Bags and totes should be functional, right? After all, their job is simply to help you carry stuff. But here at S4H, we believe they should also be fashionable. This sweet shoulder bag has plenty of features to fulfill its organizational duties combined with fun fabric, eye-popping webbing, and quilted texture to keep it fashionably fabulous.
This project lets you put your sewing machine through its paces. Luckily for us, S4H is an exclusive Janome studio. From the bag’s diamond quilting details to the multiple layers of faux suede, we love showing how easy Janome makes it to sew through thick and thin with precision and power.
The body of the bag as well as the sidewall have intersecting diagonal lines of quilting, which provides a wonderful softness and a subtle bit of texture. We show you how you can draw in stitching guide lines or use a Quilting Guide Bar to create the perfect diamond pattern. We took advantage of Janome’s built-in AcuFeed™ Flex fabric feeding system to keep all the layers moving evenly under the needle; a standard Walking or Even Feed foot would also work well.
Our dedicated S4H followers know we’re big fans of Tula Pink, and you’ll spot Tula’s fabric on the exterior and lining of this bag as well as the super cool, brand new Tula Pink webbing we chose for the adjustable strap.
The whimsy that is classic Tula (our fabric is from the older, Monkey Wrench collection) is paired with a solid faux suede for the upper trim and the clever front flap. That unique flap covers the double front pockets, helping conceal and protect their contents. We designed the flap to be able to hang down, straight and flat. There’s no need for a clasp, making it quick and easy to lift up for pocket access. However, there is a magnetic snap to secure the top of the bag.
You can make this bag on any standard sewing machine, but – as always – we recommend Janome. We often hear from people who, when frustrated with a particular process or technique, think they are to blame. Nine times out of 10, your machine is more likely to be working against you. For the best results, you want… no, you need a machine that is specifically engineered to be strong, reliable, and frustration free.
We send a BIG shout-out of thanks to Janome for sponsoring this beautiful bag. Their support helps underwrite the design and production costs, including being able to provide you with a free pattern download. A pattern is especially important when you have a design with a curving side wall and a flap with angled corners. You can be confident all the pieces will fit together perfectly.
To keep construction as easy as possible, we opted for a method that leaves visible seam allowances inside the bag. We show you the steps for wrapping the seam allowances with custom bias binding, creating a clean finish that is nearly invisible. There’s even a link to our full tutorial about measuring, cutting, and applying bias binding should you be brand new to working with it.
For more information about how a Janome machine can make your sewing adventures more fun – and frustration free – visit the Janome America website or contact your local Janome America dealer to see it and sew it yourself!
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing machine and standard presser foot
- Walking or Even Feed foot; optional, but makes handling the multiple layers easier – you could also engage your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system, such as the AcuFeed™ Flex system we use on many of our Janome studio machines; it was our choice for this project
- Quilt Guide Bar: optional but helpful for even quilting lines
Fabric and Other Supplies
- ¾ yard of 44”+ wide quilting weight cotton for the bag exterior and the front flap lining; we used a scrap from our S4H stash of Spots on Spots in Dragon Fruit from the Monkey Wrench collection by Tula Pink for FreeSpirit Fabrics
- ¾ yard of 44”+ wide quilting weight cotton for the bag lining; we used a scrap from our S4H stash of Parrot Prattle in Guava from the Monkey Wrench collection by Tula Pink for FreeSpirit Fabrics
NOTE: The above yardage includes enough to cut the strips for the interior seam binding on the bias.
- ¼ yard of 44”+ wide faux suede or similar for top trim, front flap, and D-ring tabs; we used a scrap from our S4H stash of décor weight faux suede in navy blue
- ½ yard of 45”+ wide low loft batting
- ½ yard 45”+ wide mid-weight fusible interfacing; we used 45” Pellon Décor Bond
- 1 yard of 1½” wide coordinating webbing; we used Tula Pink webbing by Renaissance Ribbons in Classic Lime/Bright Aqua
- ONE ¾” magnetic snap
- ONE 1½” slide adjuster; we used nickel
- TWO 1½” D-rings; we used nickel
NOTE: This type of hardware can be found from multiple sources online and in-stores. Brands can be purchased in sets or mixed and matched, but it is important that all the finishes match.
