Category Archives: Bags

Magic Softshell Bag – take two

I started a Magic Softshell messenger bag earlier in the year, almost finished it, then realised the dimensions I’d used for the pocket weren’t quite right. After some (unwise) unpicking, where I ended up making a small hole in the lining, I shelved the bag in the depths of my UFO pile.

Then I made the mistake of going for a 3 mile walk in torrential rain…. which came through the waterproof bag I had taken with me. So I realised I was going to have to make a replacement waterproof bag before the winter, as being England it’s likely to be quite wet!

Luckily I had enough of the Magic Softshell left over to cut a fresh bag, and armed with some patterned polycotton which I had left over from a previous project, I set to work cutting out a fresh bag, using current favourite bag pattern from Crazy Little Projects.

It’s not the easiest thing to get a photo of (the original softshell colour I was after, didn’t get enough interest to make the preorder, so this one was my second choice), but when the fabric is wet, the pattern of clouds and stars appears.

I’m sticking with my previous ‘hack’ of the pattern, to include a patch pocket with flap on the front flap, rather than messing with a zipped pocket. This actually makes it a lot easier to open, and there’s less things that can go wrong (like the zipper pull coming off when I try using the pocket!).

All the seams are sewn with a triple straight stretch stitch for strength, and I also zigzagged the curved corners just for ease of mind if I put anything heavy into the bag. The main seam stitches should be fine without that, but I like to be certain.

Just the lining to sew, then I can start putting it all together!

Pattern: Messenger Bag by Crazy Little Projects
Fabric: Magic Softshell from Mibs Fabrics

Showerproof “Quilted” Bag

I’ve had enough of soggy bags when I’ve been out for a walk in the rain, so I thought it was time I tried sewing one in a showerproof fabric. I spotted this laminated cotton with a nifty quilted picture printed on it at Mibs Fabrics, and thought it’d be ideal. I picked out an airtex mesh for the lining, and because that obviously has holes in it, added in a sew-in interfacing just to strengthen the lining a little.

The mesh was an experience to sew, having never used anything like that before! I found that backing it with interfacing also helped my eyes, as being able to see the dark table through the holes in the fabric was starting to get challenging.

Originally I was going to add a zipped pocket to the front flap, but I made a mess of the sewing on that, and had to improvise. Thankfully I had just enough fabric left to cut a (slightly short) replacement panel, and salvaged some of my mistake piece to make a basic patch pocket with a flap closure instead.

I think the flap works better for a bag that’s likely to get caught out in the rain though, as in theory the rain should just run off the flap, and not end up in the pocket itself!

I didn’t bind my seams with any waterproof tape, so I know the bag won’t be 100% waterproof, but I’m hoping it’ll be a great deal better than my usual bags bade from canvas!

Pattern:  Crazy Little Projects
Fabric: Laminated Cotton and Airtex Mesh  from Mibs Fabrics

Fabric: Laminated Cotton and Airtex Mesh  from Mibs Fabrics

Beachy Sunday My Way

Something a little different today, and my latest Sunday “My Way” bag! I wanted to try out my sewing machine’s decorative stitches, and what better way than on the top stitching for the pockets?

I added in a clear popper to both pockets just to help keep it closed, while hopefully not detracting from the stitching. 

I struggled with the curved edges this time – the lining ended up caught up in places, and even gets caught in the zip! I think that was down to inaccurate cutting in the first place…. maybe the lining is a bit bigger than the bag itself? 

I had added in some extra height to the bag, so I can fit a water bottle in it – I forgot to change the markings to enable me to match the front and side pieces together, which would’ve helped tremendously if I’d remembered those!

It’s still a usable bag (as long as I’m careful with the zip) though, and that’s what matters.

Pattern: Sunday “My Way” bag
Fabric: Fashion Fabrics

Criss Cross Card Holder Wallet

I’ve made several card holders before, but they’ve either not had a closure, or relied on either velcro or a button and hair elastic to hold them closed. After a friend mentioned how easy she was finding poppers to install into sewn items, I thought it was time I tried them out; and as luck would have it, I also came across the pattern for these Criss Cross Card Holders.

