For this tutorial you will need the following:
- PUL (Polyurethane Laminated Fabric)--found at Hobby Lobby, sometimes at JoAnn Fabric, and at lots of cloth diaper suppliers online.
- A Zipper (Make sure it's at least 3 inches wider than the completed width of your wetbag.)
- Sewing machine
- Coordinating thread
- A zipper foot for your sewing machine
The size that you make this is up to you. You can make it large or small and still follow this tutorial. Mine is a small/medium that is the perfect size for your diaper bag. It can fit 3-5 dirty diapers or one change of clothes for a toddler or preschooler.
For this tutorial, the directions will be placed above the accompanying photos.
Step #1: Cut your fabric
Cut out a rectangle that is twice as long as the length of the wetbag you desire and 1/4 to 5/8 inches wider on either side. The fabric for my wetbag measured 20½" x14."
Cut a small, thin strip twice the length and width that you desire for a strap with which to carry your wet bag. The fabric for my strap measured 15"x2"
Step #2: Choose your Zipper
I like to choose a zipper that is actually longer than I need. In this case, I chose a 16" zipper which was 2 inches longer than the width of my fabric. I choose extra long zippers so I can sew and cut off the ends rather than try to fit my fabric to the length of the zipper I chose and having to deal with the ends of the zipper and trying to sew them perfectly. Zippers intimidate me, so eliminating each end makes things easier for me.
Step 3: Sew Zipper
Place the right side of your zipper against the right side of your fabric at one end of the fabric. Unzip the zipper so that the actual metal zipper pull is lying off the edge of your fabric.
Switch out the presser foot on your sewing machine to the zipper foot.
Pin your zipper against the edge of the fabric.
Move your needle over to the correct side of the presser foot.
Sew along the length of the zipper, remembering to back tac (sew back and forth) at the beginning and the end of the seam. (You should always back tack a little at the ends of every seam. It's a sewing machine's equivalent of tying a knot to keep the seam from unraveling.)
Check your work by looking at the right side of the fabric and zipping and unzipping the zipper. The zipper pull should slide back and forth without any problems if you sewed it correctly. If it won't zip correctly, you'll need to get out your seam ripper, pull out the stitches, and try again.
Now, you want to sew the other side of your zipper to the other end of your fabric. Pull your zipper completely closed. With right sides facing each other, fold the bottom end of your fabric upwards so that the right side of the fabric lies against the right side of your zipper.
Pin this side of the zipper to the other end of the fabric.
Now, unzip the zipper (you may have difficulties getting it past your pins, but with some wiggling and a bit of care, you can do it) and sew up the other side of your zipper, making sure that your needle position is moved to the correct side of the zipper foot.
Now, zip it closed, turn it right side out, and admire the awesome job you've done so far. Again, if the zipper won't close easily, you will have to rip out your seam and sew it again, correctly this time, which means that the stitches should be next to, but not touching, the teeth of the zipper.
If you'd like, you can call your zipper “done" and skip to Step #5. Step #4 will be adding a few touches that should make your wet bag just a bit more waterproof, but it brings the difficulty level of the sewing project up just a bit.
Step #4: Waterproofing the Zipper
Unzip the zipper all the way. With your fabric right side out, topstitch (sew a seam visible on the outside) the fabric to your zipper on one side. You can't iron PUL without ruining it, so this will take away any bulges in the fabric and allow it to lie flat against the zipper without ironing it.
Now, we're going to make a little flap to cover the zipper seam entirely, allowing less moisture to pass through this vulnerable area.
On the other side of the zipper, fold your fabric so it makes a little flap over the zipper.
Pin this flap evenly along the entire length of the zipper.
Sew the flap down.
Turn your work right side out and zip it closed to make sure it was sewn correctly. If it won't zip closed, you may have accidentally sewn over the teeth of the zipper. If this is the case, you'll need to get out your seam ripper, pull out the stitches, and sew it again.
Step #5: Making the Handle
Switch your presser foot from the zipper foot back to the zig zag foot (or whatever presser foot you regularly prefer to use).
