The beauty of ribbons always makes a statement. When paired with solid color fabric, they get others talking as well. This smaller shoulder bag features an attention-getting ribbon flap created from seven gorgeous Jacquard ribbons by Renaissance Ribbons. They are stitched side-by-side to the plain side of a layer of fusible interfacing. When the front and back are assembled and pressed, it activates the fusing and creates a tight, smooth bond. True stability (and true beauty) with fewer layers. Read on for how to make your own statement.
Our original selection of ribbons by Anna Maria Horner were the perfect stand-out against the deep blue denim we chose for this bag, and although these exact ribbons are no longer readily available, the selection of gorgeous Renaissance Ribbons is wide and deep. Below are two new trios that create a beautiful blend of color and design. The first includes: Leopard Ribbon by Anna Maria Horner, Mantra Turquoise Amy Butler, and Echinacea on Blue by Anna Maria Horner. The second includes: Midnight Sprout on Black by Tula Pink, Wide Black Stripes and Dots by Tula Pink, and Turquoise and Green Lantern by Tula Pink.
For today's project, we used invisible thread for some of our ribbon stitching. This is not mandatory, but is a nicer look against the ribbon. For best results, you may need to loosen your upper tension slightly. It's also a good idea to lengthen your stitch and sew at a slow and even pace. This type of thread does not stretch as well as regular thread and can break more easily under pressure, especially if it accidentally slides off the spool and wraps around the spool pin. Using a spool cap against the spool helps hold it in place on the pin, and again, going slowly and evenly helps the thread to feed correctly off the spool. Always sew in the same direction along both sides of the ribbon. This will help prevent any shifting and puckering. If you'd prefer not to use invisible thread, choose colors that very closely match your ribbon, and take the time to re-thread as often as needed to maintain a perfect match.
You'll notice we used pins to hold our ribbons in place. Another option would be to apply a little basting glue or strips of lightweight fusible web, such as Stitch Witchery, to the wrong side of the ribbon. Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions and test to make sure the ribbon can be easily stitched without the adhesive gumming up the needle. Some adhesives are not meant to be sewn through.
Our bag finishes at approximately 10" wide x 7½" high with 2" box corners and a 43" strap.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
- Satin Stitch foot; optional but helpful for ribbon stitching
- Clear View Quilting Foot and Guide Set; optional - another choice to keep your ribbon stitching precise
Fabric and Other Supplies
We used THREE beautiful jacquard ribbons from Renaissance Ribbons in differing widths. These are referred to throughout as ribbons A, B, and C. Ribbon A refers to the two lengths of ⅞" ribbon near the center of the flap. Ribbon B is the trio of 1½" ribbons across the front. Ribbon C refers to the two 1½" ribbons at the outer edges of the flap. The yardage shown belows includes a bit extra to allow proper fussy cutting of the dominant motifs.
- 1 yard of ⅞" wide ribbon -- Ribbon A
- 1¼ yard of 1½" wide ribbon -- Ribbon B
- 1 yards of 1½" wide ribbon -- Ribbon C
- ½ yard of 44"+ wide coordinating denim or similar for the bag exterior; we used navy denim
- ½ yard of 44"+ wide solid, contrasting cotton for the bag lining; we used a standard quilting cotton solid in aqua
- ½ yard of 18"+ wide heavy batting or foam interfacing (fusible or sew-in); we used byAnnie's Soft & Stable sew-in, in black
NOTE: To give the bag the proper stand-up-on-its-own stability and form, we recommend foam over batting.
- ⅓ yard of 18"+ wide mid-weight interfacing; we used Pellon Décor Bond
- ONE 1¼" turn lock purse closure; we used a 1¼" turn lock by Everything's Mary
- TWO extra large metal eyelets; we used a Dritz 7/16" Extra Large Eyelet Kit in nickel
- All purpose thread to match both fabric and ribbons and/or Invisible Thread in Clear
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Tape measure
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
- Hand sewing needle
NOTE: Cuts are given below for the specific ribbons we chose and we will refer to them by A, B, and C throughout the instructions (use the drawing below as a guide). If you choose ribbons of different widths, you will need to measure each of your ribbon stacks to insure the height and width of your fabric cuts.