Although I haven’t made any ‘real’ new year’s resolutions, I do want to try and use up some of my fabric offcuts, so the triangular sections on these card holders might be the ideal use for some smaller offcuts. As a first attempt at the pattern, I used some of the ‘Skyline’ canvas-type fabric I had previously made a bag and notebook holder from.

It took a little while to get the placement right to make sure the skyscraper was visible…. then I realised that once the card holder was folded, the top of the skyscraper would actually be upside down (whoops!).


But it is perfectly functional as a card holder. The only thing I found which I wanted to change, was the card sections being a little too wide. I had a feeling that the cards might slide out a little too easily from that, so I decided to try making a second card holder that might be a little more suitable.

This fabric came from Hobbycraft last year – I’ve been waiting for the ‘perfect’ project to use it, and what better than a little card holder? I didn’t quite line up the popper perfectly, hence the slightly wonky front, but it’s still usable.

I increased the seam allowance when sewing the front and back together, and also increased the top stitching to 1/4″ which holds the cards in much tighter.

I’ve made some notes on the pattern so I know what alterations I need to make for future card holders.

Pattern: Craftsy
Skyscraper Fabric: Local fabric shop
Tigger fat quarters: Hobbycraft

A New Wallet

Mum had asked for me to buy her a new wallet for her birthday; it had to match the look of her old wallet, complete with a zipped pocket, and velcro closure, but that was easier said than done, as nowhere seems to stock a wallet that style now!

So instead, I decided to be reckless and have a go at making my own from scratch. After a rummage through my fabric scraps bag, I came across some suitable fabric, a zip I’d unpicked from a failed bag attempt, a small amount of velcro that Mum had let me have, and some bias binding that I think was originally earmarked for binding the seams on a bag.

With some measurements taken from the original wallet, and a little planning on paper to ensure I was able to put the zip in without too much trouble, I ended up with a passable wallet that looks almost the same in style as the original! The original wallet did use a more sporty fabric than the polycotton I’ve used, but this way Mum can have a unique wallet rather than something mass produced that everyone else might also have.

The only disadvantage of making Mum a wallet, is that now she has plans for a wallet for every season! But at least it means I’ve already got an idea what I can make her for Christmas.


Notebook Folder the Third

In the run up to my Mum’s birthday, I was trying to think of something I could make as a present. I’m not confident enough to make clothing for her, and she didn’t need a new bag – so what could I possibly make her? I did notice, however, that she was using a reporter’s notebook, which gave me the idea of a new notebook folder for her. The original one I made was on Mum’s sewing machine, and proved a struggle to sew through all the layers of fabric. The second one was easier, although I still used non fusible wadding, so I had to quilt the inside cover.

This time, I was determined to follow the pattern (almost) exactly! I used two fat quarters, a small amount of dress lining fabric, and some fusible fleece, so there was no need to quilt the inside cover.

I ensured the button and strap were the right way around this time, as the first attempt had the strap on the inside of the cover, with the seam allowance sticking out… rookie mistake!

I left out the pen and card holders, as Mum prefers to keep her pen separate to the folder, in case the pen leaks.

I cheated on the inside of the notepad pocket, as it seemed a waste to use a fat quarter when you weren’t going to see the pattern. So I used some cream dress lining fabric instead.

The angled pocket was slightly wider than the fabric I had left over, hence the small piece of the second fat quarter in the right corner. But rather than that looking like a mistake, I think it just adds to the quirky appeal of the folder.

Pattern: Notebook Folder Tutorial from Riley Blake Designs
Fat quarters: Hobbycraft


Sunday My Way bag

The last couple of messenger bags I’ve made haven’t quite gone to plan – either the lining hasn’t co-operated as I’d hoped, or the pockets aren’t quite the right size. Either way, I decided it was time to try making a different bag completely. So, I thought I’d use some of the polka dot canvas I had in a remnant pack from Abakhan, and some burgundy polycotton I had left over from the previous messenger bag, to make the Sunday My Way bag.


