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Sometimes, just a tiny touch of embroidery is the right look. Other times, you want it to be the focal point of a project. This unique shoulder bag is a beautiful combination of subtle style and dramatic design. A purchased skinny belt becomes the strap and a large, monochromatic embroidered medallion adorns the front pocket as well as the lining pocket, creating a secret pop of pretty on the inside.

We recommend the top-of-the-line Janome Continental M17 for both construction and embroidery. It’s great to have one machine that can do both. The embroidery design we selected is a lace-look option. This particular design was sourced from the Janome MC15000 model, but the new CM17 has even more lace-look and monochromatic designs from which to choose.

We stitched the design at full size on the exterior, then reduced to 85% on the lining. Reduction and enlargement of up to 20% in either direction is something that can be easily programmed right on the touchscreen of the CM17.

A monochromatic color scheme looks fabulous against our solid linen exterior fabric. We stitched our medallion in a color just slightly darker than the solid cotton fabric selected for the lining. This is the same fabric that creates the piping accent across the top of the exterior pocket. By going just a shade darker than the fabric, the interior embroidery has a lovely tone-on-tone effect that provides interest without becoming overpowering. On our warm gray linen, a yellow green was the perfect compliment.

We used a 50wt cotton thread to coordinate with the natural linen and quilting cotton fabrics. The matte finish blends beautifully, but we do recommend reducing the stitching speed slightly (we used 600 spm) to avoid the breakage that can be common with cotton thread at high speeds.

Skinny belts are a fashion must-have and easy to find at local retailers. We originally purchased ours at Forever 21 for under $5.00 in a pretty gray faux leather that matched our exterior linen.

The steps below show you how to position the buckled belt on your shoulder with the buckle comfortably off-set to the back. The ends are riveted through D-rings. With the proper tools, including a hard surface on which to cut and hammer, riveting is an easy technique to master. As with everything: measure twice, rivet once!

A combination of fusible fleece and crisp mid-weight fusible interfacing give the bag a soft yet stable finish. An insert base provides a full 3” in depth along the sides. Never done an inset base? No worries – this is Sew4Home. We provide a summary of the steps below as well as a link to our full step-by-step tutorial.

If you’re a Janome enthusiast as we are, you know the stitch precision of Janome’s machine embroidery is unrivaled in the industry. It’s memorizing to watch the design form right before your eyes. Thread art in action. Visit a Janome dealer for a test stitch on one of the many Janome embroidery models to see for yourself.

If you’re looking for a lightweight shoulder bag for your wardrobe, go simple, go stylish, go S4H + Janome.

Our bag finishes at approximately 11½” wide x 12” high x 3” deep.

Sewing Tools You Need

  • Sewing machine and standard presser foot
  • If you wish to add embroidery to the exterior and lining as we did, you need a machine with embroidery capability, such as the Janome Continental CM17
  • Piping foot; optional but helpful for the piping accent across the front pocket
  • Zipper foot; optional but helpful for the topstitching that runs along the piping accent
  • We used a standard presser foot throughout for construction, but if you traditionally have issues with thicker layers, you might want to opt for a Walking or Even Feed foot; or use your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system, such as the great AcuFeed™ Flex system we use on many of our Janome studio models

