While shopping online for handbag inspirations, my eye caught a bag decked out with ribbon—I also caught the price—$1,300. I knew we had the perfect inspiration to create a bag with my  new line of Renaissance Ribbons at a fraction of the cost.

I never imagined designing a ribbon collection; it was a challenging and creative experience. I chose two of my favorite color palettes: Brown and Blush and Teal and Lime, which are available at Nancy’s Notions and other retailers. You’ll find many opportunities to use these collections in your sewing projects. 

Gather the supplies

  • Start with Clover’s Trace ’n Create Bag Templates—City Bag Collection. (Or, use a bag pattern of your choice.) Gather the fabrics and notions listed on the package back; I selected the Portfolio Plus Bag view.

Trace 'n Create Bag Template—City Bag Collection by Nancy Zieman

For additional designer touches, here’s a listing of hardware, notions, and supplies I used for this bag makeover:

  • Teal and Lime Renaissance Ribbon Pack
  • 5-in-1 Sliding Gauge
  • One package Clover Fuse ‘n Bind 1/2″ x 2 yd.
  • Two packages Clovers 1″ Create-a-Strap
  • Clover’s Magnetic Snap Closure
  • Create-a-Strap Interfacing 
  • Wonder Clips
  • 3/4″ Glossy Nickel D-Rings

Trace the Template 

  • Follow the Trace ’n Create Bag Templates—City Bag Collection: Portfolio Plus Bag—with 3″ corner gussets. The instructions will guide you through the easy steps of bag assembly.

Note from Nancy: I widen the top of this first bag 1″ at each side, tapering back to the original width at the base of the bag. Why? Just to make it look more like the inspirational, expensive bag!

  • You will not need a tab or outer snap for this bag makeover, so skip over the instructions for cutting and making the tab and outer snap (Template B).

Nancy Zieman Trace 'N Create City Bag Sewing MakeoverAdd the Ribbon Embellishment

  • Use as little or as many of the ribbons in the new Teal and Lime ribbon pack. The assorted collection offers a variety of widths and colors from which to choose.
  • Audition ribbon placement on the bag fabric.

  • Use the 5-in-1 Sliding Gauge to position and pin ribbons. The first ribbon is positioned 3-1/4″ parallel to the bag top edge.
Note from Nancy: It’s important to stitch the ribbons to the front and back panels at the same position so the side seams will match and make a pleasing wrap around the entire bag.

  • Edgestitch the ribbon using coordinating threads.

Add Inside Support

  • Give your bag body. Trace and cut a layer of Pellon Peltex Ultra Firm Sew-in Stabilizer the same size as the outer front and outer back.

  • Baste the ribbon edges, within the bag side seam allowance.
Attach the Straps
  • Stitch the front and back of the bag together at the lower seam. Use Wonder Clips, instead of pins, to hold the seam.

  • Press the seam allowances open.
  • Reinforce the seam by sewing a line of zigzag stitching over the seam allowances.

Shape the Bag Bottom

  • The secret to achieving a couture look also lies inside the bag. Cut a 3″ x 12″ rectangle of Clover’s Shape ’n Create to give the bag bottom shape and stability.
  • Use Clover’s Double-Sided Basting Tape to “baste” the layers together before stitching. It’s easy to stitch through the Shape ‘n Create, but difficult to pin since pins bend when going through the plastic.
  • Stitch around the plastic.

Note from Nancy: Notice that the Shapen Create plastic does not extend into the side seam.

  • Sew the gusset shape as detailed in the instructions.

Create the Straps

  • Use the directions in the template instructions to cut the bag straps.
  • Apply Create-a-Strap Interfacing to the wrong side of each fabric strap.

  • Fold each long edge towards the interfacing along the perforations.
  • Press.
  • Edgestitch ribbon over the folded edges to give the handles an extra punch of color.
  • Ribbon used in the sample below is 3/8″ wide.
Apply the bag closure

Use the following supplies to create a hanging snap closure at the bag top. I developed this technique after the City Bag templates were released.

  • Clover’s Magnetic Snap Closure
  • Two small strips of fabric: cut 1-1/2″ x 4″
  • Two stiff interfacing pieces: cut 1″ x 2″

  • Fold the fabric in half across the width.
  • Stitch a scant 1/4″ seam allowance on each side to create a tiny pouch.
  • Turn right side out and insert the interfacing into each pouch.

  • Following the instructions in the packaging, attach Clover’s Magnetic Snap Closure 1-1/2″ from top.
  • Baste the open end of the pouches to the bag center front and center back, on the lining.

Line the Bag

  • Place the bag lining into the bag, matching right sides.
  • Apply the binding edge per the template instructions, sewing through the binding, bag, and lining.

  • Fold the binding edge around the cut edges.
  • Use Wonder Clips to secure the binding.
  • Stitch in the ditch to finish the edge.

Attach the straps 

  • Add the 3/4″ D-rings to each strap end.
  • Fold the strap 4″ from the cut edge.
  • Machine stitch each strap at the marked location (from bag template instructions) on the bag front and back.

  • Trim the excess strap leaving a 1/8″–1/4″ seam allowance.

  • Lay the straps flat on the bag and stitch them again, in line with the previous in-the-ditch stitching. This will conceal the cut seam allowance.

Ta-Dah! It’s a fabulous ribbon bag.

Two-Toned Bag Option

Ribbon City Bag | Nancy Zieman | Renaissance RibbonsAdd a two-toned look to your bag by adding a hidden faux seam to the bag front and back. This two-toned bag design features the new Brown and Blush Ribbon Pack to conceal the faux seam.

  • Cut the bag front and back as directed in the template instructions.
  • Cut a second accent color, measuring 4″ from each side seam. For this bag, our accent color is dark brown.

  • Position the accent color over the bag fabric.

  • Pin and baste the two layers together.
  • Use the 5-in-1 Sliding Gauge to ensure that the accent color is equal and level on both sides.
Note from Nancy: The darker fabric is overlayed on top of the base fabric, eliminating a bulky horizontal seam. The ribbons cover the cut edge of the brown fabric. Simple!
  • Audition and position ribbons just as we did with the single color green bag above.
  • Cover the fabric accent overlap with the wide, bold ribbon.
  • The construction steps and ribbon enhancements are the same for finishing this two-toned design.

Bye for now,

Nancy Zieman The Blog

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