It’s a completely different style to the others I’ve tried making, with a slip pocket on the front, a long zip with tabs on either end, and straps that look like they go all the way around the bag, but don’t actually cross the bottom piece.


If I made another one of these, I would probably change a couple of the methods – topstitching the strap over the existing topstitching was almost impossible to get it accurate. For my own bag, that’s not something I’m too concerned about, but if I was making one for someone else then I’d want it to look neater than that!


The lining is inserted in a different way to any other bag I’ve made before, attaching it to the seams of the main bag body. That went reasonably well (other than the lining already being puckered where I couldn’t get the seams to lie totally flat), but sewing the lining to the zip seam was a real challenge. Again, you have to top stitch over the existing stitch lines…. as I did that, the lining shifted slightly so some of my stitching didn’t catch the lining at all. In the end, I hand stitched the lining to the zip, which gave it a neater look.


I didn’t add any interior pockets to this one – I decided it’d be a useful shopping bag to hold any purchases, rather than needing pockets for a phone and a wallet!

My first attempt at “Design Your Own Handbag”

Having had enough of the problems with the other messenger bags I’ve tried making, I decided to “invest” in a Craftsy Course called Design Your Own Handbag. Promising to tell me how to make several different pockets styles and zipped closures, I felt it was worth the money as it should prove useful for many different bags.

I will admit I didn’t find this course as easy to follow as the Fleece Sewing one I’ve started – yes there’s a lot of information, but as the bag design is up to each individual, there’s a lot of things that I feel could be explained a bit better.

Lining the outer pocket up was a bit hit and miss – mainly miss, as I had to unpick the entire thing and resew it. The inclusion of an interlining (I used some thick cotton I found in a local fabric shop) meant that it was a bit too thick to get my hand sewing needle through to tack everything, so I had to make do with pins…. which wasn’t ideal.

However, the second time around, I did get the pocket to line up – and the button I’d already machine stitched onto the pocket, also lined up with the buttonhole!


Just to prove the button does do up….


Adding the back zipped pocket was also a challenge – after stitching and unpicking it, I decided to make it more like a welt pocket, so you couldn’t see the zip tape. That gave a nicer finish, although if I made another, I would also add an extra inch to the width of the pocket pieces – that would enable me to sew it neatly around, without the risk of catching the zip tape on the sides.

The rest of the bag outer was pretty self explanatory – much like the Good to Go messenger bag, you cut the corners from the main pieces in order to get the depth of the bag. My canvas was a bit too fray-happy at times, resulting in some extra stitches being necessary, so I did zigzag the edges of some pieces just to be on the safe side.

Due to the fraying, I had to ignore where it’s said to trim the edges really close to the stitching, but while that made some of the seams a little more bulky, it didn’t really change the look of the finished bag.

I added a couple of patch pockets to the inside, like I did on the previous bags, but other than that, the lining pieces were just the basic pattern ones.


I decided to add some tabs on the sides to hold a strap, rather than adding a tab to the front and back – I prefer a cross-body strap. Top stitching the strap was done with a decorative stitch, just to make it look a little different to the regular boring straight stitch. The tabs and strap were made almost identically to my London Tourist bag.

Now we come to the main reason for me wanting to take this Craftsy course – the top zip. None of the other bags I’ve made have had a closure to the main body, so this was an important thing for me to want to learn. After all, even if you have a flapped messenger bag, a strong wind can make the flap flip up, so it’s nice to have a secure way of closing it.


I struggled to get the top piece to line up to the zip – it’s the first time I’ve used an open (separating) zip, so I didn’t realise the metal at the end took up so much space. Partly because of the fraying canvas, and partly due to not cutting a little extra on the flaps, I didn’t have space to turn the flap pieces right-side-out and keep the metal part of the zip on the outside. So that side had to be zigzagged together – not an ideal finish.

However, using some double-sided fusible tape to ‘baste’ the zip in place seemed to work really well for that – much better than the back zip pocket (too many layers for the heat fro the iron to go through). And the zip is perfectly usable and relatively neatly stitched as well!