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • ½ yard of 54”+ wide lightweight linen or similar for the exterior; we originally used 54” Signature Series Décor Linen in Graystone
  • ¾ yard of 44”+ wide quilting weight cotton in a contrasting solid for the lining and piping; we originally used 44” Kona Cotton in Tarragon
  • ½ yard of 45”+ wide fusible fleece; we used 45” Pellon Thermolam Plus
  • ½ yard of 45”+ mid-weight fusible interfacing; we used 45” Pellon Décor Bond
  • ½ yard of ¼” cotton piping cord
  • TWO ¾” D-rings; we used Dritz ¾” D-rings in nickel
  • ONE ¾” magnetic snap; we used a Dritz ¾” magnetic snap in nickel
  • TWO long (8mm) double-cap metal rivets; we used Tandy medium metal rivets in nickel
    NOTE: Make sure the stem of the rivet will go through a doubled thickness of your chosen belt. At our suggested
    ” thickness, that meant a double thickness of ¼” or 6.25mm. A standard medium rivet, at 8mm, had the depth needed to seat just perfectly.
  • ONE purchased skinny belt; select a large belt that is approximately 55” in length when unbuckled, no more than ½” in width, and no more than about ” in thickness. It’s also best if the belt is the same color front and back; we originally used a faux leather skinny belt in gray from Forever 21
  • Rivet setting tools; we used the Dritz Double Cap Rivet Setting Tools; even through the rivets themselves were from Tandy, the cap size was similar and the Dritz cutting and setting tools worked like a charm
  • All purpose thread to match fabric for construction
  • 50wt cotton embroidery thread just slightly darker than lining fabric for embroidery
  • Standard bobbin thread for embroidery
  • Tear-away stabilizer as recommended by your machine for embroidery
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors
  • Rotary cutter and mat
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins
  • Awl; helpful for marking the position of the belt rivets and starting the holes
  • Cellophane tape; helpful for holding the cut belt ends in place when riveting
  • Hard surface for riveting, such as stone, metal or dense wood; we prefer a small granite block

Getting Started

  1. From the exterior linen, create the panels as follows:
    Fold the exterior linen in half, selvedges matching. Fold in half again, matching the first fold to the selvedges. Use a rotary cutter and ruler to straighten the right edge.
    Align the folded fabric on your cutting mat’s grid, and slice ONE 13” strip and ONE 4” strip through all layers.

    Unfold the 13” panel so it is a double layer, trim away the selvages, and cut two 15½” panels for the front and back exterior panels. The remaining piece will be used for the embroidered pocket.

    Unfold the 4” strip, trim away the selvedges, then unfold it into a single layer and cut one 12½” panel for the exterior base panel.
    Re-fold the remaining 4” strip so the edges match. Trim down to a 3” width.

    From the 3” strip, cut two 15½” strips for the tote facing.

    From the remaining fabric scraps, cut ONE 2½” x 4” strip for the for the D-ring tabs.
  2. From the lining fabric, create the panels as follows:
    As you did above with the exterior linen, fold the lining fabric in half with the selvedges matching. Fold in half again, matching the first fold to the selvedges. Use a rotary cutter and ruler to remove the selvedges.
    From the folded fabric, cut a 15½”strip. The remaining piece will be used for the embroidered lining pocket.

    Unfold the 15½” strip so it is a double layer, trim away the selvages, and cut TWO 11” panels for the main front and back lining panels.

    Unfold the remaining 15½” strip into a single layer and cut ONE 10” panel for the outer pocket lining and ONE 4” x 12½” piece for the lining base panel.

    Save the remaining fabric for the bias piping, which will be cut in a later step.
  3. From the fusible fleece, cut the following:
    TWO 14¾” x 12¼” rectangles for the front and back exterior panels
    ONE 3½” x 11¾” rectangle for the exterior base panel
  4. From the mid-weight interfacing, cut the following:
    ONE 14¾” x 9¼” rectangle for the exterior pocket
    TWO 2¼” x 11” strips for the facing panels
    ONE 7¾” x 6¾” rectangle for the lining pocket
    ONE ¾” x 4” strip for the D-ring tabs
  5. The piping cord will be cut in a later step.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Pocket embroidery