- Fussy cut Ribbon A into TWO 10" length for the narrower center ribbons and ONE 7" length for the lining pocket.
- Fussy cut Ribbon B into THREE 10" lengths for the wider center ribbons.
- Fussy cut Ribbon C into TWO 10" lengths for the outer edge ribbons.
NOTE: When fussy cutting Ribbon B, we suggest off-setting your main motif as shown below. If the motifs are exactly in-line with one another it won't look as nice.
- From the fabric for the exterior (the navy denim in our sample), cut the following:
TWO 13" wide x 9" high rectangles for the main exterior panels
ONE 2" x 44" strip for the strap
ONE 7" wide x 9" high rectangle for the exterior pocket
ONE 7" wide x 5" high rectangle for the interior pocket
- From the fabric for the lining (the aqua cotton in our sample), cut the following:
TWO 12½" x 9" rectangles for the main lining
ONE 10¼" x 10" rectangle for the flap
- From the interfacing, cut ONE 10¼" wide x 10" high rectangle
- From the foam batting, cut TWO 12½" x 8¼" rectangles.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Create the ribbon flap
- Find the rectangle of interfacing. Place it FUSING SIDE DOWN and flat on your work surface, positioning it so it is 10¼" wide x 10" high. You will be stitching directly on to the interfacing, so you need to make sure you are working on the non-fusing side.
- Along each 10" side, measure in ½" and draw a parallel line. This is your side seam allowance.
- Starting with one length of Ribbon C, place its outer edge along the left ½" seam allowance guideline.
- Butt one length of Ribbon B up against the first ribbon.
- Butt the remaining ribbons in place, following our pattern (or devising your own). Our remaining pattern, from left to right, is: Ribbon A, Ribbon B (remember to offset against the motif on first Ribbon B), Ribbon A, Ribbon B (remember to offset against the second Ribbon B, aligning instead with the first Ribbon B), Ribbon C
- You should now have SEVEN ribbons placed across the interfacing with ½" of interfacing showing beyond the outer ribbons along each side edge. Double check your seam allowance measurement to make sure you have exactly ½" along each out edge. If there is too much, trim away the excess, using a ruler and rotary cutter if possible for the cleanest edge. If there is not enough, cut a new piece of interfacing and try again.
- Thread the machine with invisible thread in the top and bobbin or carefully select all-purpose thread to match each ribbon, re-threading as necessary as you move from ribbon to ribbon.
- Remove six of the ribbons, and starting with the first length of Ribbon C, pin it in place, carefully aligning the ribbon to the guideline. Edgestitch in place along both sides of the ribbon.
- Repeat to place and edgestitch each ribbon in the same manner.
- Take the time to carefully place your ribbons. It's very important the ribbons butt together so there is no interfacing showing between the ribbons. They should not overlap.
NOTE: Remember, as mentioned above, if you'd rather not use pins to hold your ribbons in place, you can keep them from shifting by applying a little basting glue or strips of lightweight fusible web to the wrong side of the ribbon lengths.
- Here's what all those parallel edgestitching lines look like from the fusing side of the interfacing.
- The ribbons can shift and even stretch a bit during stitching, so make sure your top and bottom ribbon edges are flush with the interfacing. If need be, use your see-through ruler and rotary cutter to trim away any excess.
- Find the flap's lining panel. Place the ribbon panel and the lining panel right sides together, sandwiching the ribbons between the layers. The edges of both pieces should be flush all around. Pin in place along all sides, leaving a 5" opening along the center top.
- Using a ⅜" seam allowance, stitch along both sides.
NOTE: If you used a different ribbon than in our sample, your seam allowance may vary slightly. You want to get as close as possible to the edge of the ribbon without actually catching it in the seam. If you stitch with the interfacing side up, you can see the ribbon edgestitching lines. Make sure your seam stays consistent and you are always just outside of the edgestitching.
