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Boho Sling Bag in Soft Cotton
A relaxed style, subtle embroidered detailing, and rich ruffling are just a few of the features we love on this must-have boho sling bag. Mix and match four different quilting cottons to create vintage-inspired boho chic. A bit o’ batting adds just the right softness. And, simple hand embroidery provides light quilting through the layers, outlining some of the fabric’s motifs in running stitches and accenting the centers of others with French knots.
The ruffled top of our bag is made like a collar with a cute winged opening. You can position this accent over either center panel. We opted for the ruffled pocket panel, but we show you below how it could look just as sweet over the plain panel.
We really enjoy designing some of our bags to be suitable for construction completely in quilting cottons. There are so many beautiful collections that come out each season, you can browse to your heart’s delight to pick out the perfect combination for yourself or as a gift. You might even have what you need in your own scrap stash. We originally used the Daydreams collection by Kate Spain for Moda Fabrics.
Our boho sling bag finishes at approximately 14″ wide x 18″ high x 2″ deep with 14″ handles (an approximate 10″ drop from the top of the ruffle).
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing machine and standard presser foot
- Walking or Even Feed foot: optional, but helpful for the steps with batting – you could engage your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system, such as the AcuFeed™ Flex system we use on many of our Janome studio machines
- Quarter Inch Seam foot; optional but helpful for some of the tight stitching
Fabric and Other Supplies
NOTE: The recommended yardage includes a bit extra to account for fussy cutting.
- ¾ yard of 44″+ wide quilting weight cotton for the bag exterior feature panel and interior pocket
- 1 yard of 44″+ wide quilting weight cotton for the opposite bag exterior feature panel, feature panel pocket and upper ruffle lining
- 1 yard of 44″+ wide quilting weight cotton for the bag exterior outer panels, upper ruffle exterior, and straps
- ¾ yard of 44″+ wide quilting weight cotton for the lining and skinny drawstring ties
- ½ yard of low loft batting
- ¼ yard of lightweight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon Shir-Tailor
- FOUR skeins of cotton floss in colors to coordinate with your fabrics
- All purpose thread to match fabric
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Iron and ironing board
- Straight pins
- Small safety pin to thread drawstrings through casings
- Seam sealant, such as Dritz Fray Check: optional for the ends of the drawstring ties
- Hand sewing needle
- From the fabric for the bag exterior feature panel and interior pocket, fussy cut the following:
ONE 9″ wide x 16″ high rectangle for the panel
ONE 7″ wide x 11″ high rectangle for the pocket
- From the fabric for the opposite bag exterior feature panel, feature panel pocket and upper ruffle lining, fussy cut the following:
ONE 9″ wide x 16″ high rectangle for the panel
ONE 13″ x 13″ square for the pocket
TWO 7″ x 1¼” strips for the pocket casing
ONE 29″ wide x 5″ high rectangle for the top ruffle
- From the fabric for the bag exterior outer panels, upper ruffle exterior, and straps, fussy cut the following:
TWO 9″ wide x 16″ high rectangles for the outer panels
ONE 37″ wide x 5″ high rectangle for the top ruffle
TWO 17″ x 1¼” strips for the top ruffle casing
TWO 30″ x 2″ strips for the straps
- From the fabric for the lining and skinny drawstring ties, fussy cut the following:
ONE 33″ wide x 16″ high rectangle for the lining
TWO 36″ x 1¼” strips for the top drawstrings
TWO 16″ x 1¼” strips for the pocket drawstrings
- From the lightweight fusible interfacing, cut the following:
TWO 30″ x ¾” strips for the straps
ONE 13″ x 4¾” rectangle for the front pocket
ONE 6″ x 5″ for the lining pocket
ONE 32½” x 5″ rectangle for the top ruffle
- From the batting, cut ONE 33″ wide x 16″ high rectangle.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Find the four 1¼” strips for the drawstrings.
- Press each strip in half lengthwise to set a center crease.
- Fold in each long raw side to meet in the middle at the crease line. Refold along the original crease line; the folded edges should align. Press again.
- Thread your machine with thread to best match the drawstring in the top and bobbin.
- Topstitch the length of the tie, staying close to the folded edges. You can certainly pin in place, but the ties are so narrow, it’s actually easier to simply hold the tie in place with your hand as you sew.
- Repeat to create the four drawstring ties in the same manner. The ends remain raw. When threaded through later, the ends will each be knotted. At that time, you could add a dot of seam sealant, such as Dritz Fray Check if desired.
- Set the drawstrings aside.
Gathered pocket and casings
- Find the 13″ x 13″ exterior pocket panel and the 13″ x 4¾” piece of interfacing.
- Fold the fabric panel in half to set a center crease. If your fabric is directional, make sure you fold so your design is oriented properly at 13″ x 6½” high.
- Unfold wrong side up so the crease line is visible. Place the interfacing so it sits 1″ down from the center crease line, and ¾” up from the bottom raw edge. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the interfacing in place.
