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Multi-Pocket Canvas Bag with Jean Buttons & Rivets

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This terrific tote has so many interesting details, we couldn't fit them all into the title! Besides the rivets securing the straps in place and the jean buttons on the side pockets, there are also cool metal grommets, western style pocket flaps, and twin needle topstitching. We turned to Dritz® for all the key hardware components. Metal accents like this are the perfect touch to finish a bag professionally. But they do more than just look good.

Dritz® rivets, grommets, and button studs are functional notions that go where standard sewing machines often fear to tread: the narrow, the thick, the heavy parts of construction. Plus, you get to hit your project with a hammer. How often have you wanted to do that just because?!

This bag is not necessarily complex, but there are a lot of steps. Read through all the instructions first (maybe two times) to make sure you understand the process and have absorbed all our handy tips along the way. Then dive in; the actual assembly is easy – especially with our famous Sew4Home step-by-step tutorial.

We used a lightweight solid canvas in a rich, deep violet, which sets off the nickel finish of the metal accents. Denim, heavy linen, and barkcloth are other exterior substrates to consider.

Since the Dritz® Jean Buttons and Rivets are familiar findings on denim jeans and jackets, we added a few more elements to the bag to echo this fave casual style. There's twin needle topstitching around the opening of the bag and along the side pockets.

We offer a downloadable pattern for the western style pocket flaps, and the overall feel of the bag has that same comfy softness as your best-loved jeans: sturdy but with a perfect little slouch. 

Add a kick of color on the inside with a coordinating cotton. The interior of the bag as well as all the pockets are lined. And speaking of pockets, as the title promises, there are lots of them. One front, one back, two on the sides, and one in the lining. You might need to come up with more things to carry.

Our bag finishes at approximately 12" high x 10" wide with a 5½" base and sides and a 10" strap drop.

Sewing Tools You Need

  • Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
  • 100/16 Denim Needle
  • Twin Needle; optional for double lines of topstitching - make sure you purchase the twin needle designed for your machine make and model
  • Edge Guide foot; optional but helpful for precise topstitching and edgestitching; you could also use a Quarter Inch Seam foot - although we recommend your edgestitching be ⅛" for the best look
  • Walking or Even Feed foot; optional but helpful when working with the multiple layers around the top of the bag; if applicable, you could also engage your machine's built-in fabric feeding system, such as the Janome AcuFeed™ Flex that we use

Fabric and Other Supplies

Getting Started

  1. Download and print the Pocket Flap pattern.
    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.
  2. Cut out the pattern piece along the solid line.
  3. From the exterior fabric (the Meadow Violet Canvas in our sample), cut the following: 
    TWO 11" wide x 15" high rectangles for side panel style A
    TWO 6½" wide x 15" high rectangles for side panel style B
    TWO 7" wide x 8" high rectangles for pocket style A 
    TWO 6½" wide x 8" high rectangles for pocket style B
    TWO 2½" x 30" strips for the handle straps
    ONE 11" wide x 6½" high rectangle for the base
    Using the pattern, cut TWO pocket flaps
  4. From the fabric for the lining (the Pattern Guides in our sample), cut the following:
    ONE 32" wide x 11" high rectangle
    TWO 7" wide x 8" high rectangles for pocket style A 
    TWO 6½" wide x 8" high rectangles for pocket style B
    ONE 7" wide x 11" high rectangle for the lining pocket
    ONE 11" wide x 6½" high rectangle for the base
    Using the pattern, cut TWO pocket flaps
  5. From the lightweight interfacing, cut the following:
    ONE 2" x 31" strip for the top band
    TWO 6" x 7" rectangles for pocket style A 
    TWO 5½" x 7" rectangles for pocket style B
    ONE 6" x 5" rectangle for the lining pocket
    Using the pattern, but cutting along the inner stitching line rather than the solid line, cut TWO pocket flaps
  6. From the fusible fleece, cut ONE 31" x 10½" rectangle.
  7. From the heavyweight interfacing, cut ONE 10" x 5½" rectangle.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Fusing

  1. Pair up an exterior pocket piece with its appropriate interfacing piece. Place the interfacing on the wrong side of each pocket piece, centering the interfacing so there is ½" of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all sides. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse in place.
  2. Be especially careful to center the interfacing on each pocket flap.

