Thursday, 6 August 2009

Simple holiday laundry bag - tutorial

The fabric scraps were building up in my scrap bag, so I was looking for a way to use some of them.

I made these two holiday-themed laundry bags for dd and friend to bring back their washing in, when they went away together. I used fabric scraps to cut out clothes shapes to embellish the laundry bags with a washing line design. I wanted a holiday feel, so my shapes were swimsuits, shorts and sundresses.

I'm posting the instructions here as a tutorial.


2 rectangles of cotton fabric, each 41 cms wide x 45 cms tall
Scraps of fabric in different colours and patterns, which will contrast with main fabric
Fusible bonding, e.g. bondaweb
Embroidery floss in contrasting colour to main fabric
85 cms piping cord


Step 1:
Draw clothes templates on paper. I cut out my original shapes from a clothes catalogue and then scaled them up slightly using squared paper. Alternatively, you could try scanning them and then enlarging using your printer, or enlarging them on a photocopier.

Step 2:
Select some fabric scraps big enough to cut the clothes shapes from. Fuse one side of the webbing to the reverse of the fabric scraps with a hot iron, following the manufacturer's instructions:

Draw round the template shapes on the paper side, then cut the shapes out.

Step 3:
With the short side of the rectangle at the top and bottom, lay your fabric "clothes" on one of the fabric rectangles with the right side of the fabric rectangle facing up and the paper side of the clothes shapes facing down. Arrange to your liking. I laid a piece of embroidery thread along the top of the clothes to be the "washing line" to help position them, as shown in the photo below. Remove the backing papers and fuse the pieces to the rectangle of fabric using a hot iron.

Step 4:
Set your sewing machine to a close zig-zag stitch and stitch carefully along the outlines of the clothes to secure the appliques in place. You can use either matching or contrasting thread. If you want to use matching thread, and need to change the thread for different "clothes", the bobbin thread will show only on the reverse, so perhaps you need only re-thread the upper thread. But this is probably not the approach of a purist!

Step 5:
With a fade-away or water soluble marker, draw a line along the top of the "clothes" where the "washing line" should go. Using an embroidery hoop to keep the fabric taut, hand-stitch with embroidery thread along this line. I used chain stitch, but you could try back-stitch if you prefer.

If you want embellishments on both sides of your bag, repeat steps 2-5 for the second rectangle of fabric.

Step 6:
Pin the two rectangles of fabric together with the right sides facing. With a 1 cm seam allowance, stitch from the top of one side, down to the bottom corner, pivot, along the bottom, pivot, and up the other side. Leave the top open. Clip both bottom corners. Press the seams open.

Step 7:
To make a channel for the drawstring, fold over a double 2cm hem around the top and pin in place. Leaving a 3 cm gap at one side seam, machine stitch near the bottom of the hem, backstitching at start and finish to secure the seam.

Insert the piping cord through the channel and fasten the ends into a reef knot to secure.

Voila! A holiday laundry bag, and because the applique is bonded and then edge-stitched, it should stand up to the rigours of use, including going through the wash itself.

My dd and friend were pleased with these, so I count it a success!
You could also adapt this idea for different types of laundry bag, for example, make a larger version decorated with cut-out nappy, bib and sleepsuit shapes for a baby's laundry bag.


  1. I love your dirty laundry bags, very cute!

  2. Really pretty laundry bags, love the little swimsuits on them!