  1. We originally used a built-in embroidery design from the Janome MC15000. The embroidery is used at full-size on the exterior pocket and at 85% reduction on the lining pocket. 
  2. Locate the linen fabric you set aside for the embroidered outer pocket. This panel is oversized and will be trimmed to the correct size after embroidery. This technique, often called “hooping wild,” allows extra fabric to completely fill the hoop.
  3. Using a fabric pen or pencil, measure and mark the center of the fabric panel. Remember, you are working on the right side of the fabric; make sure your making tool is one that will easily wipe away or vanish with exposure to the air or the heat of an iron.
  4. Set up the machine for Professional Style Embroidery. As mentioned above, we used pre-wound bobbins and 50wt cotton thread for our embroidered pocket.
  5. Select Home. There are three options on the Home screen: Edit, Monogram, and Built-in Designs. Select Built-in Designs.
  6. The default choice is the World of Embroidery Designs. This is one of 15 design collections built-in to the Janome Horizon Quilt Maker Memory Craft 15000. To view the other collections, select the “Design” icon at the top of the screen. Our featured design happens to be found in the default World of Embroidery Designs. Your machine may have something similar; the key is to look for a large design that lends itself to a monochromatic stitch out.
  7. Using the up and down arrows, you can scroll through the designs one page at a time. The designs are arranged by hoop size. Since we wanted a large design for the exterior pocket of our tote, we selected the “Hoop” option to narrow our hunt for the perfect design. Select SQ23, Janome’s large 9” x 9” hoop. Our featured design is located on Page 2, Design 22. Select the design. It will now appear Ready to Embroider.
  8. To hoop the fabric, place the outer hoop on a flat surface. Cut two layers of tear away stabilizer to fit the hoop.
  9. Place the stabilizer over the outer hoop, making sure it is large enough to completely cover the hoop.
  10. Place the linen fabric over the hoop with the marked center point of the panel in the center of the hoop. Place the inner hoop over the fabric and press into place. The screw adjustment on the hoop can be loosened and tightened to ensure the best fit. The goal is to have smooth layers with no wrinkles or pull lines. The fabric should not be drum tight as this stretches the fabric.The goal is smooth and flat.
  11. Attach the hoop on the machine. The needle should be directly over the marked center of the fabric. If not, use the “jog keys” (the four-way arrows) to adjust the needle position. Start the embroidery.
  12. Because our selected design is one color, there is no need to stop and change thread colors.
  13. You can simply watch the beautiful stitching come to life before your eyes.
  14. When the embroidery is complete, remove the hoop from the machine and remove the fabric from the hoop.
  15. Tear away the excess stabilizer from the wrong side of the embroidery. Press from the wrong side.
  16. Trim the panel to 15½” x 10” with the embroidery centered side to side and top to bottom.
  17. For the lining pocket, we are using the same embroidery design. However, our lining pocket is smaller than the exterior so the full size of the design needs to be reduced. At the machine, when you see the embroidery design is Ready to Embroider, select Home.
  18. The Home screen has three options. Select “Edit”. The embroidery design will appear on the Edit Screen. The editing tools are arranged in a line on the right hand side of the screen. At the lower portion of the screen, find the “jog keys”. If you adjusted the position of the design when you embroidered the exterior pocket, you will notice that the design is not centered in the screen. To center the design, touch the crosshair icon in the center of the “jog keys”.
  19. From the list of editing tools, select “Resize”. This icon looks like a small square and a large square with arrows in between them. When “Resize” is selected, a +/- bar appears with the percentage in the middle. Using the minus button, reduce the percentage to 85%. Select OK to complete the resizing, then press OK to exit the Edit Screen. The design will now appear, once again, Ready to Embroider.
  20. Locate the fabric panel for the lining pocket. As you did above with the linen fabric, place the outer hoop on a flat surface and cut two layers of tear away stabilizer to fit the hoop. Place the lining fabric vertically over the hoop so the lower edge of the lining fabric just covers the hoop. Position the inner hoop over the fabric and stabilizer and press firmly into place.
  21. Place the hoop on the machine and secure. Embroider the design. We set our stitch speed at 600 spm to account for the cotton thread. As above, it is all one color so there are no thread changes.
  22. As above with the exterior pocket, when the embroidery is complete, remove the hoop from the machine, remove the fabric from the hoop. Tear away the excess stabilizer from the wrong side of the embroidery. Press from the wrong side.
  23. Trim the lower edge of the pocket 1” below the embroidery.