- When both side seam are complete, use a ½" seam allowance to stitch both the top and bottom, remembering to lock your seam at either side of the 5" opening along the top.
- Clip the corners and turn the flap right side out through the top opening. Push out the corners so they are nice and square. A long, blunt tool works great for this, such as a knitting needle, chopstick or point turner. Fold in the raw edges of the top opening so they are flush with the sewn seam and pin closed along the opening.
- Press the flap from both the front and back. This firm pressing activates the fusible interfacing between the layers, creating a firm, smooth bond.
- Set the flap aside.
- Find the 7" x 9" exterior pocket panel. Fold the pocket in half, wrong sides together, so it now measures 7" x 4½".
- Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom. Leave an approximate 3" opening along the bottom for turning.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners. Lock your seam on either side of the 3" opening. Clip the corners and press open the seam allowance.
- Turn the pocket right side out through the opening. Gently poke out the corners so they are nice and sharp. Press flat, pressing in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
- Find one of the two 13" x 9" denim exterior panels.
- Place the pocket on the right side of the panel. The pocket should be positioned 2½" down from the upper raw edge of the panel and centered side to side.
- Re-thread the machine if necessary with thread to match the exterior fabric in the top and bobbin.
- Edgestitch the pocket in place along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners. This closes the opening in the seam. For the cleanest finish, use a lock stitch to start and end of your seam or leave your thread tails long and hand knot at the back to secure.
- Find the 7" x 5" lining pocket and the 7" length of Ribbon A.
- Place fabric right side up on your work surface. Fold down the top raw edge ½". This means the wrong side of the fabric is showing as it is folded to the front. Pin in place.
NOTE: The thickness of the denim does not require a lining panel, but we still wanted a clean folded edge top and bottom. By folding the fabric to the front and hiding its raw edge with the ribbon, we create that clean folded edge along the top with just one layer of fabric.
- Lay the ribbon across the pocket, hiding the raw edge underneath the ribbon. The top edge of the ribbon should be flush with the top folded edge of the fabric. Pin in place.
- Re-thread the machine if necessary (we did in order to use clear thread) and edgestitch the ribbon along both long sides.
- Fold back the side and bottom raw edges of the pocket ¼" (this means you are folding back the raw ends of the ribbon accent), press well and then lightly pin to hold the folds in place.
NOTE: We did not need to miter the corners. With the narrow ¼" fold, the fabric lay as it should, in a sharp 90˚ corner, without a miter.
Assemble the lining
- Find the two main lining panels and the two foam batting panels.
- Place the batting panels flat on your work surface. Place a lining panel right side up on each batting panel. The fabric should extend ¾" beyond the foam along the top edge, but the sides and bottom edges should be flush. Lightly pin the fabric and foam layers together – or fuse the foam in place if using a fusible foam.
- Find the lining pocket. Place it right side up on one panel. The pocket should be positioned so it is 2½" down from the upper raw edge of the fabric and centered side to side. Pin the pocket in place.
- Re-thread the machine if necessary with thread to match the denim. For the most finished look, stop and re-thread with clear monofilament in the top to stitch through the ribbon.
- Edgestitch the pocket in place along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners. As with the exterior pocket, for the cleanest finish, use a lock stitch to start and end your seam or leave your thread tails long and hand knot at the back to secure.
- Place the lining right sides together, sandwiching the fabric and the pocket between the foam layers. Pin together along the sides and across the bottom.
NOTE: If using a fusible foam, fuse it in place against the wrong side of plain lining panel.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners.
- With the lining still wrong side out, the next step is to box the bottom corners. Our bag is designed to have 2" sides and base. To create this width, we figured our corners at 1"
- If you are new to boxed corners, check out our tutorial for step-by-step instructions. We recommend a double line of stitching to reinforce the corners.
- Trim all the seam allowances back to ¼".
