Make It: Mute Bags

If you follow me on Instagram you may have gleaned that in January I restarted playing the trumpet/ cornet and joined a brass band (Cirencester Band in case you’re interested) and a swing band (JJ’s Swing Band). I also invested in a full set of mutes, which I never used when I played at school, but which are really needed in the swing band and are used in quite a few of the brass band pieces. I spent about £150 on 4 mutes (Harmon, Straight, Cup and Practice in case you’re interested) and when I started carrying them around I worried that they would get scratched and dented by bouncing off each other, so I decided to make some little draw-string bags to keep them protected.

Working out the dimensions for the circle at the bottom of the bag and the rectangle for the sides took quite a bit of maths – maths which I hadn’t used since GCSE!   Πr² and all that.

Height Circumference Radius
Practice 18cm 21cm 4.8cm
Harmon 13cm 29cm 6cm
Cup 18cm 36cm 7.1cm
Straight 15cm 29cm 6cm

I added a 1cm seam allowance and then used the circle formulae (c = Πr² and r = (c÷2Π) to figure out the final measurements I needed. In retrospect I should have added more to the height of the side to allow for the drawstring and the bunching of the fabric, so if you use this tutorial, I would all a couple of centimetres to the height of whatever it is you want to put in a bag.

Radius Length of side Height of side
Practice 4.8cm 32.2cm 22cm
Harmon 6cm 39.7cm 17cm
Cup 7.1cm 46.6cm 22cm
Straigh 6cm 39.7cm 19cm

I used several things which were in my stash: leftover mustard denim from one of my cleo dresses, the scribble striped jersey (which I used to make my Marianne Dress and my cropped Inari tee) and some thick mystery fabric my friend gave me after making me a knitting needle case. The letters are made from a tiny bit of navy twill I had lying around.

The first thing I did was to stitch on the letters, using a narrow zig-zag stitch to stop them from fraying. I sewed the letters onto only the denim, so the stitching wouldn’t show on the inside.

The next thing I did was to sew the lining fabric (the stripey jersey) and the padding layers (the turquoise mystery fabric) together for each bag base and side, so I could treat them as one layer when stitching them together.

I then stitched the side rectangles into tubes, right sides together. I did this for the doubled up lining layer and the outer denim layer.

The next thing was to stitch the tube to the base of the bag – I’m not going to lie, this was really fiddley with the denim because it has no stretch at all. I marked the quarter points on the circle and the tube to help distribute the tube evenly around the circle.

At least I knew my maths worked!

I repeated the step with the lining pieces – it was way easier because the jersey obviously has stretch and the turquoise mystery fabric has enough stretch to help ease the 2 pieces together.

I trimmed the seam allowance down on the lining pieces because it was really bulky with the padding layer.

I then put the lining bag inside the outer bag – you don’t need to turn the lining bag the right way around as it is the opposite way around to the outer bag. I folded the 2 layers down by 1cm (the seam allowance I added), sandwiching the seam allowances between the 2 layers so the raw edges are all hidden.

I topstitched the 2 layers together a few millimetres from the top of the bag, and then did another line of stitching at a 1.5cm seam allowance to make a channel for the drawstring, which I bought from my local sewing shop.

I had to unpick just the lining between the 2 layers of stitching to allow me to get the string into the channel – because the side seam has been sewn over twice, I figured it wouldn’t unravel completely.

And here they are! I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out – they do make my mutes a lot more bulky to carry but I’m not constantly afraid of destroying them, especially given that they were fairly expensive.

This is the harmon (or wah-wah) mute, which is used for jazz mostly. It has a plunger in the middle, which you can adjust or remove – if you remove the plunger you get a sound like Miles Davis.

This is my cup mute, which muffles the sound more than the straight mute

The straight mute muffles the sound but it has a pretty sharp sound.

This is my practice mute, which completely deadens the sound, so I can practice without making my neighbours hate me!

Do you play any musical instruments? Will you make these draw-string bags for storing other things?



9 thoughts on “Make It: Mute Bags

  1. Donnalee

    I wish we could get a complete mute for my partner who plays drums! I play keyboards the least little bit and sing somewhat. Music is a great thing.

    Those bags are great–it was clever thinking to figure you’d need them and not just let them get damaged. Have fun playing!


    1. Amelia Wray Post author

      Hahaha, yeah, drums must be a pretty loud instrument to have played in your house! Music is great – especially playing in a group! I hadn’t realised how much I missed it (it’s been about 14 years since I played at school) until I started playing again. I also like that I now have 2 hobbies and not just sewing, which can be a bit lonesome!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Donnalee

        I think it’s great. Music played with others is just such a unifying thing. In the ‘old days’, people learned to play drums in their basement, and it wasn’t as bad in many cases–garages often worked fine too. What sort of music are you playing?


      2. Amelia Wray Post author

        The swing band plays a mixture of older things, like Buddy Rich and the Rat Pack but we also play slightly more modern songs like fleetwood mac and Bruno Mars. The brass band is mostly playing the music from brassed off as we are the band in a local production this week! It’s the tech rehearsal tomorrow. Other than that it’s also a mixture from traditional marches to Lennon and McCartney songs, to the music from Pirates of the Caribbean and Wallace and Gromit. It’s definitely testing my sight-reading skills!
        How about you?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Donnalee

        That’s so fun. Many many years ago I played ‘double bass baritone French horn’ in a marching band for a while and we played Beatles too. I still know the bass lines as honking sounds. My sightreading is eh and out of practice, but having to practice all the time will help you tremendously.

        I was a stage manager on a few musicals in the last few years and love them. Have fun!


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  5. Clare

    This is brilliant, thanks for posting. I play in a brass band and we were talking about making mute bags to protect them. Can’t wait to have a go now.



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