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Yoga Mat Sling Bag

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Over the shoulder and off to class. This yoga mat bag is a great carry-all for your mat, towel and flip flops. It even has a handy outside pocket with a Velcro closure for a wallet, phone and keys. Our tutorial gives you great step-by-step directions for how to perfectly match the pocket fabric to the bag fabric. Haven't you always wondered how they do that?

We used Amy Butler's new Love fabric collection, which has been flying off the shelves since its debut just a month ago. Several of her designs are available in the heavier home decor weight, which is what we recommend for this project. You want something with a little heft for a carry bag.

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Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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  • 1 yard of 54" wide fabric for bag: we used Amy Butler's Love Sandlewood in Ivory - home decor weight
  • 1 yard medium weight cording for drawstring
  • ¼ yard Velcro
  • All-purpose thread in colors to match fabrics
  • See-through ruler
  • Compass or 7" diameter household item, such as a small plate
  • Fabric pencil
  • Regular pen
  • Tracing paper large enough to accommodate pocket pieces
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Hand sewing needle
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

From the fabric for your bag (Amy Butler's Love in Sandlewood - Ivory - home decor weight in our sample) cut the following shapes:

  • Bag body: one 30" x 20¾" rectangle
  • Bag Bottom: one 7" diameter circle
  • Pocket: one 7" x 9" rectangle
  • Pocket Flap: one 7" x 5" rectangle
  • Strap: one 36" x 3: rectangle
    Note: For the circle, use a compass or trace around a 7" diameter object.

Important cutting notes: matching the pocket fabric to the main bag fabric

You'll notice from our photo that the pocket on our bag is a beautiful match to the surrounding pattern. Taking the time, and the extra fabric, to do this makes your finished project look so much more professional. You can usually get away with being less than perfect with a small, busy print, but a mismatch is a lot more noticeable on a fabric with a big print, like the Amy Butler Love fabric we chose.

  1. Lay out the bag body (the 30" x 20¾" piece) right side up on your work surface.
  2. Make a paper pattern of the pocket (the 7"x 9" piece) and the pocket flap (the 7" x 5" piece), using a transparent tracing paper.
  3. Determine where the pocket will go (ours is 9" below the top and centered), and pin the pocket pattern in place. It helps to fold and crease the paper pattern in half in both directions to find the center. This way you can make sure your pattern in perfectly centered on the fabric's design.
  4. Using a regular pen or pencil, trace the print that is under the pattern piece onto the paper
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  5. It is not necessary to trace the entire print, just capture a few key points, like the four corners.
  6. Take your pocket flap pattern and fold it in half lengthwise. Pin the pocket flap pattern over the top of the pocket pattern. The top edge of the pocket flap should extend ½" beyond the top edge of the pocket. This is to account for the ½" seam. Trace the design from the pocket on to the pocket flap.
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  7. You are now ready to cut, using the pieces of the design you traced to help you line up the pattern pieces on the fabric. If the design and/or repeat are fairly large, your pieces are likely to be rather far apart, which is why you need more fabric for this process, and which is why we've recommended buying a full yard.
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At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Finish the raw edges of the bag body, bag bottom and pocket pieces with a simple zig zag stitch. For more options and information on seam finishes, read our tutorial: Finishing Raw Seams: Part One – Sewing Machine Finishes.

The pocket and pocket flap

  1. Turn under ½" along all four sides of the pocket and press.
  2. Top stitch ¼" from the fold on the top edge of the pocket.
  3. On the right side of the pocket, center and pin a 2" piece of Velcro ½" from the top finished edge.
  4. Fold the pocket flap piece in half and press. Unfold so you can see the crease. On the right side of the fabric, center and pin the other side of Velcro ¼" below fold line of pocket flap. Edge stitch both pieces of Velcro in place.
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  5. Fold the pocket flap in half lengthwise, right sides together, and using a ½" seam allowance, stitch both short sides and the top, leaving a small opening at the top to turn.
  6. Clip corners. Turn right side out. Poke out your corners so they are nice and sharp, using your finger or a blunt edge tool, like a large knitting needle. Press. Edgestitch along the two sides and bottom fold. Your edgestitching should run just to the side of the Velcro. The top remains un-edgestitched.
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  7. Pin pocket to the bag body, matching up the design.
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  8. Edge stitch the pocket to the bag, along both sides and the bottom, leaving top open. Remember to stop with your needle in the down position and pivot at each corner. This will create a nice, 90˚ angle.
  9. Pin the pocket flap to bag, matching the fabric designs and lining up the Velcro pieces.
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  10. Edge stitch along top of flap.