    Trim the sides of the pocket so the width of the pocket panel is 8½” with the embroidery centered between the two raw side edges. There should be about 1
    ” on either side from the edge of the design to the raw edge of the panel.
  24. Trim the end opposite the embroidery so the height of the pocket panel measures 14½”.

    NOTE: Our embroidery steps are quite detailed and relate most directly to the Janome MC15000. If you have another Janome model, the steps should be quite similar. If you have another brand of machine, refer to your manual for the appropriate design options and steps. 

Lining pocket construction

  1. Find the 7¾” x 6¾” piece of mid-weight interfacing. Center it over the wrong side of the embroidered lining pocket. The interfacing is sized to fit ” in from the lower and side raw edges, and should cover the half of the pocket with the embroidery. Fuse in place following manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Fold the pocket in half, right sides together and pin in place, leaving an approximate 3” opening along the bottom for turning.
  3. Set up the machine for normal sewing and attach a standard presser foot. Thread the machine with thread to best match the fabric in the top and bobbin.
  4. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across bottom edge of the pocket, pivoting at the corners and locking the seam at either side of the 3” opening.
  5. Trim the corners and turn the pocket right side out. Gently push out the corners so they are nice and sharp. A long blunt tool works best for this, such as a knitting needle, chopstick or point turner.
  6. Press the pocket, turning in the 3” opening so it is flush with the sewn seam.
  7. Find one of the main lining panels. This will become the lining back panel.
  8. Place the pocket on this back panel 1½” up from the lower raw edge of the panel and centered side to side. Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom.
  9. Slightly lengthen the stitch.
  10. Edgestitch the pocket along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners. This closes the opening used for turning.

Assemble the lining and inset the base panel

  1. Find the remaining lining panel. This is the lining front panel. Place the two lining panels right sides together, sandwiching the pocket between the layers.
  2. Pin along both sides
  3. Stitch both sides with a seam, creating a tube that is open at the top and bottom.
    NOTE: The width of the lining and the width of tote front and back are cut the same. By using a
    seam allowance on the lining instead of a ½” seam allowance, the lining fits more smoothly within the tote without tucks or wrinkles.
  4. Press open the side seam allowances.
  5. Along the lower raw edge of the tube, measure 1½” to either side of the seam and make small clips (apx. ”) into the seam allowance at these measurements.
  6. Locate the lining base panel. It measures 4” x 12½”, the same as the exterior tote bottom. Trim ¼” from one end so the new measurement is 4” x 12¼”, which accounts for the wider seam allowance you just used for the lining side seams.
  7. Find the center point on each side of the base panel and mark this point with a pin.
  8. Find the exterior tube. Gently turn it wrong side out.
  9. Mark the center points of the bottom raw-edged opening of the tube in the same manner, finding the center points of the front, back, and both side sections. The side sections are easy as these are the side seams.
  10. Place the base panel right sides together into the tube, aligning all the center pin points. It’s a little like you’re setting a lid upside down into the opening of a box. Pin in place.
  11. Sew the base panel to the lining with a ½” seam allowance.
  12. Stop and pivot at each corner where clipped.
  13. Then continue along the next side. Stitch all four sides in the same manner.
  14. Press open the seam allowance.

    NOTE: If you are brand new to inserting a flat base panel, we have a full step-by-step tutorial you can review prior to starting this project: How to Insert a Rectangular Base into a Tube.

Fusing the exterior panels

  1. Find the exterior front and back panels and the exterior base panel along with the three coordinating pieces of fusible fleece.
  2. Center a fleece panel on the wrong side of each exterior panel. There will be fabric extending beyond the fleece on all sides as the fleece is cut slightly smaller than the linen to reduce bulk in the seams. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the fleece in place on all exterior panels.
  3. Find the facing strips, the D-ring tab strip, and the embroidered pocket along with the three coordinating pieces of fusible interfacing.
  4. Center an interfacing panel on the wrong side of each of the facing strips as well as the embroidered pocket. As above with the fusible fleece, the fabric will extend beyond the interfacing on all sides, keeping it out of the seal allowances. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the interfacing in place.
  5. For the tab, first fold the strip in half and press to set a center crease line. Unfold the strip, wrong side up, so the crease line is visible. Align the strip of interfacing with the crease. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.

