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Finishing Tube Baguettes


Supplemental Information about Finishing
Your Tube Baguettes

By Nora J. Bellows

  1. Sew Handles In/On

    Whether you choose I-cord handles that are sewn to the outside of your bag, or purchased handles that are applied (to the inside of the bag opening) with fabric tabs, you should apply the handles as the first step in the finishing process. Measure carefully so that handles are equidistant from each end and properly centered in the bag. For sewing, I use fabric tabs or sturdy ribbon and a double strand of better polyester sewing thread that matches the color of the bag. Use small stitches and take some of your stitches all the way through the felt fabric.

  2. Sew on Embellishments

    Flowers and other embellishments need to go onto the bag early in the process, but be mindful of where you will need to work/sew as you continue the finishing process. For example, if you will need to work close to the top edge, you may not want to sew flowers down completely right near the bag opening/top edge. Save those final stitches until you have finished your work up there. If you forget, no matter: simply sew your stitches through the flower as well, careful that your stitches remain invisible. This will ensure that your flowers and other embellishments are well-sewn to your bag.

    For sewing on flowers, I recommend a double strand of nylon beading thread. It comes in a range of colors, is thin, and will cut your fingers before it will break. This makes it excellent for sewing on embellishments, as they might be pulled around a bit and you don't want them to get pulled off. Don't worry much about how your sewing looks on the inside of the bag (unless you plan to leave it unlined) but do make stitches look invisible on the exterior of the bag.

  3. Sew in Zipper

    The first step in sewing in the zipper is picking the correct zipper. Do not use dress zippers for your bags -- they are too light weight and not meant to get the sort of wear and tear that a bag zipper gets. Pick a zipper that has larger teeth and is just larger overall. Winter jacket zippers work well. I like the large-toothed plastic zippers that come in a range of colors. For really wonderfully fun zippers, see if you can get your hands on a RiRi zipper.

    1. Fit the Zipper to the Bag: Make the zipper just a little longer than the bag opening. You will want to start either with a zipper that has been made to fit the opening; or you can finish off the bottom end with metal clips specifically for this purpose (available at full service fabric shops and specialty stores); or use your sewing thread to hand sew or machine zigzag (in place) over the end to shorten your zipper. Cut off the excess but leave about a half inch end.

    2. Pin One Side of the Zipper & Sew In Place: Unzip the zipper first. You will only pin in one side at a time. Using large pins (I like to use floral pins I have saved from flower arrangements. You can also purchase these or similar pins at craft stores. If you have blocking pins from the knit shop, use those.), pin one side of the zipper to the inside opening of the bag, careful to let the teeth show. Why, after all, did you buy that hot pink zipper if it was not to show? Then use a double strand of polyester sewing thread and sew the one side in by hand using small, invisible stitches.

    3. Match the Other Side of the Zipper: Now, zip up the zipper and use pins to line up stripes, marking places on the zipper where it needs to be pinned to the other side. Do this in the beginning, middle and end of the zipper/bag opening. Now unzip the zipper again and pin the entire side. Double check that everything will match up by zipping the zipper up again while it is pinned. This can be a little tricky, but it is an essential step if you want to sew this zipper in once, not twice or three times. Make any necessary adjustments in length, the width that shows, or pattern that must be matched with the other side of the bag opening.

    4. Sew the Second Side of the Zipper In Place: Again, using a double strand of polyester sewing thread, sew the second side of the zipper in place as you did the first. Once you have done this, double check that you have sewn the zipper in the right place by zipping it up and making sure stripes or other patterns match. If they do not. . . do it again. You will not be happy with it if you don't. You know this! Remember, excellent finishing makes an excellent finished project. Take the time to work meticulously.

  4. Tack in Stiffener

    The tube baguette wants to be a structured bag. Therefore, I recommend that you stiffen it with plastic needlework canvas. I prefer the largest, stiffest rectangular sheets I can find (at a shop called AC Moore in my area). I like to buy the smaller round sheets for the tube ends and then cut them to fit.

    Through a bit of trial and error, ensure that the stiffener fits snugly so there are no gaps -- better to stretch your bag a bit than to have the stiffener insert be too small. Sew the stiffener pieces together (so that the stiffener bag mirrors the shape of the bag itself) with a single strand of yarn, or with cordonette (a heavy cotton thread that is very, very sturdy), and a tapestry needle. Manipulate the finished stiffener into the bag itself and tack all around, in both the body and the ends. You will want to make sure that the stiffener is about 3/8 inch from the bag opening so you have enough room to sew in the lining and to avoid any interference between zipper and stiffener.

  5. Put on Bag Feet

    Bag Feet can be purchased in many local yarn shops -- check with them first before going elsewhere. I recommend the largest size -- that is, 20 mm. Don't be tempted by the small guys. They look nice but do nothing on felt, as felt has too much pile for little bag feet. So, get the big guys.

    Bag feet are easy to install. Just punch the ends through the felt and the stiffener, then spread the little brads on the inside. You may need to snip a cell or two in the stiffener to accommodate the brads. Make sure you measure and measure again, first with a tape and then with your eyeball. Again, if not right, do over. The little hole you punched in your felt the first time will not show if you must take the feet out and re-do.

  6. Construct and Sew in Lining

    You may want to use the stiffener pieces as templates for cutting out the pieces of lining (add 1/2" seam allowance on all sides). After sewing the lining pieces together using a sewing machine, use a double strand of better polyester sewing thread and invisible stitches to sew the lining into the bag body about 1/4" from bag opening. Be careful not to sew too closely to the zipper opening.