Tabby Road is a classic collection from Tula Pink that debuted a few years ago, but it has continued to be so popular that re-runs were done and it can often still be found at online and in-store retailers as well as from Etsy and eBay sellers. Snap some up to make our clever Kitties-To-Go Handbag. It’s the purrrrfect design to flaunt your feline love. Of course, you can always choose your own favorite fabric from the hundreds of quilting cotton collections that debut each season.
There’s a free pattern download offered below to give your bag the unique curved shape with a flat bottom. We call it the “sittin’ kitten.”
Fusible foam is what helps maintain the bag’s shape and stability. Read carefully through all the cutting directions below to see how we trimmed the foam panels to keep the bulk out of the seam. These tricks are critical when you’re working with several layers along a curve. In this case, you’ll sandwich the foam between the exterior and lining layers, then wrap the piping and insert the handles – so you are dealing with a number of layers. Remember, slow and careful always wins the race.
If you’re a Sew4Home regular, you know we fussy cut more often than not. Centering a fabric’s motif within each part of a pattern can really make a difference in the final look of a project. And when you have a design as eye-catching as Tabby Road, it’s especially important in order to make sure your kitties are front and center.
This collection is classic Tula, whimsical but with a beautiful underlying artistic flair. And, the colorways have an amazing 60s pop art feel with a modern twist.
The handles are fabric backed with webbing so they’re soft but still structured enough to hold their shape. They’re on the shorter side as this bag is meant to be carried by hand rather than over the shoulder.
We added an adorable zipper pull fashioned from our glass cat’s head bead from our stash. This is optional, of course, but these are the little touches that make your bag extra unique.
Our kitty models (Papa and Rosemary, and their human, Sarah) give the bag four paws up. Easily the best rating available anywhere.
The bag finishes at approximately 9“ wide x 3″ deep x 6” high. The handles have an approximate 5½” drop.
Sewing Tools You Need
Fabric and Other Supplies
NOTE: The quantities shown below allow extra for fussy cutting the main panels and bias cutting the fabric for the piping.
- ½ yard of 44”+ wide quilting weight cotton for the main front and back panels, side panels, and base panel; we originally used Disco Kitty in Strawberry Fields from the Tabby Road collection by Tula Pink
- ½ yard of 44”+ wide quilting weight cotton for the lining and lining pocket; we originally used Cat Snacks in Blue Bird from the Tabby Road collection by Tula Pink
- ⅛ yard of 44”+ wide quilting weight cotton for the top panel – to either side of the zipper; we originally used Fur Ball in Marmalade Skies from the Tabby Road collection by Tula Pink
- ½ yard of 44”+ wide quilting weight cotton for the top of the handles and the piping; we originally used Cat Eyes in Strawberry Cooler from the Tabby Road collection by Tula Pink
- ⅓ yard of 45” wide mid-weight interfacing; we used Pellon Décor Bond
- ⅓ yard of 20” wide fusible foam; we used Pellon Flex Foam (one-sided fusible)
- 1 yard of 1” cotton webbing; we used 1” black cotton webbing
- 1¾ yards of ¼” piping cord (also known as size 2)
- 1¾ yards of ⅝” fold-over elastic to coordinate with the lining fabric (optional to finish interior seam allowances); we used light green, purchased locally
- ONE 12″ zipper; we used a 12″ black and brass metal zipper, purchased locally
- All purpose thread to match fabric and webbing
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
Getting Started and Pattern Download
- Download and print the Exterior Front-Back Pattern piece required for the front and back panels.
IMPORTANT: This pattern download consists of ONE 8½” x 11″ sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide rule on the sheet to confirm your printout it to scale.
- Cut out the pattern piece along the solid line.
- From the fabric for the main front and back panels, side panels, and base panel (Disco Kitty in our sample), cut the following:
Using the pattern, fussy cut TWO pieces – we were careful to center different kitties on the front and back.