- All purpose thread to match fabric and webbing
- See-through ruler
- 9 ½” Quilter’s Square Up Ruler; optional but helpful for drawing in all the quilting guide lines
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Pressing cloth; recommended for the faux suede
- Scissors and/or rotary cutter and mat
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
Getting Started and Pattern Download
- Download and print the pattern elements: Front-Back Body, Exterior Pocket, Front Flap, and Side Panel, which are made up of NINE pieces to assemble. The eight pattern pages have been bundled into ONE PDF to make the download easier.
IMPORTANT: You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There are guide rules on each page to confirm your print out is to size.
- Cut out each of the pattern pieces along the solid lines.
- For the Front-Back Body pattern, aligning the printed arrows, assemble the TWO pieces into the complete body pattern.
- For the Exterior Pocket pattern, aligning the printed arrows, assemble the TWO pieces into the complete pocket pattern.
- For the Front Flap pattern, aligning the printed arrows, assemble the TWO pieces into the complete flap pattern.
- For the Side Panel pattern, aligning the printed arrows, assemble the THREE pieces into the complete side panel pattern.
- For all the patterns, always butt together the pieces; do NOT overlap. Then tape in place.
- From the fabric for the exterior and the front flap lining (the Spots on Spots in Dragon Fruit in our sample), cut the following:
Using the assembled Front-Back Body pattern, cut TWO
Using the assembled Exterior Pocket pattern, cut TWO
Using the assembled Side Panel pattern, cut ONE
Using the assembled Front Flap pattern, cut ONE
- From the fabric for the lining (the Parrot Prattle in Guava in our sample), cut the following:
ONE 14” wide x 10” high rectangle for the lining pocket
Using the assembled Front-Back Body pattern, cut TWO
Using the assembled Side Panel pattern, cut ONE
Apx. 60” of 2” wide strips on the the bias for the seam binding of the interior seam allowances
NOTE: If you are new to making your own bias binding, check out our full step-by-step tutorial on measuring, making, and applying it. You could use packaged bias binding, but by making your own, you get a perfect match and a bit more fabric with which to work.
- From the fabric for the top trim, front flap, and D-ring tabs (faux suede in navy blue in our sample), cut the following:
ONE 33” x 5” strip for the top trim
TWO 4” x 3” rectangles for the D-ring tabs
Using the assembled Front Flap pattern, cut ONE
- Trim all the assembled pattern pieces along their dotted seam lines prior to cutting the batting and interfacing. If you wish to keep your patterns intact, print TWO copies to start, leaving one as-is and trimming the second set.
- From the batting, cut the following:
Using the assembled and trimmed Front-Back Body pattern, cut ONE
Using the assembled and trimmed Exterior Pocket pattern, cut ONE
Using the assembled and trimmed Side Panel pattern, cut ONE
- From the interfacing, cut the following:
ONE 13” x 4½” rectangle for the lining pocket
ONE 32” x 2” strip for the top trim
Using the assembled and trimmed Front-Back Body pattern, cut TWO
Using the assembled and trimmed Side Panel pattern, cut ONE
Using the assembled and trimmed Front Flap pattern, cut ONE
- From the webbing, cut ONE 34” length.
NOTE: We designed our bag to be carried by hand or over the shoulder. If you want a full cross-body option, start with a 44” length. The awesome Tula Pink webbing comes in 2-yard packs, so there is enough within one pack for either option.
- There are quite a few pieces here. Collect them all in groups so you can keep track as you go.
- Another handy tip: wind a bobbin now for each color of thread you’ll be using. It makes switching back and forth much faster during construction.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Create the exterior pocket
- Find the two exterior pocket panels and the one coordinating panel of batting.
- Place the two exterior pocket panels right sides together and pin along the top edge only.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across the top edge only.
- Press the seam allowance open and flat.
- With the sewn pocket still flat and wrong side up, place the batting panel into position. The upper edge of the batting should just cover the seam by about ⅛”. Along the sides and bottom, there should be ½” of fabric showing beyond the batting. Lightly pin in place.
- Lengthen the stitch to its maximum and machine baste across the top of the batting. This will help prevent the batting from shifting away from the seam.
- Fold the pocket layers wrong sides together, sandwiching the batting between the layers. (You can remove the pins the were lightly holding the batting in place above.) The seam should run straight across the top and the raw edges of the two pocket layers should be flush along the sides and across the bottom. Lightly pin through all the layers.
- Machine baste across the top 1” down from the top seamed edge.
- Remove the pins.