Pocket Style A

  1. With the interfacing fused, place exterior pocket A right sides together with lining Pocket A. Pin along both sides and across the top. Leave the bottom open and raw; it will be secured in the base seam.
  2. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the top, pivoting at each corner. 
  3. Press open the seam allowance and clip the corners
  4. Turn right side out and press flat. Repeat for the remaining Pocket A exterior and lining panels. 

Pocket Style B

  1. With the interfacing fused, place exterior pocket B right sides together with lining Pocket B. Pin across the top only. Leave the sides and the bottom open and raw; both will be secured in the panel seams and base seam.
  2. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch across the top. Turn right side out and press flat, making sure the raw side and bottom edges remain flush. 
  3. Find the exact center of the pocket panel. Using a fabric pen or pencil, draw a vertical line down the center. You are working on the right side of your fabric; make sure your fabric pen will easily wipe away or will vanish with exposure to air or the heat of an iron. 
  4. Repeat for the remaining Pocket B exterior and lining panels.
  5. Re-thread the machine with the contrasting thread in the top and bobbin. Lengthen the stitch. Insert a twin needle. 
  6. Using the drawn line as your center guide, topstitch down the center of each pocket panel. 

    NOTE: If you don't have a twin needle option, you can still use the drawn center line as your guide. Stitch ⅛" or less to the left of center, then the same distance to the right of center. Doing it this way, your lines are likely to be farther apart than with a twin needle. 

Pocket B Flaps

  1. Find the pocket flap exterior and lining pieces. Place each exterior piece right sides together with a lining piece. Pin in place, leaving an approximate 2" opening along the top (the straight edge) for turning. 
  2. Re-thread the machine with construction thread in the top and bobbin. Re-set the stitch length to normal and re-insert a standard needle (we're using a denim needlefor our construction sewing throughout).
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch each pocket flap set together. Remember to pivot at the corners and the point and go slowly along the curves to keep your seam even. Lock the seam at either side of the 2" opening. 
  4. Clip the corners and the curves and grade the seam allowance, trimming back the canvas. 
  5. Turn each flap right side out through the opening. Using a long, blunt end tool, gently push out the corners and the curves. A long knitting needle, chopstick or point turner works well for this. Press flat. 
  6. Re-thread the machine with the contrasting thread in the top and bobbin. Lengthen the stitch.
  7. Edgestitch down the sides and along the bottom curve and point. Do not stitch across the top. 
  8. Find the original paper pattern, which was trimmed to cut the interfacing. It is now a perfect fit for the finished flap. Use the button guide on the pattern to mark each finished flap for a buttonhole. The pattern marking simulates the Jean Button, so remember your buttonhole will start below the button. 
  9. We have an automatic buttonhole feature on our Janome studio machines and so were able to stitch the buttonhole to exactly match the Dritz® Jean Button. If you don't have this feature, the Jean Buttons require an approximate ⅞" buttonhole. We used the contrasting thread for our buttonholes.

Place the pockets on the side panels

  1. Find the two 11" wide x 15" high Style A side panels and the two finished Style A Pockets (the pockets with the finished sides and top).
  2. Place the side panels right side up and flat on your work surface. Center a pocket on each panel. The bottom raw edges of the pocket should be flush with the bottom raw edge of the side panel. Pin in place.
  3. If necessary, re-thread the machine with the contrasting thread in the top and bobbin. Lengthen the stitch.
  4. Edgestitch along each side of each pocket panel to secure it to the side panel. We used our Janome Edge Guide foot
  5. Find the two 6½" wide x 15" high Style B side panels and the two finished Style B Pockets and Flaps.
  6. Place the side panels right side up and flat on your work surface. Place a pocket on each panel. The bottom and side raw edges of the pocket should be flush with the bottom and side raw edges of the side panel. Pin in place.
  7. Pin a pocket flap ½" above each base pocket, centering the point of the pocket flap on the base pocket's vertical topstitching, which means the sides of the flap should sit just a bit over ½" in from each edge of the side panel. 
  8. The machine should still be threaded with the contrasting thread in the top and bobbin and the stitch should still be lengthened. 
  9. Topstitch across just the top edge of the pocket flap to secure. You are stitching through all layers, the side panel and the pocket flap. If possible, use a lockstitch at the beginning and end of the seam for the cleanest look. If you do not have this feature, leave the thread tails long and hand knot at the back to secure. 