TWO 4” wide x 4¾” high rectangles for the side panels (the A panels as shown in the illustration below) – we were careful to avoid the kitty motif when cutting these pieces
ONE 4” wide x 8” high rectangle for the base panel (the C panel as shown in the illustration below) – we were careful to once again avoid the kitty motif when cutting this piece
- From the fabric for the lining and lining pocket (Cat Snacks in our sample), cut the following
Using the pattern, fussy cut TWO pieces
TWO 4” wide x 4¾” high rectangles for the side panels (the A panels as shown in the illustration below)
ONE 4” wide x 8” high rectangle for the base panel (the C panel as shown in the illustration below)
ONE 4” wide x 12” high rectangle for the zipper panel (the B panel as shown in the illustration below)
ONE 7” wide x 9” high rectangle for the lining pocket
NOTE: We fussy cut our pocket to match the lining panel.
- From the fabric for the top panel – to either side of the zipper (Fur Ball in our sample), cut ONE 4” wide x 12” high rectangle for the zipper panel (the B panel as shown in the illustration below)
- From the fabric for the top of the handles and the piping (Cat Eyes in our sample), cut the following:
TWO 1¼” x 15” strips for the handles
Enough 1¾” strips on the bias to equal TWO 30” finished lengths – if possible, cut as continuous strips
- From the fusible foam, cut the following:
Trim back the pattern piece along the seam allowance, then use this trimmed pattern to cut TWO panels
ONE 3” x 7” rectangle for the exterior base panel
On all THREE foam pieces (both exterior panels and the base panel), trim back the edges on all sides at an angle. This will help reduce bulk in the seams when you do the final layering of all the elements. It doesn’t have to be pretty or perfect.
- From the mid-weight interfacing, cut the following:
FOUR 3” x 3¾” rectangles for the side panels
TWO 3” x 11” rectangles for the top zipper panels
ONE 6” x 4” rectangle for the lining pocket
- Cut the piping cord into TWO 30” lengths
- Cut the webbing into TWO 15” lengths.
- Keep the optional fold-over elastic as one length for now. It will be cut to fit at the end.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Find the exterior front and back panels and the two trimmed foam panels. Center a foam panel on the wrong side of each exterior panel so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the foam on all sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Fuse the remaining trimmed foam panel to the exterior base panel in the same manner.
- Then, match up the remaining exterior and lining side panels with their matching mid-weight interfacing panels. As above with the foam, each of the interfacing panels should be centered on the wrong side of the fabric with ½” of fabric extending beyond the interfacing on all sides. The only panels without a corresponding interfacing piece are the main front and back lining panels and the lining base panel; this is correct. You should also have a remaining interfacing piece for the lining pocket, which is addressed below. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse all in place.
Create the lining pocket
- Find the 7″ x 9″ pocket panel and the remaining 6” x 4” interfacing panel.
- Fold the pocket in half, wrong sides together, so it is now 7″ wide x 4½” high. Press to set a center crease. Unfold wrong side up so the crease line is visible.
- Place the interfacing on one half of the fabric panel, aligning it along the center crease, which means ½” of fabric will extend beyond the interfacing on the other three sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Re-fold the pocket along the crease line, but this time it should be right sides together.
- Pin along all three sides, leaving an approximate 2-3″ opening along the bottom for turning.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch around all three sides, pivoting at the corners. Lock your seam on either side of the 2-3″ opening. Press open the seam allowance. Clip the corners.
- Turn right side out. Push out the corners so they are nice and sharp. A chopstick, long knitting needle or point turner works well for this. Press well, pressing in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
- Find one of the two lining panels. If you fussy cut your pocket to match a panel, this is the panel you should choose. Place it right side up on your work surface.
- Place the finished pocket on the lining. It should be centered side to side and the bottom edge of the pocket should be 1½” up from the raw edge of the lining panel. Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom. The folded edge is the pocket’s top. Because we fussy cut, we made sure our cat food tins lined up nicely.
- Edgestitch the pocket in place, through all the layers, along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners. This secures the pocket and closes the opening at the bottom used for turning.
Create the handles
- Find the two 15” lengths of webbing and the two 15” strips of fabric. Press back each long raw edge on both lengths of fabric ¼”.
