In this step, we have quite a few mini-steps to attach the bag handles. We are still working with the exterior main panels that we were working with in Step #5. We do all of these steps for both exterior main panels.
Starting with one exterior main panel (which should have the band attached from Step #5), you’re going to lay one of the handle pieces as show in the following picture. It’s important that the long strip of fabric is on the inside as shown.
I like to start on the inside corner and I pin the two pieces together, right sides together. The curve of this seam is not nearly as extreme as the band we did in the previous step, but you will notice how the fabric naturally curls up as the edges come together.
I like to attach both bag handles to help make my sewing time more efficient, so go ahead do the same thing for the other side of the exterior main panel. You will have probably figured out at this point that out of all the handle pieces we cut and interfaced, half of them fit the right side of the bag and half of them fit the left side of the bag. We will end up using four of the handle pieces for both of our exterior main panel pieces… and the remaining four handle pieces will get attached to the lining in later steps.
After these handles are pinned, it’s time to stitch them. Backstitch at both ends and stitch one handle and then stitch the other handle. Don’t forget to trim your loose thread ends.
Now it’s time to press our seam allowances for the handles… we’re going to press the seam allowances up toward the handles, as show in the following pictures.
You’ll notice that we didn’t clip any notches on these seam allowances because the curve isn’t so severe. The handles lay flat and flush with the main panel pieces already, which is great! But we *are* going to finish the handles by adding some top stitching. Take your time, following the seam allowance guidelines in Amy Butler’s Style Stitches, and stitch your top stitching on the right side of the fabric.
Next, we’re going to make these handles look and function like actual bag handles! Start by laying your entire main panel with the attached handles right side up on your table. Then, fold it in half with right sides together.
If you like, you can pin the handle raw edge together, but you definitely just need to make sure they are lined up evenly before stitching.
This next part is something that needs to be done but isn’t covered in the Cosmo Bag instructions… another instruction oversight in the book. You will need to press open your seam after stitching, just as you see in the following pictures.
You will notice now that your handle is a big loop. We want to stay stitch the inside of the doughnut hole and I usually use a basting stitch for this. I don’t back stitch, I just start at any point and stitch all the way around.
Then, we’re going to very carefully clip into the seam allowance we just created with our stay stitching. We don’t have to make notches, just a simple clip will do. I clipped about every half inch or so. It should look like the following picture.
The final thing we will do for these handles (for now) is press in that tiny, clipped seam allowance, using our stay stitching line as a guide. You’ll need your steam iron on full steam and hot for cotton… take your time and be careful with your fingers! I didn’t take any pictures of my pressing in progress, but I like to press with the wrong side facing up at me and I loop the handle over the pointed end of the ironing board. Do whatever works for you, but perhaps for some of you that description helps with your pressing process.
When you’re done, your two exterior panels should look like the following picture, right side and wrong side. After Step #7, this really starts to take the shape of a tote bag, which is when it gets super fun! That will be our next sew along post…
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