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Funky Bag ~ Free Bag Tutorial ~ how to make your own shoulder bag

December 5, 2011

I love fabric. I’m not able to walk past a remnants box without picking up some of the lovely fabric and wondering what I could do with it and I’ll take any excuse to pop to my nearest fabric shop to see what they have in store for me…

My lovely mother lent me her sewing machine a few years ago and I got hooked. I was lucky enough to be given a sewing machine by my parents last Christmas, and I haven’t looked back since! I have made so many lovely things out of different kinds and sizes of fabric ~ some for the home, some as presents for friends and families, and some just for fun. I’ve been inpsired by others on the web, and have enjoyed experimenting with ideas and adapting others’ ideas to suit my needs and materials. This Christmas I’ve made pretty much every Christmas present for my loved ones, and am so pleased with what I’ve made, I’d like to share these with you. 

I’ve created a tutorial for the most recent bag I made. It was so simple to make. I was inspired by some trim I bought from my local fabric shop, and then came across this lovely fabric and had to make something out of the two. I’d love to know your thoughts on the tutorial, particularly if you think it needs tweaking at all.

Easy tutorial for a simple but elegant Shoulder Bag

Materials Needed

2x main fabric for body (I used 30 x 38cm including seams)
2x lining fabric (I used 30 x 38cm including seams)
2x interfacing or interlining (I used 30 x 38cm including seams)
2x main fabric for inside pocket (I used 12 x 12 cm)
1x main fabric for strap (I used a 10 x 100 cm strip, but you can always sew a couple of shorter strips together if your material doesn’t have sufficient length)
2x magnetic clasps (I used 18mm thin nickel ones)
thread (I used two ~ to match the different materials I used)
fabric scissors
seam ripper
tape measure and/or metal ruler
bead trim (optional)
  1. I like to start by cutting all the material down to size. I get great satisfaction from having all my strips of cloth in a neat pile before starting off with the sewing. Sad but true. Sew or Iron on any interfacing now. I generally use interfacing on the main fabric for the body of the bag only, but it depends on the fabric you use.
  2. We’re going to make the strap first
    1.  Take the 100cm length strip, make sure it is straight and lay it out flat, wrong side up (i.e with the pattern face down and the non-patterned side face up).
    2. Fold in a cm or so on each side and iron hems so that you now have a strip that is 100cm x 8cm.
    3. Fold the strap in half (in on itself) so that the turned-in 1cm hems meet up. You should now have a strip that is 100cm x 4cm.
    4. Iron again before sewing a straight stitch along the open hems to close up the strap. No need to sew the ends up, you can leave them ‘raw’.
    5. Set aside for later.
  3. Now we’re going to make the inside pocket.
    1. Firstly you need to attach your first half of a magnetic clasp to one side of the pocket. A quick description of how to do this is to make little cuts in the material (about 3cm down from the top of the pocket) for the prongs to go through. Poke the prongss of the magnet through (making sure the clasp is on the right side of the material). Add the washer and I also like to add a scrap of felt or some other tough but soft material to give it more strength. Fold the prongs back (I’ve found folding them outwards works best).
    2. Lay your two pocket pieces of material right sides together (pattern side touching each other) and, starting on an edge near a corner, sew them together with ca. ½cm seam and leaving a gap of about 4cm in the middle of your starting edge. Backstitch at the start and end to secure the thread in place.
    3. Trim the corners back so that your corners are nice and sharp once you’ve turned it.
    4. Pull it through the gap so it’s the right way round. Making sure the open seams are folded in to match where you’ve sewn them and then iron.
    5. ‘Top stitch’ (i.e. sew over the edges of the pocket). It’s your choice as to whether you use a matching or a contrasting thread. I think both look good in different ways.
  4. Making the body lining.
    1. Attach the clasp to both pieces of material, about 5cm down from the top, making sure they’re in the centre. (Remember you’ll have a seam at the top, so don’t put the clasp too close to the edge).
    2. Position your pocket on to the right side of one of your lining fabrics, making sure it is central and with the clasp at the top facing the lining fabric. I had mine about 12cm from the top of the material.
    3. Attach the second half of the pocket clasp to the lining fabric and pin the pocket in place.
    4. Top stitch around the three edges (leaving the top one open!).
    5. Lay the two sides of lining fabric together, right sides together, and pin in place.
    6. Sew around the three edges (leaving the top one open).
    7. Trim the corners.
  5. Making the outer body.
    1. This is the most simple part (unless you’re adding any embellishments ~ appliqué, outside pockets, bead trim etc. Now is the time to add these if you are).
      • If you are adding bead trim, for a neater finish, position the ribbon part of the trim sandwiched between the two end pieces of main fabric which are laid down right sides together with the beads also sandwiched between the two pieces of fabric, so out of sight for now. ZigZag stitch the ribbon in place now.It's best to do this before stitching the outer lining)
    2. Lay the two sides of lining fabric together, right sides together, and pin in place.
    3. Sew around the three edges (leaving the top one open) and making sure you don’t sew any of the bead trim if you’ve included that.
    4. Trim the corners.
    5. Turn the outer body the right way round (so pattern facing outwards like an unfinished bag).
  6. Attaching the strap.
    1. This seems wrong but isn’t ~ place the strap upside down against the main body of the bag positioning it central to each side seam of the bag. You should have 1cm or so of each raw end sticking over the top of the raw edge of the bag.
    2. Pin in place.
  7. Joining the bags
    1. Again, this seems wrong but isn’t – trust me! Turn the lining right sides together (so the pattern sides are facing each other).
    2. Push the outer bag into the lining bag. The right-sides (patterned sides) should be touching each other. Push the unpinned part of the strap right down so it’s out of the way.
    3. Match up the raw seams of the two bags, making sure the edge seams match up. Pin in place.
    4. Sew around the top, double-stitching over the straps to secure properly, and leaving a gap of about 10cm for turning. Back-stitch a couple of times on the start and finish.
    5. Pull the bags through the gap you’ve left and stuff the lining bag inside the outer bag. Iron the seam around the top, making sure the gap you left is in line with the sewn top seams.
    6. Top stitch around the top and iron the rest of the bag if it’s crumpled from turning.
  8. You’re done! Admire your work and sit back with a nice cuppa or a wee tipple of your choice.

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