- Re-fold right sides together and pin along the bottom 13″ side. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along the bottom edge. Press the seam allowance open.
- Turn right side out through an open side and press the pocket flat.
- Find the two 7″ x 1¼” casing strips.
- Fold back one end of each strip ½”. Topstitch the fold in place.
- Fold down each long raw edge of each strip ¼” and press.
- Find the pocket. Measure to find the exact center of the top edge (the 13″ folded edge). Mark this point with a pin.
- Place the pocket right side up on your work surface. Flip the casings right side up and place them on the pocket. They should sit 1″ down from the top fold with the raw ends of casings flush with the raw sides of the pocket. The finished ends of the casings should meet at the center point of the pocket with about ¼” between the two strips. Pin the casings in place.
- Make sure your machine is threaded with a color to match the fabric, then edgestitch the casings in place along the top and bottom of the strips.
NOTE: The edgestitching can go all the way across unbroken; you don’t have to break the edgestitching at the end of each strip. Simply run two lines of parallel horizontal edgestitching to attach the casing to the pocket.
- Find the two shorter drawstrings. Attach the safety to one end of one drawstring and thread it through the casing. Pin the end in place at the raw edge of the pocket. Knot the opposite end. Repeat to thread the remaining drawstring through the opposite casing.
- Along the bottom edge of the pocket (the seamed edge), run a gathering stitch.
- Using the gathering stitch at the bottom and the drawstrings at the top, gather up the pocket from 13″ to approximately 9″. Tie the drawstrings in a bow to hold them in place. Set aside the pocket.
Main bag panels
- This bag doesn’t have a specific front and back; it looks lovely from both sides. For our sample, we chose to have the top ruffle “collar opening” sit over the center panel with the pocket. However, it would look just as nice with the opening over the plain center panel, as shown in the drawing below. The instructions would be the same; simply centering the collar opening over the panel of your choice.
- Fin the two exterior center panels, the two exterior outer panels, and the gathered pocket
- Place the exterior center panel that matches the pocket fabric right side up and flat on your work surface. Place the pocket right side up on this panel. The bottom gathered edge of the pocket should sit 1¾” up from the bottom raw edge of the panel and the raw edges of the pocket and the panel should be flush. Adjust the gathers on the pocket as needed to fit.
- Topstitch the pocket in place across the bottom edge. We simply followed along in the basting seam.
- Baste the raw sides of the pocket in place approximately ¼” from each edge.
- Assemble the four panels to create one long panel with three vertical seams. To do this, first place one outer panel right sides together with each side of the plain exterior center panel, aligning the 16″ sides. Pin in place.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch the two seams. Press the seam allowances toward the outer panels.
- Place the exterior center panel with the pocket right sides together with raw edge of the right outer panel. Pin in place and stitch with a ½” seam allowance. Press the seam allowance toward the outer panel.
- Find the batting rectangle. Place it flat on your work surface. Place the seamed exterior panels right side up on top of the batting, centering the exterior panel so there is ½” of fabric extending beyond the batting on all sides.
- Pin the panel to the batting along each of the three seams. With your machine threaded with a thread color to best match the exterior panels, topstitch along each of the three seams, within the exterior panel, through all the layers. Your topstitching seams should be ⅛” from the original seams. We used our Janome Even Feed foot.
Hand embroidery, final exterior panel seam and boxed corners
- As both a decorative accent, as well as additional stitching to “quilt” the exterior panel to the batting, we added hand embroidery across the exterior panel.
- How much hand embroidery, and in how many colors, is totally up to you. We outlined the motifs of our plain panel with simple running stitchings in matching colors.
- And, we added French knots at the centers of the daisies on our exterior center pocket panel as well as in the centers of all the outer panel motifs.
- When you have the hand embroidery completed to your liking, fold the finished exterior panel in half, aligning the remaining 16″ raw sides. Pin in place.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch the final exterior panel seam to create a loop. Press the seam allowance toward the outer panel.
- Turn the bag right side out and add a final line of topstitching along this last seam to match the others.
- Turn the exterior panel wrong side out again. Fold it in half, aligning the vertical seams. Pin in place along the bottom edge only.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across the bottom edge only.
- Create 2″ box corners, which means your “box” will be half that size or 1″.
- Make sure your bottom seam is center in the box.
- Stitch both corners with a double seam.
- If you are new to this technique, check out our tutorial: How To Box Corners.
- Turn the main bag right side out, push out the corners and press.
Create the straps
- Find the two 30″ straps and the two 30″ lengths of interfacing.
- Place the fabric strips wrong side up on your work surface. Place an interfacing along one half of each strip. It should sit ¼” in from each raw side edge, which means the inner edge will be at the center of each strip. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the interfacing in place.
- Fold the fabric strip right sides together. Pin in place down the long sides. Both ends remain open and raw.