Pull out the long strip of fabric that will become the handle of your wetbag.
Fold it in half lengthwise, and sew it closed along the open edge. Beware, sometimes the shiny side of PUL likes to stick to your machine and the feed dogs (The teeth under your presser foot that move and push your fabric along) may have difficulty moving it along. I like to lengthen my stitch length and pull gently on the back of the fabric as I sew it to help it along if this becomes a problem.
Attach a large safety pin or a diaper pin to one end of this strip, and push it through the tube you just created to turn it right side out.
If you'd like, you can topstitch the seam to help it lay flat, but this is merely aesthetic and not necessary for the functionality of the bag. Topstitching will also help the strip to lay flat and keep it from twisting.
Step #6: Sewing the bag closed
There are two ways to sew this bag closed on either side. Option #1 (a single seam) is very functional and will do the trick but may be prone to slightly more leakage than Option #2. Option #2 (the French seam) will make the bag a bit more waterproof because it hides one seam within another. The French Seam also has a nicer, more finished look. I'd read through both before deciding which you'd prefer.
Option #1: A Single Seam
Turn your work inside out, and unzip your zipper about halfway. The more you unzip it, the easier it will be to turn out when you're done. However, you don't want the zipper pull to be too close to the other edge of your fabric because it will get in the way of your presser foot as you sew the seam closed near the zipper.
Fold your handle in half.
Insert it into the wetbag above the open end of the zipper, loop side first. You want to make sure that there is enough room above the zipper for the handle to be inserted without actually overlapping at all with the zipper.
Push the handle all the way in so that its ends are flush with the raw edge of your wetbag, and pin it.
Now, pin all the open edges of your wetbag closed.
Sew along the seams, remembering to lengthen your stitch and pull on the back of your fabric if your feed dogs are having a hard time moving the fabric along. If your machine is moving your fabric along fine on it's own, you can keep a shorter stitch length.
When you get to the part where the zipper is sticking out, stitch back and forth over the zipper a couple of times over the zipper to reinforce the seam there.
Now, cut the excess zipper off either end.
Now, you're done. Turn the wetbag right side out, making sure to push the corners out crisply, and it's ready to be used!
Option #2: A French Seam
Turn your work right side out, and unzip your zipper about halfway. The more you unzip it, the easier it will be to turn out when you're done. However, you don't want the zipper pull to be too close to the other edge of your fabric because it will get in the way of your presser foot as you sew the seam closed near the zipper.
Pin the wetbag closed along both sides. Be sure to take extra care when pinning the open end of the zipper, that you're not overlapping the teeth, but that the teeth of the zipper are laying right next to each other, just barely touching.
Now, fold your handle strip in half and pin its raw edges to the raw edge of the wetbag just above the open end of the zipper.
Sew the seams closed on either side, leaving a smaller seam allowance--more like 1/4" rather than 5/8."
When the seams on both sides are sewn, your wetbag should look like this:
Now, cut off the extra zipper from each side.
Turn the project inside out and pin the seams--especially at the zipper.
Sew along these seams, leaving a seam allowance of at least 1/2" to 5/8" to be sure that the seam you sewed along the right side of the fabric is fully enclosed.
When you're done, your seams should look like this:
And that's it! You're done!
Turn the wetbag right side out, making sure to push the corners out crisply, and it's ready to be used!
Here is a comparison of the wetbag finished with a simple seam and a French seam. Both wetbags were made from a cut of fabric that had the exact same dimensions, but the one with the French seam (on top) is a bit thinner because it needs more seam allowance--1/2" to 1".
Grab your wet bag and stick it in the dryer at least once to help re-seal any holes made from sewing and pinning. Then, it's ready to go into your diaper bag along with your wipes and your extra cloth diapers. I always like to have at least two travel wet bags so I can switch one out for another. The blue one is one that I bought off Etsy. This Wahm made hers with a very simple zipper seam and also, simple side seams and it works great. Having the flap over the zipper and the French seams is just a little extra insurance against leakage.