Cinch, sling, and go. Our trendy sling bag is the perfect way to pack necessities for summer adventures large and small. There’s a drawcord top plus two exterior zippered pockets, so you’ll have plenty of room for all your adventuring supplies. A single broad strap at the center back makes it fast and easy to loop over your shoulder and super comfortable to carry.
With most projects, we always try to source the fabric we used so you can order online and replicate an exact match to our samples. However, fabrics do always go out of stock, and this time around, we pulled the fabrics from our stash so don’t have exact links. When you are selecting fabric, we recommend staying with a linen/cotton blend canvas or similar décor weight fabric for the bag’s exterior. You want something with a bit of heft to help the bag hold its shape, yet it shouldn’t be too stiff or the slight slouch that makes a sling bag so comfortable would be lost. The lining is a quilting weight cotton.
A free pattern download is included below for the bag’s base panel. We created a modified oval pattern that is straighter along one side. This side will be positioned against the back of the bag. Then, when the bag is slung into position, this flatter side of the base rests more comfortably against your back. There’s also a downloadable pattern to create a perfectly curved flap.
You get a handy zippered pocket along each side. We did a fun outside application with the zipper, zig-zagging it in place on the top of the exterior fabric. It adds a bold bit of decorative stitching interest and is a super easy way to insert a zipper. And, if using a striped exterior fabric as we did, try placing the pocket stripes perpendicular to the main stripes of the exterior.
The drawcord top looks great and makes it fast and easy way to load and unload the bag’s contents. We use metal grommets and cotton cording, which is more stylish than the more traditional hidden drawcord channel. A standard cord lock holds the cording in place when cinched closed.
New to sewing? Don’t worry about those grommets! This is Sew4Home, so you know we have a full, step-by-step tutorial if you’re new to the technique.
The finishing touch is a sleek, curved flap that is just the right length to come up and over the gathered top and hang in place against the front of the bag.
We call this our Summer Sling Bag, but you are allowed to use it at any time during the year. In fact, it would make a great back-to-school book bag.
Our single strap finishes at an average length for adults. If your wearer is shorter or taller than average you may want to consider adjusting the cut length for the strap.
Our bag finishes at approximately 15″ high x 11″ wide with a 30” sling strap.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
- Satin Stitch foot; our choice for topstitching on this project
Fabric and Other Supplies
- 1 yard of 44″+ wide mid-weight fabric for the bag exterior
NOTE: This yardage amount allows a bit extra for fussy cutting.
- ½ yard of 44″+ wide quilting weight cotton for the bag lining
- ½ yard of 45″+ wide fusible fleece; we used Pellon Thermolam Plus
- ⅓ yard of 45″+ wide mid-weight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon Décor Bond
- TWO 7″ zippers; we used and recommend chunky zippers for the best look with the exterior application – ours is a YKK plastic sport zipper in antique brass – you need a 1¼ width zipper for the easiest installation using our steps below
- 1½ yards of ¼” soft cording for the drawcord; we used a twisted cotton cording in black – remember, it needs to be able to fit through the grommets and the cord lock
- TWELVE ¼” metal grommets; we used a Dritz Large Eyelet Kit (grommets and eyelets are used somewhat interchangeably)
- ONE extra-large barrel style cord lock – the hole size needs to accommodate at least ¼”; we often use hardware from The Rain Shed for specialty items like this
- All purpose thread to match fabrics
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Rotary cutter and mat
- Iron and ironing board
- Straight pins
- Seam sealant; optional for the ends of the cording and to reinforce the holes for the grommets – we used Dritz Fray Check
Getting Started and Pattern Download
- Download and print out our THREE pattern sheets, which have been bundled into one Sling Bag Pattern PDF file to make the download easier.
IMPORTANT: Each pattern 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 rule on each page so you can confirm your final printout is to scale.
- Cut out each pattern piece along the solid line.
- The base pattern is designed to be cut on the fold.
- Butt together (do not overlap) the two flap pattern pieces, aligning the arrows printed on the patterns. Tape together to create the full flap pattern piece.
