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Monday, May 2, 2011

tiny happy: shoulder bag tutorial

tiny happy: shoulder bag tutorial

shoulder bag tutorial

Here's a rough pattern and guide for making a shoulder bag like one of these, as promised. These are really easy to make, and I always have so much fun choosing fabrics and buttons for them. I have to warn you however that i'm not very good at explaining things in words, so I hope you can understand my general meaning in these directions! Please email me if you need further instruction, and I'll be happy to help! I couldn't work out how to do a PDF file so this is a very basic and d-i-y version of a pattern! As you can see, I've drawn a tiny, rough and very much NOT-to-scale outline of the pattern which you will need to draw to the proper measurements yourself on some tracing paper or a piece of newspaper. It doesn't matter if it's not quite right, as long as it's symmetrical. The entire length of the pattern is 28 inches. This will make a bag that's a good size for your wallet, keys and a few books, but it's easy to make it a bit deeper or the strap a bit longer, if you wish. Just add a couple of extra inches. Umm, and that measurement on the strap should say 18". Sorry about that.


Once you've drawn and cut out your pattern, cut two from your chosen bag fabric, and two from your lining fabric. I usually use recycled fabrics- old curtains, blankets, vintage bits and pieces... but you could use anything that takes your fancy. Something fairly sturdy for the outside works best though. After cutting these out, I also cut a pocket for the inside, I use some of the outer fabric for this, cut into a rectangle about 8" X 6.5". Then I cut a strip measuring 5" X 1.5" to make a loop with which to fasten the bag to a button, if you choose to use this method. You could also make two ties to fasten, or use velcro or a snap fastener.

1. Start with your outer bag pieces. Place right sides together, and sew the seams at each edge, between the *s on the pattern, like this:


2. Then open out the piece so that the seams are at the front and back of the bag. Sew along the bottom seam.


3. Then square off the corners by pinching each one out, then sewing straight across about an inch from the corner's edge. Trim excess.


4. Repeat these steps with the lining pieces, but remember to leave a gap in the bottom seam, for turning inside-out later on.


5. Overlock or zig-zag the top edge of your pocket. Press the edge down about half an inch, and top-stitch. Then press your pocket half an inch all around. Pin to the outside of the lining where you would like it, and stitch it down.


6. Make your loop for the button. Press in both edges of the strip towards the centre, then fold in half and press again. Sew the edges together (this is just like a bias strip.)


7. Now sew the lining and outer pieces together. Place one inside the other, right sides together. Match centre seams, and pin. Insert your loop between the two layers on one side of the bag, so the ends of the loop are sticking out, and pin it securely.


8. Sew about 1/4" from the edge, all along both sides of the bag, right up to the top edges.


9. Now clip like mad around the curved edges, nearly to the seam.


10. Turn the bag right-way-out through the gap in the lining. Now press all around the edges of the bag where you have sewn, so that both layers 'sit' nicely. Trim the tops of the straps so they're even and of equal length.


11. Sew the top of the strap together- at just the outer pieces. Place right sides together, and sew a 1/4" seam. (This is a bit fiddly under the machine, but it's okay.) Press down. Then tuck in the lining pieces at this point and hand-stitch it closed.


9. Press the strap again and if you are happy with everything, top-stitch a 1/4" seam all around the edges of the bag. Hand-sew the gap in the lining closed. And hand-sew a big button on the front of the bag, in such a position so the loop will fit nicely around it.


10. Ta Da! Enjoy your new bag! I'm off to eat this chocolate.


p.s. please email me a picture if you try this out because I'd love to see it! Also, this is my first time doing instructions like these, so please let me know if I need to make corrections. Thanks!


  1. Your bag came out great. I really need to break out my sewing machine and create something.

  2. I would love to try this your fabric is lovely (blackbird 4 s b )

  3. I'm in total awe of your creativity, this shoulder bag is so adorable.. :) Also I love your blog button.

    Cookie Crumbles..Xx.