Monday, June 11, 2007

fish bag tutorial for you!

Hi guys, here is a fish bag tutorial for you; I had these in my store for Boy's Day and I had a request for another bag from a customer, so I made this tutorial while I was making her bag! I originally got the idea for this little fishy bag from local merchants in Guilin, China when I visited 2 years ago (so it's not my original idea!)I bought a whole bunch, but I know not everybody has the chance to go to China, so here is a pattern I developed for them! Hope the instructions are okay, let me know how yours turn out!

Fabric, thread, felt, needle, sewing machine?, string, scissors, paper, ruler, pencil.

Step 1 Create a pattern for your bag using a brown paper grocery bag (yay recycling). Cut the pattern pieces approximately 5/8” larger than you would like your bag to be. One piece (for the head) should be rectangular and the other piece (for the tail) should be shaped like a fish tail, rectangle shaped at the end where it will connect to the head piece. Here are the ratio of lengths x widths I used: head piece= 7”x 5,” tail piece= 6”x 5” at widest point. To make your fish tail congruent, fold your paper in half when drawing your pattern and draw half of the tail. Then cut out the folded piece and unfold… a symmetrical fish tail (you can also do this with the head piece).

Step 2 Pin your pattern pieces to fabric to get two pieces each of the head and tail pieces (it helps to fold fabric so you only have to cut each piece once). Cut out two squares of fabric (approximately 3”x 3”) and sew each one into a little rectangle by folding in half, sewing vertically, then horizontally . Turn right side out for fins.

Step 3
Embroider scales on fish tail using machine or by hand. Repeat for both sides. Scales on my fish bag were approximately 1” apart, starting at tail joint and ending approximately 1.5” before edge of fabric on top part of fish tail (remember to account for 5/8” seam allowance in placement of scales).

Step 4
Insert fin between fish tail and head fabrics (tail and head fabrics should be right sides facing, wrong sides exposed to the world). Open part of fin should still be visible, closed part should be sandwiched. Pin fabric to make sewing easier.

Step 5
Stitch head and tail together, with fin sandwiched inside. Repeat for other side.

Step 6
Cut 2 pieces of lining using one of the sides as a guideline. WARNING: cut very carefully!

Step 7
Cut a large eye and small pupil from felt. Sew or glue together. Mine were Approximately 1” in diameter and 3/4” in diameter.

Step 8
Sew eye to bag, approximately 1” away from seam joining head and tail pieces, and ¼” away from fin. Keep in mind the 5/8” seam allowance in placing the eye. Repeat for other side (note: eye placement on opposite piece should be in the opposite side of the fin.) Check the eye placement on second piece by facing right sides of both pieces together and lining up the eyes.

Step 9
Sew exterior pieces of the bag together (I find it helpful to start from the tail). Leave about 2” on each side at the opening of the bag (these will be folded over in the next step).

Step 10
Snip the bag on the extra fabric provided by the 5/8” seam allowance a little below the 2” you left unsewn on the top of the bag. This will allow you to fold it over and stitch it down. Each side of the bag (right and left) should have two folds to stitch down. Do not the two sides on top of each other!

Step 11
Sew the lining the same way, checking it to make sure it will fit smoothly inside the sewn exterior pieces (If you don’t check it, it could be much too big when you finally sew then together. Sew up to 1” away from the edge of the bag (this makes it easier to fold down later).

Step 12
Turn the lining inside out, so that the seams are on the inside and the outside looks finished. Place the sewn exterior of the bag inside the lining (NOTE: the exterior should be wrong sides on the outside, with the right sides facing each other on the inside.) So;
Lining= right sides out, wrong sides in
Exterior= wrong sides out, right sides in
Fold the lining down on the inside so that you get a smooth edge. Make sure you fold the lining on top of the folded down exterior piece so that you have a tube on the top. Pin in place and stitch down. Sew it nicely, as this part will show!

Step 13
Turn bag right side out, and use string to create drawstrings. (It helps to use a safety pin threaded through a knot on one side of the string to pull the string through.)

Step 14:
Live it up with your fish bags yo.


  1. This is way cool. I am going to put this on my "make it" list. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Mahalo for the instructions! I'm enjoying the bag & receive many comments on how cute it is!


  3. Thanks a lot for the great tutorial. Perfect for a mermaids bag in carnival.
    I just added 2 fins to fix the shoulder handles.
    greets from Germany, griselda

  4. Very cute, I want to make one soon! Thanks so much for the lovely tutorial!


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