Thursday, September 12, 2013

Double Skein Yarn Bag -- Sewing Tutorial

Title photo for Double Skein Yarn Bag sewing tutorial

When I used to crochet, I laid my yarn skeins on all sorts of surfaces -- including on the ground -- while I crocheted.  The skeins picked up all sorts of shmutz from the ground, including copious amounts of cat and dog hair from my helpers.  If I was crocheting from a ball of yarn, the ball rolled all over the place as I worked.  I apologize to anyone who found any foreign objects in any afghans I made for him or her.  Anyway, I fell in love with sewing almost two years ago and haven’t looked back since. 

My sister, Erin, however, has been crocheting like a fiend lately and is petrified of the sewing machine I handed down to her.  I saw the idea for a yarn bag on Sew.Cook.Laugh.Live (just a photo -- no tutorial unfortunately!), and decided I needed to make Erin one so her poor yarn wouldn’t pick up any hair from her cats or miscellaneous shmutz from the ground while she crocheted.  I also made one for her crocheting buddy, Joann.  I want to add a grommet feature to the bag, though, so I think it’s time to make Yarn Bag version 2.0 for the other hookers (the hip term for people who crochet) and knitters in my life.  First, I had better make another one for Erin so she can have one of the latest and greatest (or something like that).

The bag fits two 7 oz. skeins of yarn (and maybe bigger ones – I just didn’t have any other size on hand to try) or a couple of pretty sizable balls of yarn.  With a skein, you need to be pulling from the end that feed from the center, because it won’t work in the bag if you’re trying to pull from the outside of the skein.  A ball rolls around very well, though.

The bag is machine washable (so long as you use machine washable fabrics) so you don’t have to worry about setting it on the floor while you crochet in public or when your floors are particularly grungy.

Double Skein Yarn Bag

Materials needed:

Optional Materials Needed – for adding an appliqué:

Finished size: approximately 14” x 14”.  Seam allowances indicated in instructions.

Materials needed

STEP ONE: Adding the appliqué (skip this step if you want to)
There are bunches of different ways to add an appliqué shape to a project, but here is one method that might possibly horrify a better-trained seamstress.  First, print out the shape you want, making sure it is small enough that it will fit on one half of the finished bag.  I’m making this bag for my sister, Erin, so I printed out an “e” that was about 3 1/2” tall and 3 1/2” wide.  

Print out of "e" to trace for applique

Lay the fusible web ROUGH SIDE UP over the shape and trace it with permanent marker.  Why permanent marker?  Because it doesn’t smear!  Don’t use pencil or a light-colored marker because you won’t be able to see the outline from the smooth side of the fusible web once you have ironed it to the coordinating fabric scrap.

Tracing the "e" onto the WonderUnder for the applique

Cut out a circle around the shape, just slightly larger than the outline.

Cutting out Wonder Under around (but not on) the traced image

Iron the fusible web on to the wrong side of the coordinating material scrap.

Cut along the outline of the shape with some sharp little scissors.

Iron it on to either the lower right or lower left corner of the main fabric of the bag, approximately 3” from the bottom and 3” from the edge.  (I didn't take a picture of this step.)

**Do not do a lock stitch at the beginning or end of the appliqué stitching.**  Using a tight zigzag, sew around the edge of the appliqué.  Make the outer edge of the zigzag fall just off the edge of the shape. 

When you reach the beginning of the stitching, cut the threads from the machine.  Then use a needle to poke the top threads through to the back, and then I tie them all together in a double-knot before clipping them close to the knot.

Voila!  It looks better if you don't look at it quite so closely.

STEP TWO: Inserting the grommets
Align your fabric so the height is 17" the width is 16".  On the right side of the fabric, draw a dot 4 1/2" from the top and 3 1/2" from the right edge.  Make another dot 4 1/2" from the top and 3 1/2" from the left edge.  Transfer both marks through to the wrong side as well.  Can you see the tiny blue spot I made?

Take the two squares of fusible interfacing and center one over each dot with the gluey side down.  Press the interfacing into place.

Install your grommets according to the package directions.  Sew4Home has a great tutorial for installing grommets if you want a little more direction in that respect.

Now the front panel of the bag is ready!

Make a small mark three inches down on the right edge of the front panel of the bag.

Pin the main fabric and the coordinating fabric together with wrong sides facing.

Starting at the 3" mark on the right edge sew with a 1/4” seam allowance down one side, across the bottom, and all the way up the other side.  (Do not sew the top closed!).

Then – and this is the weird part that will make you question my sanity if you have never made an unlined drawstring bag with this technique – press the 3” unsewn parts over 1/8" with wrong sides facing.  Yes, this leaves an unsavory twist in the fabric that just seems plain wrong.  Trust me – it’s all going to work out in the end.

Sew down each of these pressed bits from the top down to the funky twisted part (or as close as you can get).

This is how it looks from the front -- horrifying, right?

Now cut off all these straggly strings, or else they will poke through in a few steps.

Trim off the bottom corners and turn the bag wrong side out.  Poke the corners out and press everything nice and flat.

Starting on the side with the normal seam, sew with a 1/2" seam allowance down that side, across the bottom, and up the funky side until you get to just above the twisted part.  I marked a line here before I sewed it to show you the spot I'm talking about.

