Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Making a small, simple wet bag

After doing so much research on making a wet bag or two for myself, I decided to dive in.  Unwilling to wait for or pay for shipping, I decided to gamble on PUL from Joann's.  It gets mixed reviews as to its quality, and I am a little skeptical about how well it will hold up, but because I can buy it at half off with coupons and not pay exorbitant shipping prices like I would have to online, I figured, why not?

And thus I began my first wet bag.  Since I am kind of making up the design as I go, I decided to try something medium sized and simple for the first attempt.  I wanted it to be useful, but it doesn't have to have all the bells and whistles I ultimately want just yet.

I also realized that for all my other posts, I don't actually give materials lists before I start explaining.  Maybe I should start?

Materials Needed:
about 1/2 yard of PUL or other waterproof, sewable fabric
1 14" zipper
sewing machine with a standard zipper foot

For my first step, I admittedly screwed up.  I wanted to make a bag that was roughly 14"x18".  Well, I cut a strip of fabric that was 15" wide out of the 60" wide PUL.  Then, almost without thinking, I cut it in half on the fold line from the bolt.  Leaving me with a roughly 15"x30" piece which folded in half and seamed would give me at best a 14"x14" bag.  Oops.  Well, this is my rough draft, right?  If YOU want to make the correct size bag, cut a long rectangle 15"x38".  Note that it will look just a bit different from my photos, though :-).

Since PUL has two sides, the fabric side and the side with the laminate on it, I decided to keep the soft, fabric side out and leave the laminate side to the inside so it didn't stick to or snag on anything.  You can choose to do whatever you please.  I have another piece of PUL with a pattern on it that has writing, so this wouldn't work for that, but like I said, this is my test run.

Now that we established the right side of the fabric from the wrong, fold over 1" of fabric on one short end of the rectangle with wrong sides together.  Stitch close to the raw edge, about 1/4".

Put the zipper foot on your machine.  If it is not already, close the zipper.  With right sides together and raw edges even, stitch the zipper to the other short end of the fabric.  The zipper pull should be facing toward the right side of the fabric, and you should be sewing along the top half of the zipper.  Center the zipper left and right across the fabric if the ends of the zipper tape hang over too much or don't quite meet the ends of the fabric.  This wont matter too much later, but it will look more symmetrical if you center it a little.  Stitch the zipper tape to the fabric close to the zipper teeth.  (Random Tip for sewing around the zipper pull: If you finish off your stitching when you get close to the zipper pull, open the zipper, and then restart your line of stitching an inch or so back to finish it off, you will not have an awkward bulge where the zipper foot has to go around the bulky pull.  This will lend a cleaner look to your finished product.)  Turn the zipper to the outside so the right side is showing next to the right side of the fabric and the raw edge is folded under.  Press if your fabric can handle the heat of an iron (I didn't chance it on my PUL).  If not, just hold it down during the following steps.

This view the zipper tape is open.  The teeth are toward the bottom of the photo.

Next, with wrong side to right side, lap the folded over short end over the zippered end, making sure that zipper is facing up.  Overlap the edges by 1/4" past the edge of the zipper so the folded over end hides the zipper.  Make sure the raw edges of the fabric (the long sides) are in line with each other. Place a pin just inside the zipper stop on both ends of the zipper. I found it helpful to place a pin on both sides of the zipper stops just to keep the sides from wiggling as I began to stitch.  Stitch from the raw edge of the fabric through all layers to the second pin on both sides (you should stitch PAST the zipper stop).  You should only have about 1" or so of stitching.  This is correct.  Reinforce if you like with another line of stitching over it or 1/4" above.

Your wet bag should now look like a loop.  Turn the loop inside out.  You should now be able to see the wrong side of the fabric and the wrong side of the zipper.  Take the unstitched side of the zipper and pin it to the folded over end of the fabric, keeping the raw edge of the fabric parallel to the edge of the zipper tape, but leaving an even amount of space across between the edges.  This amount of space will vary based on how far you overlapped the folded edge over the zipper on the right side.  Stitch it closed using your zipper foot.

The last step is to sew the side seams.  I debated a lot on how to tackle this part since I want my wet bag to be reasonably leakproof without being too work intensive.  I finally decided to encase the seams, using a french seam.  This is not a standard seam, so if you have not sewn a lot in the past, this may seem weird at first.  Trust me, it will all work out!

Turn the loop right side out again.  Flatten out the loop, matching the raw edges along the sides.  Place the zippered area about 1 1/2" down the "front" of the bag.  With WRONG sides together, stitch a scant 1/4" from the raw edge on both sides.  Keeping this line of stitching as close to the raw edge as possible is critical.  If you sew it too wide, trim it to 1/4" before the next step.

Unzip the bag and turn it inside out.  Carefully turn all the corners and side seams.  Again, press if your fabric can handle it, otherwise, just pin very carefully in the next step.  Pin the fabric along the side seams to the inside of the raw edges, enclosing them on the inside.  This should be roughly 1/4"-3/8" away from the side.  Stitch.  If you are having trouble with the thickness of your fabric being too bulky on the one side, you can use your zipper foot to sew these seams.  Basically, you are creating a pocket to hide that raw edge that we left on the outside.  This is a french seam.  Hooray!  Don't you feel Eurpoean fancy now?  If you have trouble with the PUL sticking to the presser foot or to the feeder foot, try pinning some tissue paper to the seam and sewing through it.  You can just tear it off once the stitching is in.

Turn your bag right side out again.  You are done!

You have successfully made a simple (ish) version of a wet bag.  And guess what?  The design is way better than most of the ones commercially available, so it is less likely to leak.  Well, I hope so at least.  I am testing it out with wet wash clothes.  Fingers crossed.

Bottom Line:
1/2 yard of PUL @ $10/yd with 50% off coupon = $2.50 (since I screwed up I actually will be making 2 from this, but had I followed my original design, I would have used more.)
1- 14" zipper = $2

Time estimate = Approx 2-3 hrs (I took a lot of time on design and did a fair amount of ripping out stitches, so its hard to know exactly.)

Retail cost = $15 on average.  Some small, cheapy drawstring ones are about $7, some are $25.
Total cost to make = $4.50

Savings = approx $10

Not too bad.  And I didn't even make you use a serger for this one!

1 comment:

  1. I just started sewing this winter, learning on diapers with PUL so I am blissfully unaware that it is any harder to work with than any other fabric. However, my pattern included the scotch tape tip.
    I used the tutorial video from Wazoodle for a 2 minute wetbag and even made a 2 tone version. I made a larger version and put a few beach toys in it to give as a gift when my preschooler went to a birthday party. These are very versatile.