Rather than leaving a hole in the base of the lining to turn it all right-side-out (I really like my lining to be strong, and I didn’t feel that a hand sewn seam would have the strength I was after, I left a gap at the top, where the facing and outer join – that was able to be closed with the final top stitching, so you wouldn’t know there’d been a gap there 🙂


The only other thing I wish the course had pointed out, was that the angle of the top zip means that it needs to be pushed down into the bag to run smoothly – this means you can’t put anything in the bag that would be 1″ or less from the zipper flaps…. which means my entire bag really could’ve done with being an extra inch tall to compensate *sigh*

I would try making another bag from this course, mainly because now I know the ‘quirks’ of the methods, I should be able to rework it and make a bag with the [erfect (or near enough) dimensions!

Polka dot fabric from Abakhan (part of a ‘canvas remnant pack’), polycotton lining, cotton interlining and and accessories from a couple of local shops.

Beach Hut Messenger Bag

You can never have too many bags…. or at least you can never make too many bags! I’ve not been 100% certain about the way the lining looks caught up on the messenger bags I’ve previously made, so I decided to try out a new pattern. The Good-to-go messenger bag by Two Pretty Poppets, has a plain body with a patterned flap…. but I wanted to change that slightly, so I used their pattern, but with patterned fabric on the outside, and a plain lining.

I also added in a zipped pocket on the flap, piping around the flap (it’s not clear in the photo, but that’s white bias binding with sailboats on, to fit the beach theme), and added some plastic bag clips to hold the strap in place – not only does that make the strap removable if needed, but it also adds a nice touch to the finished bag.

Beach Hut Bag

Because of the way the bag is sewn together, the lining isn’t stretched around strange corners, and there’s no weird puckers and stretches on the inside. I also changed the inside pockets, to fit a small bottle of water and a smart phone, to save rummaging around amongst everything else just to find the phone when it rings.

Beach Hut Bag

I would probably make the bag slightly taller if I made another, and maybe also add in the clasp to close it (I left that out, as I wasn’t too sure how accurately I could attach it!), but I think it’s a very good pattern, and it’s also a lot easier to sew than the previous one I tried!

Simplicity 1556

The trouble with buying bubble bars from Lush, is that they come in a paper bag. Great for the environment, but what do you store it in to stop all the pieces going everywhere? I’ve found some small plastic food containers in Poundland that work pretty well, but then you get a pile of them in the wardrobe, which invariably falls over whenever you want to find something.

So, I decided to make Simplicity 1556 for my Mum’s Christmas present – a drawstring bag with pouches around the outside. There’s no dimensions given on the pattern envelope, but going on the fabric requirements, I hoped it would be large enough to work.


Armed with my red and orange outer fabric, and some nicely patterned orange lining fabric, my first problem was with the usual “fusible fleece”. Not having any of that to hand (and realising that if I bought it from the only shop I found it for sale, it’s cost more than the fabric did), I decided to use 2oz polyester wadding instead. I quilted that to the base and bag linings, so you can’t see the stitching on the outside.


Attaching the pouch strip was challenging, and some of the pouches are a different width to the others, but it fits the items I want to put in there. I will also admit I messed up the drawstrings, sewing the wrong ends together, but it still draws closed so I’m not going to unpick that!

I wanted to give her a pack of bath bombs from Slimbridge Soaps, but the packet of 4 wouldn’t fit into the pouch, so I made some small sewn bags to put them in individually – that way I can get one item per pouch, so it’ll fill them up 🙂


Lush didn’t stock her favourite bubble bar this year, but I did find an alternative – but what to put it in? I couldn’t just put it straight into the pouch, as they sometimes leave a greasy stain and that wouldn’t look good for a present. So I made a quick quilted pouch (quilting the lining again), which should mean the bubble bar can slide in, and hopefully not make a mess everywhere!



Basket fabric from Fashion Fabrics, Christmas fat quarters from John Lewis