Alabama Chanin Market Bag Kit

Recently I reviewed the great new book by Natalie Chanin, Alabama Studio Style, which got me really excited to try one of the projects.  We asked the folks at Natalie's company Alabama Chanin if they would put together a kit for one of the projects for the book for Purl Soho customers and we're so happy that they agreed to make us these fabulous Market Bag Kits. They contain everything you'll need to make your own bag, right down to the thread!




These kits comes everything you'll need to make your bag except for scissors and needles! Each group of pieces will have a little sticker on them explaining what they are, handles, sides, bottom, etc. I made the Reverse Applique Bag for this journal but the Traced Flower Bag is sewn together in the same way. Please see the * symbol for any variations in putting together the Traced Flower Bag.

For the reverse Applique Kit you will have :

  • 6 bag panel pieces: 2 ecru, 2 blue, and 2 ecru with floral stencil
  • 6 sides: 4 ecru, and two blue
  • 3 bottoms: 2 ecru, and one blue
  • 2 strips of red piping
  • 2 handle pieces in ecru
  • 2 ecru pocket pieces
  • Ecru sewing thread
  • Ecru embroidery thread

Please refer to your copy of Alabama Studio Style for detailed explanations of the different hand sewing techniques you'll be using.

*For the Traced Flower Bag Kit you will have:

  • 6 bag panel pieces: 2 in dark grey and 2 light grey with floral stencil
  • 4 side: 2 in dark grey and 2 with floral stencil
  • 2 bottoms: 1 in dark grey and 1 in floral stencil
  • 2 pocket pieces in dark grey
  • 2 handle pieces in floral stencil
  • grey sewing thread
  • a sharpie marker

Preparing the Bag Panels

Press one of the stenciled panel pieces and one of the blue panel pieces. Lay them neatly on top of each other with their right sides up. Pin them together every few inches with safety pins (regular pins are fine too, but just watch your fingers in the next few steps!).

If you are making the Traced Flower Bag skip to the * at the end of this section.

The embroidery floss that comes with the kit is thick. It's made of 6 separate strands. Cut an 18-inch length of embroidery floss and separate the strands into two pieces of 3-strands each. Thread one 3-ply strand into an embroidery needle. Back stitch around the stenciled designs, and through both layers of fabric.

Continue in this manner until you have embroidered around all of the stenciled designs.

The back will look like this. Don't worry if it isn't very neat, you'll be covering it in a later step.

Using a small pair of sharp scissors cut out the middles of the larger stenciled shapes leaving roughly 1/8-inch inside of the embroidered edge, as shown above.

Do this around all of the petal shapes. You could try cutting out the smaller shapes as well but I only did the larger ones.

Repeat these steps for the remaining stenciled and blue panel pieces.

* Preparing the panels for the Traced Flowers Bag is much simpler. Do not baste the lining and outer panels together.

Press the flower stencil panel pieces and  trace over the stenciled flowers neatly with the Sharpie as shown above.

Do this all over both panel pieces and you'll be ready to go to the next step.

Preparing the Pocket and Piping

Press both of the pocket pieces and place them wrong sides together. I found they stuck together and didn't need to be pinned but a few pins certainly wouldn't hurt.

Using the sewing thread, blanket stitch around the perimeter of the pocket.

Here is a close up view of the blanket stitch. A more thorough explanation can be found in Alabama Studio Style.

Center and pin the blanket stitched pocket to one of the ecru panel pieces.

Using a small running stitch, sew the pocket to the panel piece.

Iron both of the piping pieces in half length-wise.

*The Traced Flower Bag does not have pipiing so if you're making it you can skip this step!

Sewing the Bag Together

Prepare the bottom and side pieces. Lay one of the ecru side pieces down, then place a blue side piece neatly on top of it, and finally lay an ecru piece on top of that. Do this for the remaining side pieces as well as the bottom.

Since this fabric is knit the edges tend to curl in, try your best to smooth them flat and get the edges of all three layers of fabric to lay flush with one another.

Place the ecru panel piece wrong side up and lay one of the reverse appliquéd panel pieces on top of it, right side up. Smooth out the pieces so their edges meet up neatly.

Place one of ironed piping pieces along the left edge of the panel piece, with it's raw edge to the left.

