Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Toy bag for car trip, travelling with kids part 1

The summer is here, at least in the form of holidays, if not for the weather. After last couple days of having warm enough to be able to go swimming the temperatures dropped to 10-15 degrees! During night even 0-5 degrees. But when the sun is high up, night is short and day is long Finnish people wake up from their winter sleep and start moving around. Someone has said that the whole Finland goes crazy when it is summer and I agree. There are summer events in every village, happenings and festivals for all day of the summer. The summer is so short that you feel like you can't waste any of it. It also includes usually lot of driving when you "have to" go to grandparents, summer cottage, zoo, amusement parks etc. In our case that means 3-4 hours drive quite often. Time to invent something to make the trips more fun by having something for the kids to do.

First part to ease these trips was make a toy bag for car trip, upcycled of course. Our kids like to take small toys to play with and they are usually quite well entertained just with those but there is a problem that I think almost any family knows. I mean of course falling toys. What is more frustrating than drop that favourite toy you just needed to the floor and the adults won't stop because of that? And for the adults the screaming that results is also frustrating, annoying... you get the point. I thought that we needed toy bags for the kids that won't fall and will prevent the toys falling too. It won't stop them falling while played but I hope it helps.

The toy bag has one fixed strap and the other one is adjustable so that it can be attached to the front seat. The kids have small tables attached to the front seats so the bags will rest on those, they don't have to hang anywhere. Attaching it to the car seat prevents the whole bag falling to the floor. I also used some cotton wool sheet to make it stand so it would actually keep the toys inside. It is also rather low (10cm high) for easier to reach and open on the top.

This upcycled toy bag is fairly easy to do but I wrote a short tutorial. I also realized that the tutorial I used to make quilt work bag doesn't want to be found anymore. The site directs me to Finnish version and that doesn't have the blog where I read the tutorial before. No matter what I do, use incognito-mode, switch the language to English on my browser, use my phone etc., it always directs me to the Finnish site. Quite annoying, actually. If I wanted the Finnish site, I would like to choose it myself, thank you very much. I then tried to find another tutorial describing how to make a bottom like this but couldn't find any. Many messenger bags are made using this kind of bottom but the tutorials I found were something like "assemble the bag, including bottom", not really helpful, right? Therefore I will make a tutorial for sewing the bottom later, now everything else.

I made two, of course, both upcycled old curtains that my mum found from eco-center for free!

I'm not surprised that the pink-blue was left to the eco-center, it isn't quite that fashionable now and I found couple small stains in it too. Nothing that matters for me though. The Moomin-curtain is more surprise to me. Only "problem" with it is that is sewn to go around the window, i.e. it has top- and side curtains all together. It isn't supposed to cover the window, it has been apparently used to frame the window. Quite nice for kids' room but I can understand why it might have been difficult to sell and thus ended up to the eco-center. The fabric is good quality and there is lots of it, so good for me someone discarded it!

First I cut the pieces.

From the main fabric one piece for the bottom and the other sides of the bag, two pieces to longer sides, two pockets and three pieces for straps; one short (8cm for this bag), one long (adjustable) and one shorter (fixed strap).

From lining: one part covering the bottom and two sides, two separate pieces to longer sides and out of cotton wool sheet 2 small pieces (for this bag 10cm x 12 cm, height x depth) and 2 longer pieces (10cm x 22cm, height x width). The cotton wool sheet is from old blanket and the lining old sheet.

Fold and iron the straps, sew with long stitch. Fold and iron the pockets, sew the top.

To give more support for toy bag I added extra layer to the bottom. Cut twice the size of the bottom, add seam allowances and sew the long sides. Iron the seam allowances open, turn.

And now the bag starts forming out fast. Baste the cotton wool-pieces to lining, sew as edge as you can so that these stitches will be inside the seam allowances. Attach the pockets to the lining. Assemble the lining and then the main body parts. Remember to leave turning gap on the lining! Tutorial with pictures coming later.

Attach the longest strap to the slider and you should have something like this:

Attach the straps to the exterior of the bag leaving the stitches under seam allowance. Slide the shortest strap through metallic ring, fold half and baste to its place, slide the longest strap through that same ring, through the slider and baste to its place. Like this:

Now your toy bag for car trip is almost finished! Place the exterior inside the lining right sides facing and sew around.

When I was making this first bag I didn't have my Wonder clips yet so I had to use pins but with Wonder clips it is this easy:

I noticed that if you iron the cotton wool sheet, it becomes stiffer. With the first bag I didn't realize this and it was a bit too soft and I thought if I should have added some other interfacing. That bag I ironed of course but more steamed the fabric than actually pressed because I didn't want to press the cotton wool. With the second bag I pressed accidentally and it turned out to be good accident! At this point I had the pink-blue bag ready and I took it, pressed all around it and had a much nicer looking bag! Sometimes accidents are for good.

If you, unlike me, remembered to leave the turning gap, you can just turn the bag around. If not, you have use for your seam ripper.

Iron, again. Cut a piece out of cartoon, the size of the bottom of your bag, put inside the bottom pocket made earlier, close it and put it inside your bag. It doesn't have to be attached, it can just be there. And you are done! The pink-blue bag has part of its lining fold over to the right side. I hope I could say this is exactly how I meant it to be but... Yeah, I cut the main fabric a bit too low and as the bag is quite low already, I didn't want to make any lower so I cut the lining higher and ironed it so that part of the lining is showing. Nice detail, I think. Also, sew some stitches on the corners on top of the seams and also stitch over the straps to secure them properly.

Then to details. Little My and these small electric guys are looking from the pockets:

The toy bag is stiff enough to stand on its own.

Close up from the straps:

I certainly hope this toy bag helps with the car trips! In any case, the kids both agree that these are great bags anyway. They like bags, there are always couple bags filled with toys or clothes. I was once wondering where some clothes are, there were couple pairs of pants and few shirts missing from the laundry and where they were? In a bag under the bed, I only found them after weeks. I had lifted that bag, I had seen it many times but didn't realize to watch inside! Also, very good use for upcycled curtains!

I didn't include any measurements, would you like them to be added? I scribbled something down, cut something, changed my mind, wrote over it, cut again, changed something etc. so my notes aren't quite that clear at the moment. But if you need those I can try and decipher my notes and add them here.

Upcyclelina's page on Facebook has a folder called "Second hand store finds", go and check it out! These curtains were there and I will add more as I find more. Also check my Pinterest boards, there is one about travelling with kids and it might give you a clue what I'm up to next. One of the boards is a group board (Suomalaiset käsityöblogit, i.e. Finnish handcraft blogs), join it or start following it if you find it interesting!


  1. That is fabulous!Thanks so much for sharing on craft schooling Sunday! If you can send me a copy of the last photo without the wording on it I'd love to feature it. all the best!

    1. You are welcome! Of course I can send you new picture. :)

  2. Great bag! I just love the Moomin fabric - what a great find! These bags are a good size too for the kids to keep their toys in! Love them!! :) Thanks for linking to A Round Tuit!

    1. You are welcome and thank you for your comment! :)

  3. Hi there
    Just stopped by to let you know that I featured this on my Round Tuit post this week!
    A Round Tuit 317
    Thanks again for linking up! Hope you have a great week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  4. Your bags are a great idea to keep the kids' toys contained in the car.

    1. And they worked! Our summer car trips were a bit easier when at least most of the toys weren't missing. :D

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