Monday, 28 March 2011

Tutorials are hard but I did one anyway.

As promised here is a tutorial for a lined PE bag. My niece Anais was 5 this week and I really wanted to make her a Hello Kitty PE bag for school. She is half french and finds it really difficult to get things with her name on so I thought I would make it a personalised PE bag as an extra surprise. I hope she likes it!

This is my first tutorial so please bear with me (if you are an experienced sewer please look away now!!). The PE bag is lined and I love that you can't see any of the seams on the inside so it looks all neat and tidy! Its a mix of several tutorials I've come across over the years with some tweaks. So here goes...

To start you need 2 pieces of fabric for the outside. I used 2 different fabrics for the front and back as I wanted Hello Kitty on one side and a plainer fabric to personalise on the other side (its much quicker to use just one fabric and not bother with the name!)

To personalise the bag.....
Print the letters you need at the size you want to use and trace them on to Bondaweb paper which has adhesive on both sides.
Remember to trace the letters back to front on to the Bondaweb. Cut each letter out and iron on to the back of the fabric you want to use for that letter.

Cut around the letter and fabric and peel off the backing paper. It now becomes clear why you have to trace the letters back to front as when you iron them on to the bag itself they should be the right way round! I actually ironed the letters on to a plain piece of cotton fabric before attaching that to the bag fabric.

Once you have ironed on the individual letters to the fabric, you need to machine round the edge of the letter to ensure they stay in place. I then added buttons before machining it on to the spotty fabric using a zigzag stitch.

and now for the bag itself......

You can make the bag any size you like. My fabric pieces were 38cm x 45cm. Place the 2 pieces of fabric patterned sides together and pin down one side, across the bottom and up the other side.

You need to leave a gap of 2cm on one side near the top of  the bag for the drawstring to come out. I measure down 4cm from the top and place a pin, then measure another 2 cm and place another pin. The space between the 2 pins is the gap you need to leave.

You also need to add a loop of ribbon inside the bag on the same side close to the bottom to act as a loop for the cord.
Sew down one side (above and below the gap you left), along the bottom and up the other side. I use a seam allowance of approx 1cm which is basically my sewing machine foot width. I usually sew across the ribbon loop several times for reinforcement. Clip across the bottom corners. If you turn the bag the right way out now it should  look like this

You then need to make the lining. You need 2 pieces of fabric exactly the  same size as above. Sew down both sides and along the bottom but this time leave a large gap in the bottom seam to turn the bag inside out. Make sure you make the lining bag exactly the same size as the outer bag. This is REALLY important. I usually remeasure at this point to make sure the seams are going to be exactly the same size.

Now comes the complicated bit. It took me ages to work this bit out. You place the outside of the bag (Hello Kitty) right sides out INSIDE the lining bag which should be right sides facing in (my lining fabric is a gingham where both sides look the same just to confuse you!).

Line up the tops of each bag and pin all the way around about 2 cm down from the top.

Top tip: When pinning the bags together make sure the seam which has the gap in is pinned open like below. If you don't you won't be able to thread your cord through. I've forgotten several times amid much swearing and unpicking!!

Sew around the  top of the 2 bags. Now we are getting to the good part. Pull the inside bag through the gap you left in the lining bag and then pull the lining bag up and inside out as you go.
It should  look like this

You then need to sew up the bottom of the lining bag. I machine across the bottom as I think this looks neater than my hand sewing but its up to you.

Push the lining down inside the bag.

We are almost there now! Its a good idea to give the bag a press to get everything neat and tidy before sewing the channel for the cord. You now need to measure down 2cm from the top of the bag all the way around and pin. This should be just at the top of the gap the you left in the seam. Sew all the way around the bag.

Then measure down another 2cm and pin and sew. This will leave you with a channel for  your cord.

Thread the cord through the channel you have made using a safety pin and then thread through the loop you made and tie a knot.
eh voila you have a lovely PE bag!

Doing a tutorial is REALLY hard. I hope it made sense? If anyone actually manages to make something from this tutorial you deserve a medal! please send me a photo as I would love to see it. Apologies to all those who are thinking what the ?????????????

