Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Zip A Bag Chapter 11: Trapezoidal Bucket With Split Straps

Today we're going to focus on using a zipper to separate a single strap into two.

Our bag sample is this trapezoidal bucket in Jessica Jones' Timewarp barkcloth in Blue Sunburst by Cloud9 Fabrics:

Carry it multiple ways.

Its trapezoidal shape aside, its design is the same as my Lunch Buckets:
Lunch Buckets in natural canvas and Time Warp barkcloth
(left: Navy Loop; right: Olive Sunburst) by Cloud9 Fabrics

In the Lunch Bucket design, the strap is buttoned on

and swivels down out of the way of the drawstring opening.

In contrast, the zippered strap in this trapezoidal bucket is fixed in place,

so if you want it out of the way, you'll need to unzip it

pull down the straps to either side,

and access the contents

You can also un-cinch the drawstring opening completely and push the drawstring cover inside the bag and out of the way.

STAGE 1: Make the strap

I worked with
  • one regular zipper, of at least the same length as the straps, and 
  • four strips of fabric (with SA), each reinforced with fusible interfacing (no SA) on the WS. The interfacing is cut to the exact finished width of the strap, so the interfacing edges are also the stitching lines. Ignore the weird short seams on the straps - I had to join pieces to get the length I wanted.

Working with one side of the zipper tape at a time, lay the zipper with its WS touching the RS of one fabric strip. Line up the edges as shown, and baste in place.

Lay a second fabric strip over the zipper, as shown. Sew along the stitching line (the edge of the interfacing) through all layers.

Fold back the fabric pieces so their WS are together and their RS are on the outside, and the zipper is exposed. Edge-stitch through all layers, close to the fold.

Now fold and tuck the SAs of the long open side to their WS, as shown.

Edge-stitch close to this new folded edge, through all layers.

One side of the zipper tape is now finished. 

Repeat this process with the other two fabric strips and the other side of the zipper tape. This is the finished strap.

Here's a close up:

And here's the WS:

Here is the strap partially

and fully unzipped.

STAGE 2: Attach the strap
In this bag design, the main body panel is cut as two pieces. Each piece has a seam a short distance below the top edge. The ends of the strap are inserted into this seam. Here is the tail end of the strap,

and here is the head end

When inserted at both ends, the strap looks like a bridge between the two body pieces.

STAGE 3: Assemble the outer bag
The rest of the assembly sequence is the same as for a typical bucket bag. Sew up the side seams to make the walls of the bucket, then attach the base. 

STAGE 4: Assemble the lining bag and combine the two layers
Repeat this for the lining layer to make two separate bags - an outer and a lining. Finally, bring the two bags together - insert the lining inside the outer - connecting them at the bag opening. Use whatever method works for you. Some folks like to sew them RS together, leaving a hole in the lining for turning out. Others like to sew them WS together, leaving a raw SA at the mouth of the bag, which they then bind with bias tape.

Here is the finished bucket bag. 

If you don't want to draft this one yourself, you can easily adapt the Lunch Bucket Pattern for this split zippered strap version. Simply 
  1. cut the strap as two narrower split halves instead of a single strap. Insert the finished zippered strap into the top seam of the accent band, on opposite sides of the bucket,
  2. raise the top seam of that accent band that wraps around the body by an inch so the strap ends insert closer to the bag opening, and
  3. (optional) drop the bottom seam of that accent band all the way to the base. 


  1. Such a cute bag. Thanks for the tutorial.

  2. Wow I love this! Sorry this question is going to sound like a maths assignment :) I am not sure how to go about drafting the curves on the side pieces. Say I was making a big bucket with a base with a radius of 5" plus SA. That would make the circumference close enough to 31.5" plus SA. I want my bag to narrow to a 3.5" radius, so the top circumference is 22" plus SA. But that is where I get stuck, how do I work out the radius of the curve at the top and bottom of the side panels so it fits onto the base? Thanks! :)

    1. SoozeM: Think of the side panels as a segment of a doughnut - they'd share the same center. Perhaps that might help.

  3. I am always amazed at the way you line up patterns. Gorgeous bag. Very clever use of a zipper!


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