Attach the Jean Buttons

  1. Fold the pocket flap down into position and insert a pin through the center of the flap's buttonhole to mark the position of the button on the pocket base panel. 
  2. Make a small hole with an awl or sharp scissors at this marked point in the pocket base panel. You are cutting through the topstitching to center the button; you can add a dab of seam sealant, such as Dritz Fray Check, if you are worried your fabric will fray. 
  3. Find the Dritz® Jean Buttons.
  4. Insert the base of the Jean Button (the tack) through the hole from the back... 
  5. ...so it comes out through the front. 

  6. Place the top of the button right side down (top side down) on a firm surface. Holding the tack in position with your finger, bring the the top of the base pocket down over the button so the tack inserts into the button's shank. Press firmly to seat the tack into the shank. 
  7. Open up the pocket so the back of the tack is visible. Hit the back of the tack once or twice with a hammer to secure the two pieces together. Use a small hammer if possible. The area is tight, so try keep your hammer blows smooth and firm. 

Assemble the exterior panels

  1. Place one Panel A right sides together with one Panel B. Pin together along one 15" side, securing the raw edges of the Pocket B base between the layers (but not the pocket flap; it should be free). 
  2. Re-thread the machine with construction thread in the top and bobbin. Re-set the stitch length to normal.
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch together. 
  4. In the same manner, pin the remaining Panel A to the remaining raw edge of the first Panel B. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch together.
  5. And finally, in the same manner, pin the remaining Panel B to the remaining raw edge of the second Panel A. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch together.
  6. You now have four panels sewn in a row: A - B - A - B. The drawing below shows the bag completely finished in a flat perspective. Obviously you don't have the top portion done at this point, but the drawing is helpful to allow you to visualize the panel/pocket sequence. 

  7. Grade all three seam allowances, taking special care to thin out the seams that encase the edges of the Pocket B base panels. 
  8. Press all the seam allowances together and towards the A panels. Pin lightly to secure the seam allowance. 
  9. Re-thread the machine with the contrasting thread in the top and bobbin. Lengthen the stitch.
  10. Topstitch along each seam within the A panel as shown in the drawing above. 
  11. Along the top of the sewn panel, fold down and press the raw edge ½". We're using a Clover Hot Hemmer
  12. Then fold down an additional 2" and press again. In both cases, press firmly enough to set a visible crease line. 
  13. Open up both folds so the crease lines are visible. The panel should be wrong side up. 
  14. Find the 2" x 31" strip of lightweight fusible interfacing. Place the interfacing on the wrong side of the panel, aligning the top edge of the interfacing with the second crease line. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse in place. 
  15. With the interfacing in place and the upper edge still unfolded, place the remaining 15" raw edges of the exterior panel right sides together. Pin in place, creating a tube that is open on the top and bottom. 
  16. Re-thread the machine with construction thread in the top and bobbin. Re-set the stitch length to normal.
  17. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch together. 
  18. Grade this seam allowance as you did the previous three and press it towards the A panel. 
  19. Re-thread the machine with the contrasting thread in the top and bobbin. Lengthen the stitch.
  20. Topstitch along the seam within the A panel as you did above on the previous three seams. This final line of topstitching is a bit trickier since you are working with a tube rather than a flat piece. If you turn the tube wrong side out you can slide the final seam under the needle with the fabric facing right side up. Go slowly, flattening the fabric to either side as you sew. We used our Janome Edge Guide foot to keep our topstitching precise.  

Insert the exterior base

  1. Find the 11" x 6½" exterior base panel and the 10" x 5½" firm interfacing panel. Center the interfacing on the wrong side of the base panel so there is ½" of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all four sides. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse in place. 
  2. Because there is a bit of twisting and bending involved with inserting a base panel, we also machine basted the interfacing in place for extra security during construction. 
  3. Find the exact center of each 6½" side of the base panel and place a pin at this point. 
  4. Find the exterior tube (the body of the bag). Turn it wrong side out. The B panels are the sides of the bag; the A panels are the front and back. On the B panels, the vertical topstitching on the pocket base represents the center point of the side panel. 
  5. Starting on one side, pin the base panel right sides together with the body of the bag. Align the center pin point of the base panel with the vertical topstitching on the pocket base. The corners of the interfacing should align with the panel seams. Pin in place. 
  6. Re-thread the machine with construction thread in the top and bobbin. Re-set the stitch length to normal.
  7. Starting at the corner of the interfacing, and using a ½" seam allowance, stitch along this first side. Stop the seam at the opposite corner of the interfacing. In other words, your seam is starting and stopping ½" in from the edge of the base panel.
  8. Remove the project from the machine. Turn the corner and pin along the next side of the bag (one of the A panel sides). To help make the turn, you can clip the bag at the corners. You are clipping into the corner at a diagonal at a depth of about ⅜". This frees up the seam allowance so you can stitch each side of the bag independently.
  9. As above, use a ½" seam allowance to sew the bottom panel to the body of the bag. Start and stop at each corner.  
  10. Repeat to stitch the final two sides/corners in the same manner. 
  11. Turn the exterior bag right side out and press the base. Set aside. 
    NOTE: If you are brand new to this technique, we have a good step-by-step tutorial on how to set a rectangular base into a tube

Complete the lining

  1. Find the main lining panel, the lining pocket and its interfacing, and the fusible fleece panel.
  2. Place the fleece panel against the wrong side of the lining panel. The top edges of the fleece and fabric should be flush. Along the sides and the bottom, ½" of fabric should extend beyond the fleece. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse in place. 
  3. Place the interfacing against ½" of the pocket panel. The top edge of the interfacing should be at the center line of the pocket panel and there should be ½" of fabric extending beyond the interfacing along the sides and the bottom edge. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse in place. 
  4. Fold the pocket panel in half right sides together so it is now 7" x 5½". Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom, leaving a 2" - 3" opening along the bottom edge. 
  5. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom. Remember to pivot at the corners and lock your seam at either side of the opening. Clip the corners and press open the seam allowance. 
  6. Turn right side out through the opening, and gently push out the corners so they are nice and square. Press flat, pressing in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
  7. Place the fused lining panel right side up and flat on your work surface. Position the pocket at the center of the panel. It should sit 3" up from the bottom raw edge of the panel and 11" in from the right raw side edge of the panel. Pin the pocket in place along both sides and across the bottom.
  8. Edgestitch the pocket in place along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners. 
  9. Fold the lining panel right sides together, aligning the 11" sides. Pin in place. 
  10. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch together. Your seam is running right along the edge of the fleece. Press open the seam allowance. 
  11. Find the lining base panel. It is inserted in the same manner as the exterior base panel. The main difference is that the lining has just one seam. This seam is the center point of what will become one side of the lining bag. 
  12. Turn the lining tube wrong side out. Starting with this "seamed side," pin the base panel right sides together, aligning the corner of the base panel with the seam of the lining. Flatten the base panel against the lining (remember, right sides together) and continue pinning this first side of the base panel. 
  13. As above with the exterior base insertion, stitch this first side, starting and stopping your seam ½" in from the corners. 
  14. Remember to clip into each corner to ease the fabric around your 90˚ turns. The lining pocket should be centered against one Panel A; keep this in mind as you mark and pin along each side of the base panel. 
    NOTE: Don't forget to review our Rectangular Base into a Tube tutorial if you are new to this technique. 

Insert lining and stitch facing

  1. With the exterior bag right side out and the lining bag wrong side out, slip the lining inside the exterior so the two layers are now wrong sides together. Push the lining all the way down into the exterior, lining up the corners of both base panels.
  2. Following the original crease lines, fold the exterior facing back down into position (½" and then 2"). The facing should cover and enclose the top raw edge of the lining. Hand baste the facing in place. 
  3. Re-thread the machine with the contrasting thread in the top and bobbin. Lengthen the stitch. Insert a twin needle.
  4. Starting at the center of one side, topstitch all around the top of the bag, just under 2" down from the upper folded edge. Our seam was at 1⅞".
  5. We used the AcuFeed Flex feeding system on our Janome machine, which helped keep our layers from shifting and worked great with the twin needle. Whether you use a single or double line of stitching, we do recommend some type of Walking or Even Feed foot for this step. 

Insert the grommets

  1. Find the Dritz® Extra Large Eyelets (also known as small grommets).
  2. There are four grommets on the bag to hold the straps, two on the front panel and two on the back panel. Mark the position for each grommet 1½" in from each side seam and 1" down from the top folded edge. This positioning should nicely center the grommet within the facing band. You can also follow the drawing above for spacing and positioning.
  3. Cut out the hole for the grommet and insert the top of the grommet from the front through to the back. Place the grommet cap over the exposed neck. 
  4. Set the post and anvil into position and hammer the pieces together to secure. 

    NOTE:
    If you are new to this technique, we have a full, step-by-step tutorial on setting metal grommets
  5. Remove the basting thread from the bottom of the facing as well as from the exterior base panel. 

