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Vintage-Style Kid's Book Satchel

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This jaunty little bag actually falls into the "satchel" category, which makes it seem even more vintage and unique. Satchels sound as if they should be carried through the English countryside by a group of clever school chums, possibly on their way to Hogwarts. We took the sophisticated styling of an adult carryall and scaled it down to kid-size. Feeling like kids have all the fun? Want your very own mini-satchel? Simply lengthen the strap and you're good to go.

This project owes a lot of its trendy cuteness to the retro motifs on the fabric and the neutral color palette. We selected on of the fun prints from the retro collection by Premier Prints. Several styles are available at Fabric.com and other fine retailers. 

You could certainly change-up the fabric to best fit the preferences of your own "clever English school chum," but for the best structure, stay with a medium-weight duck, canvas or similar for the bag exterior and strap.

We used a turn lock to secure our flap, and there's a great Sew4Home tutorial on their installation if you're new to the technique. You could certainly substitute a simple magnetic clasp or even Velcro® strips, however, don't discount the cool turn lock closure because it looks complex; it's easier than you might think... check out that tutorial

The soft structure is thanks to foam interfacing. We used Pellon's Flex Foam, which is very easy to work with and sew through. Our instructions below are for a non-fusible since you could also use batting for structure. The fusible Flex Foam would make the layering even easier. 

The bag finishes at approximately 10" wide x 7½" high x 2½" deep with an approximate 30" strap. For an adult, the finished strap should be approximately 43".

We featured a bag similar to this in our Sew4Home Bags and Totes book, available at Amazon as well as your other favorite retailers of sewing and craft books. 

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies            

  • ½ yard of 44"+ wide medium-weight duck, canvas or similar for the bag and flap exterior; we originally used 54" 100% cotton duck Love Bus Village in Natural by Premier Prints
  • ½ yard of 44"+ wide medium-weight duck, canvas or similar for the flap lining, lining pocket, straps, and side gusset; we originally used 54" 100% cotton duck Zoom Zoom Village in Natural by Premier Prints
  • ½ yard of 44"+ wide quilting weight cotton for the bag lining; we originally used 44" Kona Cotton in Natural
  • ¾ yard of 20"+ wide heavy batting or foam interfacing; we used Pellon Flex Foam 
    NOTE: To give the bag the proper stand-up-on-its-own stability and form, we do recommend the foam over batting. It's very easy to sew and provides great body. As mentioned above, we used non-fusible foam so our steps below would work for either foam or batting; you could easily use one-sided fusible foam to speed the layering process.
  • Scrap or ¼ yard of 18"+ wide medium weight interfacing; we used Pellon Décor Bond
  • ONE 1¼" turn lock purse closure; we used a 1¼" turn lock by Everything's Mary
  • TWO ½" metal eyelets/grommets with insertion tools; we used Dritz Extra Large Eyelets (7/16) - an eyelet and tools set in nickel
  • TWO ¾" D-rings; we used Dritz ¾" D-rings in nickel
  • 2½ yards of piping in a color to accent the exterior fabric; we used Wrights Bias Tape Maxi Piping in a coordinating cinnamon brown, purchased locally
    NOTE: The ingredients photo above shows two packages, but we used only one.
  • All purpose thread to match fabric 
  • 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

Getting Started and Pattern Download

  1. Download and print the FOUR pattern pieces: Exterior Pattern A, Exterior Pattern B, Flap Pattern A, and Flap Pattern B. These four pieces have been bundled into ONE PDF to make the download easier
    IMPORTANT: Each page within the download is ONE 8½" x 11" sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide line on each page so you can confirm your final printout is to scale.
  2. Cut out each pattern along the solid line. Assemble the two pieces (A and B) that make up the full exterior and the full flap patterns, aligning the guide arrows on each piece. Butt together the pieces; do not overlap. 
  3. From the fabric for the bag and flap exterior (Love Bus in our sample), fussy cut the following:
    NOTE: We took the time to carefully fussy cut the exterior pieces so the bus motif aligned from the flap to the front of the bag. Photos are included to show our steps. The main thing to keep in mind with your own fabric is that the flap attaches at the back about 2½" down from the top raw edge of the exterior panel. 
    Using the flap pattern cut ONE.

    Using both the cut flap and the exterior body pattern, fussy cut ONE front panel. Adjust the paper pattern beneath the cut flap until you get a motif match. Remember, the top edge of the flap should extend above the exterior panel by about 2½". When the  match is set, remove the flap, pin the paper pattern in place, and cut out the front exterior panel. 

    Use the front exterior panel to cut ONE matching back panel.
  4. From the fabric for the flap lining, lining pocket, straps, and side gusset (Zoom Zoom in our sample), fussy cut the following:
    Using the flap pattern, cut ONE
    ONE 3" x 26½" strip for the side gusset
    ONE 6½" wide x 9" high rectangle for the lining pocket
    ONE 2" x 41" strip for the strap, then sub-cut the strip into one 27" length and one 14" length.
    NOTE: For an adult strap, cut ONE 2" x 55" strip, then sub-cut the strip into one 41" length and one 14" length. If your fabric is less than 55"+ wide, you'll need to cut as two strips.
  5. From the fabric for the lining, cut the following:
    Using the exterior pattern, cut TWO
    ONE 3" x 26½" strip for the side gusset
  6. From the foam (or fleece), cut the following:
    Using the exterior pattern, cut TWO
    Using the flap pattern, cut ONE
    ONE 3" x 26½" strip for the side gusset
    NOTE: The side panels (gussets) are all cut long to allow extra to work with to get a smooth curve. Each will be trimmed to fit flush after it's sewn in place.
  7. From the interfacing, cut ONE 6½" x 4½" rectangle for the pocket. 
    NOTE: We did not use interfacing for our strap, but you could certainly add it for a more structured finish. You need a 2" x 41" strip. If choosing this option, fuse the interfacing in place prior to sub-cutting the strap into two lengths.  

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Create the flap

  1. Find the exterior flap panel and the piping. 
  2. Pin the piping to the right side of the flap around the outer perimeter, leaving the top straight edge plain.
  3. Attach a Zipper foot
  4. Baste the piping in place.
  5. At the each end of the piping, use a seam ripper to open the bias tape and clip back the piping cord about ½". This will allow a flat end for a smooth finish along the top of the flap.
  6. Collect the other flap pieces: the lining and the foam/batting.
  7. Layer the three pieces: foam, exterior flap (with the piping in place) right side up, flap lining right side down. Pin in place all around, leaving a 3" - 4" gap for turning along the top straight edge. 
    NOTE: If using a fusible foam, adhere it, following manufacturer's directions, to the wrong side of the exterior flap panel. 
  8. Still using a Zipper foot, stitch all the way around with an approximate ½" seam allowance. We say approximate, because the goal is to run your seam as close as possible to the piping, which should be about ½".
  9. Clip the curves and turn the flap right side out through the top opening. Push out the corners so they are nicely rounded. 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. 
  10. Press the flap from both the front and back
  11. Set the flap aside.

Create the exterior

  1. Find the front and back exterior panels and the remaining piping.
  2. Pin the piping around the outer edge of both pieces. The top edges remain plain. 
  3. As above with the flap, use a Zipper foot to first baste the piping in place.
  4. Also as above, remember to open up the tape and clip about ½" from each end of the piping...
  5. ... allowing a flat start and finish. 
  6. With the piping basted in place, find the side gusset and the three remaining foam panels. Place a foam panel against the wrong side of each exterior piece and pin together. 
    NOTE: If using fusible foam, fuse in place, following manufacturer's instructions. 
  7. Place the back exterior panel right side up/foam side down on your work surface. Place the flap right side up in position on the back panel. The flap should be centered side to side and the top straight edge of the flap should sit parallel to and 2½" down from the top raw edge of the back panel. Pin the flap in place across the top straight edge.
  8. Switch back to a standard presser foot (you could also use a Walking or Even Feed foot or engage your machine's built-in fabric feeding system, such as the AcuFeed™ Flex system we love to use on our Janome studio machines) and make sure the machine is threaded with thread to best match the exterior fabric in the top and bobbin. 
  9. Edgestitch across the top straight edge of the flap through all the layers. Start and stop your seam at either side of the flap; do not stitch over onto the exterior panel. 
  10. Insert the latch half (the opening) of the turn lock at the center bottom of the flap. It should be centered side to side and the center of the opening should be 1" up from the bottom finished edge of the flap. 
  11. Position and mark. 
  12. Carefully cut through all the layers. 
  13. Insert the hardware. 

    NOTE:
    We have a great step-by-step tutorial on how to insert a turn lock. 
  14. Find the side gusset/foam; these layers should be pinned together. You could also baste the layers together. And, as mentioned above, you can use a fusible foam and fuse together the two layers. 
  15. Starting at one corner, and with right sides together, pin one edge of the gusset to the back exterior panel. The piping is sandwiched between the layers. As mentioned above, the gusset is a bit longer than necessary so you have extra with which to work to ease around the corners. This means your opposite end will extend beyond the top of the panel. 
  16. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the gusset in place against the back panel. We switched back to our Zipper foot
    NOTE: As above, this seam allowance may vary slightly as the goal is to stitch right along, but not on, the piping. 
  17. You now have one free edge of the side gusset remaining. 
  18. Pin this free edge right sides together with the front exterior panel. Make sure the flap is up and out of the way. 
  19. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch in place.
  20. Trim away the excess side gusset fabric/foam. Clip all the curves.
  21. The top edges of the sides, front, and back should now be even all around. 
  22. Place the remaining half of the turn lock in place. To do this, fold the flap down into position to double check the fit. You don't want the flap to pull or pinch across the top opening; it should be an easy fold over. Our measurements fell at approximately 5½" down from the top raw edge, 1½" up from the bottom piping, and centered side to side. 
    NOTE: Your exact position may vary based on the fabric and interfacing you choose, so we do strongly recommend doing your own test rather than relying solely on our measurements.
  23. Insert this second half of the lock, following manufacturer's instructions or our handy tutorial
  24. Set aside the completed exterior.

Create the lining

  1. Find the 6½" x 9" lining pocket panel and the 6½" x 4½" interfacing panel. 
  2. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the interfacing to one half of the pocket panel on the wrong side. 
  3. Fold the pocket in half, wrong sides together, so it now measures 6½" x 4½".
  4. Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom. Leave an approximate 2" opening along the bottom for turning.
  5. 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. 
  6. Clip the corners and press open the seam allowance.
  7. Turn the pocket right side out through the opening. Gently push 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. 
  8. We also added a line of topstitching ¾" down from the top folded edge to simulate a top hem. This is optional.
  9. Find one of the two lining panels. 
  10. 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. 
  11. 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 your seam or leave your thread tails long and hand knot at the back to secure. 
  12. Following the same steps as above for the exterior, pin the side gusset to the front and back lining panels. The only difference is with the thinner lining fabric, you can pin both sides at one time.
  13. Then, stitch both seams, using a ½" seam allowance.
  14. Trim away the excess side gusset fabric as above.
  15. Press back the top raw edge of the lining ½" all around.

Assemble exterior and lining and insert grommets

  1. Find the exterior bag. It should be right side out.
  2. Find the lining bag. It should be wrong side out.
  3. Slip the lining bag inside the exterior bag so the two bags are now wrong sides together. Align the side seams. The pocket should sit against the back of the bag.
  4. Fold down the top raw edge of the exterior bag approximately ½" all around.
  5. 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 even yet slightly off-set alignment all around. 
    NOTE: If you are having trouble working with the thickness of the foam, you can trim back the foam approximately ½" to keep it out of the seam allowance.
  6. Pin the lining to the exterior all around the top. 
  7. Fold the flap down and out of the way.
  8. If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to match the exterior bag and lining. We stitched with the lining facing up and so used thread to match the lining in the top and thread to match the exterior in the bobbin. Edgestitch all around the top, through all the layers.
    NOTE: As above, you could also use a Walking or Even Feed foot, or engage your machine's built-in fabric feeding system, since you are stitching through several layers plus the thick foam. 
  9. Measure 1½" down from the top seamed edge at each side seam. This is where the center hole of the grommet should hit at each side. Mark each grommet hole.
  10. Cut the holes for both grommets through all the layers.
  11. Following the manufacturer's instructions or our own Sew4Home How To Install Metal Grommets tutorial, insert each grommet. 

Strap

  1. Find the two strap pieces.
  2. On each strap, press back one long raw edge ½".
  3. Press back the opposite long raw edge ¼". 
  4. Press back both 2" ends ½".
  5. Lap the ¼" folded edge over the ½" folded edge and press flat, forming a ⅝" wide strap (with an off-set lap) that is finished on all sides. This process is the same for both lengths.
  6. Topstitch down the long lapped edge and across both ends.
  7. Loop one end of the shorter strap through the right grommet from front to back. Bring the end through and pin it against itself. The lapped side of the strap is considered the back. 
  8. Stitch across to secure this looped end in place. The opposite end remains free.
  9. Repeat to loop one end of the longer strap through the left grommet. If using a directional fabric as we did, insert the proper end so the motif on both straps matches up.
  10. Insert the opposite end of the longer strap through the two D-rings. Be careful to make sure there are no twists or turns in your strap. The end looped through the D-rings should be against the back of the strap, exactly like the end through the grommet. Remember, the lapped side of the strap is considered the back.
  11. Stitch across to secure this end in place, running the seam as close as possible to the D-rings.
  12. Slip the short end through the double D-rings and adjust to fit.

Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas   
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Leah Wand

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