When you get to that spot, leave your needle down in the fabric, pivot 90˚ and sew outward until you reach the edge of the bag.  Do your lock stitch and finish off.

Here's what it should look like at this point:

STEP FOUR: Making the casing for the drawstring and adding the finishing touches
Press the top edge down (wrong sides together) 1/4" all the way around the bag.  

Then press the top edge down again, this time until the edge is just above the horizontal stitching at the end of your last seam (about 1 1/4").  With the bag still turned inside out, stitch close to the edge to form the bottom seam of the casing.  If your topstitching looks better when you sew from the front, by all means sew from the front (with the bag turned right side out) so long as you make sure to catch the edge of the bottom of the casing.

Turn the bag right side out and poke the corners out as well as you can.  (They won’t be as sharp as they might otherwise be because of the French seams, but no one will notice because they will be too busy admiring your appliqué and the grommets, right?)

Fold the sides of the bag together and mark the middle with a pencil (or chalk, or disappearing ink pen if you’re really fancy) from the very bottom up to the stitching line at the bottom of the drawstring casing.

Sew on this line to create the division between the skeins in the bag.

Make sure you sew UP TO the casing -- not through it!

Using a safety pin, thread the drawstring through the casing.

Put the ends through the drawstring stopper, and then tie them in a knot.  I had to swap out the stopper that I had photographed above (the clear one on the right) because it turned out my parachute cord wouldn't fit through it.  Luckily, I had the one on the left.  For a thinner cord, either kind would work.

And you're done!

Now stuff a couple of skeins in the bag, thread the yarn through the grommets, close the drawstring, and start crocheting!  Or knitting!  Or whatever you do with yarn!  I put a skein in the left side and a ball of yarn on the right side.  They both feed out nicely through the grommets.

Glamor shot!

The only yarn I have on hand is textured yarn that Erin didn't want when I dumped my stash on her a few months ago.  She thinks that stuff is a pain in the butt, but I love the afghans I used to make with it.

Here is your new and improved Double Skein Yarn Bag, Erin!  (Yarn not included.)

Tutorial for personal use only, please.

Featured on: And Sew We Craft, Totally Tutorials, Sewistry, Craft Gossip, A Jennuine Life, Life After Laundry, The Stitchin' Mommy, Sew Pretty Sew Free, Threading My Way

Linking up to: Creating My Way to SuccessCraftberry Bush, Life After Laundry, A Jennuine Life, The Stitchin' Mommy, Gingerly Made, Nap Time Crafters, I Heart Nap Time, Tatertots & Jello, Today's Creative Blog, While He Was Napping, Threading My Way, Sew Can She, Flamingo Toes, USS CraftyScattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom, Sew Can Do, Sumo's Sweet Stuff, ChrisW Designs, Nap-Time Creations, Feather's Flights, Sugar Bee Crafts, Sugar and Dots, Ginger Snap Crafts, Twin Dragonfly Designs, Phat Quarters, Go to Sew, While They Snooze


  1. What a great tutorial! You make it look so easy! Please come and share it on The Crafeteria's Pinterest Group Board

  2. Great project, love it! Thanks for sharing such a clear tutorial!
    Enjoy your day!
    Hugs and love from Portugal,

    Ana Love Craft

  3. Fab tutorial, Niki! Thanks so much for sharing!!

  4. GREAT tutorial Niki! I love this bag and the idea for it! I've never used grommets before but have a few projects where they would have been useful - I shall have to get some! I might make one of these bags for my daughter who is learning to crochet!

    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a fabulous week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  5. Great tutorial! Love your bag, it's so cute! I've never made one of these, but I would definitely like too. Enjoy your evening!

    Lillies & Silk

  6. Great Tutorial! Thanks for sharing at ChrisW Designs Bag Brag Tuesday! :)

  7. I love the idea. I do a lot of crocheting for Project Linus and I have to make sure that the project stays very clean. Thanks for sharing this with the Less Laundry, More Linking party.

  8. Very clever idea and an easy to follow tutorial!!! Separating the balls of wool and adding the grommets makes for a totally practical bag, that also looks great.

    1. I've featured your tutorial today...

  9. I don't crochet very often, but I do the same thing when I do! Thanks for the great tutorial; I can definitely use it!

  10. Love the tutorial! If I could sew I would totally make this but I'm a little useless when it comes to using the sewing machine =) Just stopping by to thank you for linking up to last week's Get Crafty Friday Link Party. Your yarn bag has been featured this week! I hope you will stop by and grab a feature button. Have a wonderful weekend!

    Amy @ The Stitchin' Mommy

  11. It's a fantastic idea, and a great tutorial ! Thanks ! Have a nice WE ! Hugs from France !

  12. Thanks so much what a fun tute...I have had a panel that I made when I got my new machine on which I appliqués and tested out new stitches..been saving it for a bag of some kind this was perfect... And since I'm a grandma to be I've been knitting crocheting up a yeah ..thanks

    1. Thanks, Leslie! Please share a photo of your bag when you finish it -- I would love to see it!!

  13. Would you say this is an okay project for a beginner?