When I first laid eyes on the Ipanema fabric collection, all I could think was, “Beach bag!” Though I actually traveled through Rio de Janeiro several times as a child, I never made it to the original Ipanema, but I’ve spent plenty of time enjoying the beaches here in Southern California over the years. I have so many memories of days spent at the ocean when I was younger: family cookouts at beachside fire pits, long walks on Huntington Beach Pier with friends, window shopping through the local surf shops with my sister. And of course, every summer was a great excuse for a new beach bag. Little did I know that one day I would be sewing my own!
This bag is perfect for a day at the beach or even a night away from home. It’s roomy enough for everything you need to bring along with space leftover for all the things you’ll be bringing back with you on the return trip.
Look at all the stuff I packed inside this bag — with plenty of room to spare! Two exterior pockets make a great landing spot for your sunglasses and cell phone, and a drawstring top keeps everything else inside the bag where it belongs. Straps made out of cotton webbing are a nice accent to the fabric, giving you a set of sturdy handles which are long enough to fit over your shoulder.
Want one of your own? Of course you do! Let’s get started…
- (2) 16 x 20″ rectangles for exterior top panel
- (2) 8.5 x 20″ rectangles for exterior bottom panel
- (2) 20 x 24″ pieces of batting for exterior bag reinforcement (either use fusible batting or you can attach regular batting with adhesive basting spray)
- (2) 3.5 x 20″ rectangles for drawstring casing
- (2) 7.5 x 18″ rectangles for exterior pockets
- (2) 7.5 x 9.5″ piece of batting for exterior pockets
- (2) 20 x 24″ rectangles for interior lining
- (2) 20 x 24″ pieces of interfacing (I used Pellon Craft Fuse) for bag lining reinforcement
- (2) 56″ long pieces of 1″ wide cotton webbing for handles
- (2) 56″ long pieces of cotton cord for drawstrings
1. Make the exterior pockets. Fold one piece of pocket fabric in half (wrong sides together) so the short ends line up, press, and insert the pocket batting between the wrong sides. Top stitch 1/4″ below the fold. Center the pocket along the lower 20″ edge of one of the exterior top panels. Baste the pocket in place, sewing 1/8″ from the edge of the sides and bottom of the pocket. Repeat with the other pocket and exterior top panel.
2. Add the straps. Take one piece of cotton webbing and make an upside down “u” on top of the exterior top panel, lining up both ends of the webbing with the lower edge of the panel right on top of the sides of your exterior pocket. The outer edges of your webbing should be 6″ from the sides of the panel. Stretch the straps straight up toward the top of the panel, clipping or pinning them in place. Make sure that the webbing isn’t twisted — it’s no fun to find out later and have to pull out all those stitches (ask me how I know this…).
Start at the bottom of the webbing and sew 1/8″ inside the outer edge of the webbing until you get to the 10″ mark. Sew across there and then back down 1/8″ from the other side of the webbing. Do it again, this time sewing 1/8″ inside the stitching you already did. Repeat this on the other strap and then do the same thing with the other piece of webbing and the other top exterior panel.
3. Assemble the exterior panel. Stack the top and bottom exterior panels with their right sides together, matching up the lower 20″ edge of the top panel with the upper 20″ edge of the bottom panel. Sew 1/2″ from the edge, press the seam toward the bottom panel, slip the piece over to the pretty side, and top stitch 1/4″ from the seam. Repeat with the other two panels. Fuse the panels to the batting either using adhesive basting spray or following manufacturer’s instructions if you’re using fusible batting.
4. Make the drawstring casing. Fold the short ends of each drawstring casing piece toward the wrong side of the fabric about 3/8″ and stitch 1/4″ from the fold. Now fold the entire piece in half lengthwise, wrong sides together.
Center this piece along the top edge of one exterior piece on the right side of the fabric, lining up the raw edges — the loop of the casing should be pointing down. Stitch 1/4″ from the edge. Repeat with the other casing and exterior piece.
5. Make the lining. Fuse the lining pieces to the interfacing according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Trim a 4.5″ square out of both lower corners of each exterior and lining piece.
6. Sew the panels together. Stack the exterior pieces with their right sides together and tuck the straps into the outer pockets to keep them out of the way. Sew 1/4″ from the edge of the sides and bottom of the pieces (EXCEPT for the drawstring casing and those 4.5″ square cut-outs — don’t sew there!), backstitching at the start and finish of each edge. Repeat with the lining pieces, but leave an 8.5″ opening on the bottom of the lining so that you can turn your bag right side out later on. Pinch together the cut out squares in the lower corners of the exterior so that the side and bottom seams match up. Clip them together and then sew 1/4″ from the edge. I usually sew this seam twice for reinforcement. Repeat the same process with the corners in the lining of your bag.
7. Finish the bag. Turn the lining right side out and place it inside the exterior so that the right sides of the fabrics are facing each other. Match up the side seams, make sure the drawstring casing is pointing down, clip the bags together around the top opening, and sew 1/2″ from that top edge. Turn the bag right side out by pulling it all out through the hole in the lining. Tuck the edges of the gap into the hole and stitch the lining closed. Press the lining before pushing it down into the exterior portion of the bag.
Top stitch 1/4″ from the top edge of the exterior panel, below the drawstring casing, all the way around the opening of the bag.
8. Add the drawstrings. Stick a safety pin through the end of a piece of cotton cord. Use it to feed the cord through one of the drawstring casings, out the other end, and back through the other casing, making a full circle. Knot the ends together tightly. Repeat with the other piece of cord but this time start on the other side of the bag with the second casing so that your knotted cord pulls will be on opposite sides of the bag.
Fill it up with your gear and hit the beach!