Sunday, 16 February 2014

Custom Made Beach Bag

Dear Bloggers,

A few cool rainy days have reminded me that the Sydney summer is almost over. It's still humid and steamy but almost too cold to swim! Time moves on, which brings me to the title of this post and the big beach bag I just managed to finish. I'd been trying to get around to it for months and when my previous bag broke it was time to get all the materials out and do it already.

I could have bought a new beach bag of course but I wanted to make one to my specifications. That's the beauty of sewing. I can have a bag that has the dimensions I want - beach towel x big water bottle..have the number of pockets I want - three..and also have a waterproof nylon lining and chunky webbing straps.

So, better late in the summer than never, here's my beach/gym/overnight bag.


It is made from Outdoor UV resistant material, ripstop nylon lining, black webbing strapping and a black chunky zipper, all from Spotlight.

I drafted two pieces 25" x 13" for the body, two pieces
6 1/2" x 19" for the base and two pieces 6" x 19" for the top pieces. These measurements include 1/2" seams all round. One 22" plastic zip. The excess gets poked inside the bag. Half a metre of ripstop, 2.9 metres of webbing. I bought 0.8 of a metre of the outdoor material. I did not need it all but I wanted to leave room for error!

As  I mentioned,  the bag was designed to take all the stuff I throw in when I go to the beach.

No I won't show you it all! Or what I stuff in there when I go to the gym!

The order of construction went like this.
Sew the sides of the bag. Sew the webbing straps in a loop onto the outside stopping stitching 2cm from the top. Poke an extra 2 cm out the bottoms for stabiity.
Sew the two base pieces together, one on top of another with straight stitches along the seam line. The extra one is just a stabilizer. You can also sandwich a cut to measure piece of plastic into the base at this point. You can buy green eco shopping bags at the supermarkets here that include a piece of plastic, all you do is cut one to measure without seam allowances off and slip it in.

Fold over the top pieces lengthwise. Attach the zipper to the folded edges. Attach to bag along the long sides, matching centres to centres.

                                                     I was figuring it out as I went along!

Stitch the top ends, corner to corner.

Make the lining. BTW for the lining piece I made a pattern that included the base which juts out at at the bottom, instead of using the separate one. Sew the bottom edge, then across the corners in a straight line.

I made three lining pockets, a basic big one for the long side, a narrow one for a phone and a hidden one with a little zipper  for money if I did not want to carry my purse. I put in a little section behind the zip that pouches out at the bottom. This hidden purse idea was the other main reason for making my own bag, apart from the size. Please note that more pockets will require more lining material. This was all I could squeeze from my half metre but luckily it was all I wanted.

My plastic base piece was an afterthought, put in with superglue..*cough*..will do it properly next time..

I sewed in the completed lining bag to the top pieces along three sides, leaving the zipper tab end free, then turned the bag right side out and hand stitched that part.

Then it was ready to go.

By the way, I am still learning all the ins and outs of my new Bernina, which sewed all this not-so-easy fabric without a hitch. Oh and watch out for a new header...


p.s. To any readers in the south of England I hope the waters recede and life returns to normal soon.


  1. Lovely AND pratical - the best kind of sewing!

  2. Very nice - love your fabric. And it looks just the size for a thermos of soup and a blanket for the upcoming winter.

    1. Or for moonlight cinema! You are a genius!

  3. Great looking bag and looks like it is the perfect size for a lot of activities!

  4. Brilliant sew, Valerie, and your Bernina is obviously well up to the task. I love that you designed it yourself, with all the little extras you describe. Fabulous!

  5. "That's the beauty of sewing. I can have a bag that has the dimensions I want..." Well said!!

  6. Great Bag! Thanks for including all your steps. I am glad you are enjoying Bernie.

  7. I am very much into bags lately...and I could have saved a lot of money in patterns if only I was as creative as you!!! Great idea and very well made. Superglue, a woman after my own heart!

  8. Totally love this beach bag! I am sure wearing this beach bag will add an elegant look to the personality of the person carrying it. I hope I can successfully make this beach bag soon.

  9. Bargains at Your needs for after-market seatbelt webbing and seatbelt seconds are sure to satisfied. See us now!

  10. That is a really beautiful modern looking bag. I like the fact that you customized it by putting extra pockets and straps for all your extra items. It is great that you're able to make it your self and just the way you wanted.