The bag body

  1. Fold the bag piece right sides together and pin the long side.
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  2. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch this long side together, stopping 3" below top.
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  3. Press seam open, including the very top of the seam that you left unstitched.
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  4. Turn the bag right side out.
  5. Stitch down the seam allowance at the 3" opening, along both sides and across the bottom. This will become the finished opening for the cord casing.
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The cord casing and strap

  1. To make the cord casing, work with the bag right side out.
  2. Turn down the top raw edge of the bag ½" and press. Turn down another 1" and press again.
  3. Top stitch close to bottom folded edge to secure.
    NOTE: If you are worried about keeping your seam precise, turn the bag inside out and stitch from the inside so you can see the folded edge and use it as a guide for your foot. Just make sure that you have matching thread in your bobbin because when stitching from the inside, it's your bobbin thread that will show on the front.
  4. To make the strap, take the 36" x 3" piece and fold it in half lengthwise, right sides together.
  5. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch both sides and all along the bottom, leaving about a 2" opening to turn.
  6. Clip corners. Turn right side out and press, making sure the opening seam allowance is pressed in to match the finished seam. Slip stitch opening closed.
  7. Make sure bag is right side out. Pin one end of the strap to the bottom of of bag, centering the end over the bag seam.
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  8. Stitch strap in place. Stitch again two more times to reinforce.

Finishing bag bottom and strap

  1. To attach the bottom of the bag, turn the bag body inside out and pin the bottom circle to bag, right sides together.
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  2. Stitch all around, using a ½" seam allowance. Stitch around again to reinforce.
  3. Turn bag right side out.
  4. Fold under the top of the strap 1½" and then fold under again 1½".
  5. Line up this folded edge just under the drawstring opening. The top of the fold should align with the bottom stitch line of the drawstring opening.
  6. Pin in place, then stitch and pivot to create a square of stitching to attach the strap to the bag. Reinforce by stitching an X inside the square.
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  7. Attach a safety pin to one end of the cording, and feed it through the casing. Tie a knot at each end. You could also finish with a purchased cord stop.
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Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation & Instructions: Jacqueline Smerek

Other machines suitable for this project include the Bernina activa 220 and the Elna 3230.



Comments (23)

seabee said:
seabee's picture

Hopefully someone here can help. Is the pocket supposed to be 7" wide and 9" tall or 9" Tall and 7" wide? Thanks for your help

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

@seabee -- Wow... this is an older project . The pocke cut is 7" wide x 9" high and the flap cut is 7" wide x 5" high. Let us know how yours turns out. 

Stephanied said:
Stephanied's picture

I just started a yoga class and wanted to make my own tote.  This pattern was perfect!  The instructions were clear (and I hate following instructions) and my bag turned out great. I too had an issue with the 7" circle but made it work.  I used it today for the first time and it felt great.  Thank you for sharing this! 

