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Scrap It: The Angela Shoulder Bag

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This cute tall and narrow tote is named after my very favorite Angela, my oldest daughter. She designed the bag with a bit o' help from her very favorite aunt. Together they created a simple yet stylish shoulder bag, using Angela's own stash of fave fabric scraps and cotton webbing for the strap. We thought it turned out so well, we asked the designer's permission to share it with you. She graciously agreed to let us re-create the bag, and even let us pick our own fabric. I guess the whole 'designer thing' hasn't gone to her head yet, causing her to throw scissors across the room and shriek, "Tell that Klum woman and Tim what's-his-name to get me some fabric I can work with!!! " If you want to make your very own Angela Bag, you get to pick your own fabric too... and no one will throw scissors at you – I promise.

We liked the way the pretty curves at the top stood up straight and tall. If you'd prefer your bag to have a floppier top so the curved ends overlap one another forming a loose closure, cut the batting back from each curved end about 4-5". Your batting piece will be a simple rectangle approximately 12" x 22".

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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  • Scraps of various cotton fabrics or ¾ yard cuts (you need TWO pieces for the bag itself, both 12" x 32" and TWO pieces for the interior pockets - one at 8" x 8" an one at 5" x 5"): we dove into our collection of scraps and came out with a piece of Amy Butler's Lotus for the outside of the bag and the interior pockets plus a piece of coordinating tan for the lining from French General for Moda
  • Scrap or ⅓ yard of lightweight batting (ONE piece 12" x 32"): we used Kyoto Bamboo batting from
  • 1¼ yards of 1½" wide strapping material: you could use soft cotton webbing, make your own strap from coordinating fabric, or use a leather or suede - we uses a burnt orange faux suede binding left over from our Pendleton blanket projects
  • All purpose thread to match fabrics and strap
  • Tracing or pattern paper
  • See-through ruler
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

  1. From the fabric for the bag exterior (Amy Butler's Lotus in our sample), cut:
    ONE rectangle 12" x 32"
    ONE square 8" x 8"
    ONE square 5" x 5"
  2. From the fabric for the bag lining (French General tan in our sample), cut ONE 12" x 32" rectangle.
  3. From the lightweight batting, cut ONE 12" x 32" rectangle.
  4. From your tracing or pattern paper, cut ONE 12" x 12" square.
  5. Draw a free-form curve on one side of the square. Don't be scared; there's no wrong way to do it. Just start and end the curve about ½" from either edge. Ours looks a bit like a cresting ocean wave... for the poetic ones amongst you.
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  6. Cut the curve along your drawn line.
  7. Layer your large rectangles as follows: batting, lining right side facing up, exterior fabric wrong side facing up.
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  8. Pin your curve template in place on one end of the assembled layers. Align the side edges and bring the curve very close to the raw edges. Pin and carefully cut.
  9. FLIP the template and cut the opposite end.
    NOTE: You need to flip the template so the curves are cut in the same relative position and will match up when you fold up the bag to stitch the sides.
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At Your Sewing Machine

Create and place the pockets

  1. Find the 8" x 8" interior pocket piece. Orient it on your work surface so your fabric design is running the right way.
  2. Fold in ½" on both sides and the bottom and press well.
  3. Fold in along the top ½" and press, then fold again 1" and press.
  4. Stitch close to the folded edge to create a simple hem along the top of the pocket.
  5. Repeat with the 5" x 5" interior pocket piece.
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  6. Find your curved lining piece and place it, right side facing up, flat on your work surface.
  7. Place each pocket 5" down from the top of the curve and centered side to side. On the large pocket, this should be about 2-5/8" from each side. On the small pocket, about 4" from each side. Pin in place.
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  8. Edgestich each pocket in place along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners.

