Friday, December 7, 2007

A Wine Gift Bag with Pocket

The Sew Mama Sew blog did 30 days of handmade gifts in November, links to all kinds of tutorials and gift ideas for the sewist (here's the compiled list). It was a really fun read and there were lots of ideas that sparked my interest. I especially appreciated all the generous people who have posted tutorials. So when I found myself needing to create a wine bag, I thought I should spread the wealth.

After law school I clerked for a judge (two judges, actually) and he recently celebrated his 20th year on the bench. I didn't want to get him any tchotchkes or dust collectors, so I figured a nice bottle of wine is always appreciated. This occasion called for heartfelt words, not a scrawled signature on one of those little cards with a punchy hole threaded through a drawstring, so I puzzled a bit about how to attach a real card to a wine bag. I thought of punching a hole in it, but that's just not classy. Then I thought of a pocket. Of course!

This method works only with fabric that is attractive on both the right and the wrong side. Jacquard was an easy choice here.

Start by measuring your wine bottle against the fabric. I ended up with a rectangle 24" long and 13" wide. This should work for any standard bottle of wine. If you have champagne or a magnum, you'll need to do custom sizing. My pocket ended up a little tall, so I could have shaved an inch or two off that, but it was totally fine.

Next, fold up what will be the pocket based on your bottle size. Mine was 9 1/2 inches from the raw edge of what would eventually be the pocket.

Mark the pocket foldline.

Turn the pocket and top edges under. I did about 3/4 of an inch, and double folded them to hide the raw edges. They need to be hemmed on the opposite sides from one another--the pocket toward the wrong side and the top toward the right side (or vice versa--it doesn't really matter).

Now stitch along the pocket foldline you previously marked, with the finished pocket edge wrong side out.

Once you've stitched the foldline, you need to sew the side seam. I did a French seam so it would look all nice. To do so, fold the pocket up along the seamline, wrong sides together (so the bag looks as it will when finished). Make a narrow seam along the side, and finish with a zigzag. Next time I make this bag, I will sew a ribbon into the side seam at this point for tying around the neck of the wine bottle. I had a hard time keeping the ribbon in place on the finished gift.

To complete the French seam, turn the bag wrong side out and stitch the side seam again, encasing the raw edges of the first seam.

Turn the bag right side out and voila! Slip in your wine bottle, tie with a ribbon, and tuck your card or gift into the pocket. I was worried that having the pocket seam along the bottom might make the whole thing unsteady, but even with my thick jacquard the wine bottle stood up just fine.

If you want to make a little gift to go with the wine, it's easy to make little wine charms with ring-sized memory wire and beads. Memory wire is really hard on cutters, so use old ones if you have them.