possibilities are endless!
In my case, I decided to use large Dritz grommets (which I had leftover from my armor project). What’s nice about the grommets, rather than using simple eyelets, is that the grommets have a front and a back, making for a nicely finished edge.
They’re also very simple to install, and all it takes is a bit of hammering!
Working with the outside of your bag first, use a ruler to mark where each grommet should go. This is really up to you. Since I had six panels, I used six grommets, evenly spaced from each other. Take the outside grommet (the one with the smaller hole) and use it to trace circles onto the outside of your bag so that all the holes for the grommets will be uniform.
Once you have completed your spacing and tracing, cut out the circles. Be careful not to cut out too much fabric. The grommet should fit snuggly inside of it, and remember that you can always subtract more fabric to make it fit, not add to it!
Once you have made the holes in the outside, place the lining of the bag into the outer bag. Pin the two bags together so that they line up at the lip, and use the circles you just cut out on the outside to trace circles onto the inside. Once you have finished, remove the lining and cut these out, too. You will now have two “holy” bags, lol:
Step 9: Stop! Hammer Time!
And now it’s as simple as hammering in the grommets! Place the lining into the outer bag (the lining should be inside out, remember!) and begin to grommet the two bags together, as per the manufacturers instructions. In the case of Dritz, this means they give you a little plastic anvil and a metal grommet tool, and you need to hammer the two pieces together. Whenever grommeting, eyeleting, riveting, etc., I like to use a steel bar as a base. But you can use any solid surface. Just don’t destroy your dining room table!
Pay special attention to the inside and outside pieces of the grommets. When it is finished, the grommet on the outside of the bag should look smooth, while on the inside of the bag you will see a crimped lip of sorts.
And once you have finished with your grommets, you’re done! Lace a ribbon or other cord through the holes, and you have an Elvish Bag of Holding perfect for storing all of your valuables at the faire. Enjoy!