- From the fabric for the exterior, cut the following:
ONE 16″ high x 35″ wide rectangle for the main body panels
TWO 9″ high x 8″ wide rectangles for the pockets
NOTE: If using a stripe as we did, we suggest cutting the pocket with the stripes running the opposite direction from the main panel.
ONE 33” x 4” strip for the strap
Using the assembled flap pattern, cut TWO
Using the base pattern, cut ONE on the fold as shown below
- From the fabric for the lining, cut the following:
ONE 16″ high x 31″ wide rectangle for the main lining panel
Using the base pattern, cut ONE on the fold
- From the fusible fleece, cut the following:
ONE 15″ high x 30″ wide rectangle for the main lining panel
Using the base pattern, but cutting along the dotted stitch line rather than the outside solid line, cut ONE on the fold
- From the fusible interfacing, cut the following:
TWO 8″ high x 7″ wide rectangles for the pockets
ONE 32” x 1½” strip for the strap
Using the assembled flap pattern, but cutting along the dotted stitch line rather than the outside solid line, cut ONE
- Leave the drawcord cording as a continuous length; it will be cut to size at the very end.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Slice the main panel into sections
- In order to create the cool pockets for this bag, you need to work with separate sections that will then be sewn back together to make a continuous exterior panel. However, rather than cut each section individually, it’s better to slice one large panel into multiple pieces. Then, when you sew them back together, your motif will be a pretty match all the way around.
- Place the 16” x 35” exterior panel right side up and flat on your cutting surface.
- Following the diagram below, cut the panel into five pieces as shown. If possible, use a rotary cutter and see-through ruler for a clean, straight cut. If you don’t have a rotary cutter, draw in guidelines to follow with scissors to insure a precise cut. When you cut along your four drawn lines, you will end up with five panels: two 6″ outer panels, two 8″ pocket panels and one 7″ center panel.
Create and place the zippered pockets
- Find the two pocket panels and the two interfacing panels. Center an interfacing panel on the wrong side of each fabric panel so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the interfacing in place.
- On each fused panel, make a horizontal cut 2⅝” down from the top raw edge of the fabric. You now have two pieces for each pocket: one small top section and one large bottom section.
- On the small top section, fold back the upper edge ½” and press well.
- Then fold the bottom edge forward ½” and press well.
- When done, the two 8” edges are folded in the opposite directions.
- On the large bottom section, fold the upper edge forward ½” and press well. This means the two folded edges to either side of the zipper opening are folded back so the wrong side is showing.
NOTE: Our folds are based on the zipper we used. There was ½” of zipper tape extending to either side from the zipper teeth. If your zipper tape is narrower, you will need to reduce the size of the folds to insure the tape covers the raw folded edges.
- Find the two zippers.
- Position a zipper in between each pair of small and large pocket panels. Remember, on one pocket the zipper should open to the left and on the other pocket, the zipper should open to the right. This way, when the pockets are inserted and zipped shut, the pulls both finish toward the center of the bag.
- The zipper sits on top of the right side of the panels, concealing the folded-forward edges. At the back of the zipper, the folded edge should be flush along the zipper teeth. Pin in place from the back.
- Set up the machine for a medium zig zag in thread that matches the exterior fabric but will contrast with the zipper tape.
- Start with the zipper about half way open.
- Stitch the zipper in place from the top with a zig zag stitch along both sides. We used our Satin Stitch foot, running the edge of the foot along the zipper teeth as a guide. Slide out the pins from the back as you go.
- As with most zipper installations, you will need to stop, with the needle in the down position, and open and close the zipper as needed to allow the presser foot to pass the zipper pull.
- Find the two 8” exterior panels. Place a pocket panel on top of each side panel, aligning the bottom and side raw edges of the two pieces. Pin in place.
- If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to match the exterior fabric in the top and bobbin. Re-set to a straight stitch. Slightly lengthen the stitch.
- Unzip the zipper about half way. The ends of the zipper tape will likely extend beyond the fabric just a bit. This is okay.
- Edgestitch across the top of each pocket panel. Then stitch down each side
- Trim away any excess zipper tape ends.