robinp said:
robinp's picture
I've said this a zillion times before, but this is THE best site on the web. I can't keep up with all the great ideas. And my little granddaughters ( 5,7,9 ) are excited as well, and want to make alot of the projects. of course they aren't ready for a lot of them, but with your excellent tutorials they can do pretty well!! They are even making throw pillows for their Mom for Mother's Day, with zippers....THANK YOU so much..
Cheeseliz said:
Cheeseliz's picture
Thank you for the great step by step tutorial! One more tip: a shoelace works great as cording - It already has the pre-finished aglets on the ends and comes in lots of different colors!!!
VeronicaH said:
VeronicaH's picture
Thanks for sharing this great tutorial. As I am still somewhat of a beginner, I appreciated the clear instructions. I can't wait to show off my new bag! smilies/smiley.gif
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ Stephanie (UK) - 5 hours or 4 hours... you should be very proud of yourself to tackle and succeed with this project - it is not one of our easiest. Great job and I'm sure your friend was/is delighted smilies/wink.gif
Stephanie (UK) said:
Stephanie (UK)'s picture
P.s. my mental maths has gone haywire, as I sewed this late into the evening after a week at work ! It only took 4 hours. smilies/cheesy.gif
Stephanie (UK) said:
Stephanie (UK)'s picture
I only started sewing about three weeks ago, and have mainly been practicing making bags and cushions. My friend is pregnant and starting pregnancy yoga this week so asked me if I would make her a bag. Having looked at lots of different tutorial, I decided yours was easiest to follow. I found the round bottom tricky, but FIVE hours after I started I finished and it's fab ! Many thanks smilies/smiley.gif.
Klauver said:
Klauver's picture
Just finished a yoga mat bag for my mom for Christmas! You are AWESOME - thank you SO much for this post. I know she's going to love it!! smilies/cheesy.gif

The only issue I had with the bag is turning that darn strap - it took almost an hour and was really stressful! If anyone knows a shortcut or a trick to doing this more easily, can you let me know? Thank you!!
Autumn Jones said:
Autumn Jones's picture
Just made two of these for myself and my husband and they turned out so nice. Thanks so much!
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi acwink -- Made in one morning! That's what we like to hear. I won't tell your friend about the missing pocket smilies/wink.gif.

Thanks for visiting.
acwink said:
acwink's picture
Hi there, just wanted to let you know that I made this for a friend this morning and it turned out great! I cheated and didn't make a pocket as I am pressed for time, but next time I'll include it for sure. Thank you for your tutorials, I really love them!
nurse.brodie said:
nurse.brodie's picture
Thanks for the quick reply! I can't wait to show off my new bag!
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi nurse.brodie -- 1/4" below the fold is correct. You don't stitch the folded side. I think my "stitch all around" was confusing and so I changed that. You actually stitch both short sides and most of the top, leaving just a small opening along the top to turn. So, when you turn it right side out, the Velcro will still be 1/4" below the fold line. Then when you edgestitch all around, you'll stitch just right along the edge of the Velcro -- next to it, not on it. And edgestitch is generally a bit less than 1/4" -- more like 1/8". Hope that helps. And, thanks for the note so I can clarify the directions for others.
nurse.brodie said:
nurse.brodie's picture
Great pattern but I have a question (I am a beginner!) When sewing on the velcro to the pocket flap, shouldn't it be placed 3/4" below the fold line to accommodate for the 1/2" seam allowance - otherwise you sew right through the velcro.
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi fergieturk .... that is GREAT about the camo yoga bag. Love it! Yes, PLEASE send a picture.
fergieturk said:
fergieturk's picture
Thanks for the idea! I'm making one for my husband out of camouflage to match his uniform. That way he can bring his yoga mat when he deploys to Afghanistan while still being 'Army chic' I'll send photos when I finish it. smilies/smiley.gif
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
A+ for remembering your math homework. The circumference is the diameter multiplied by pi (3.14). Our 7" bottom diameter yields a finished diameter of 6", but the bag isn't structured and does, in fact, produce a wider opening on top - nearly 9". Therefore a strict math formula doesn't work exactly, but it's close. 6 x 3.14 = 18.84, rounding to the nearest sewing measurement, let's say 18 3/4 add 1" for a seam and 1" for good measure (you don't want a tight fit) and you get our recommended 20 3/4" cut. For your 10" finished size (which would mean an 11" circle cut), 10 x 3.14 = 31.40, let's say 31 1/2" plus 2" is 33 1/2", which makes it nearly a square, but I think it would still work. If you want to keep it more of a rectangle, add a few inches to the height of the bag and the strap. Hope that helps. I have to take a nap now after all that figuring. Thanks for visiting.
loriek said:
loriek's picture
I love this! My husband takes yoga classes and I'd love to make this for him for Christmas. It would have to be slightly wider to accommodate the bath towel he has to take along, though. Any idea on how I figure the width of fabric for a 10" diameter bag? I know it involves Pi! smilies/cheesy.gif