The Inspired Wren Pages

July 1, 2014

TUTORIAL: Simple Mesh Bag

Vacation is coming. I've been singing "Holiday Road" for a couple of weeks now. The Peanut is not amused. And it's almost time to pack. When I pack for The Peanut I use gallon plastic freezer bags. Into each bag goes one complete outfit (top, bottom, socks, undies). One bag per outfit. As many bags as days in our trip plus two (so a 7 day trip = 9 bags, because you never know). At one point I had thought of labeling them with the days of the week, but then I realized I needed the flexibility to switch a day's outfit based on weather or activity. So unlabeled bags go into the suitcase and each morning I can present two bags and let The Peanut choose her outfit for the day. At the end of the day the used clothes go back into the bag they came out of. Dirty clothes are separated from clean clothes and there's no digging through the bottom of the suitcase to find small socks. But the plastic bags get beat up. And buying new each time adds yet another expense to a trip. It was time for a reusable solution in the form of a simple mesh bag.

Simple Mesh Bag Tutorial | Step by step directions how to sew a mesh bag with a simple fold-over closure, no zipper. | The Inspired Wren

Of course these bags could also be used for keeping one's delicates safe in the laundry, or containing your unmentionables in your drawer. However you'd like to use them, you too can make your own zipper-less mesh bag.

Craftsy

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you click it and buy it, I'll make a teeny, tiny percentage of the purchase price at no additional cost to you. And just to be sure you only click what you want to click, all those links are clearly marked.


If you’re like me and prefer to print out the tutorials you use, download the free 4-page PDF version here [you'll need a Craftsy account, but that's also free with an email]. Otherwise, read on for step-by-step directions how to sew a simple mesh bag without a zipper closure.

Simple Mesh Bag Tutorial | Step by step directions how to sew a mesh bag with a simple fold-over closure, no zipper. | The Inspired Wren




MATERIALS

  • Utility/Weavers Mesh 
  • Quilting Cotton, for Inner & Outer Flaps 
  • Coordinating ½″ Double Fold Bias Tape 
  • Center Closure: Snap, Velcro, or Button (one per bag) 

Simple Mesh Bag Tutorial | Step by step directions how to sew a mesh bag with a simple fold-over closure, no zipper. | The Inspired Wren
I've used Babyville Boutique plastic snaps [Amazon affiliate link] as my center closure. You could also use a sew-in snap, a button, or Velcro.



CUTTING


NOTE: The Utility/Weavers Mesh stretches easily, be careful to square-it-up as you cut so that your final piece isn't longer or narrower than you expect it to be. The final bag should measure 10 ½" x 11".

Utility/Weavers Mesh 
Main Mesh: 20 ½″ x 10 ½″; cut 1 

Accent Fabric
Outer Flap: 6″ x 10 ½″; cut 1

Inner Flap: 5″ x 10 ½″; cut 1



CONSTRUCTION


NOTE: This project uses a ½″ seam-allowance throughout in order to catch as much of the mesh material in the stitching as possible. Likewise you should use a short stitch (2 or less), even when top-stitching, to optimize the amount of stitches catching the mesh. 


ATTACH THE FLAPS


1.      Lay Inner Flap fabric right side up. 

2.      Place Main Mesh on top, align 10 ½” raw edge of each fabric. Pin. 
Simple Mesh Bag Tutorial | Step by step directions how to sew a mesh bag with a simple fold-over closure, no zipper. | The Inspired Wren
Step 2: Pin the mesh and the inner flap along raw edge.

3.      Roll up just the Main Mesh fabric until over half of the Inner Flap fabric is visible. 
Simple Mesh Bag Tutorial | Step by step directions how to sew a mesh bag with a simple fold-over closure, no zipper. | The Inspired Wren
Step 3: Roll the mesh fabric.

4.      Fold the Inner Flap over the rolled-up Main Mesh and align its raw edge with the pinned raw edges. Re-pin catching all three layers of fabric.
Simple Mesh Bag Tutorial | Step by step directions how to sew a mesh bag with a simple fold-over closure, no zipper. | The Inspired Wren
Step 4: Create a fabric burrito aligning all three raw edges.

5.      With a short stitch and with a ½” seam-allowance (to be sure to catch as much of the mesh fabric in your stitching as possible), sew through all three layers; avoid catching the rolled/encased fabric in your stitches. Press—just your stitches, not the entire fabric burrito.
Simple Mesh Bag Tutorial | Step by step directions how to sew a mesh bag with a simple fold-over closure, no zipper. | The Inspired Wren
Step 5: Stitch through all three layers.

6.      Turn the Inner Flap right side out: pull the Main Mesh out through one of the Inner Flap side openings. Press.
Simple Mesh Bag Tutorial | Step by step directions how to sew a mesh bag with a simple fold-over closure, no zipper. | The Inspired Wren
Step 6a: Turn the inner flap right side out.

Simple Mesh Bag Tutorial | Step by step directions how to sew a mesh bag with a simple fold-over closure, no zipper. | The Inspired Wren
Step 6b: Press.

7.      Repeat Steps 1-6 with the Outer Flap fabric on the opposite end of the Main Mesh fabric.


INSERT THE CENTER CLOSURE


8.      Find the center of the Outer Flap and measure ¼” up from the top, folded edge. Attach your snap/button hole/Velcro so that the bottom edge is ¼” from the top, folded edge.
Simple Mesh Bag Tutorial | Step by step directions how to sew a mesh bag with a simple fold-over closure, no zipper. | The Inspired Wren
Step 8: Mark position of center closure.

9.      Flip the entire piece over. Find the center of the Inner Flap and measure up ¼” from the Main Mesh edge. Attach the companion snap/button/Velcro so that bottom edge is ¼” from the Main Mesh edge.
Simple Mesh Bag Tutorial | Step by step directions how to sew a mesh bag with a simple fold-over closure, no zipper. | The Inspired Wren
Step 9: Insert center closure on opposite flaps as directed.


CONSTRUCT THE BAG


10.      Flip the entire piece over again. Mark a line on the Outer Flap, ½” up from the Main Mesh edge. 
Simple Mesh Bag Tutorial | Step by step directions how to sew a mesh bag with a simple fold-over closure, no zipper. | The Inspired Wren
Step 10: Mark the outer flap 1/2" from mesh seam.

11.      Fold the Main Mesh until the top, folded edge of the Inner Flap is aligned atop the marked line from Step 10.

12.      Fold the Outer Flap along the marked line from Step 10 onto the Inner Flap. Press. Pin Edges of flaps.
Simple Mesh Bag Tutorial | Step by step directions how to sew a mesh bag with a simple fold-over closure, no zipper. | The Inspired Wren
Step 12: The backside of the piece, picture here, clearly illustrates how the top flap folds. This keeps the stress off the Utility Mesh seam.

13.      Pin the bias tape along one side extending ½” beyond the top and the bottom of the bag. (Optional: You could be proper here and open your bias tape to stitch it in place before folding it over the raw edge of the bag and continuing with Steps 14 & 15. But I was sewing seven of these suckers at once and those 14 extra lines of stitching felt daunting to me, so I went down and dirty and just pinned the bias around the raw edges and sewed once. It worked for me. Do what works for you.)

14.      Open the bias tape and fold it down over the back of the bag. Refold and pin it in place encasing both edges at the corner. Repeat at the other end.
Simple Mesh Bag Tutorial | Step by step directions how to sew a mesh bag with a simple fold-over closure, no zipper. | The Inspired Wren
Step 14a: Open bias tape and fold raw edge over bag and into itself.

Simple Mesh Bag Tutorial | Step by step directions how to sew a mesh bag with a simple fold-over closure, no zipper. | The Inspired Wren
Step 14b: Pin.

15.      Edge-stitch with a short stitch (reminder: the short stitch is ensures you catch as much of the mesh fabric in your stitching as possible).

16.      Repeat Steps 13-15 on the opposite side of the bag.
Simple Mesh Bag Tutorial | Step by step directions how to sew a mesh bag with a simple fold-over closure, no zipper. | The Inspired Wren
Completed mesh bag!



YOU'RE DONE!


Quick Usage Tip

To open the bag, flip the Outer Flap inside-out to the back and you’ll be able to access the full opening of the bag. Remember the old-school plastic sandwich bags? Before ziplocks? It’s the same concept and works the same way. Once your bag is full, flip the Outer Flap back in place and you’re good to go. 
Simple Mesh Bag Tutorial | Step by step directions how to sew a mesh bag with a simple fold-over closure, no zipper. | The Inspired Wren
Quick Tip: Flip the out flap inside-out and to the back to access the full opening of the bag.


I made these bags to replace the gallon storage bags I use whenever I pack a suitcase for my preschooler. Add a few inches before you sew and you could do the same with your own outfits. Of course these would also work as lingerie bags (an excellent gift for a bride) or itty bitty sock laundry bags (for a mom-to-be). I currently also use gallon storage bags as project bags for my sewing: fabrics, pattern, thread, and notions all in one place ready to sew. I may just have to whip up some more of these mesh versions for my sewing room.

If you use this tutorial, I’d love to see and hear about your results. Come share your projects on The Inspired Wren Share page. There you can link up your images from a blog, Flickr, Pinterest, or Instagram.

Simple Mesh Bag Tutorial | Step by step directions how to sew a mesh bag with a simple fold-over closure, no zipper necessary. | The Inspired Wren
The completed bag measures 10 ½" x 11"; the same as a gallon freezer storage bag.



Ren Murphy writes for The Inspired Wren.
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You should really see all that goes into each project!
Daily updates on Instagram (and Flickr) of works-in-progress will give you that behind the scenes view you’re looking for, and sneak peeks of First Tuesday Tutorials, too.
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49 comments:

  1. What a great tutorial! I really need some new mesh bags! -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

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  2. What a great idea!! I need a few of these too! Pinning and adding to the never-ending list of things to sew :)

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    1. Thanks, Alicia. I have a Pin board of never-ending things to sew, too. Funny how that happens.

