I talk a lot about helping out at my girl’s school on my podcast, Modern Sewciety. I was an aid two half days a week last year in the kindergarten classroom and also a substitute. Every time I subbed I had a walkie talkie to use and also a bag to carry around when I wasn’t in the classroom to hold everything I might need. It was filled with wipes, a first aid kit, paper towels, tissues, a roll call for the class, emergency procedures for the school, and all the things a teacher may need. Here is the kicker… they were all these generic bags that were so yucky. I knew this year I needed to make sure the girls’ teachers had new bags filled with everything to start their school year.
So let’s back up a bit to my childhood and the need for a grab and go bag like this. I lived on a farm in the South which meant summers were so hot. My dad got so much joy in waking us up in the summer with a job he had planned out for us. I think he was always going for something that had many teachable moments between a parent and a child. His favorite thing to do was trim the trees in our yard, which was an acre of Live Oak trees, early in the morning and have the limbs ready for us to pick up for hours. We always got so hot and sweaty with a bad mood to boot. My mom would feel sorry for us, I think, and take us to the springs. Oh the freezing cold Florida springs after a hot morning
of working outside was like heaven on earth. We always picked up an older lady, Mrs. Dixie, on the way who, even on a moments notice, was always ready for a trip to the springs. She was always ready because of her always ready to go Ditty Bag. It was filled with everything she needed for a swim. She was even ready with a little spending change for the jiffy store as a treat!
So, a Ditty Bag has many purposes and I knew it would be the perfect start for a teacher’s everyday bag. It is also the perfect bag to make as a gift. For the perfect kid Ditty Bag fill it with a drawing pad, colored pencils and stickers. For the perfect Beach Ditty Bag fill it with goggles, towels, sunscreen, and a hat. I think you get how much I love this bag.
I want to make a major note about this project - you can really play around with the sizes and dimensions for this project to make it what you need it to be. The following dimensions are guidelines. You can make it bigger, smaller, taller, shorter, so have fun with it.
Use ¼” seam allowance unless noted otherwise Beginner to Intermediate pattern Fabric & Cutting::
Interfacing:: I used cotton batting fused with Sulky Soft ‘n Sheer Extra Iron-On Stabilizer Note - if batting is bigger than your finished piece, trim away excess Tools:: Cutting Mat and rotary cutter (I like Havel’s XL Cutting mat and 60mm Jumbo rotary cutter. Use code MODERNSEWCIETY7 for $7 off a $25 order) Thread - I really love Sulky’s 30 wt. Blendables in the color that matches my project. This is a heavier thread which is great for bag making. Making the Straps Iron in half along the length with wrong sides together. Open it up and press each outside edge to the middle creased line. Sew down each side a ¼” from the edge. You can also sew down the middle if you want to. Sometimes I will stick in a piece of interfacing or batting 1 ¼” wide into the inside of the folds of the strap. It will give it a little more structure but you can leave it out as well for floppier handles. You will leave ends open. Making the pocket Iron pocket in half along the longer length with wrong sides together creating an 8” by 6 ¼” rectangle. Sandwich interfacing or batting in between the two wrong sides. Sew ¼” seam along the folded side then sew ½” below that. This will help secure the batting or interfacing. You can also quilt your pocket. Making the panels Side a - Sew one side panel to the middle panel Right Sides Together (RST) down the longer sides. Repeat on opposite side. Side b - Place pocket right side up on center panel and baste in place by stitching 1/4" on either side of the panel. Sew one side panel to the middle panel with pocket RST by stitching down the longer sides. Repeat on opposite side. Add batting and Sulky Soft ‘n Sheer Extra iron on stabilizer to the wrong side of the pieced upper and lower bag panels. I like to top stitch ¼” either side of the seams joining the sides to the middle. If you would like you can quilt the panels as well. Get creative here. Embroider something special. Applique something fun.
Adding the straps Sew one end of the strap starting at the bottom of the top panel seams. You want to align the edge of your handle with the seam. Measure 2” from the top and mark. Sew the strap onto the panel by sewing up one strap edge joining it to the panel. Stopping at the 2’ mark on the panel. Sew across the strap to the opposite edge of the strap. Sew an X onto the handle tops to secure them in place and sew down the opposite side of the strap. Making sure not to twist the strap make the handle and secure opposite strap on the same way.
Making the bottom Secure batting to the wrong side of the bottom panel by stitching ¼” around the perimeter. Fuse interfacing to the batting. Quilt as desired. Repeat with other bottom panel. Attach bottom to the bottom of top panel lining the edge with straps to the bottom panel. Press seams open.
Making the outer shell Place panel pieces right sides together, making sure to align the handles on the bottoms. Sew down sides and bottom with a ½” seam. Pinch together the bottom corners aligning the seams together. Measure 3” up and mark a line. Sew along the line and trim ¼” from the seam. Repeat on opposite side. Turn right sides out.
Making the lining Place lining pieces right sides together. Sew down sides and bottom with a ½” seam. Pinch together the bottom corners aligning the seams together. Measure 3” up and mark a line. Sew along the line and trim ¼” from the seam to square off the bag bottom. Repeat on opposite sides. Attaching the lining to bag With outer shell right sides out and the lining right sides in. Pin handles down so they are out of the way. Place the outer shell into the lining. Pin along the top raw edges. From the center of the bag mark 4“ from center. Starting in the middle sew a ½” seam around the bag stopping at the 4” mark. Turn bag through the 4” hole and press. Wiggle those seams up and press in place. Sew a ¼” seam around the top of the bag making sure to close the opening from turning. Pin handles in place on top of bag. Stitch in place at the ¼” seam at the top of the bag.
I can’t wait to see your custom bags. This is such a fun pattern to mix and match fabrics, use orphan blocks in a fun new way, and you could make this bag getting scrappy with a fat quarter bundle.
I even made a little video explaining some of the tips and tricks to make this an easy and doable project for anyone. I have to admit I haven't done too many YouTube videos but I am going to be brave and share away. I hope you will be inspired to make your very own Modern Ditty Bag.
Make, Post, and Tag:: #modernsewciety #moderndittybag #janomeamerica Follow me on instagram @modernsewciety and Facebook @themodernsewciety Visit me at www.modernsewciety.com for more fun sewing projects and check out my podcast gallery for over a 100 chats with creatives in the sewing industry. You can listen to episode 034 of the Modern Sewciety Podcast with Tamara Kate, the designer of the fabric I used in this project. The fabrics used were from her Frolic and Words of Wisdom Lines and you can find more out about her fabric at Michael Miller Fabrics.