- Fold down the top raw edge ½" all around to form a finished top edge. Press well then lightly pin to hold in place.
- Set the lining bag aside.
Assemble the exterior with the ribbon flap
- Find the two exterior panels (one with the pocket, one plain). Place the two panels right sides together, sandwiching the pocket between the layers. Pin together along the sides and across the bottom. Along both sides, start the pins 2½" from the upper edge.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, and starting as pinned at 2½" from the upper edge, stitch both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners and ending 2½" from the top at the opposite side.
- As above with the lining, box the bottom of the exterior to create 2" corners.
- Again, if you are new to boxed corners, check out our tutorial for step-by-step instructions.
- Turn the bag right side out, pushing the bottom corners into position.
- Find the finished ribbon flap.
- Place the bag back side up (pocket side up) on your work surface. Fold the top front of the bag out of the way. You can do this because of that 2½" open seam allowance.
- Place the top of the ribbon flap (the top is the edge with the pinned opening) right side up across the back of the bag. The top edge of the flap should be 2" down from the top raw edge of the exterior bag, which is also approximately 1" above the top of the pocket.
- The flap should be centered side to side or 1¾" in from each raw side edge (again - raw because of that open seam allowance). Take the time to insure the flap is sitting perfectly straight across the bag. Pin the flap in place.
- Re-thread the machine with matching or clear thread.
- Edgestitch the flap in place. This seam secures the flap and closes the opening along the flap's top edge.
- Turn the exterior bag wrong side out. Pin the open seam allowance closed on each side. Making sure the flap is out of the way, stitch both sides closed with a ½" seam allowance.
- As you did with the lining, fold down the top raw edge ½" all around to form a finished top edge. Press well then lightly pin to hold in place.
Insert the closure
- The closure is designed to sit within the bag flap's center ribbon. The bottom of the closure should be ½" up from the bottom finished edge of the flap.
- Following manufacturer's instructions, insert the clasp's frame through all the layers.
- The base of the closure inserts into the front bag exterior. It should be positioned 5" down from the upper folded edge and 6" in from each side seam. This half of the closure inserts similarly to a magnetic clasp.
NOTE: When searching for the best closure for this bag, we found this great turn lock as well as several other cool options. You can certainly follow the manufacturer's instructions as noted above or take a look at our own Step By Step Turn Lock Tutorial.
Assemble exterior and lining and insert grommets
- Find the exterior bag. It should be right side out.
- Find the lining bag. It should be wrong side out.
- Slip the lining bag inside the exterior bag so the two bags are now wrong sides together. Align the side seams and the bottom boxed corners.
- The top folded edge of the lining should sit just below (about 1/16" below) the top folded edge of the exterior bag. If it does not align as described, re-fold one or both edges to get the best this slightly off-set alignment even all around.
- Pin the lining to the exterior all around the top.
- Fold the flap down out of the way.
- If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to match the lining and the exterior bag. We stitched with the lining facing up and so used thread to match the lining in the top and the exterior in the bobbin. Edgestitch all around the top, through all the layers.
- Measure ¼" down from the top seamed edge at each side seam. This is where the top edge of the grommet should hit at each side. Mark for each grommet hole.
- Cut the holes for both grommets through all the layers.
- Following the manufacturer's instruction or our own Sew4Home How To Install Metal Grommets tutorial, insert each grommet.
- Find the 2" x 44" strip.
- Press back both 2" ends ½".
- Press back one long raw edge ½".
- Press back the opposite long raw edge ¼".
- Lap the ¼" folded edge over the ½" folded edge and press flat, forming a ⅝" wide strap (with an off-set overlap) that is finished on all sides.
- Topstitch down the long lapped edge and across both ends.
- Loop one strap end through one grommet from front to back. Bring the end through 1½" and pin it against itself.
- Stitch across the end to secure this looped end in place.
- The opposite strap end should be adjusted for your best fit, then knotted in place through the opposite grommet to secure.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild