Sewing With Laminated Cotton: A Child’s Beach Bag
Laminated cotton is slippery stuff! I love it, though, and have used it many times to make items that I need to be water and stain resistant. I recently made a beach bag for a little girl, and I want to share with you some of the techniques I found useful in working with laminated cotton. Although laminated cotton isn’t completely waterproof, it’s ideal for rainjackets, tablecloth and all your wet and watery fabric needs — like a beach bag.
What is Laminated Cotton?
Laminated cotton has a polymer film bonded to the right side of cotton fabric. The polymer film is transparent so the design of the cotton shows through with a nice glossy finish. Once bonded, the back side of the laminated cotton is the cotton fabric, so it’s nice and soft. Laminated cotton is thinner and more pliable than PUL or Oilcloth.
The Beach Bag
The outside of the beach bag is made with laminated cotton, but I line the bag with nylon flag material or other outdoor, weather (and water) resistant fabric. The pockets for the bag are also lined with the nylon.
I have a tote bag pattern that I have used forever, and I am not sure where it came from. However, any tote pattern you want to use would be super cute made with laminated cotton. I love this one because it is so roomy. It can hold a lot of beach toys, towels, etc.
Cut It Out
For this pattern, I cut two of each pattern piece for the outside of the bag and two each for the lining.
You need exactly one yard of fabric of the laminated cotton and one yard for the lining for the bag. I like to use a different fabric for the bag pockets. These pockets wrap around the bottom of the bag, and I like the contrast. If you do use two different fabrics, and get one yard of each, cut a bag body and bag pockets out of each, giving you two bags. One will have fabric one as the bag body and fabric two as the pockets and the other will have fabric two as the body and fabric one as the pockets.
Sew Lining To Bag Pockets
Place Trim in the Top Seam
I like to put a little trim in the top seams of both the bag itself and the pockets at the bottom of the bag. You need 2 1/2 yards of trim if you are going to add that to the bag. Since this is a beach bag, I want to keep it simple and usually just use rickrack. I didn’t have any blue rick rack handy so I used a pom pom trim.
Here’s one tricky part. When you sew the trim to the bag on either the lining or the outside of the bag, it has a tendency to pull/pucker the fabric a little. Thus, when you try to match the top seams of the pocket lining and the laminated cotton they don’t always match up. I found it useful to use a double stick iron-on tape to hold the trim down until it can be sewn into the seam. This keeps the dimensions of the top of the pocket stable. Floriani’s Stitch Perfection Tape is perfect for this. Once I affix the trim with the tape, I sew it down to make sure it stays positioned. Since I’m ironing on the double stick tape, I place the trim on the right side of the lining.
These pompoms made it difficult to sew the trim in place, so I used an adjustable zipper foot. I like the adjustable foot rather than the zipper foot that came with the machine for some things. I find that the standard zipper foot sometimes makes it difficult to get really close to the trim I’m sewing. The adjustable foot really works great!
Line the Bag Pocket
Once you have sewn the trim in place at the top seam line of the pocket lining, place the laminated cotton and the lining right sides together and sew the top seam (½” seam allowance for all seams). Decide how much of the trim you want to show and adjust the zipper foot and needle position accordingly.
Once you have sewn the top seam, turn the fabrics so wrong sides are together, pull the trim out as needed to make the seam flat.
Top stitch the top of the bag pocket.
Here’s another tricky part. That laminated cotton makes it difficult for a metal foot to glide over it. So use a teflon foot. It is just the thing for sewing on any laminate, vinyl or leather.
Once you have completed the two bag pocket pieces, you are ready to sew them to the bag body.
Attach Bag Pockets to Bag Body
Notice that the bag body and the bag pockets have the same dimensions at the bottom.
Line up the bottom of the bag pocket with the bottom of the front of the bag body, making sure all fabric edges line up.
Attach the bag pocket to the front of the bag body by stitching a vertical line as illustrated below.
Repeat for the back of the bag.
I use 1″ webbing for the bag straps, but you can certainly make your own. Since this bag is big and can carry a lot of stuff, I wrap the straps around the whole bag, inserting the ends into the bottom seam.
First, sew the front and the back of the bag together at the bottom, but leave an opening to insert the strap ends. I always double stitch this seam and the other seams of the bag.
The bag is 20″ high, so you need 80″ of webbing plus two times the length you want for the handles.
For my bag, I made 24″ handles, so I needed 128″ of webbing or 3½ yds of webbing.
Start with one end of the webbing and insert it into the opening in the bag bottom. Pin the webbing in place along one side of the bag. Place straps about 1″ from the stitching that holds the pocket on the bag body. If you put them too close, you’ll narrow the center pockets. When you get to the stop, stop pinning about 3/4″ from the top edge.
Determine the length you want for the bag handles. Start placing the webbing on the other side of the bag, leaving the amount for the handles loose at the top of the bag.
Go down the other side of the bag with the webbing, then around the other side, again leaving some loose for the handle. When you get all the way around the bag, place the end of the webbing in the opening at the bag bottom where the other end is. Pin the opening closed, holding the webbing in place. Make sure to line up the edges of the two ends of the webbing
Sew the webbing to the bag by stitching close to the both edges of the webbing.
When you get to the top of the bag, stop sewing about 3/4″ from the edge to allow for the seam that will join the outside of the bag to the lining.
Stitch closed the opening in the bottom seam. Trim away excess webbing.
With right sides together, stitch down each side of the bag, joining the side seams. The bottom area of the bag is thicker than the top area of the bag, due to the pockets. Therefore, it is best to start sewing at the bottom of the bag. This allows your presser foot to easily drop down once you’ve passed the pockets. Otherwise, your presser foot has to go up over the hump where the pockets begin.
Once the side seams are sewn, it’s time to sew the corners of the bag.
Fold the corners of the front and back of the bag. Align the side seam with the bottom seam.
Stitch the seam closed. Repeat on the other side.
The outside of the bag is finished!
I like to personalize the bags I make for people with their name or monogram. However, I don’t want to embroider the outside of the bag and punch all those holes in the laminated cotton. So I embroider the lining.
You can add interior pockets if you like. You could make pockets just like on the front of the bag, but I usually just add one or two sewn on the lining. Whatever you do, be sure to add them before you start sewing the lining together.
The lining for the bag is just the bag body pieces sewn together.
- Sew the sides
- Sew the bottom seam but leave an opening to turn the bag.
Note: I often put a zipper in the seam in bottom of the lining. That makes turning the bag right side out a breeze With a zipper in the lining, it’s easy to add or remove a stiff cardboard or vinyl insert into the bottom of the bag as desired. In addition, if you have to make any repairs to the seams, it’s a cinch to turn the bag inside out to get to the seams.
- Sew the corner
- Add trim to the top
Assemble the Bag
With right sides together, place the outside bag inside the lining matching all seams. Be sure to get all handles inside away from the seam line. Also, bend down the strap that comes up to the top of the bag so that you don’t catch it in the seam.
Sew around the top using the zipper foot to get close to the pompoms.
Turn bag right side out. Close opening in bottom of lining.
Use the teflon foot to top stitch around the top of the bag, stitching over the webbing.
To prevent the handles from pulling on and tearing the laminated cotton, I stitch an “X” on each of the four places where the webbing meets the top of the bag.
With that, the bag is done. I think Harper will love it!
Other Beach Bags I’ve Made
Here are a few other bags I’ve made with laminated cotton.
I usually monogram the lining.
Where to Buy Laminated Cotton
Hobby Lobby and Colorado Fabrics carry laminated cotton. In addition, I found a great online store with great prices and a big selection. Check out Modes 4U.
Need a Zipper Foot? We Can Help!
If you need an adjustable zipper foot or a teflon foot, stop in one of our stores and pick one up. Also, stock up on Floriani Stitch Perfection Tape. It’s perfect for adding binding to projects and to hold zippers, ribbons and trims in place. Use the coupon below for a great deal!