- Flip over a pressed strip and center it on a length of webbing. Pin in place. Repeat with the remaining strip and webbing.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the fabric in the top and to best match the webbing in the bobbin. Slightly lengthen the stitch.
- Edgestitch the fabric to the webbing, staying close to the folded edge of the fabric.
Layer the front and back exterior panels
- Find the back exterior panel. Our back panel is the striped kitty.
- Find the back lining panel, which is the one with the pocket.
- Place the two panels wrong sides together, sandwiching the foam between the layers. The raw edges should be flush all around. Pin together all around.
- Repeat to layer the front exterior panel with the remaining lining panel.
NOTE: Instead of simply pinning, you could also machine baste all around, staying approximately ¼” from the raw edge.
Create the piping
- If this is your first time making piping, see our tutorial, How To Make And Attach Your Own Piping. We are summarizing the steps below.
- Find the two 1¾“ x 30 bias strips. If you needed multiple strips to equal your 30″ lengths, stitch them together now.
- Find the matching lengths of piping cord.
- Wrap the fabric, right side out, around the cord. Pin close to the cord to hold it in place.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the piping fabric in the top and bobbin. Re-set the stitch length to a basting stitch.
- Using a Zipper foot, sew close to the cord to create your fabric covered piping. If it’s a function on your sewing machine, you can also use a standard foot, moving your needle position to the far left.
Place the piping and handles
- Find the layered front exterior panel.
- Pin one length of piping to the right side of the panel, aligning the raw edges of the piping with the raw edge of the panel and leaving about 1″ free at the tail.
- Clip into the piping as needed to ease it around the curves and corners. Clipping will especially help to make a sharper turn at the bottom corners.
- We positioned our joining seam at the center of the straight bottom edge of the panel.
- At this joint, lay the piping against the fabric so it is flat and smooth.
- With a seam ripper, peel back the fabric on the 1” tail to expose the cording underneath.
- Trim the end of cording tail so it exactly butts together with the head of the cording.
- Fold under the end of the loose fabric to create a clean edge. Trim away excess fabric prior to folding if necessary.
- Overlap the folded end to conceal the piping cord and pin in place to create the continuous line of piping.
NOTE: Again, remember check out our full piping tutorial if this is a new process for you.
- Find one handle and the original paper pattern.
- Use the marking dots on the paper pattern to mark the position for the handle ends along the top curve of the panel.
- Place the raw ends of the handle at these marked points. The handle should be right sides together with the front panel, which means the webbing side will be facing up. Make sure there are no twists in your handle loop. Pin the handle ends over the piping.
NOTE: As shown in the photo below, make sure the ends are following the edge of the fabric, which means the handle will angle in. This is important. If the handle is not angled in, it won’t pull up straight into its final position.
- Using a Zipper foot , baste all the way around, through all the layers. Run the seam as close to the piping cord as possible.
- Repeat to attach the piping and handle to the layered back exterior panel.
- Collect all the pieces for the side of the bag: the two 4” x 12” panels for the zipper section – both with interfacing fused in place; the four 4” x 4¾” side panels – one pair for each end of the zipper panel, all with interfacing fused in place; and the two 4” x 8” base panels – the plain lining panel and the exterior panel with foam fused in place.
- Pair up each exterior piece with its corresponding lining piece.
- Place each pair wrong sides together.
- Attach a standard presser foot. Machine baste each pair together along their outer sides, using a ¼” seam allowance.
- Set aside the side and base panels.
- Place the 12” zipper panel right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Cut this panel exactly in half lengthwise so you now have TWO 2″ x 12″ strips.
- Place one strip right side up. Place the zipper right side down on top of the strip (so zipper and strip are right sides together), aligning the side edge of the zipper tape with the inner cut edge of the strip. Pin in place.
- Here is a view from the lining side.
- Re-set the stitch length to normal. Using a Zipper foot, stitch the length of the strip, running the seam as close to the zipper teeth as possible.
- Repeat to attach the remaining half of the strip to the bottom tape of the zipper.
- Press the strips away from the zipper teeth.
- If necessary, re-thread the machine to insure your thread matches the fabric for both the top and the bobbin. Slightly lengthen the stitch.
