Glucose Test Kit Bag
Difficulty: Beginner – moderate skill level (basic sewing experience required)
Let’s admit it. That glucose test kit bag that came free with your meter is pretty lame. It’s downright ugly. It may be practical, but if you have to carry it with you, it should have some swag, some style, right? In this tutorial, we’ll learn how to make a custom glucose test kit bag in under two hours (Give or take depending on your skill level!).
If you’re a beginning sewist, this is a great project for you. You’ll have the opportunity to practice and learn how to put in a zipper a new way. If you’ve never put in a zipper, don’t panic. I’ll be right there with you!
1 22″ non-separating zipper
Double fold bias tape or a strip of contrasting fabric cut on the bias 3″ x 22″
Your kit bag to use as a template (optional, we can work around that)
1 small snack or craft size zipper closure bag (or any small bags that came with buttons or beads, etc.)
***6 inches of 1/2″ elastic, any color your like
Pinking Shears (trust me on this)
First things first
Before we start, we need to measure. I’ll admit, when I was working on a prototype for this project, it was a little tight for my supplies. It was a reminder to allow a little extra room when using multiple layers. For this project, a little extra width will not hurt the finished product.
To measure, lay your bag out face down (easier to smooth it out) with the center on the fold. Trace around the bag adding one inch for the seam allowance and to allow room for the zipper and lining. It will take up more than you expect. Cut 3 of the inside material. You’ll use one for a lining, and the other two will be folded in half for pockets.
But wait! I don’t have an old kit bag to pack up my troubles in!
If you got that, you’re older than me.
So what if you don’t have a kit bag? No problem. If you have the supplies, you get to make it up as we go along! Yaaaayyyy!!!
Like a kitchen, you have a way that works best with your testing routine. I don’t like to take the test strip canister out of the bag. I’m lazy. So with my old bag, I was able to pop the lid and just take a test strip out. For both designs though, we’re going to forgo the canister because it’s bulky. However because your test strips must stay dry, and here in NW Alabama, that’s a rare thing with the humidity, we’re going to use a snack size zipper bag instead. That will keep your test strips dry, and your bag not so bulky. Win-Win!
Plan your path…
Think about your routine and lay your kit contents out the way you want to use them. Let’s imagine there’s a bag on the fold. I’ve placed my supplies in the order I use them.
Trace a rounded rectangle around your supplies just like you had a bag, allowing for room around them. We’re going to be putting sections in your bag, just FYI.
*Do note, if you want anything in the center such as your insulin pen or your lancet, we’ll put elastic across the center to hold it. This is optional of course.
Measure twice, cut once. Curse…repeat
It’s easier to cut it smaller than to have to cut it over. So be certain of your placement before you cut and allow room to stitch, turn, and layer.
Angles are everything…when cutting on the bias.
Cutting on the bias means to cut across the grain. Imagine a square. It could be a rectangle too or a triangle, whatever. The point is, find the selvage or the rough edge where all the fabric info is. If that isn’t available, look at the fabric and find the cross hairs where the weft and warp are. The bias is the cut that goes in between like cutting through the middle, corner to corner, on a tic-tac-toe game.
To make a strip of bias tape, measure a 3-inch strip from corner to corner. Using your pinking shears, cut the strip out. That’s why we needed extra fabric. Whichever fabric you want your binding to be in, that’s the one you’ll need extra for.
Why are we “wasting” all that fabric? Can’t you just cut it straight and save fabric.
Yes, but no. If it were a larger project, we might get away with it. Because our project has curves, we need that little bit of wiggle and give that cutting on the bias provides.
Try this. Try stretching the fabric across. Doesn’t move does it? Now grab the corners and pull. Ahah! It “stretches” doesn’t it. That’s what the bias does, and it makes turning corners lickety split easy! It’s like basting a zipper. If you skip the step, you’ll curse yourself later.
Where were we…?
Cutting out the bag. So once you have your bag laid out, cut one for the body, and three for the inside. We’ll use one to line it, and the other two will be folded in half and used to create inner pockets. If you want an outer pocket too, cut a fourth one. Heck, cut 5 and we’ll have a pocket party!
Let’s assemble the troops.
***If you plan to use elastic across the middle or anywhere, now is the time for that. I will not be using elastic for this demo. Cut a piece of elastic twice as large as the item it will hold. Place the elastic around whatever it will hold and stretch it so that the loop will be snug, but still has some flex. Mark where the ends will overlap. Do not trim. Transfer your piece to the RIGHT SIDE of the lining and pin or baste in place. Stitch across the overlapping ends thoroughly. I recommend trimming the excess after you stitch it down. Makes it easier to handle.
Place a pin at the center fold on each side. Place the outer layer and one of the inside pieces together (with or without the elastic), pin or baste the WRONG SIDES TOGETHER. Using a loose stitch, stitch around close to the edge, leaving a 1/2″ opening on one of the center folds. We’ll tuck our zipper ends into that later. If you basted, pull out your basting stitches.