Create the body of the bag

  1. Re-assemble your layers: batting, lining with right side (pocket side) facing up, exterior with wrong side facing up.
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  2. Carefully align all the raw edges of all three layers. Pin in place, leaving an approximate 5-6" opening along one side.
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch around all sides of the layered fabrics. Go slowly around the curved ends, stopping as needed, with your needle in the down position, to slightly adjust your presser foot position if needed. Remember to back tack or lock stitch at either side of the 5-6" side opening.
  4. Trim the seam allowance and clip the curves. Do not trim back the seam allowance along the opening.
  5. Turn right side out through the opening. Use your finger or a long blunt tool, like a chopstick or knitting needle, to help smooth out the curved ends.
  6. Fold in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam. Pin in place.
  7. Fold the bag in half, right sides together. Make sure the layers are smooth and flat across the bottom fold. Align the top curves so they are a perfect match. Pin both sides.
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  8. Using a 3/8" seam allowance, stitch both sides from bottom to top.
  9. With the bag still wrong side out, the next step is to box the bottom corners of the bag.
  10. Using both hands, pinch and pull apart the bottom corner.
  11. As you pull, the fabric will begin to make a little peak with the corner point at the top and the seam line running down the middle of one side.
  12. Center the side seam within this triangle peak.
  13. Measure 1" from the point of the peak and draw a line.
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  14. Pin your folded peak in place and stitch along this drawn line.
  15. Stitch back and forth along the line two or three times to reinforce.
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  16. Do NOT trim away the peak on either side. There are no raw edges, so we are going to simply leave the little peaks as is – they'll be hidden inside the bag.

Attach the strap

  1. Prepare your strap as needed. If you are making a strap from fabric scraps, you'll need to fold and stitch a narrow strip to make a long tube. If you are using a cotton webbing or suede (we used faux suede) or leather there's no fraying and so no need to finish the edges, you're good to go at a width of approximately 1½".
  2. Cut your strap to a length of approximately 45". Pin it in place at this length and try it on, adjust it slightly longer or shorter to best fit your style.
  3. Fold under one end approximately 2" and pin in place at the top of the side seam. Center the folded end on the seam.
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  4. Your inside finished seam allowance should be spread open so it lays as flat as possible.
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  5. Box stitch in place. You'll need to maneuver the bag carefully under the presser foot so you keep everything flat. Don't be afraid to twist and fold the body of the bad to get it to lay right; you can press it when you're done.
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  6. Repeat to attach the other end of the strap.
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Project Design: Angela Johnson and Anne Adams 
Sample Creation: Liz Johnson


Comments (48)

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

@ Acornbud - Thanks! It's an easy, fun little bag and I think you'll like the clever way the inside seams are finished.

Simba Sharma said:
Simba Sharma's picture

The Simplest tutorial for helping the pockets and the flip side to be stitched . Reall simple and easy to understand tutorial.

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

@ Simba - Glad you liked it and found it so easy to do. This is an older project, but a classic - it's been downloaded hundreds of times!

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

@ Anne - let us know how yours turns out. This is such a fun and fast little bag.

Angela said:
Angela 's picture

Que Bonita volsa gracias por darnos las hinstrucsione para hacerla espero hacer la pronto saludos

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

@ Angela - Thank you . I hope you enjoy making the bag... you have the perfect name for it!

princesseanya said:
princesseanya's picture

Nice project !! I'm gonna try it with african wax :) :) I'll show you the final result ;) Thank you for sharing it !

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

@ princesseanya - that sounds lovely -- yes! please let us know how it turns out. 

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

@ Meera July - Thanks! This is an older project, but one that is very popular year after year. Have fun making yours!

SherryD Portland said:
SherryD Portland's picture

We have a store called "Scrap" in Portland. I found some great Ethan Allen samples there along with some straps that have clips on the ends. Matched up colors. Making a version of this bag (the pieces of samples are big, but only 24" in one direction). So mine will be wider, but shorter. I have some of the magnetic snaps on hand and plan to use those for the flap. Thanks for sharing this pattern. I had been looking for a cross body bag to make using the various samples and straps I just bought.

Kathy (a home economist) said:
Kathy (a home economist) 's picture

I suggest sewing the side seams starting from the top opening sewing down to the the fold. It is easier to  line up the tops that way.

Angela Schiavon said:
Angela Schiavon's picture

Se eu nao me chamasse Angela eu ia Querer Muito Fazer ESSA bolsa o o Porque ELA E linda, Como eu me chamo Angela, entao eu tenho obrigação de Fazer.

Se eu Localidade: Não me Chame de Angela Que eu gostaria de deixar ISSO Muito bolsa o Porque ELA E linda, Como eu chamo Angela, entao eu tenho uma obrigação de Fazer.

Zsoofi said:
Zsoofi's picture

Thank yo so much for this perfect tutorial! I meke two of this as a gift for my two young cousins - 12 and 13 years old - this is such a modern, joyful yet simple pattern that it is suitable for all ages! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Cherryl Reed said:
Cherryl Reed's picture

In the 60;s we would have called this a bucket bag and each top would fold down, one over the other. remember?

Kathleen said:
Kathleen 's picture

I just finished my bag, and eventhough my sewing skills are rusty I love this bag, I even thinking of using some vintage table clothes and some sweet linen table runners for the lining which is what I used for this bag....... I will be making more and may even enlarge it slight......Thanks sew much.....

lcdmarie said:
lcdmarie's picture

Thank you so much !

I love how you have made this simple for beginning sewers :)

I can't wait to make some bags 

Karabo said:
Karabo's picture

The words "Thank you" do not seem to be enough for all you are teaching me.  Thank you so much - keep it up!!!

louise sutara said:
louise sutara's picture

you tutorial was so good i had no prob doing the bag in less than 1hour .thank you so much!



VickieB said:
VickieB's picture

I found some auto upholstery scraps at a surplus store for $6 (for a huge piece) and made this lovely purse.  I, too, added a magnetic purse snap to close the top and a loop inside to clip my keys or change purse to.  I also made a matching coin purse!  A friend at work asked me to make her the purse!  I love it and it was so easy!

Gcgilbert said:
Gcgilbert's picture

  I made some mistakes but learned a lot.  The tutorial is excellent.  There's plenty to this bag.  The pic does not do it justice.

jmusumarra said:
jmusumarra's picture
I'm happy to say I finally finished this project and LOVE IT!!! (It didn't take me that long to sew but I cut the fabric before Christmas and got busy with other things.) Thank you for sharing. It got a bit bulky working on the corners and straps, but it was worth it. I love the size, shape, everything. Thank you for sharing. I did add a snap to the top so I won't spill out the contents! smilies/cheesy.gif
Sue Q said:
Sue Q's picture
Very cute! I think I will purposely NOT turn my curved pattern piece over so the top curved edges don't line up. I like the idea of the lining showing like ocean waves.
Sue Q said:
Sue Q's picture
Very cute! I think I will purposely NOT turn my curved edge so the top edges don't line up then the lining will show; it will look like ocean waves!
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ cohoambrwvs - smilies/cheesy.gif ... oh alright, I'll let you use your Bernina. You can buy a Janome next time.
cohoambrwvs said:
cohoambrwvs's picture
I love your bag, and can't wait to make one. But oh no! I only have a Bernina sewing machine! Do I need to go out and get a Janome Jem Gold 3, Elna Sew Fun or the Singer 2259 Tradition, or will the one I own be ok?
Amy Lynn said:
Amy Lynn's picture
Thanks so much for this! I'm not too good as sewing, but I was able to easily make this bag!

I think I'll be making several to sell to friends and family as a fundraiser for a missions trip to Panama this summer smilies/smiley.gif
Tati said:
Tati's picture
Danke für diese schöne Anleitung, die ich auch ohne englischkentnissen verwenden kann smilies/cheesy.gif
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi Giulia -- very nice - I like how the outside fabric and the lining are the same fabric pattern just different colors. I'm glad you liked our project smilies/cheesy.gif
cozy said:
cozy's picture
thanks so much for this pattern. i modified a bit and made a messenger bag. love it!smilies/smiley.gif
Peggy Gonzales said:
Peggy Gonzales's picture
I like this roomy bag. I am seeing it done up in some heart fabric for valentines day.
Jeannette said:
Jeannette's picture
I love this bag. Thanks for sharing. I have so many ideas of how to start with the basic design and make it my own. As in the previous posts, a closure would be nice and I loved the idea of using a great lining fabric and then creating a cuff. Thanks for all the inspiration. J
Runa said:
Runa's picture
Wow! what a simple and lovely bag! Thanks guys am making this one tomorrow for sure and will send you some picture of it....cant wait to make this one!
elsa hart said:
elsa hart's picture
I've made a jillion bags in the past few months (took the challenge to only give gifts in hand made bags) and swore I wouldn't make another, but have to take it back! this bags is brilliant! love it!
Laura words said:
Laura words's picture
I think I'll attatch the handles one inch lower and use a pretty lining then fold the top down to make a cuff. Very nice bag!
wendylou said:
wendylou's picture
bag looks great & the colours are awesome! Thanks for the pattern. It would also be great with a magnetic closure.