- Set up for the quilting lines. We used the AcuFeed™ Flex system built into our Janome machine. A standard Walking or Even Feed foot would also work. Both options can also be used with a Quilting Guide Bar. We set our machine for a slightly lengthened stitch (3.0mm) and made sure we had thread to best match the fabric in the top and bobbin.
- As you can see on the original paper pattern, our diamond quilting pattern is made up of 1½” spaced lines on the diagonal. You can use the pattern as a guide to draw in the guidelines with a standard ruler, or try our option of using a Quilter’s Square-Up Ruler, placing the point of the square at the center of the pocket’s upper seamed edge. Draw in lines along each outer edge of the ruler as starting lines, then draw in the additional lines at 1½” increments.
- Whichever method you use, make sure you are working with a marking tool that will easily wipe away or will vanish with exposure to the air or the heat of an iron.
- Start at the lower edge of the pocket and stitch up along one drawn line.
- When you get to the upper edge, slow down so you can watch each stitch. Take ONE stitch off the top seamed edge, stopping with the needle in the down position. Lift up the presser foot and pivot so you are now ready to stitch the adjacent line. This creates a very nicely finished upper edge to the pocket without the need to backstitch!
- Continue stitching all the lines in the same manner.
- When done, remove the two lines of machine basting along the top.
Create the front body panel and place the pocket
- Find front body exterior panel, the front body lining panel, and the coordinating panel of interfacing.
- Center the interfacing on the wrong side of the exterior panel so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing all around. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Place the front body lining panel wrong side up and flat on your work surface.
- Place the interfaced front exterior panel wrong side down on top of the lining panel, which means these two panels are now wrong sides together.
- Place the quilted pocket right side up on the exterior panel, aligning the bottom raw edge of the pocket with the bottom raw edges of the layered body panels. Lightly pin through all the layers across the center.
- Re-set for a maximum stitch length and machine baste around the perimeter through all the layers, staying within the ½” seam allowance – approximately ¼” from the perimeter’s raw edge is good.
- Measure to find the exact center of the pocket and, using your fabric marking tool, draw a vertical guide line from the top to the bottom of the pocket.
- Re-set for a standard lengthened topstitch (we again used 3.0 mm) and stitch along the drawn vertical line.
Create the back body panel
- Find back body exterior panel, the back body lining panel, the coordinating panel of interfacing, and the coordinating batting panel.
- Center the interfacing on the wrong side of the back lining panel so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing all around. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Place the interfaced back lining panel wrong side up and flat on your work surface.
- Place the batting panel on top of the lining panel. The batting should sit directly on top of the interfacing.
- Place the back exterior panel wrong side down on top of the lining panel, which means these two panels are wrong sides together and the interfacing and batting are sandwiched between the layers.
- Mark this panel in the same manner as you did for the front exterior pocket. If you are using a Quilter’s Square-Up Ruler as we did, position it with the point at the center lower edge. This will result in an exact match to the front pocket quilting.
- Quilt in the same manner as you did on the pocket, following your drawn lines. However, it is not necessary to do the fancy off-the-edge pivot on this panel as all of its raw edges will be enclosed within seam allowances.
Create and place the lining pocket
- Find the 14” x 10” pocket panel and the coordinating 13” x 4½” panel of interfacing.
- Fold the fabric panel in half so it is now 14” x 5” and press to set a crease.
- Unfold the panel wrong side up so the crease line is visible.
- Place the interfacing panel into position on one half of the fabric panel. The top edge of the interfacing should sit along the center crease line. There should be ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing along the sides and across the bottom – and, of course, the upper part of the fabric has no interfacing at all.
- Re-fold the pocket panel along the original crease line, but this time you are folding right sides together. Pin along the 14” side.
- Re-set for a standard stitch length. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across the 14” side only. Press open the seam allowance.
- Turn the pocket right side out through the open ends and press flat, making sure the seam is running straight and true along what will be the bottom of the pocket. The opposite folded edge is the pocket top.
- Find the quilted back panel. Place it lining side up and flat on your work surface.
- Place the pocket on the lining panel. Remember, the folded edge is the pocket top. The pocket should sit 2” up from the bottom raw edge of the quilted panel and the raw side edges of the pocket should be flush with the raw side edges of the quilted panel. Pin the pocket in place along the bottom edge.
- Re-set for the slightly lengthened stitch. Edgestitch across the bottom edge of the pocket only.
NOTE: This is just a reminder that throughout the project, you should be checking and re-threading as necessary to insure the thread is a good match to the fabric in both the top and the bobbin. In this case: thread to match the lining in the top and thread to match the exterior in the bobbin.
- Measure 5½” in from the left raw edge and draw in a vertical line, dividing the pocket into one small section and one larger section.
- Stitch along the drawn vertical dividing line from the bottom of the pocket to the top.
Create and add the side wall
- Find the four layers that make up the side wall: the exterior, the lining, the interfacing, and the batting. These are layered in the same manner as above: first center and fuse the interfacing on the wrong side of the lining layer, then add the batting directly on top of the centered and fused interfacing, then layer the exterior on top. Once again, the lining and the exterior are wrong sides together with the interfacing and batting sandwiched in between.
- The quilting lines are also added with the same spacing to create the diamond pattern. We opted to use a Quilting Guide Bar for the stitching on this narrower side wall. This way, we needed to only draw in one starting line in each direction and could simply set the Guide Bar at 1½” to stitch the subsequent lines.
- With the side wall quilted, you can add it to the front and back panels. We started with our back panel, but the choice is yours – front or back, it doesn’t matter.
- Starting at the top right corner, and with right sides together, pin one edge of the side wall to the back exterior panel. The side wall is a bit longer than necessary (about 1”) so you have some extra with which to work to ease around the corners. This means the opposite end of the side wall will extend beyond the top of the back panel.
- You can clip into the side wall to give it some additional “stretch” for a smoother curve around the bottom corners. Pin in place.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch the side wall in place against the back panel. In the photo below, you can see how we clipped into the corner for that extra ease, and you can also see we used plenty of pins to hold everything together.
- You now have one free edge of the side wall remaining. Pin this free edge right sides together with the front exterior panel.
- Again, clip into the corners as necessary and don’t be afraid to use extra pins.
- Use a ½” seam allowance to stitch the side wall in place.
- Trim away any excess side wall fabric from the right edge so the side wall is flush with both the front and back panels.
Bind the inner seam allowances
- This style of construction gives a very flat finish to both the exterior and the lining of a bag. However, it does leave exposed seam allowances on the interior of bag. No worries… you’re going to finish them with a matching binding.
- Find the 2” bias strips of lining fabric you cut and stitch them together end to end to create an approximate 60” length. Use a ¼” seam allowance to stitch together the strips, then press each seam allowance open and flat.
- Fold the 60” strip in half, wrong sides together, and press to set a crease.
- Unfold the strip wrong side up so the crease line is visible and press each long raw edge into the center to meet at the crease.
- Cut the strip in half so you have two 30” lengths with which to work.
- Find the body of the bag. It should be wrong side out.
- Unfold the outer fold of one strip so the crease line is visible.
- Place the strip right sides together against one of the side wall seam allowances. Remember, you are working only with the seam allowance itself. You will not be stitching on the body of the bag. The outer raw edge of the binding strip should be flush with the seam allowance. You can pin in place or, as we did, simply hold the narrow strip in place as you stitch along the crease line. You are stitching along the entire seam allowance on one side. As above, you can start with either the front or the back seam allowance – it doesn’t matter.
- Wrap the binding strip around the seam allowance, bringing the folded edge into position on the opposite side of the seam allowance, wrapping the seam allowance with the binding. Pin in place.
- Stitch around once again, this time through all the layers to create your bound seam allowance.
- It’s a great finish that blends into the bag. With one side complete, repeat to bind the remaining seam allowance.
Create and place the front flap
- Find the three pieces that make up the front pocket flap: the front faux suede panel, the cotton lining panel, and the coordinating interfacing panel.
- Center the interfacing on the wrong side of the front panel. There should be ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing all around. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Layer the interfaced front right sides together the the plain cotton back.
- Pin along both sides and across the bottom. The upper edge remains unpinned.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting sharply at the angled corners. Remember, do not stitch across the top edge of the flap.
- Clip the corners and press open the seam allowance.
- Turn the flap right side out through the open top.
- Push out the angled corners so they are nice and sharp. A long blunt tool, such as a knitting needle, chopstick or point turner works well. Press flat. If using a faux suede, press from the cotton lining side as the faux suede is not a fan of the heat of an iron.
- Re-thread with thread to best match the front fabric in the top and to best match the flap’s lining fabric in the bobbin. Edgestitch along both sides and across the bottom. Again, remember to sharply pivot at the angled corners.
- Find the completed main body of the bag. It should be right side out.
