Game Day Gym Bag tutorial

February 7, 2011

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
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!

49 Responses to “Game Day Gym Bag tutorial”

  1. Jini said:

    Thank you so much for sharing the pattern. Can’t wait to try this.

  2. Beth said:

    Awesomeness! Immediately bookmarked until the point in time at which I have the time, energy, and appropriately adorable fabric to make my own. Thanks for sharing your brilliance!

  3. Tweets that mention Game Day Gym Bag tutorial | Sew Like My Mom -- said:

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  4. Tracey@sewsimplycreative said:

    I found you when I was googling “Gym Bag Tutorials”. This is darling! Thanks for a great Tute! 🙂

  5. karin marie smith said:

    I love this bag! I was wondering if it could be converted into a diaper bag? I have been looking for a diaper bag I love but 1) expensive. 2) If I do love it it doesn’t have enough pockets or something. I’m gonna try & make this as a diaper bag & wipeable (by adding vinyl I’m guessing?) see what happens. I never made a bag before & I deff need pictures & words thats how I learn. So thank you for posting this!

    Karin Marie 🙂

  6. Michele J said:

    Just finished the big bag, my daugher was after something to take to ball games. I think when you get to the straps, the “Then fold down 1/2″ on each side and sew,” really means ends, not sides?

    It was easy to follow, thank you! A large cutting surface and rotary cutter would be good, or fold up your fabric to make the cutting faster.

    We did add a small strip of velcro to help keep the larger inside pockets from gapping, just do that after you put the bias on, before the pockets are all lined up. Ours were an after thought.

    Would make a perfect overnight bag. Quite a bit of materials, so I probably won’t make too many, unless I hit some excellent sales, but everyone loves it and I am making myself one, I deserve it!

    Thank you so much for sharing!

  7. Mamabearjd said:

    What a fantastic tutorial! I love that fabric, I have some in my stash!

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  9. Tara said:

    What are your final dimensions of the gym bag when it’s done?

  10. Zippershysewing said:

    LOVE IT! thanks so much for sharing, the lined zipper pocket looks easy enough even for me to try!

  11. Rachel said:

    This is a great tutorial. I am also curious about the dimensions when the bag is finished.

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  14. Chris said:

    Thanks for posting this. It’s an excellent tutorial and I love the finished product! (Scared of the adhesive, though.) Your explanations are very clear.

  15. Dayna said:

    I cannot WAIT to make this!! Thank you!

  16. Heleen said:

    Just finished my own bag after your pattern yesterday and wanted to thank you for the tutorial. I’m a total beginner and could pull it off (with a few mishaps here and there, LOL!). It is a great bag, we will use it to take to the beach on our upcoming vacation. THANKS!!

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  18. Cynthia T. said:

    Thanks for the post. I found some camera fabric and am making this bag for my daughter for Christmas.

  19. Ptinutz said:

    Thanks for this really clear and motivating tutorial. I have made my own without too much difficulties and I am a total beginner.

  20. November 20 ~ Gifts for Playful Friends « Sew,Mama,Sew! Blog said:

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  21. Carol S. said:

    Is there a way to print the instructions and pattern? I am eager to try and make this but it would be easier for me to have the information right in front of me while I am sewing. Thanks!

  22. iliana said:

    Me gusto mucho tu blog,estan hermosas las bolsas me gustaria
    Aprender hacerlo,felicidades
    Saludos de merida yucatan,mexico

  23. Marcia said:

    To Print the Pattern…
    I select all the text and pics from the top of the page to the end of the pattern,
    right click to copy, then open a new doc in your word processor, click and paste. Then you can print without all the comments.
    I usually resize the pics and format them to word wrap. This saves a lot of paper.

  24. said:

    copy games to xbox 360 hard drive…

    burn games xbox 360…

  25. Debbi said:

    I just finishd making this bag. It took a while but I am really happy with the results. I am starting one for my sister now. Very big bag, much bigger than I thought from the pictures. Luckily bigger is better!

  26. Stephanie said:

    Love this tutorial. I’m a bag fiend, and an avid gym-goer… It seem like I’m always searching for the right bag. I can’t wait to make this!

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  29. Pat said:

    Thank you very much. I haven’t been sewing for a very long time. Not good at zippers but you made this look so easy. I might even make some for gifts. They might even be good for the groceries. (light weight stuff) That would save me from having to carry a big suitcase when I travel just for a week to see family. Make great gifts even for the guys.

  30. Sandra said:

    What is the finished H, W, and D of finished bag?

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  33. Bailey said:

    Hi! I love this bag and have cut out my pieces and plan to sew tomorrow. Just one comment though – it seems like your yardage requirements are way too much – I went to Jo Anns yesterday to buy and after cutting out last night I still have so much leftover. I don’t know much about translating cut pieces to yardage but it seems like it still called for way more. Also, were your amounts for 40″ inch fabric? I used upholstery for 54″ width. But, I love the patterns I got so its all good! I found a tutorial to use spray adhesive to cover cardboard boxes for organization and plan to use it for that, and for some other tote bags. It was just a quick question 🙂

  34. Melissa said:

    I’m sorry, I posted this 2.5 years ago and I don’t remember specifics, but I’m usually really conscientious about how much fabric I used. It was 45″ cotton fabric, so maybe that’s why you have tons left over? It makes a very large tote, so between the sides and the pockets, it’s probably pretty darn accurate. I hope you like it! I can’t wait to see your post! 🙂

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  36. RanaMama said:

    WOW! Great tute, and very clear!!! Can’t wait to try!!!

  37. Karin said:

    What a lovely bag.
    I want to make it.
    I’m from Holland and I can’t find de Elmers spray.
    Do you know where I can buy the spray on the internet ???

  38. Melissa said:

    Any spray glue would work, it doesn’t have to be Elmers. Can you find anything similar? Other than specific craft stores or someplace like Amazon I wouldn’t know where to find it online and I’m not sure about shipping to you.

  39. Karin said:

    Hello Melissa,
    Thans you very much for your quick answer.
    Yes, the shipping with Amazon is also a problem.
    I Will look her in the store.
    Did you used the glue to make bag fabric stronger ?
    Lots of greetings from Amsterdam.
    Bye, bye Karin

  40. Bailey said:

    Hi! My post has linked back to your comments, so hopefully you’ve had a chance to see it. I did use 44″ yardage, and still had 1/2 yd leftover. But, I love the fabric I got and have used it for various other things 🙂


  41. Hanka said:

    Hi! Your utorial was very helpful. Thanks a lot!! Finnaly I have my bag, that I wanted such a long time 😀 Thank you especially for the zipper and lining tutorial!
    Hanka from Czech Republic
    And my bag is here:

  42. shumaila said:

    Mellisa you have written up amazing tutorials! This one is going to my Evernote bookmarks 🙂

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  44. martha said:

    Very pretty!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  46. Rachel said:

    Very pretty, I will surely make some for myself and friends, thanks for sharing.

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