Re-assemble the exterior panel
- Make sure both zippers are open about half way to keep the pull out of the way of the seams.
- Place the center panel, right sides together along the inner edge of one pocket panel. Pin in place.
- Re-set to a normal stitch length. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch in place.
- Place one back panel right sides together along the outer edge of this same pocket panel. Pin in place. You are re-assembling a panel to either side of the pocket panel. Stitch in place with a ½” seam allowance.
- Repeat to attach the remaining raw edge of the center panel and the remaining back panel to the second pocket panel.
- When finished, you should have the five pieces reassembled with four seams as one long, flat panel.
- Press the seam allowances away from the ends of the zippers – towards the center panel and each back panel.
- Find the fusible fleece. Center it on the wrong side of the assembled exterior panel so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the fleece on all sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Slightly lengthen the stitch. Topstitch ⅛” from each seam within the center panel and each back panel (securing those pressed seam allowances in place).
- Fold the exterior panel right sides together, aligning the remaining 16” raw edges for the center back seam. Pin in place.
- Re-set the stitch length to normal. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch the seam to create a tube.
- Press the seam allowance to the left.
- Slightly lengthen the stitch. Turn the tube right side side out and topstitch ⅛” to the left of the seam to secure the seam allowance and match the other vertical topstitching. Since you are now working with a tube rather than a flat panel, you’ll need to scoop and flatten the fabric under the presser foot for this seam. Go slowly to keep the fabric flat.
- With the tube still right side add, add a faux facing seam all around the top. To do this, measure 2½” down from the top raw edge of the tube. With the stitch still lengthened, topstitch all the way around at this depth. If you have a free arm on your machine, now is a good time to use it.
NOTE: Our Janome Skyline S7 has excellent markings that extend from the plate onto the throat of the machine, so it was easy for us to use one of the markings to keep our 2½” topstitching depth even all around. If you do not have good markings, you should measure and use a fabric pen or pencil to draw in a guideline to follow.
Create and place the strap
- Find the 4” exterior fabric strip and the 1½” interfacing strip.
- Fold the fabric strip in half lengthwise and press to set a center crease. Unfold wrong side up so the crease line is visible. Place the interfacing strip against one side. One long side of the interfacing should butt up against the center crease line of the fabric strip. The opposite side and both ends should sit ½” in from the raw edge of the fabric. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Fold the strip right sides together along the original crease line. Pin in place along one end and down the side.
- Re-set the stitch length to normal. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across the end and down the side, pivoting at the corner. The opposite end remains open and raw.
- Clip the corners and press open the seam allowance.
- Turn right side out through the open end. Use a long, blunt end tool, like a chopstick, point turner or knitting needle to gently push out the corners. Press flat.
NOTE: If you have trouble turning, we have a great tutorial on turning thin straps using a hemostat. Click here for the details.
- Find the exterior tube. It should still be right side out. The strap will be attached over the center back seam.
- The raw end goes at the top. Fold under the raw end ½”.
- Place this folded end 1¼” below the faux facing seam line, centered over the back seam. Pin the end in place. The rest of the strap is extending up and away from the top of the tube.
- Lengthen the stitch.
- Stitch the end in place with an approximate 1” X Box. The top of the X Box should be in line with the faux facing seam.
- Bring the finished end of the strap back down towards the bottom of the tube. This means it will fold over the stitched-down top of the strap so you no longer see that X Box.
- The finished end should sit ¾” up from bottom raw edge of the tube, centered over the back seam. Make sure there are no twists or turns in the strap as it comes down from the top. Then, pin in place.
- Stitch this end in place with a matching 1” X Box.
Insert the base panel
- Find the base panel and its matching piece of fusible fleece. Center the fleece on the wrong side of the base panel so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the fleece on all sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- The base panel is sewn in place following the traditional method of inserting a round base into a tube. If you are new to this type of technique, check out our full step-by-step tutorial.
- Fold the fused base panel in half vertically to find the center of the front and back edges. The back edge is the straighter portion of the oval. Place a pin at each center point.
- Fold in half the horizontally to find the two side center points. You now have four pin points like the four points on the face of a clock.
