Simplicity 1519, the Bark Cloth Bag

This was really such a fun, simple and quick project. Anyone can make this bag. Here's the deets:

Pattern:  This is Simplicity1519.  As you can see on the pattern cover burlap upholstery tape is used as the cuff on all the bags. I bought the tape but once I got it home, I thought it was too rough and I wanted something just a bit more sophisticated, so I used fabric instead. This design is SO simple. The pattern shows a pleated version and the more sculpted version that I did in several sizes from wristlets to larger bags. 
Fabric: This was the fun part! I used a piece of barkcloth that I picked up at a flea market a year to so back. In case you don't know, barkcloth is a fabric from the fifties. It is a heavy cotton with good drape. It has lots of slubs and texture and is usually made in designs featuring huge florals, like camelias and magnolias. I can remember this fabric in draperies from my very early childhood. I can say we never had bark cloth in our home. Was it expensive? But I do remember a couple of friends who had it in theirs and one particular home that had very dark paint colors and the barkcloth drapery. That seems appropriate based on the location in the deep South. Manufacturers today will occasionally have bark cloth designs but I've never seen it in the style of textile that the original had. That's what I like about it, all the texture and slubs. 

You can see how this fabric lent itself to drapery and dark interior walls. I think vintage bark cloth is just lovely and have a fair bit left of the piece I used for the bag. I would like to work it into some clothing, maybe a Katherine Tilton sort of layered thing with other linens. Time will tell. 

For the top band I used a heavy home dec linen I had on hand and it worked fine. The burlap edge did not appeal to me at all. 

The lining was a small piece of Ambiance I had leftover. Because I make so many bags I never throw  away leftover lining scraps. 

Construction: This was probably one of the easiest bags I've ever made. It didn't need the heavy structure required of a good tote bag as there is no formal bottom to the bag. The fabrics were easy to sew and the BC did not ravel as much as I thought it would. The print was large and I had to play around with the placement to  get it to feature the part of the design I wanted to feature. I didn't do a magnetic closure so that made it even easier. 

The BC was fused to fusible fleece, my standard bag interfacing. For the band I measured the upholstery tape and cut the same width in the teal linen with seam allowances added. The band was fused with fleece as well. I did quilt the band with a cross hatch  after seaming it together on one side. That helped unify it with the bottom part of the bag. The straps were triple zigzagged to keep them secure and down.For the lining I did not bag as per the instructions. Instead I simply sewed it up, pressed under the seam allowances and handstitched it around the top edge, easy peasy.

This was bag making 101. I highly recommend this pattern for any beginner. No pockets, no zips and something cute to toss your goodies into for a quick romp shopping or beaching on a summer's day. Sometimes you just need a palate cleanser.....................Bunny


  1. Oh, darn! Now I want t run upstairs and make a bag! Yours is just adorable!

  2. Have you ever tried By Annie's Soft and Stable instead of fusable fleece? I really like the body it gives to a bag. I remember fabrics similar to the ones you describe from my youth but never knew they were called bark cloth. Seems to me we had some porch furniture perhaps covered in similar. I love the classic old huge floral designs.

    1. I haven't tried it, Georgia. Is it sold retail or online? Thanks for your suggestion.

      She sells at shows and expos, but mostly online. Have a great day!

  3. What a darling bag!!!! You have brought that barkcloth to life, Bunny!

  4. Cute as pie and ready for spring!

  5. Really PRETTY bag, Bunny! I bet it gets lots of use, once warmer weather arrives. Well done!

  6. Thanks, Rett. I gave it do my sweet sister last weekend when I visited with her. She loved it and used it right away.


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