- Position the flap on the front of the bag – so it covers the top of the front pocket. The top raw edge of the flap should be flush with the top raw edge of the bag front. Center the flap side to side. Pin in place across the top of the flap.
- Machine baste the flap in place across its top raw edge.
Create and place the D-ring tabs
- Find the two 4” x 3” faux suede rectangles and the two 1½” D-rings.
- Fold each tab in half so it is now 2” x 3”. Pin in place along the 3” edge.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch each short seam.
- Press the seam allowance open and flat. The tab is now 1½” x 3”
- Turn each tab right side out through the open ends. Roll the seam to the back and press flat. If using faux suede, use a pressing cloth.
- Slip a tab through each ring. Align the raw ends of each tab. The seam should be to the inside so it disappears within the folded tab. Pin the ends of each tab together.
- Find the bag, which should have the front flap machine basted in place.
- Position a tab at each side. The raw ends of the tab should be flush with the top raw edge of the bag, which means the D-ring is hanging down. The tab should be centered within the side wall.
- Pin each tab in place. Then machine baste each tab in position.
Create and add the upper trim, including the magnetic snap
- Find the 33” x 5” faux suede strip and the 32” x 2” interfacing strip.
- Center the interfacing on the wrong side of the faux suede strip. The top edge of the interfacing should sit at the exact center point of the trim’s width (2½” from both the top and the bottom), which leaves ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing along both ends and the bottom of the interfacing. Following manufacturers instruction’s, fuse in place.
- Along the non-interfaced half of the trim, fold back the long raw edge ½” and press well to set a crease.
- Unfold this ½” edge and place the 5” ends right sides together. Pin in place.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch this short seam, forming a loop.
- Press the seam allowance open and flat. Keep the loop wrong side out.
- Find the main body of the bag, which should have the flap and both D-ring tabs basted in place. The bag should be right side out.
- The loop should still be wrong side out. Slip the loop over the top of the bag with the interfaced half of the loop nearest the top of the bag. The seam of the loop should be centered at the back of the bag. The raw edge of the loop should be flush with the top raw edges of the bag, sandwiching the flap and the tabs between the layers. Pin in place around the entire top of the bag.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch all around the top of the bag through all the layers. Start and end the seam at the loop seam.
- Insert each half of the magnetic snap in the upper half (the non-interfaced half) of the trim loop. One half should be inserted within the loop’s seam. The snap is centered within what will be the 2” reveal of the top trim, which means the center of the snap half should sit 1” above the edge of the interfacing.
- The other half of the snap goes on the front of the trim loop directly opposite the first half; 1” from the edge of the interfacing.
NOTE: If you are brand new to inserting a magnetic snap, you’ll find it very easy. Take a look at our step-by-step snap tutorial for additional details.
- Press the trim loop/bag seam allowance up towards the trim loop.
- Re-fold the remaining raw edge of the trim loop along its original ½” crease line. Then, bring that folded edge up and over to the inside of the bag, which means you are folding the loop along its exact center – right along the edge of the interfacing.
- The folded edge of the trim loop should completely cover the upper seam allowance on the inside of the bag. Lightly pin in place.
- Make sure to re-thread if necessary so you have thread to best match the trim in both the top and bobbin. Re-set for a slightly lengthened stitch. We switched back to our standard presser foot.
- Bring both D-ring tabs up into their final position and pin in place.
- Edgestitch all the way around, staying as close as possible to the trim’s seam.
- As you approach each D-ring tab, you will be going over quite a few layers, we recommend leveling your foot with a Hump Jumper to more easily stitch across. You can see the Hump Jumper behind the presser foot in the image below.
NOTE: For more tips about the sewing thick layers in general and the Hump Jumper in particular, take a look at our Thick Layers technique tutorial.
- Go around once more, this time edgestitching along the top folded edge of the trim. Fold down the D-ring tabs as you stitch around each side.
Create and attach the strap
- Find the length of webbing and the adjustable slide.
- Secure one end of the webbing around the center bar of the adjustable slide.
- Slip the opposite raw end of the webbing through one D-ring.
- Then bring that same end back up, threading it up and over the center bar.
- Keep pulling that raw end through, finally bringing it through the remaining D-ring, front to back.
- Fold back the raw end then stitch across the fold through all the layers.
NOTE: The steps for an adjustable strap are similar in all applications; we’ve simplified them here. If you are new to the technique and want more information, take a look at our full step-by-step tutorial on the process.
Project Design: Anne Adams
Sample Creation: Michele Mishler