Thursday, February 7, 2013

DIY Wet bag, plus sewing tips

I love DIY projects, but sometimes the final product doesn't turn out how I'd like. I’ve seen several blog posts with tutorials on DIY wet bags, and I finally decided to give it a try just for fun.

Some background about my sewing experience:  I have a sewing machine that I’ve had for about 4 years, and maybe used 4 times total.  My mom was a professional seamstress for 25 + years, and has a bachelors of arts in fashion design. I have some anxiety about sewing, since every time I’ve tried, it usually ends in my mom “fixing” the project, or doing the entire thing for me.  This time I was determined to do the entire sewing project on my own.

My sister accompanied me in shopping for materials, and we purchased 1-yard PUL (polyurethane laminated) fabric, 1-yard cotton fabric, a 16-inch zipper, and matching polyester thread.

We had some coupons, but for regular price at JoAnn Fabrics making this project would cost:

$9.99 for 1 yard of cotton fabric (There were some cheaper fabrics available)

$9.99 for 1 yard of PUL

$4.50 for a 16” zipper

$2.80 for thread

Making this project would cost about $28 total (I spent $20 after our coupons), but I will have enough fabric left over to make a medium-sized wet bag that should hold 3-4 diapers.

To get started on my project, I selected this wet bag tutorial from A Lemon Squeezy Home to be a guide, and I made a few modifications. I wanted my final project to be a similar size as the large Planet Wise wet bag, and I also wanted the PUL inner lining to be made from one large piece of fabric, rather than sewing two pieces together (as suggested in the tutorial).  I thought that was more similar to the Planet Wise design, and also eliminated the risk of moisture wicking through stitching at the bottom of the bag.  This modification was easily workable for a larger style bag, but probably not possible for any smaller sized bags I planned to make. I also decided to surge the cotton edges to help prevent them from unraveling and catching within the bag (a minor problem I had with a Wahmies brand wet bag).  Since I don’t have a machine to do this, I did a zig-zag stitch over the edge of the cotton fabric to get a “surged effect”.

I measured and cut pieces as follows:

17” X 39” PUL (one piece)

17”X 19.5” cotton (two pieces)

I referred to the wet bag tutorial for instructions on doing the zipper and sewing the bag.  It took me about 5 minutes just to figure out how to put the “zipper foot” on the machine (I’ve never sewed a zipper before!), and I definitely made some major mistakes as I was making the bag, had to rip out some stitching, and make some modifications.  However, for my first time making a wet bag it actually came out really nicely and functionally.  I wouldn’t feel too badly about giving this as a gift, and I know the next bag I make will be even nicer!
Close up of PUL layer
Finished Wet Bag- sized about 16 inches by 18 inches
Wet bag holding 5 pocket diapers with room for more

 Tips when making your bag:

1. When sewing the zipper, be careful not to get the fabric too close to where the bag zips.  The second bag I made turned out great, except I got the PUL fabric a little too close to the zipper on one part of the bag. This problem was combined with not pulling the PUL tightly away from the zipper while stitching, which resulted in a little flap of fabric that could get caught in the zipper.  I ended up going back and hand stitching down the area that was catching, and this solved the problem.

2. Use a non-separating zipper.  I ended up buying zippers that separated on both sides (like a jacket would), since I didn't know to look for anything different.  Occasionally you have to stick the zipper back together in order to close the bags I made.  By using a non-separating zipper, there won't be any fiddling when trying to close the bag.

3. Select a fabric pattern that doesn't have an "up" or "down" to it.  Keep it simple for your first bag, and go with a fabric pattern that can be flipped whatever direction you want.  This can help you squeeze a few more bags out of the fabric as well.


  1. You're so brave! I've never used the zipper foot on my machine, either. Kudos on a job well done and a really cute little wet bag!

    1. Thanks! This project wasn't too difficult. Now sewing my own diapers... that's a project that would take serious bravery.

  2. Hi! Thanks so much for this and the link. I'm also learning the art of using my sewing machine for material not just paper projects. Great little gift ideas and a way for me to learn as I go : )

  3. thanks for sharing. Did it end up working well? Any wicking issues? Ordors or leaking?

    1. It works wonderfully! I can't tell any difference between my handmade bag and my purchase bag.

  4. Thanks for sharing this! About how many diapers can fit in this bag?

    1. A lot! I would estimate about 8-10 depending on the type of diaper.

  5. Thanks! Can you elaborate on how you used a single piece of PUL for the interior and, more importantly, how you "flipped" it? Where was your turning hole? I have the same concerns about wicking and having a seam that is at the bottom. I love the Planet Wise bags and the Blueberry brand snack bags! Why do you think the single piece wouldn't' be good for smaller bags?

    1. It's been a while since I've made wet bags, so let's see if I remember all the details. So for the PUL I had one long rectangle that I folded in half and secured the two fabric rectangles and PUL to the zipper. Next, you'll work on the sides of the bag--sew the PUL separately from the fabric so you aren't joining them together. At this point you're going to flip the bag--there will be a hole at the bottom where you haven't joined the fabric pieces. After flipping, you'll sew up the fabric and you're finished. Let me know if that answers your question!

    2. OK, so your flipping hole is in the bottom or side of the cotton pieces, as opposed to within the PUL. And then, it looks like from the picture that you did a top-stitch all around the perimeter of the exterior/cotton?

      Thank you so much for your quick response! After I posted my question, I figured it might be met with silence as the last post/question was over 2 years old! Thank you so much! I bought a bunch of PUL and Food Safe PUL and I'm hoping to make a bunch of reusable snack bags for gifts. I'm happy with the first one I made, but it could be better. The seam on it is at the bottom of the lining and just... isn't what I want. Then your description was EXACTLY what I was looking for! I'll try that with my next bag (although because of events it won't be until at least mid-July that I get to sew again...). Thank you again!

    3. Yep! I did top stitch around the edge when I was finished--it's not super necessary, but I thought it dressed it up a bit more since the bottom of the bag will have the stitch showing on the outside after you finish the bag.

      I'm looking at my planet wise sandwich bag right now and with that bag they sewed the PUL and fabric together at the sides. Here's a picture of the one I have: That would probably be super easy to do if you have a serger. There is also a sandwich bag wrap-up from PlanetWise which was probably my favorite until the kids lost it (nooo....).

      It sounds like you'll have some fun projects to work on! Good luck with them :).