- Flatten the base of the exterior tube in a similar fashion to find its four center points. The side points should be centered directly below each zippered pocket, the back center point is the back seam, and the front center point is directly opposite the back seam.
- Turn the exterior tube wrong side out. Set the base into the exterior tube so the two pieces are right sides together (it’s a little like setting a lid upside down into a box). Align the four “clock face” pin points of the base to these matching points on the tube. Pin together at these points first, then fill in around the base. Don’t be afraid to use a lot of pins in order to get the two pieces to lay flat against one another. It’s best to pin in small sections, easing as you go.
- Re-set the stitch length to normal. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch all the way around the base. Go slowly, holding the layers flat with your fingers if necessary to avoid any puckers.
- Again, if you are new to this technique, check out our circle-into-a-tube tutorial.
Create the lining
- Find the main lining panel and the lining base panel.
- Place the 16” sides right sides together and stitch this one ½” seam, which will become the center back seam.
- Insert the base into the lining tube following the same steps you did for the exterior.
Create the flap
- Find the two flap panels and the matching flap interfacing panel.
- Center the interfacing on the wrong side of one flap panel so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing all around. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Place the two flap panels right sides together. Pin along the sides and around the curve. The straight top edge remains open.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along the sides and around the curve.
- Clip the curve and press open the seam allowance. This is a fairly tight curve so we clipped a small triangle from the seam allowance about every ½”.
- Turn right side out through the straight open end. Use a long, blunt end tool to gently round out the curve. Press flat.
- Slightly lengthen the stitch to match the topstitching you did above. Topstitch along the sides and around the curve. This seam should be about ⅛” from the finished edge.
Assemble exterior, flap and lining
- Find the exterior bag. It should be right side out.
- Fold down the top raw edge ½” all around. We’re using our Clover Hot Hemmer.
- Place the raw straight edge of the flap against the folded down edge at the back of the bag, right sides together. The flap should be centered across the back, using the bag’s back seam as the center point. The raw edge of the flap should be flush with the folded down raw edge of the bag. Pin in place.
- Flip to the right side and machine baste the flap in place.
- Here’s the same view from the inside. The flap is extending to the right and the basted layers are facing down toward the inside of the bag.
- Find the lining. Fold down the top raw edge ½” all around to match the exterior.
NOTE: This particular lining looks the same on both the right and wrong sides… just in case you thought things looked odd.
- The exterior bag should be right side out. Turn the lining wrong side out. Slip the lining inside the exterior bag so the two are now wrong sides together. Match up the center back seams and push the lining down into the bag so the base panels are flat against one another.
- The folded top edges of the exterior and lining should be flush all around. If they aren’t perfectly aligned, adjust the lining as needed until they are. Pin in place through all the layers.
- Make sure the flap is extended up and out of the way.
- The stitch should still be lengthened.
- Edgestitch all the way around, ⅛” from the top folded edges.
- Go back around with a second topstitching seam, ⅛” or less from the first. When done, remove any visible machine basting from the the back section that was holding the flap in place.
Grommets and cord to finish
- Fold the bag in half to find the exact center front. Measure ¾” up from the faux facing seam and mark this point with a pin. This will be the center line on which all the grommets will be placed.
- Flatten the bag and measure 1¼” to the right of your main center point and 1¼” to the left of the center point. Remember, all these points should be ¾” up from that faux facing seam.
- Remove the main center point pin. From each remaining pin, mark for five additional grommets to the right and five to the left. Each of these subsequent grommets will be 2½” apart as shown in the drawing below.
- Insert a grommet at each marked point, following manufacturer’s instructions or our own great tutorial (How To Insert Metal Grommets).
- After cutting each hole, you can add a drop of seam sealant, such as Fray Check to prevent raveling. Then finish the grommet installation.
- Find the length of cording. Starting at the front left grommet, weave the cording in and out through the twelve grommets.
- The final length of the cording is up to you. We recommend cinching the top closed to determine the longest length, then trimming the ends of the cording so they sit just above the base panel.
- Feed both ends through the sliding cord lock.
- Tie a small knot in each end and add a drop of seam sealant to secure.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild