Today’s tutorial is for a nice roomy bag with a whole boatload of optional details that you can mix and match to suit your needs. Don’t want leather details? Skip it! Add a zipper pocket inside or a crossbody strap for extra functionality.
Two important notes before we get started: make sure you grab the free bag pattern here. And if you are adding leather/faux leather details, check out the tips I’ve posted here if you’ve never worked with this type of material before.
Check out the video or follow along with the text/photo instructions below.
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In its simplest form, this bag can be made with 2 Outer Bag pieces and 2 Lining pieces. The leather/vinyl trim, strap, and pocket are optional.
If you want to go all out, you need a piece of handle trim and two pieces of bottom trim for the outer bag. As is, these pieces are designed to be made from leather, faux leather, or vinyl. (Or really any other fabric that doesn’t fray.)
That doesn’t mean you can’t use another type of fabric — you’ll just need to finish the edges somehow so they won’t fray. (Or leave them to fray on purpose!)
You’ll also need 4 snaps.
For a fully loaded bag, add a zipper pocket! You’ll need one Pocket piece and one zipper for each pocket.
I’m also adding a crossbody strap, which requires a Strap piece, 2 Strap End Tabs, 2 Strap D-ring Tabs, as well as some hardware: 2 D-rings and 2 Swivel Clasps.
Sourcing Specialty Materials
My faux leather is Caprice Bourbon from Fabric.com.
My D-rings and swivel clasps are from TantalizingStitches on Etsy.
My snaps are Size 16 in Antique Brass from SnapSource.
My green lining fabric is chartreuse canvas by Premier Prints, and my outer bag fabric is actually a set of handmade Guatemalan napkins.
Line up the wrong side of the Bottom Trim to the right side of the Outer Bag and topstitch along the top of the Trim to fasten the two pieces together.
Cut the gussets out of the Bottom Trim to match up with the gussets already cut out of the Outer Bag.
(Feel free to add some interfacing to your Outer or Lining pieces. Mine is just heavy enough that I’m skipping it. I’d suggest a lightweight interfacing, since the vinyl gives good structure to the bottom, but you kind of want the top of the bag to be a little floppy aka “slouchy.”)
Set aside the Outer Bag pieces and focus on your Lining. If you’re not adding any pockets, you can skip to Step 11.
The green Lining piece below (on the left) will have a pocket piece attached, so I’ve marked it with the “pocket alignment” dots from the pattern.
The Pocket piece on the right shows the pocket marked with the zipper opening.
Align the top two corners of the Pocket with the marked dots on the Lining, right sides together. My pocket fabric looks the same from both sides, so to clarify, you’re looking at the wrong side of the pocket in the photo below.
Pin around the marked rectangle on the Pocket, and then stitch where you’ve marked.
After sewing, cut open the length of the rectangle and then to each corner. Cut right up to the stitches, but be careful not to snip through them.
(The photo below shows the stitching from the wrong side of the lining, because it’s a little easier to see on that side.)
Now it’s time to turn the pocket, which means pulling it through the opening we just cut. (After pulling it through, we are now looking at the right side of my pocket fabric.)
Pay special attention to the top and sides of the pocket opening. They have a tendency to want to stay flipped the wrong way. But once you press the pocket opening with an iron, everything should stay in place.
Flip the lining so the right side is facing up. Line up the zipper (right side up) underneath the opening, and fix it in place. I’m using pins, but you can use the glue stick method I’ve demonstrated in other tutorials.
Topstitch around the zipper. If your zipper is longer than the opening, make sure not to sew through the teeth. The way I usually do that is I sew right up to the zipper teeth, lift the needle and the presser foot, hop over the teeth, put the needle back down, and keep on’ sewing. Trim off any excess zipper.
Trim off any excess zipper, and then fold the bottom edge of the pocket up to meet the top edge.
Pin the raw edges of the pocket together. Make sure you’re pinning only through the pocket layers and not through the lining of the bag.
Sew around the sides and top of the pocket using a 1/2″ seam allowance.
Repeat Steps 2-10 if you want a second zipper pocket.
Pin the two lining pieces right sides together. Stitch around the sides and bottom with a 1/2″ seam allowance.
Repeat for the outer bag pieces, paying special attention to the edges of the leather Bottom trim. You want the two sides to line up perfectly.
Also, remember to use clips instead of pins on the leather/vinyl portion.
NOTE: You might have noticed that my Outer Bag pieces do not extend all the way to the bottom edge of the Bottom Trim. This is because I upcycled my Outer Bag fabric from a set of napkins, and they weren’t long enough. I point this out in case you’re confused as to why the wrong side of my Outer Bag pieces look different than yours.
Press the seams open at the gussets. I usually do this with my fingers instead of actually pressing with an iron. (When it comes to the vinyl, you shouldn’t use an iron anyway.)
Line up the gusset seams.
Clip the gusset closed and stitch.
Pin and sew the Lining gussets closed.
Place the Lining inside the Outer bag, right sides together.
Match up the top edges of the Lining and Outer bag pieces and pin.
Stitch the top edges using a 1/2″ seam allowance.
Don’t stitch the ends of the straps.
Leave a 3-4 inch gap in the stitching along one edge for turning the bag right sides out.