Place one of the prepared side pieces (the three pieces placed on top of one another) on top of the piping and panel pieces with one of it's long edges lined up with the panel and pipings left edges. Pin ALL of these layers together across this left hand side.

Sew this side seam together with a stitch looping over the edges as shown above. The thread is very strong so you can pull the stitches tight.

When you're done with this seam open up the pieces to make sure everything is looking tidy and that the piping is popping up from the seam neatly.

Add the prepared bottom piece in the same manner as the first side by laying down the piping and then placing the bottom on top of it as shown above. The left short side of the bottom will also be pinned to the bottom edge of the first side piece.

Sew the bottom along these pinned seams with the same over-edge stitch as used in the previous step.

Add the second long side in the same manner.

Add the second panel piece using the same techniques and then trim the piping.

* The Traced Flower Bag is put together in the exact same manner just omitting the piping.

Attaching the Handles

* Note: The Traced Flowers Bag is put together in the exact same manner from here on out!

Press the handle pieces into binding tape in the following manner: Press them in half lengthwise then open and fold the raw edges in towards the middle and pin them closed, as shown above on the left. Sew the folded edges together with small running stitch as shown above on the right.

Turn the raw top edges to the inside of the bag 1/2-inch and pin them.  Sew this fold down with a small running stitch.

Center the handles and pin them on the inside of the top of both panels.

Sew the handles to the bag with a little square of running stitches as shown above.

Press your bag and you're all done!

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12 Responses to Alabama Chanin Market Bag Kit

  1. tante sophie says:

    molly … drop dead gorgeous … one of each please …

  2. Karen says:

    I’m a huge AC fan. Had the pleasure of meeting Natalie recently at Spacecraft in Brooklyn. Question: what is the technique for having painted the grey floral fabric prior to the stencilling? Is that the faded leaves technique (black paint on grey fabric) shown in Studio Style? I’d love to try it myself.

  3. naoko says:

    Wow. Thank you for the journal. It will be very helpful.
    I’ve been very interested in trying reverse applique. I have just received my Alabama Stitch Book, and am off to buy a pair of embroidery scissors. And the carpet/buttonhole/craft thread, and the fold-over elastic.
    Wish I lived near your store.

  4. Susan says:

    This type reverse applique work – especially with floral motifs – reminds me of Tivaevae quilts from the Cook Islands. The tivaevae manu are made using two contrasting colours (generally two sheets of the same size) – the design is cut into the top sheet , often while it is folded in fours or eights, and the top sheet is then unfolded and appliqued on top of the base colour. In the end, the folding leads to a quilt with different “quadrants” whose designs mirror each other. It’s a bit tough to visualize, but the results can be stunning.

  5. monique says:

    I’ve just received the kit for the market bag and I have the book. I’m not a sewer though so without your wonderful step by step pictures and explanations I wouldn’t have been able to figure out the first thing to do with those squares of fabric. Thank you so much!!

  6. erika says:

    Just received the kit and the stencil is beautiful–did you use an embroidery hoop to stabilize the fabric for the backstitch around the designs? I don’t think one is mentioned in her book.

  7. Grey Walker says:

    Thank you for the step by step directions and photos. Gorgeous!

  8. Rachel Biel says:

    Great tutorial! A friend of mine just sent me a copy of the Alabama Studio Sewing + Design and it is absolutely gorgeous! These techniques have all been around, but it is how they translate them into such a cohesive look that is so wonderful. And, it's so generous of her to share the trade “secrets” and encourage others to enjoy this formula…. truly a beautiful spirit!

    I posted a little review on my blog and will also link your tutorial there:

  9. Leticia says:

    What a beautiful bag!
    I know this post is from a few years ago, but can you please let me know if there is a chance the kit for this project will be offered again in the future?
    Thank you!

  10. purl bee says:

    Hi Leticia-

    We no longer carry this kit but you might want to get in touch with the Alabama Chanin Company directly to see if they still do:

    Thank you!


  11. Leticia says:

    Hi Molly,

    Thank you for the suggestion, I'll contact Alabama directly.
    I recently got a subscription to Creativebug and they have stenciling workshops by Natalie Chanin, that's what got me interested in making this bag.

    And I just started subscribing to the purl bee newsletter; so many beautiful projects! Now the only thing is to decide which projects to start first! :)

    Congratulations on such a beautiful blog!

  12. Nicole says:

    awesome blog that bag is gorgeous.

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