Optional side tucks

  1. In order to allow the thicker top edge of the bag to more easily fold close, we added a tiny tuck at the top of each side panel. This is optional, but does give the bag a nice shape.
  2. To do this, simply pinch about ¼" at the exact center of each side panel. Pin in place. You are pinching right sides together so the tuck is to the inside of the bag. 
  3. Re-thread the machine with construction thread in the top and bobbin. Re-set the stitch length to normal.
  4. Using a ¼" seam allowance, stitch from the top folded edge down just ½". 
  5. When pressed, this tuck will appear to be longer. Just be sure to keep the twin needle stitching around the top facing even. 

Create the straps

  1. Find the two 2½" x 30" strips. 
  2. Fold each strip in half right sides together to set a center crease. Press in each long raw edge so they meet in the middle at the crease line. 
  3. Fold in half again along the center crease but in the opposite direction. So the raw edges are at the top and the folded edges are together at the bottom. Pin together at each end. 
  4. Stitch across each end, using a ¼" seam allowance. 
  5. Trim back the seam allowance (again at both ends).
  6. Fold back in the original direction again, which will cause the trimmed seam allowance to flip and tuck to the inside, creating a clean finish at each end. Yay!
  7. Re-thread the machine with the contrasting thread in the top and bobbin. Lengthen the stitch. 
  8. Topstitch along the folded edges down the length of each strap.

Insert and rivet the straps

  1. Insert one end of a strap through one grommet from the front through to the back. 
  2. Pull the end through 1½" 
  3. Pin the end in place. Make sure this tail end is facing the inside of the bag. Make sure your rivet is long enough to go through all the layers. 
  4. Mark the position for the rivet 1" up from the top folded edge of the bag. 
  5. Find the Dritz® Jean Rivets.
  6. Use a hole cutter or awl to pierce a hole through all the layers at your marked point. 

    NOTE:
    The Dritz® Rivet Tool Kit does include a hole cutting tool. Remove one of the rubber trays and insert the cutting tool, which looks like a small post. Insert so the tapered end of the post is facing down. Place the padded disc under your marked point and, holding the Rivet Tool flat, position the cutting tool against the fabric at the marked point. Strike with a hammer to pierce the fabric. This is certainly an option should you not have a separate hole cutter. 
  7. Place a rubber tray into each hole at the tips of the Rivet Tool. This is done by inserting the tray's post into the hole and pushing until you hear and feel it "click" into position. There is a smooth tray for the rivet stud cap and a dimpled tray for the rivet back.
  8. Place a rivet stud cap and a rivet back into the appropriate rubber trays.
  9. The stud (which is the cap/front of the snap) is inserted first through the fabric.
  10. Push the rivet stud through from the front to the back.
  11. Rotate the strap so the Rivet Tool is sitting flat on your work surface and the top of the stud is visible coming through the back layer of the strap. Slip the black padded disk that comes with the kit under the Rivet Tool. This helps cushion the tool and protect your work surface. 
  12. Close the Rivet Tool, bringing the side with the back of the rivet down into position over the rivet cap stud. In the photo below you can see the black padded disk in position under the tool. 
  13. Strike the top of the tool with a hammer to secure the back against the stud. It shouldn't take more than one or two smooth, even blows to set the rivet. Don't go too wild with your hammering; if you strike off-center, it may not secure correctly. 
  14. Gently open up the tool to reveal your pretty rivet, from the back...
  15. ... and from the front.
  16. Repeat to thread the remaining strap ends through the remaining grommets and rivet each into position. As always with straps, check to make sure there are no twists or turns in your loops prior to securing. Rivets make a wonderfully strong bond through even these thick layers.

    NOTE: The steps above are pretty detailed, but if you are new to inserting rivets, we do have an expanded, step-by-step tutorial

Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild

Section: 

Comments (4)

Don Croner said:
Don Croner's picture

hi.  I love this bag.  I teach sewing and embroidery classes here in Central CA.  I would love to use this project for a future class.  I normally have up to 18 students in my class.  Please say yes!!!!!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Don - As all our S4H designs and patterns are copyrighted, we do have restrictions on release. Please send us an email so we can contact you directly regarding specifics: info@sew4Home.com

Karen L. said:
Karen L.'s picture

Love the looks of this bag. It appears to be beautiful, sturdy, and useful all at the same time. This is going on my to-do list for sure. And I have a non-sewing friend who would love one of these also! Thanks for the pattern and tute!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Karen - Thank you! It's a fab tote. We're glad you are giving it a go -- let us know how it turns out for you.