Remember when we laid all the pieces down? Now is when you get to decide on how you want your bag designed. Take the two remaining pieces and fold them in half. Press along the fold.
Place your plastic bags, zipper side up wherever you plan to use one. Go to your machine and stitch from top to bottom wherever you want a pocket to be, stitching through the sides and bottom, NOT THE TOP, of the plastic bag. Don’t worry, we’ll trim off the excess. Do the same with the other pocket side. Use a loose, wide stitch, just in case. For extra strength, you can add some strips of fabric along the edges like I did.
Place a pin to mark the center fold again. Place each pocket so they match along the top and bottom of the bag. So they don’t touch in the middle, move both pockets down to create a 1-inch gap in the middle. We’ll trim ends we’re done with this step. Pin or baste in place. Place a couple pins across the middle just for security.
Makin’ a pocket…checkin’ it twice
Check fit with your supplies before you stitch it down. Fold it in half too just to check. Easier to tear out now than later. Adjust if necessary. If you’re satisfied, take the pockets off and go back along your original stitches with either a tight, straight stitch, or a decorative stitch. Place the pockets back on to the body and stitch along the edge through all four layers. You could use a serger here if you want or zig-zag across the edges. Or just use a straight stitch. It’s all the same. We’ll cover it up with trim.
We’re getting there!
Now the scary part. Not really. But zippers do intimidate some people. Before we start, take a moment to cup two small rectangles 1 1/4″ x 2″. Just pink them, we won’t make this step fancy. These will be tabs for the zipper ends. Since you left an opening, one end can be tucked in or it can be covered. I’ll show you how to do that.
To attach your tabs, fold over the end of the zipper, pin and straight or zig-zag around all four sides, being careful as you go over the zipper teeth. Note that I didn’t cover the zipper stop. That’s a broken needle just waiting! Leave the other end until we’ve sewn our zipper on and know exactly where to trim the end.
Unzip your zipper. Starting at the middle point, lay your zipper with the zipper feet and pull facing UP. Extend the pull out about 1- 1/2 inches from the edge. Pin or baste the selvage just below the edge as shown. Pay special attention to the corner. This will give us a bit more room to attach trim and make your bag easier to open. Do the same to the other side. Let the ends dangle. Don’t trim!
Using a zipper foot, sew close to the edge. Watch that you don’t bend the zipper in the corners. When you sew across the middle where the zipper pull is, pull the tab away from the edge toward the center. Be careful not to sew too close or the zipper will not cooperate. Stop at the middle when you get to the stopper end of the zipper. Remover your pins or basting and test your zipper for smooth closure.
Tuck the zipper ends into the space we made and close the opening. If this cooperates, we can move to the next step.
Don’t get your skivvies in a bind…it’s just seam binding
Like zippers, putting seam binding around something is intimidating. I’m going to demystify the process.
To begin, we’re going to turn the piece you cut into a double fold bias tape. Using your iron, fold the strip in half all the way down and press. Fold each edge into the middle without overlapping and press. Do one side at a time. Fold in half with the folded sides in and press again. Flip it over and press again using steam.
Just like the zipper, careful pinning or basting is key here. Open up the binding. With RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER, place the edge of the binding along the edge of the bag extending it over the edge by about 1/8-inch as shown. This gives us room to fold neatly without interfering with the zipper. Leave an inch or so unpinned at the beginning so we can put the ends together. I recommend starting in the middle of an end so when you join your binding, it won’t be bulky along the zipper.
Following your zipper stitch, stitch along the same line. Stop about an inch from where you started. Trim off the excess leaving about 2 inches. We’ll trim that next.
Pull the ends together until they meet in the middle. Using tailor’s chalk or a marking pen, mark along the line where you will sew. Pin together. Don’t worry that the edges don’t meet. Remember we left a little extra.
This is the “hard” part
Bring the binding up and over with the folded ends to the inside along the fold in the binding. Place the edge along the zipper stitch line and pin (here you might want to baste) carefully, paying special attention again along the curves and wherever you feel a little bind or it wants to pull away. This will be in the corners. You can thank me now for suggesting you cut that binding on the bias.
Yes, it’s okay to cheat
You do not have to make this hard. We can “cheat”. I will be the first to admit that creating a perfect stitch line on the edge of binding is hard without a binding foot. So to “cheat” use a tighter, small to medium zig-zag along the edge. You won’t notice that the stitch is slightly off. If you want it to be a little cleaner, use an embroidery stitch to create a tighter zig-zag.
Press around the trim.
Be healthy and look great at the same time. One last option. You can add a wrist strap to your glucose test kit to create a wristlet. Take another length of the binding we made and stitch it together along the folded edges to make a strap. Attach at the beginning when you put the lining and front together using the gap for the zipper ends you tucked in. Sew it to the bag below where the binding will go.