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  3. Love this. With all our traveling and moving, I have amassed a collection of similar store-bought bags ... but when we need more I think I will try out your tute!

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    1. Thanks! The problem with amassing store brought bags over time is that they don't match. That drives me batty, and is how I ended up here.

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  4. Stopping by from Creative Spark. Great tutorial. The mesh bag is not only lovely, but functional too! Would love it if you could stop by the Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop (going on now) and Link up this fabulous post. I think it would be a big hit!
    Blessings,
    Shari
    http://puregracefarms.com/2014/07/wonderful-wednesday-blog-hop-80/

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and inviting me over. I'll check out the link party now.

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  5. Thanks. I've pinned this. I have a few mesh bags, but it occurs to me that it was silly to buy them when I can make them.

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    1. Right?! I like the uniformity I can create when I sew them myself.

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  6. I think I might try this with PUL for when my daughter need to bring a plastic bag to school to put her wet bathing suit in. Thanks for the tutorial!

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    1. Great idea! I'd love to see it if you do.

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  7. This mesh bag indeed has many uses. I really like how you sew the flaps. The result is very neat. Do you buy mesh fabric in regular fabric stores?

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    1. Thanks so much. I found the utility mesh in my local Joann Fabric store -- so yes, in stores, but I've also seen it on-line at Fabric.com.

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  8. We travel out of state frequently throughout the year to visit family. I always end up with multiple plastic grocery bags full of our "dirty" clothes. This is a great way to stay organized...I might have to make several of these! Thanks for the useful tute!

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    1. Exactly. We live far enough from family that every visit requires a suitcase. I also grew tired of the plastic shopping bags of dirty clothes messing up my nicely packed suitcase. That's how this all began...

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  9. Now that is a awesome bag. Thanks for sharing. Have a great day. :)

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  10. Very clever idea and great tutorial, as always! Thanks for sharing :)

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  11. Ren this is such a great idea! I love that they are reusable, but also great for organizing everything too!

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  12. That popper is a nice touch. And as always, your tutorials are excellent with great photos.

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    1. Thanks, Deby. I wanted to make a bunch at once and didn't feel like working with that many zippers...inspiration for the fold-over flap: zipper avoidance.

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  13. Great idea! Thanks for sharing!

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  14. So much better than plastic bags, Ren and so many uses!!! As always, a very comprehensive tutorial.

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    1. Hi Ren, I've featured your mesh bag today...
      http://www.threadingmyway.com/2014/07/threading-your-way-features.html

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    2. Thanks again for the feature!

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  15. Thanks a lot for the tutorial. I was thinking of making a bag like this to organize my stuff but stuck in deciding whether to go for clear vinyl or mesh ;) Thanks for the inspiration!

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    1. YAY! I'm glad I could inspire. I'd love to see whatever you end up making.

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  16. This is a GREAT idea and tutorial! I just might have to pull out the sewing machine and make these. Very clever and useful. Thanks for sharing at Wonderful Wed. Blog Hop. Carrie, A Mother's Shadow

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  17. What a great tutorial! Thanks for sharing at Do Tell Tuesday--I featured it today, so grab a button!

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    1. Woo hoo! Thank you so much, Stephanie!

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  18. Thanks for sharing at the #WWDParty.

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    1. Thanks for hosting, as always!

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  19. This is such an awesome idea. I am definitely making some of these. I even have that same fabric, which is what caught my eye first. Thanks for the great tutorial.
    Melissa

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    1. YAY! I'd love to see how they come out, Melissa!

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  20. glad to see something so useful made without zippers.Thank-you for sharing I will add this to my to do list,but will place it at the top.I
    am anxious to make some

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    1. I was making 14 at once and didn't want to deal with that many zippers. Funny how need can drive invention.

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    2. HA! Not 14, seven...I set out to make 7 at once.

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  21. Fantastic! Thank you for sharing this post at City of Creative Dream's City of Links on Friday! I appreciate you taking the time to party with me. Hope to see you again this week :)

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  22. Very excited about this tutorial, but I am having problems with Step 11. I just don't get how to fold the mesh, and the pictures are not helping. :-(

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    1. Huh. I'm sorry it's giving you trouble. Another way to do it: snap/button the two flaps together and then fold the bag flat. You'll find that the longer flap will want to fold over the shorter flap so that it looks like picture for Step 12.

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  23. Am in the middle of sewing one and already am in love. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your creative abilities and directions.

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  24. Love your mesh bag! I have several store bought ones that the zipper broke first or second time thru the laundry!! You just gave me an idea how to repair them!! And I may purchase one of the large mesh laundry bags at Dollar Tree just to deconstruct for the mesh material to use to make your pattern. (They are quite large and could probably get quite a few bags out of one.And for a dollar,you can't beat the cost! Definitely less expensive than the fabric store.)

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