Reach in through the gap and grab a handful of bag. Pull it out through the hole and gently work the rest of the bag through until the whole thing is turned right sides out.
Tuck the Lining into the Outer bag.
Hey, this bad boy is starting to look like an actual bag!
Press the top edge of the bag and pin along the edge.
Fold under the raw edges of one of the strap ends by 1/4″. The next step is to topstitch around the top edge of the bag, but we don’t want to topstitch this end closed, so I like to mark mine with a clip as a reminder.
You heard me… topstitch! Topstitch like the wind!
Now we have one raw-edged strap end and one “pressed-under” strap end. Tuck the raw-edge strap inside the pressed-under strap. Pin to secure and toptstitch closed.
Note that the edges don’t line up perfectly because of where we topstitched along the outer edges of the bag. That’s OK. The handle will cover it.
Speak of the devil! Here’s our Handle Trim piece. Fold the sides to the wrong side by 1/2″, clip in place, and topstitch.
Remember to knot the ends of your thread tails instead of backstitching! (Did you miss my handy post with tips for working with leather, faux leather, and vinyl?)
Use a large, blunt needle to tuck the thread tails into the seam.
Fold down the top edge, clip, and topstitch.
Tuck in the thread tails and then mark the snap placement (if you haven’t done so already).
Attach your snaps per the instructions for your particular snaps/snap setter. (I’m using SnapSource snaps. You can see a demonstration of this brand of snaps and setter here.)
NOTE: Though I have provided guide marks for the snaps, you should make sure that your particular snaps don’t need to be situated a little differently (e.g. wider snaps may need to be moved further from the edges/hem allowances).
Alternate Step 27
If you prefer, you can use Velcro (aka hook and loop tape) instead of snaps.
Sew one strip to the top of the wrong side of the Handle Trim.
Apply the other strip to the bottom of the right side.
Now that the Handle Trim is finished, we can attached it to the bag.
Gather or fold the strap so it’s roughly half its normal width.
Wrap the Handle Trim around the folded strap and secure the straps or velcro.
Attach the snap closure to the main bag. (Again, you can use velcro instead if you’d prefer.)
If you are omitting the crossbody strap, your bag is complete!
How to assemble the crossbody strap…
Fold in half once, hot dog style, and press.
You now have a nice fold line down the center of your strap.
NOTE: Again, you can add interfacing here, if you’d prefer.
Using that fold line as a guide, fold the raw edges in to meet. Press again.
Now fold the strap along the original center line, lining up the two folded edges.
Press yet again for old time’s sake, then pin the open end. Topstitch close to the edge, all the way around the strap.
NOTE: For future reference, this type of strap is called a “double-fold strap.”
Now we’ll address the vinyl tab ends and the swivel clasps. First, we need to get the clasp on the vinyl. I did the genius thing and bought clasps with very small openings at the end, which means I have to roll my vinyl into a little tube to get the clasp in place.
You can avoid this by buying clasps with wider ring ends. (Mine are about 0.4″, so you’ll probably want something closer to 1″.)
Alternate Step 33
If you find yourself having trouble getting the swivel clasp onto the Strap End, here’s an alternate method.
You’ll need to make adjustments to how you cut the Strap Ends. Instead of cutting each Strap End in one piece, cut it in two and extend the “tab” end.
I like to reinforce this portion of the strap with a piece of woven ribbon or cord, just in case. This will ensure that the leather/vinyl itself is not bearing the entire brunt of the strap wear and tear.
Using masking tape to hold it in place.
Fold the Strap End around one raw end of the strap and clip in place.
Now remember, we don’t want to backstitch through the leather. Instead, backstitch on the fabric portion of the strap (marked with yellow dots), then stitch around the edge of the Strap End until you reach the other side, backstitching again on the fabric portion.
Starting from one corner of the Strap End, sew a large criss-crossing “X” to further reinforce this piece.
Because there’s nowhere to hide backstitching here, leave long thread ends and tie them off.
Weave the thread tails into the stitching and trim the excess. (This step was nearly impossible to photograph, so I’d suggest watching the video.)
Alternately, you can tie off the ends, add a tiny dab of fabric glue to the knot, and clip the thread tails once the glue has dried.
Repeat these steps to attach the other Strap End Tab to the Strap.
The crossbody strap is pretty much complete at this point, but if you have any uneven edges, you can trim them up with your scissors or a rotary cutter.
Now we’ll move on to the D-ring tabs. I’d suggest removing the bag’s Handle for the following steps.
Slide the D-ring over the narrow tab end. (Note that I’ve reinforced my tab with a piece of ribbon again.)
Fold the tab around the D-ring and secure to the wrong side.
Tape the D-ring tab to the bag, aligning the top folded edge with the mark position on the bag,
Just like with the strap, start by backstitching on the fabric before topstitching around the sides and top of the D-ring tab.
Reinforce the D-ring tab with extra topstitching. Remember to leave long thread tails and no backstitching!
Pull the threads tails to the lining side of the bag.
Tie the threads off and add a dab of fabric glue to the knot.
Allow the glue to dry before clipping the thread tails.
Attach the swivel clasps to the D-rings.
Your crossbody strap is complete!
HOT DIGGITY DOG! We’re done!