Create the one length of piping

  1. From the remaining scrap of lining fabric, cut ONE bias strip for the piping that trims the exterior pocket. This bias strip needs to be 1½” x 16”, and can be pieced if necessary.
  2. Cut a 16” length from the piping cord.
  3. Wrap the bias strip around the piping cord, matching the raw edges. Pin in place.
  4. Slightly lengthen the stitch and change to a Piping foot if possible or at least to a Zipper foot to allow you to stitch as close to the piping cord as possible. Stitch along the length of the cord.
  5. Find the interfaced exterior pocket front.
  6. Pin the length of piping along the upper edge of the pocket, on the right side, matching the raw edges.
  7. Stitch the piping in place. We continued to use our Piping foot; you could also use a Zipper foot.
  8. Find the exterior pocket lining panel. Place this lining panel right sides together with the exterior pocket panel, sandwiching the piping between the layers. Pin along the piped upper edge only.
  9. Working with the exterior panel facing up so the original piping seam is visible, stitch across through all the layers, following along in that previous line of stitching. As above, we continued to use our Piping foot, but your Zipper foot is a good alternative.
  10. Press the lining away from the piping, then bring the lining all the way around to the back so they two panels are now wrong sides together. Press flat.
  11. Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the exterior fabric in the top and bobbin. Change to a Zipper foot and edgestitch along the piping through all the layers.
  12. Trim away the excess piping extending beyond the piping panel at either side.

Assemble the exterior and insert the base panel

  1. Find the main front and back exterior panels, which should have the fusible fleece already in place.
  2. Lay the front panel right side up and flat on your work surface.
  3. Place the exterior pocket right side up on the main panel, aligning the side and bottom raw edges of the layers. Pin in place.
  4. Place the back panel right sides together with the front panel, sandwiching the pocket between the layers. Pin along both sides.
  5. Switch back to a standard presser foot.
  6. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch both side seams.
  7. The base panel is set in place following the same steps as above for the lining base panel.
  8. Remember to mark all the corner and center points.
  9. Then set the panel into the bottom of the exterior tube, right sides together, and stitch all four sides, stopping and pivoting at each corner. As mentioned above in the lining steps, we have a full tutorial you can review prior to starting if you are brand new to the technique of inserting a flat base panel into an open tube.
  10. With the more substantial linen fabric, we suggest removing excess bulk by trimming the seam allowances to ¼”.
  11. Fold back the upper raw edge of the exterior ½” all around and press well.

Attach the facing and D-ring tabs

  1. Find the two facing strips. Place the strips right sides together and pin together across the short ends.
  2. Stitch across the ends with a seam allowance, forming a loop. This matches the seam allowance of the lining. Press the seam allowances open and flat.
  3. Fold back one edge of the facing ½” and press well.
  4. Find the lining. It should still be wrong side out. 
  5. Place the facing inside the lining so the two layers are right sides together and the upper raw edge of the lining is flush with the raw edge of the facing. Make sure the side seams of the facing are aligned with the side seams of the lining.
  6. Pin all around the upper edge.
  7. Using a ½” seam allowance stitch all the way around.
  8. Press the facing up. Press the seam allowance toward the facing.
  9. Find the interfaced D-ring tab. Press in the raw edges so they meet in the middle at the tab’s crease line.  Then fold in half along the original crease line so the folded edges are flush.
  10. Edgestitch along each side of the folded tab.
  11. Cut the finished tab in half to create two 2” lengths.
  12. Slip a tab through each D-ring. Bring the raw ends of the tab together and pin in place.
  13. Unfold the upper edge of the facing and pin a tab in place centered over each side seam. The raw edges of the tab should be flush with the unfolded raw edge of the facing. Pin in place and then machine baste in place within the seam allowance.
  14. Re-fold the upper edge of the facing, which will bring the D-ring tabs up into their final position.
  15. The lining, with the facing attached, should still be wrong side out.
  16. Slip the lining inside the exterior so the two layers are wrong sides together.  The lining pocket should sit against the back of the bag. Push the lining all they way down so the base panels are flush, and make sure the side seams of the lining and exterior are aligned.
  17. If desired, insert a magnetic snap at the center front and center back of the facing. If you are brand new to working with magnetic snaps, we have a full tutorial on the easy insertion process.
  18. With the snap halves in place, edgestitch around the very top of the bag. This edgestitching secures the D-ring tabs in their upright position.
  19. Edgestitch again all the way around along the lower edge of the facing. For all our edgestitching, we always slightly lengthen the stitch for the best look through all the layers.

