Game Day Gym Bag Tutorial

*Tutorial made by Melissa @ Sew Like My Mom for her win during the Game Day challenge.*

To make my gym bag, I used:

2 yards outer fabric
2 yards inner fabric
1 yard inner fabric (contrast and bag)
1.5 yards 70 weight Pellon interfacing
.5 yards lightweight fusible interfacing
ribbon
1 9-inch zipper
1 magnetic closure
Elmer’s craft bond spray adhesive

I started with the outside first, so I cut 2 pieces of interfacing 19″ x 25,” 2 pieces of fabric to 19″ x 25,” 1 piece of fabric 13″ x 25″ (floral) and another piece of fabric 14″ x 25″ (blue).

Then using my Elmer’s spray adhesive, I attached my fabric to the interfacing. **I highly suggest you do this outside. Not only does it smell, but it gets EVERYWHERE. I’ve been using this stuff for nearly 10 years so I don’t mind doing it inside. But consider yourself forewarned–it’s sticky and it’s HARD to get off!

Once my fabric was attached, I flipped the pieces over and traced 4″ in from the sides and the bottom to give my bag it’s depth.

To make the pocket, I placed right sides together, lined the edges up, and sewed at 1/2″ seam allowance. Then I ironed the seam, flipped the blue part over the seam, so it shows 1/2″ on the floral side, and ironed it flat. The bottoms should line up evenly now.

Lay the pocket to top of one of the outside pieces and mark where you want your pockets. I chose to mark the center so I’d have 2 big pockets, then 4″ in from the side to have 2 skinny side pockets.

Then sew down the lines you marked. I also sewed a line all the way across, 4″ from the bottom so my pockets didn’t wrap around under the bag.

Cut the 4″ squares you traced on the back sides, and sew the outside of the bag together. (I have more information and pictures on how to do this in the lining, so keep reading!)

For the lining, I cut 2 pieces 20″ x 25″ (yes, 1 inch taller than the outside pieces), 1 piece 16″ x 25,” and 1 piece 13″ x 25.” Then I cut 2 pieces 2″ x 25″ and made them into bias tape for the accents on the top of the pockets. I cut 1 piece 12″ x 24″ for my lined, zippered pocket.

Now, the fabric I used for my lining isn’t just lightweight quilting cotton like the rest of my fabric. It’s a thicker bottom weight, so I only cut 1 of each for the inner pockets. If you think your fabric will be too flimsy with only 1 layer, cut 2 for each pocket.

To accent the pockets, I sandwiched the fabric between my pseudo-bias tape and stitched it down.

Then I lined my pockets up on one side of the lining and marked where I wanted my pockets. For the taller ones, I wanted 3 pockets, so I divided the fabric in 3rd and drew my lines.

For the shorter pocket, I only wanted 2, so I drew a line down the middle.

Now, to sew them down, you have to sew the shorter pocket to the taller pocket, then the taller pocket to the lining. If you sew the smaller pocket through all the layers, you’ll have a seam down the middle of the middle upper pocket. Make sense? So you want to carefully fold the lining piece back, and sew down your middle seam, attaching the short pocket to the tall one.

Then fold the short pocket in out of the way, and sew the tall pocket to the lining fabric.

Then I measured 4″ up from the bottom and drew a line. I then measured 4″ from the sides and drew my lines to make the box bottom.

I then sewed from the corner of one square to the other, to seal off the bottom of my pockets just like I did on the outside.

Then I cut out the square corners.

I then took my 12″ by 24″ lined pocket piece and ironed it to a piece of lightweight fusible interfacing of the same size. I placed it right sides together on my other lining piece, about 4 inches from the top. I drew a long, skinny rectangle, 9 inches long and .5″ tall. Then I drew a line down the middle and made 2 triangle shape marks at the end.

Then I sewed around the outer box shape,

and cut on my inner lines.

Then I put my pocket piece through the hole and pulled it to the other side.

And iron the opening flat.

Now, grab your zipper, and place it in the opening. If you’re a little afraid of zippers, DON’T BE. This is the easiest zipper you’ll ever put in anything, I promise!

Holding the zipper in the center, sew around the edge of the opening, staying close to the edge of the fabric.

I tried to use what I had on hand, and my only white zipper was 14,” so I just cut off the extra.

Now, take the bottom of the pocket and fold it up, matching the top and bottom, making a 12″ square.

And sew around the 3 open sides.

And you’ve got a cute, lined zippered pocket!

After cutting the corners on that side, place lining pieces right sides together, and sew down both sides, and across the bottom, leaving a hole several inches long to turn the bag through.

Now, the corners will still be open. Take them, place the seams from the side and the bottom together, and sew straight across.

Here’s a tip. When you place the seams together, lay one to one side and the other to the other side. This will even out the thickness of the fabric you’re putting through the machine, and it’ll give you perfect corners.

To do the magnetic closure, take 2 scrap pieces of interfacing, and mark the slits in the washer pieces that come with the closure.

Place them on the wrong side of each side of the lining, 3 inches from the top and centered.

Then I just stitch around each slit marking, making a sort of buttonhole for added security.

Cut on the lines and insert the magnetic closure.

For the straps, I cut 2 pieces 4 inches wide by 32 inches long of both the fabric and the fusible interfacing. Apply the interfacing to the wrong side of the straps.

Then fold down 1/2″ on each side and sew.

Fold right sides together and sew down the length of the strap. Then using a safety pin, turn the straps right side out, and sew down both sides for stability.

Originally, I was going to sew them on with an X, but decided to just sew them on in a “U” shape instead (the bag was too big and too difficult to manipulate through the hole in my machine to make it work the other way!). I placed each strap 2″ down from the top of the bag and eyeballed how far in from the sides I wanted it.

Now, take the lining and with right sides together, put the outside into the lining, making sure your straps are tucked down inside the 2 layers.


Pin the pieces together, and sew around the perimeter with a 1/2″ seam allowance.

Pull the bag through the hole in the lining and iron the top the same way you did the accent on the outer pocket. Then stitch the lining to the bag right along the fold, and sew the hole closed in the bottom.

And your bag is done!

To make the accessory bags, I estimated sizes. The floral one is 1 piece 15″ x 33″ and the striped one is 12″ x 24.”

So, I folded right sides together,

and ironed the top down 1″.

Then lift the flap, and fold the fabric down to the line you just ironed and press again.

Then fold down on the original crease and press (so your fabric is turned and ironed twice), creating a casing. Sew from the bottom of the bag to the edge of casing.

Then unfold the casing and fold over, aligning the fold with the seam. Press.

Repeat on the other side.

Fold the casing back down and iron, keeping your little flaps in so the edges are finished.

Sew along the bottom of the casing on each side of the bag.

I measure out ribbon twice as long as each side.

Thread it through with a safety pin and sew in the middle of each side to secure the ribbon.

Heat seal the ends, turn right side out and you’re done!

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