- Using a ¼” seam allowance, stitch the length of each strap. We used our Janome Quarter Inch Seam foot to maintain a nice even seam over the entire length.
- Turn the strips right side out. We have a great tutorial on how to turn skinny ties and straps with a hemostat.
- Press the straps flat.
- Find the exterior bag. Place one strap loop on one side and the other strap loop on the other, positioning the raw ends of the strap over the center panel seams. Check to make sure the loops are not twisted anywhere along their length, then pin in place. You can hand baste the ends in place if you choose.
Create and attach the top ruffle and casings
- If you are used to garment sewing, it can help to think of this top ruffle as a collar. It is made and attached in the same manner.
- Find the two 5″ ruffle strips and the 5″ length of interfacing.
- Stitch the strips together end to end to create a loop.
- With the loop still wrong side out, place the loop flat on your work surface with the longer strip on the bottom and the shorter strip on the top. Because one strip is shorter than the other, the longer strip will wrap around about 2”on each side, so the seams show on the top. Press the seam allowances open.
- Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the length of interfacing on the top portion only. It will cover the shorter strip, both seams and the 2″ wrap-arounds of the longer strip.
- With the interfacing in place and the loop still flat, pin across the top edge.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across the top edge. Press the seam allowance open.
- Turn the “ruffle collar” right side out so the seam is along the top and the opening is along the bottom. Press flat again so the shorter section is on top and centered with an equal amount of the longer section showing to each side.
- Decide which center panel you want to be your bag front. As we mentioned above, either panel will work. We selected the pocket panel as our “front.”
- Pin the ruffle/collar to the top edge of the exterior bag, placing the longer strip fabric against the right side of the bag. The two ends of the ruffle/collar should butt together at the exact center of the front center panel. Pin in place.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch the ruffle/collar to the bag. Stitch across the center point where the ends come together. We are using our Janome Even Feed foot again.
- Press the seam allowance down towards the bag. Press back the sides of the ruffle opening, like a collar, to create the “winged opening.”
- The casings for the top ruffle are made in essentially the same manner as the pocket casing. Find the two 17″ x 1¼” casing strips.
- Fold back both ends of each strip ½”. Topstitch the folds in place.
- Fold down each long raw edge of each strip ¼” and press.
- Find the exact center of the exterior front and back. Mark both points with a pin. Fold each casing in half to find its center point and mark with a pin.
- Place the bag right side up on your work surface. Flip the casings right side up and place them on the bag. They should sit across the bag/ruffle seam on each side. Align the center pin points of the bag and the casings. In addition, we lined up the bottom folded back raw edge of the casing with the bag’s seam as an easy way to make sure the casing would sit straight across the bag. The ends of the casings should butt up against one another at each side of the bag.
- To best avoid pins when stitching, it’s easier to pin, fold, and edgestitch one side and then pin, fold, and edgestitch the other side. Remember to check your thread color so it is the best match for the casing fabric.
- Find the two remaining drawstrings. Attach the safety to one end of one drawstring and thread it through the front casing. Knot each end. Repeat to thread the remaining drawstring through the back casing.
- Find the 7″ x 11″ pocket panel and the 6″ x 5″ interfacing piece.
- Center the interfacing on the wrong side of the fabric panel. It should be positioned on the top half of the fabric panel ½” down from the top raw edge and ½” in from each side. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Fold the pocket in half, right sides together, matching all the raw edges. Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, sew both sides and across the bottom, leaving a 3” opening along the bottom for turning. Clip the corners and turn the pocket right side out through the bottom opening. Push out the corners so they are nice and sharp. A chopstick or long knitting needle works well for this. Fold in the raw edges of the pocket openings so they are flush with the sewn seam. Press the pocket flat.
- Find one of the lining panels. Place it right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Position the pocket on the panel. The pocket should sit 3½” down from the top raw edge of the lining panel and 4½” in from the right side.
- Pin the pocket in place along both sides and across the bottom.
- Edgestitch the pocket in place along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners. This closes the opening in the pocket used for turning right side out.
- Place the two lining panels right sides together, sandwiching the pocket between the layers. Pin along both sides and across the bottom.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners.
- As you did for the exterior bag, create 2″ box corners, which means your “box” will be half that size or 1″.
- As mentioned above, if you are new to this technique, check out our tutorial: How To Box Corners.
- Leave the lining wrong side out.
- Fold down the top raw edge of the lining ½” all around.
- Find the exterior bag, it should be right side. Slip the lining inside the exterior bag so the two bags are now wrong sides together. Adjust the bag so the bottom boxed corners match up. The top folded edge of the lining should just cover the bag/ruffle seam (remember you pressed that seam allowance down, so the lining should be completely covering it). If it doesn’t quite match up, simply adjust the top folded edge of the lining so it is a perfect match all around. Pin in place.
- Thread the hand sewing needle with thread to best match the lining. Slip stitch in place all around. Keep your stitching small so the bag will gather up without gaps showing on the inside.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild
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