On Saturday, I stopped by a favorite antique store in town and found an old vintage linen table cloth that must have been about 4' x 4' (just guessing). It wasn't a tea towel, but it was a lovely linen fabric, some of the best I've seen. The edges had a nice binding which meant less finish work for me! And it had a simple but pretty hand stitched pattern that looked a bit like wheat to me (just a bit; just imagine that it is!).
To make a bread bag, I suggest you bake a loaf first so that you can use it as a guide for how big you need to make the bag. I wrapped the fabric around my bread and then added a bit for extra room and to make it easy to get the bread in and out. So sorry I don't have any exact measurements for you, but as long as you make it big enough, you can always cut it down later if it's too big.
Next, use pinking shears or a serger to finish of the edges that are not already finished. This will prevent raveling when you wash your bag.
Press the top edge over about 1 1/2" toward the inside of the fabric (also known as the wrong side of the fabric).
Fold the fabric in half lengthwise so that the right side of the fabric is now on the inside. (This is really hard for you to tell in the photos because the linen is the same on both sides. I had to keep looking at the embroidery to tell which was the right side!). The top portion that you pressed down in the prior step should now be on the outside.
Pin and stitch on three sides, leaving the top open. (It doesn't really matter how far from the edge you stitch on this project).
Using your pinking sheers or scissors, cut a diagonal across the bottom corners to reduce bulk when you turn your bag. Just don't cut too close!
You should now be able to open your bag at the top and see the correct side on the inside of the bag.
Press open the side seam at the top of the bag as far as you can (if you have a pressing ham, you can get all the way down. I just pressed about 5 or 6 inches down.
Now, turn the top down again on top of itself, so that it are three layers of fabric at the top. (Does this make any sense? I don't think I'm explaining this very well. Think of rolling a cuff on a sleeve two times.)
Go back to your machine and stitch two rows, taking care to space evenly. Leave enough space between the two rows for whatever string you are going to use - and leave extra room. For example, if your cording is 1/4", leave 1/2" between the two rows.
I hope you can see in the above photo that I stitched over this area back and forth a couple of times right at the seam to reinforce the horizontal stitching that runs parallel to the top of the bag. Next, turn the bag right-side-out and use a seam ripper to open up the side seam only between the two rows you just stitched.
Add a safety pin to your cording or ribbon and thread it through this opening (the casing) and back around to the other side. Knot the ends or tie them together.
Press side seams and voila! You're done! Now you can enjoy your bread bags. Hopefully, for many years to come. Since I used a tablecloth instead of a hand towel, I was able to make two loaf size bags and a square artisan bread bag.
Please feel free to email me if you are having trouble with this project and I would be glad to try and help you. Or perhaps a seamstress friend can do a better job explaining it than me!
Let me know if you make some bread bags. I'd love to see pictures. Amber, a long time friend and fellow blogger, already got on this project. Be sure to see her bread bag and reorganized pantry at More Than Rubies.
May God continually fill your bags abundantly with bread!