Good luck. You'll need it!


  1. I can follow this tutorial, so it's fine and the bag is lovely. I can see multiple bags being made for various uses, thank-you for making the tutorial, which I know must have taken time. Aunt Bee.

  2. Truly scrumptious. Thank you. I look forward to makeing one for my grandson... when he's old enough. :-)

  3. Just had a read through the tutorial and it looks very straightforward to understand, (believe me I get confused easily)!! Sewing machine is currently in storage while we sell the house but I may have to dig it out just to have a go at this, looks awesome!

    Kerry x

  4. Great tutorial. I wouldn't mind £5 for each PE bag I've made [having 3 children has something to do with that :-) ] but this design is really lovely so well done.
    A x

  5. Well done you - I bet it took ages. I will give it a go later.

  6. Thank you so much, that is just what I am looking for, you are a *star*

  7. It looks fab. I'm desperately trying to find a reason why I need to make one of these - or maybe I should just go ahead, there doesn't always need to be a reason for everything :-)

  8. Thanks for taking the time to post this Louise, it looks a great tutorial :)

  9. ive just started following your blog and i love the PE bag!

  10. I've just had a thought about what to use your tutorial for - I'm making jam for 'cheap' christmas presents and a little drawstring bag around it would finish it off. Also the boys love marbles so going to make some drawstring bags for those. I have made drawstring bags before but your version looks loads easier. Thanks Louise! x

  11. Very sweet! I look forward to trying this out! Thanks for sharing! :)

  12. I made a bunch of these this weekend and LOVED them! I'll be sharing them on my blog later this week with a link to you. Thanks so much for sharing!!!

    1. Have just seen them. They are gorgeous! Thanks for letting me know. x

  13. This is a fantastic tutorial, very easy to follow. Have just made a pirate PE bag for my son who starts school in September and he loves it! Thank you very much for giving your time x

    1. Thats brilliant!! So pleased you liked it. Fancy sharing a photo? x

  14. I just wanted to say thank you for your excellent tutorial. I have just made PE bags for two of my children who started back at school this week and they are thrilled with them. I have put pictures of them on my blog with a link back to you. If you would like to see them, the url is:

    Thank you again,

    1. Thank you! Thats brilliant. Love the ones you have made. xx

  15. I'm going to make one of these for my daughter to take her wellies to preschool in! You've some lovely ideas on this blog. Thank you!

  16. Thank you so much for this (and for the lovely fabric I had delivered this morning!).
    I'm very new to sewing, so just practicing at the moment and have a question about your tutorial.
    I'm following it quite well, have made the bag and the lining. I'm on the step where you put the bag in to the lining and I'm confused about what to do next...
    Surely if you sew across the top it sews the bag shut?
    Any tips/words to un-confuse me?!

    Thank you!

  17. Thank you so much for this tutorial, it is so clear and easy to follow. I know you made it a few years ago now but i thought i'd just let you know that i made a P.E bag for my Grandson using the tutorial 3 years ago and its still going strong and I've just made one for my granddaughter as she is now starting school. it's timeless!

  18. Love this tutorial used it several times easy to follow instructions and loved the photos to go with it well done it really works well x

  19. Great tutorial. Made a beautiful bag for my dancing shoes 😊 Thank you

  20. Great tutorial. Made a beautiful bag for my dancing shoes 😊 Thank you so much!

  21. just made 2 of these for my 2 youngest (as the shop pe bags all seem way too big for them!) and now my older ones want them too! looks like i will be busy on the run up to back to school time this year
    thanks this is a great tutorial - i am off to checkout the rest of your site now xx

  22. I wanted a little sewing project, my little boy starts school in September so I thought I'd start with a PE bag, your tutorial was great, even at times where I thought I wasn't sure I just keep going through one step at a time and the outcome was amazing, I've sent a pic to some of my friends and they think I've done a brilliant job, so thank you for a super tutorial xx


Please leave a comment. I love hearing from you! If you ask a question I will reply underneath your comment as soon as I can so please come back and check. Please feel free to 'pin' any of the projects I have made. I love Pinterest!!