Measure and cut the belt

  1. Buckle the belt on the first or second hole. We used the second hole. You want the end of the belt to lay completely flat.
  2. Place the belt over your shoulder with the buckle on top.
  3. Slide the buckle just behind your shoulder. Having the buckle sit right on top of your shoulder would be very uncomfortable; you want it off-set behind your shoulder.
  4. With the buckle in position behind your shoulder, pull straight down on the opposite end of the looped belt, pinching the loop together to indicate this lowest centered point.
  5. Mark the point with a pin or marker.
  6. Cut the belt straight across at the marked point. It’s important that your cut is straight and clean.

Attach the belt with rivets

  1. Our bag is designed to be worn over the right shoulder with the embroidery facing out. This means when looking at the bag laying face-up on your work surface, the shorter buckle side of the strap will be attached to the left and the long plain side will be attached to the right.
  2. If you prefer to wear your bag over your left shoulder, reverse this direction to insure the buckle rests against the back of your left shoulder with the embroidered pocket facing out.
  3. Slip one belt end through one D-ring, bringing it back on itself approximately 1”.
  4. We recommend taping the end in place with clear cellophane tape to help hold the layers together while marking the rivet insertion point.
  5. Measure to find the center point through the doubled belt layers. We measured ¼” in from the side edge and ¼” up from the D-ring.
  6. Using an awl, drive through both layers at this center point. As you can see in our photos, we like to work with a small block of granite when riveting.
  7. Make sure you go all the way through so you have a clear starting hole with which to work.
  8. Remove the tape and lay out the belt flat on a hard surface. The two starter holes should be clearly visible.
  9. Using a cutting tool, punch a hole at each point. We used the Dritz Rivet Tool Set.
  10. Slip the drilled belt end through the D-ring and align the holes.
  11. Find the double cap rivet. Insert the stud half through the holes from the back to the front.
  12. Snap the cap half onto the stud.
  13. Position the anvil under the back of the rivet. The anvil should have a concave side into which the back rivet cap will rest.
  14. Cover the rivet with small square of fabric or felt to protect the finish. Position the post over the cap. The post should also have one concave end. This should be down so the curve rests over the rivet cap. Holding the post securely in one hand, hammer the post to seal the two parts of the rivet. It is extremely important you hold the post straight in order for the two halves to come together uniformly.
  15. Repeat to attach the remaining belt end through the opposite D-ring in the same manner. Remember to double check that there are no twists in your belt loop prior to riveting.


Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Michele Mishler

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7 months ago

Any suggestions for similar embroidery designs which are available to download for those who have a non-Janome embroidery machine?

Liz Johnson
Liz Johnson
7 months ago
Reply to  Gen

Hi Gen – We aren’t familiar with the embroidery options from other machine manufacturers. In general, you want a design that works well in one color and is fairly large in size. Look for a medallion or mandala if searching embroidery design sites.

4 years ago

Just beautiful!  I would

Just beautiful!  I would definitely want to add a zipper for safety  And you never know when you may have it fall over.  Saves a spill.

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