- Edgestitch through all the layers, staying very close to the seam line on both sides of the zipper. For all the edgestitching on the side ring, we lengthened our stitch slightly.
NOTE: As with all zipper installations, start with the zipper half way open. Stitch to the middle, where you can start to feel you’re approaching the zipper pull. Stop with your needle in the down position. Lift up the presser foot slightly. Twist your fabric around slightly and carefully close the zipper. Re-position the foot and finish sewing to the end.
Complete the side ring
- Find the two 4” x 4¾” side panels and the zipper panel. Open the zipper about half way.
- Place one side panel, right sides together, with the bottom end of the zipper and the other right sides together at the top end of the zipper. Pin in place, sandwiching the zipper between the layers.
- Re-attach the standard presser foot. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch each side panel in place.
- Finish the seam allowances with your favorite method. We used a simple zig zag.
- Flip over and press both side panels away from the zipper. This means your seam allowances should also be pressed away from the zipper.
- Edgestitch along the two short seams within the side panels.
- Pin the remaining free edge of one side panel to one end of the base panel. Stitch in place, using a ½” seam allowance. Finish the seam allowance. Press the seam allowance toward the base panel. Then flip to edgestitch along the seam within the base panel.
- Repeat to attach the remaining end of the base panel to the remaining free edge of the opposite side panel. You have now created a ring, so you will need to flatten the panel to maneuver it under the presser foot for the final topstitching.
Insert the front and back panels into the side ring
- Find the back exterior circle.
- Flip the side ring wrong side out. Open the zipper all the way.
- Set the back exterior panel into the ring so the two pieces are right sides together. Align the the bottom corners of the panel with the base seams of the ring. Pin through all the layers at these points first, then fill in around the ring. Don’t be afraid to use a lot of pins. It’s best to pin along the base first, then pin up along each side and around the curve at the top.
- You want the bottom corners to be more sharp than rounded, which means you may need to tuck and/or clip to ease the panel into the ring at these corners.
- Here’s a view looking inside with the back panel pinned in place to the ring.
NOTE: This technique is the similar to any project where you are inserting a flat circle into a tube. In this case, we simply have a very narrow tube and our circle is a slightly different shape. If you are new to this process, check out our full, step-by-step tutorial.
- Using a normal stitch length and a Zipper foot, stitch all the way around the circle, running your seam as close to the piping as possible. At the bottom corners, we stitched into the corner, stopped…
- … and then pivoted to continue along the base. As mentioned above, you want the corners to be more sharp than round.
- Repeat to add the front panel. This side will be a bit more challenging to wrangle under the presser foot because you no longer have an open side. However, by making sure the zipper is all the way open and working to flatten the layers, you should be able to go all the way around without a problem. As with all things that may present a challenge, go slowly and stop – with your needle in the down position – to adjust the layers as needed.
Finishing the interior raw edges
- The method of finishing is up to you. You can leave the interior seam allowances raw or use a simple machine finish, such as a zig zag or overcast stitch. We chose to wrap our seam allowances with a fold over elastic.
- With the bag still all the way wrong side out, trim back the interior seam allowances to ⅜” on both the front and back.
- Find the fold over elastic. Cut two lengths, each long enough to fit all the way around the panel plus about 1” for an overlap.
- Pin the elastic flat against the seam allowance. The inner edge of the elastic should be aligned with the seam line. The outer edge of the elastic will extend beyond the seam allowance. Overlap the the ends to finish. The photo below is the view from the base of the bag, so you can the elastic lengths pinned in place against both the front and back seam allowance. You can also see both of our overlaps, which we recommend being at the base of the bag.
- Stitch the flat elastic in place against the seam allowance. You are just stitching against the seam allowance. We continued to use our Zipper foot.
- Wrap the free edge of the elastic over the seam allowance, encasing the raw edges to give the seam allowance a finished edge inside the bag. Pin in place. Still using a Zipper foot, topstitch the wrapped elastic to the seam allowance. Remember, you are only working with the seam allowance; don’t stitch onto the main bag itself.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild