Combining the softness of faux suede with the color pop brightness of ribbon is a stunning combination. Our first choice for ribbon is Renaissance Ribbons; their jacquard ribbons are exquisitely woven, richly colored, and simply beautiful. They’re a wonderful way to instantly add intricate style to a project. For this soft shoulder bag, we chose a solid base fabric to best showcase a variety of ribbons. The faux suede supplies the proper heft to support the ribbons as well as a soft, supple texture that gives the bag its vintage style.
The specific ribbon selection is what will create your bag’s signature spirit. Although our exact ribbon combination is no longer readily available, there are many, many others from which to choose at Renaissance Ribbons. As you browse their site, you’ll recognize many of your favorite fabric and surface designers, such as Tula Pink, Kaffe Fassett, and Mary Engelbreit.
Our beautiful bag finishes at approximately 11″ wide x 12″ tall. The strap is cut WOF (width of fabric), which with faux suede is usually 54″ – 58″. Our original selection was 58″, which means the strap finished at about 57″.
The unique pull-through design allows you to adjust the shoulder strap with the knots for your best fit.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing machine and standard presser foot
- Clear View Quilting Foot and Guide Set; optional but helpful to keep your ribbon stitching precise
- Satin Stitch foot; optional – another good option for ribbon stitching
Fabric and Other Supplies
NOTE: We originally used SIX beautiful jacquard ribbons from the Anna Maria Horner Field Study collection by Renaissance Ribbons. The yardage shown is enough to allow fussy cutting of any ribbon with a similar strong motif.
- ½ yard of ⅞” wide ribbon; we originally used Orange/Beige Feather
- ¾ yard ⅞” wide ribbon; we originally used Pink/Brown Ombre Leopard
- 1 yard ⅝” wide ribbon; we originally used Pink Arrow Feathers
- 1¼ yards of 1½” wide ribbon; we originally used Orange/Aqua Moths
- ½ yard ⅞” wide ribbon; we originally used Blue/Pink Zig Zag
- 2¼ yards of ⅝” wide ribbon; we originally used Fuchsia on Gold Meander
- ¾ yard of 54″ – 58″+ wide faux suede or similar for the bag exterior; we originally used 58″ Vintage Suede in Pink
- ½ yard of a coordinating 44″+ wide quilting weight cotton for the bag lining
- ¾ yard of 20″+ wide lightweight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon Shir-Tailor
- ONE magnetic snap
- All purpose thread to match fabric and ribbons; we opted to use invisible thread for all our ribbon stitching but this is optional
- 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
Cuts are given below for the specific ribbons we chose and we refer to them by name throughout the instructions to make it easier to follow along with the ribbons you’ve selected in the same widths. All our cuts are determined based on our selected ribbons. 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 are the same.
- Cut the ⅞” Orange/Beige Feather into ONE 12″ length.
- Cut the ⅞” Pink/Brown Ombre Leopard into ONE 12″ length and TWO 3″ lengths.
- Cut the ⅝” Pink Arrow Feathers into TWO 12″ lengths.
- Cut the 1½” Orange/Aqua Moths into THREE 12″ lengths, being particularly careful to center the moth motifs within each strip.
- Cut the ⅞” Blue/Pink Zig Zag into ONE 12″ length.
- Cut the ⅝” Fuchsia on Gold Meander into FIVE 12″ lengths and FOUR 3″ lengths.
- From the fabric for the exterior (Vintage Suede in Pink in our sample), cut the following:
TWO 12″ wide x 13″ high rectangles for the bag body
ONE 7″ x 58″ (WOF) strip for the shoulder strap
TWO 12″ wide x 6½” high rectangles for the exterior pockets
TWO 5¼” wide x 3″ high rectangles for the strap tabs
- From the fabric for the lining, cut the following:
TWO 12″ x 13″ high rectangles for the bag body
ONE 8″ wide x 11″ rectangle for the pocket
- From the fusible interfacing, cut TWO 12″ x 13″ rectangles.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the two lining body pieces. Set aside.
- Find the two 4¼” x 3″ exterior tab pieces, the two 3″ Leopard ribbons and the four 3″ Meander ribbons.
- Fold each exterior piece right sides together, aligning the 3″ sides.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along the 3″ side.
- Turn right side out and finger press flat so the seam is along the bottom and the folded edge is along the top.
- Place one Meander ribbon along the top edge. The edge of the ribbon should be flush with the fold of the fabric. Pin in place.
- Butt one Leopard ribbon against the first ribbon and pin in place.
- Butt the remaining Meander ribbon against the Leopard ribbon and pin in place. The bottom of this Meander ribbon should be flush with the bottom seam of the fabric. The side raw edges of the fabric and ribbon should be aligned as well. These will be sewn into the seam and so remain open and raw. Trim the raw edges flush if necessary.
- Edgestitch all three ribbons in place. It is very important to the finished look of the bag that your stitching runs as close to the edges of the ribbons as possible and that your thread is a close color match so the seams become nearly invisible. Change thread colors as needed or you can use an invisible thread in the top and bobbin, which was our choice.
NOTE: We pinned and edgestitched our ribbons throughout, using either our standard presser foot or a Satin Stitch foot. A Clear View Quilting Foot and Guide Set would be another option for precise stitching. If you feel pinning is too cumbersome, you could also adhere the ribbons in place with a fusible seam tape, like Stitch Witchery.
- Repeat to create the second tab.
- Find the 7″ x 58″ strip.
- Fold in half lengthwise, right sides together, so it is now 3½” x 58″. Fold in half widthwise so the ends of the strap are aligned, one on top of another, and you have four layers of suede.
- Using your clear ruler and rotary cutter, slice off the end at a diagonal through all four layers.
- Unfold so you again have one long strip folded right sides together ( 3½” x 58″). Pin in place, leaving an approximate 5″ opening along the 58″ side for turning. The diagonals on the ends should be opposite one another.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across both ends and down the long side. Remember to pivot at the corners and to lock your seam at either side of 5″ opening left for turning.
- Clip the corners.
- Turn right side out through the opening. Push out the corners and points with a long, blunt end tool. A knitting needle, chopstick or point turner works well. You can also gently pull out the points from the right side with a straight pin. Finger press.
- Hand stitch the opening closed.
- Find one 6½” x 12″ exterior pocket panel. Place it right side up on your work surface. Fold down the top raw edge ½”. Yes, this means the wrong side of the fabric is showing. Pin in place.
NOTE: On the pockets, the thickness of the faux suede does not require a lining, but we still want 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.
- Fold back the bottom raw edge ½”, hiding the raw edge to the back and creating a clean folded edge along the bottom. Pin in place.
- Along the top edge only, machine baste the fold in place.
- Collect the SIX 12″ lengths of ribbon that cover the front pocket, referring to our pictures above. As you did with the Tabs above, align the first ribbon so it is flush with the very top folded edge of the pocket, then butt each subsequent ribbon below. Again as with the Tabs above, the bottom edge of your final ribbon should be flush with the bottom folded edge of the pocket panel. Pin in place, leaving the the bottom edge of the final Meander ribbon un-pinned.
- Edgestitch in place across both sides of each ribbon, working from the top to the bottom. Remember, DO NOT STITCH the bottom edge of the final Meander ribbon (the edge you left unpinned).
- Find the two 12″ x 13″ exterior panels.
- Place one right side up on your work surface. Place the ribboned-pocket right side up on the exterior panel; the bottom finished edge of the pocket should be 1″ up from the bottom raw edge of the exterior panel. Pin in place.
- Edgestitch along the bottom open edge of the Meander ribbon through all the layers, securing both the ribbon itself as well as stitching the bottom of the pocket to the exterior panel.
- Fold the top and bottom raw edges of the remaining 6½” x 12″ pocket panel in the same manner as above for the front pocket.
- This back pocket has just one Arrow Feathers ribbon across the top. Edgestitch it in place in the same manner as above.
- Find the remaining 12″ x 13″ exterior panel and place the back pocket in the same position as the front: 1″ up from the bottom raw edge. Be precise with this measurement so your pockets will perfectly match front to back.
- Edgestitch in place across the bottom fold.
- Find the center of the pocket panel and mark a vertical line using pins or your fabric pen/pencil.
NOTE: Any time you are working on the right side of your fabric, make sure your marking tool is one that will easily wipe away or will vanish with exposure to the air or the heat of an iron.
- Topstitch along the center line to create a divided pocket.
NOTE: If possible, use a lock stitch to secure your seam at the beginning and end; this is a cleaner finish than a backstitch. If you do not have this feature on your machine, leave your thread tails long, use a hand sewing needle to bring them through to the back, and knot the ends.
Top accent ribbons, tabs and front to back assembly
- Both the front and back panels feature the same decorative ribbons along the top: a Meander ribbon on either side of a Moth ribbon.
- Place the first Meander ribbon ¾” from the top raw edge of the exterior panel.
- Then, as above, butt the two additional ribbons in place below. On each panel, edgestitch all three ribbons in place along both sides.
NOTE: In some of our pictures the top Meander ribbon appears father away from the top raw edge than the stated ¾”. Not to worry; we really mean ¾”. We had to adjust some sizing along the way as we worked with the exact widths of the ribbon and so trimmed down our exterior panels after the fact. You should work with the measurements as stated within the instructions.
- Find the two ribbon tabs. Find the exterior back panel with all its ribbons stitched in place.
- Center a tab at each side within the top decorative ribbon stripe. Pin in place.
- Machine baste both tabs in place.
- Place the front and back panels right sides together aligning all the raw edges. Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom. Carefully match up the top and bottom edges of the the exterior pockets as well as the top and bottom edges of the strap tabs.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch through all the layers along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners. Double stitch across the strap tabs.
- Clip the corners and turn the bag right side out, pushing out the corners so they are nice and sharp.
- Find the two interfaced lining panels and the 8″ x 11″ lining pocket.
- Fold the pocket in half, right sides together, making it 8″ x 5½”. Pin along all three sides, leaving an approximate 3″ opening along the bottom for turning.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch around all sides, pivoting at the corners. Lock your seam on either side of the 3″ opening. Clip the corners and press open the seam allowance.
- Turn right side out. Push out the corners so they are nice and sharp.
- Fold in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam. Press well.
- Place one lining panel right side up and flat on your work surface. Measure to find the exact center of the panel.
- Pin one pocket in place on the right side of the lining panel. The pocket should be centered side-to-side (2½” from each side raw edge) and 4″ down from the top raw edge of the panel. Pin the pocket in place along both sides and across the bottom
- Edgestitch the pocket in place along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners and with a generous backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam, ie. at the pocket top. This is a stress point for the pocket and it’s smart to secure the seam well. This edgestitching closes the opening used for turning.
- Measure to find the center of the pocket. Draw a vertical line or run a line of pins to follow. This marks where you’ll stitch your pocket dividing seam.
- Stitch along the marked center line to create the pocket division. As with the exterior pocket, if possible, use a lock stitch to start and end your seam or leave your thread tails long and knot to secure.
- Place the two lining pieces right sides together, sandwiching the pocket between the layers. Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom, leaving an approximate 5″ opening along the bottom.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners and locking your seam at either side of the 5″ opening.
- Clip the corners and press open the seam allowance.
Stitch together the lining and the exterior
- Find the exterior bag. It should be right side out.
- Find the lining bag. It should be wrong side out.
- Slip the exterior bag inside the lining bag so the two bags are now right sides together. Align all the seams and the bottom corners.
- Pin around the entire top of the bag.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch around the entire top of the bag.
- Press the seam allowance open.
- Turn the bag right side out through the opening you left in the bottom of the lining.
- Press the lining down into place inside the bag, smoothing the exterior. Press flat around the top of the bag.
- Topstitch through all the layers all around the top of the bag. Your seam should follow along in the previous edgestitching seam that adhered the top decorative Meander ribbon to the front and back panels.
Magnetic snap closure
- Fold the bag in half to find the exact center. Place a pin at both the center front and center back. These mark the position for the magnetic snap. The center of the snap should be ¾” down from the top folded edge of the bag.
- Pull the lining out and away from the bag. Use the opening that is still in the bottom seam of the lining to reach through and insert each side of the snap.
- Following manufacturer’s instructions insert one side of the snap at each marked point.
NOTE: We also have a step-by-step tutorial on How to Insert a Magnetic Snap.
- Pull out the bottom of the lining. You can either edgestitch the opening closed or hand stitch it closed. We chose to simply pin and edgestitch closed by machine.
- Push the lining back down into place.
- Find the strap.
- Pleat the ends so they will fit through the strap tab.
- Pull through the strap until the pointed end of the strap is aligned with the bottom of the bag. Tie a knot just below the bottom of the tab. The knot will shorten the end of the strap so the pointed end now sits approximately 3″ from the bottom of the bag. Of course, you can adjust the knot position for your best fit.
- Repeat to thread and knot the opposite side of the strap, making sure the bottom ends of even on both sides.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild