One of my childhood heroes was Christopher Robin, Winnie the Pooh’s best friend. The reasons are many, not the least of which is the fact he had the most awesome wardrobe, full of vintage short sets and rain slickers with matching boots for stomping in puddles while walking through the Hundred Acre Wood. The soft satchel style of this bag and its cool two-part latches reminded me of Christopher Robin, and so we have: The Christopher Bag. Feel free to carry it as you stomp across a mud puddle or kick though a pile of leaves… or just while you’re out and about for work or school. The bag’s exterior is done in quilted corduroy, one of the very best fabrics for Fall, giving it a lovely soft slouch Christopher Robin would love.
For the most fashionable blend, we suggest one print corduroy and one solid corduroy. Printed corduroy is usually done in a thinner wale (ours was 21 wale). For solids, there is often a selection from thin to wide. We recommend varying the texture and opting for a wider wale for the solid, we used a 14 wale. Corduroy is a favorite for Fall, and we had no trouble finding both solid and printed options at both independent retailers as well as the chain stores – both in store and online.
Since a pair of cool latches are a focal point of the bag, we wanted to be sure our flap was sturdy enough to hold the hardware in place as well as to stand up against repeated opening and closing. However, we didn’t want to lose the bag’s wonderful slouch. The solution: a quilted flap! This provides a stable surface that is still soft.
The edge of the flap is bound with a thin strip of faux leather. This adds another subtle texture and increases the stability of the flap along its outer edge. We selected a thin garment faux leather. You want something that is easy to manipulate with a bit of stretch so you can create a smooth edge all around.
We do suggest you pre-wash and press your fabric prior to construction. However, once finished, we don’t recommend this bag be machine washed or dried. As with most commercial bags and totes, ours is meant to be spot cleaned in order to best keep its shape.
The lining is a traditional linen with a pretty bound pocket. We selected a mid-weight gray linen. A lighter color is often nice for a lining since it makes it easier to see all the way down into the bag.
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
- Zipper foot
- Even Feed or Walking foot or engage your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system, such as AcuFeed Flex system we use on many of our Janome studio machines
- Quilting Guide Bar for the Walking foot; optional but nice for perfect spacing of the lines of quilting
Fabric and Other Supplies
- 1 yard of 44”+ wide printed corduroy or similar for the bag’s front and back exterior, the pocket binding, piping, and the strap
- 1 yard of 44″+ wide solid corduroy or similar for the bag’s side panel and flap
NOTE: We purchased extra in order to have the wale running lengthwise on the side panel.
- ½ yard of 44″+ wide solid linen or similar for the lining – standard quilting weight cotton would also be an option
- Scrap or ⅛ yard of 50”+ wide solid lightweight faux leather or similar for the flap binding
- ¾ yard of 44″+ wide fusible fleece; we used Pellon Thermolam Plus
- Scrap or ¼ yard of 20″+ wide mid-weight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon Décor Bond
- 2 yards of ¼” piping cord (also known as size 2)
- TWO 2-part clasps; we originally used a Dritz “rain slicker” style of latch that has been discontinued, but any 2-part style latch set would work, such as a push lock
- Waxed Cotton to stitch latches in place or similar heavy thread; depending on the style of latch your choose, this may not be necessary
- All purpose thread to match all 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
- Clips for working with faux leather
- Hand sewing needles; an extra sharp needle to stitch the faux leather and a large-eye needle to accommodate the waxed cotton thread
Getting Started and Pattern Download
- Download and print out TWO copies of the THREE Bag Pattern pieces, which have been been bundled into one PDF to make the download easier.
IMPORTANT: Each pattern piece 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 along the solid line. Discard the second copy of the strap pattern.
- Match up the the two halves of the Latch Bag Body pattern. One half will be right side up and one half will be wrong side up. Using the printed arrows as your guide, align the two halves to create the full Latch Bag Body pattern. Butt together and tape; do not overlap. Repeat these same steps to create the full Latch Bag Flap pattern.
- From the fabric for the bag’s front and back exterior, the pocket binding, the piping, and the strap (the printed corduroy in our sample), cut the following:
- Using the assembled Bag Body pattern, cut TWO
ONE 2” x 7” strip for the lining pocket binding
TWO 1¾” x 31½” strips for the piping
FOUR 3” x 19” strips for the straps; then using the Strap pattern, cut one end of each strip into a rounded point.
- From the fabric for the bag’s flap and side panel (the solid corduroy in our sample), cut the following:
Using the assembled Bag Flap pattern, cut TWO – we cut with the wale running vertically
ONE 3½” x 31½” strip or the side panel
NOTE: As mentioned above, we cut our panel with the wale running lengthwise, eg. 3½” wide x 31½” in length.
- From the fabric for the flap binding (the solid faux leather in our sample), cut ONE 1¾” x 30” strip.
- From the fabric for the lining (the gray linen in our sample), cut the following:
Using the assembled Bag Body pattern, cut TWO
ONE 3½” x 31½” strip for the side panel
ONE 7” wide x 10” high rectangle for the pocket
- Trim the assembled Bag Body & Bag Flap patterns along the dotted seam allowance line and use these smaller patterns to cut the fleece. We used just ONE HALF of the pattern, cutting the fleece on the fold.
- From the fusible fleece, cut the following:
From the smaller Body pattern, cut TWO
From the smaller Flap pattern, cut ONE
ONE 2” x 31½” strip for the side panel
- From the mid-weight fusible interfacing, cut ONE 6” x 5” rectangle for the pocket.
- Cut the piping cord into TWO 30” lengths
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Fusing the fleece
- Find the front and back exterior panels, the side panel, and one of the flap panels along with the three pieces of fusible fleece.
- Center a piece of fleece on the wrong side of each exterior panel so there is ½” of fabric extending beyond the fleece all around.
- Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- In the same manner, center a fleece panel on the wrong side of one of the flap panels and fuse in place.
- Finally, center the fusible fleece strip down the center of the side panel, against the wrong side. For this strip we cut back the fleece a bit more than on the exterior and flap. There are a lot of layers coming together along the side panel seams. Center the fleece so there is ½” of fabric extending beyond the fleece at each end, but ¾” along each long side.
- Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
Create the flap
- Find the two flap layers, one of which has the fleece fused in place.
- Place the two panels wrong sides together, sandwiching the fleece between the layers. Pin in place.
- To create the diamond quilting pattern, use your clear ruler and a fabric pen or pencil to draw a diagonal line from one top corner across the panel and ending at the opposite bottom curve of the flap.
- Draw a second line in the same manner from the opposite top corner.
- Attach a Walking foot or engage your machine’s fabric feeding system; we used the AcuFeed™ Flex fabric feeding system on our Janome Skyline S7.
- Thread the machine with thread to best match the flap fabric in the top and bobbin. Lengthen the stitch.
- Stitch along each draw line.
- The additional lines of quilting are 1” apart from each of these initial diagonal lines. We attached a Quilt Bar to our AcuFeed™ Flex foot, which can be set at 1” and used it as an outboard guide to create each perfectly spaced line of stitching. If you do not have a quilting bar, take the time to draw in 1” lines to follow.
NOTE: Anytime you are working with a marking tool on the right side of the fabric, make sure you choose a pen or pencil that will easily wipe away or vanish with exposure to the air or the heat of an iron.
Bind the flap
- Find the faux leather strip. Fold it in half, wrong sides together.
- Find the quilted flap. Place it right side up.
NOTE: The flap is really the same front and back, but if you feel your stitching looks better on one side over the other, use that as your front side.
- Working on the front of flap, place the folded binding along both sides and along the bottom. The straight top edge of the flap remains unbound. The raw edges of the folded binding strip should be flush with the raw edges of the quilted flap. Pin or clip in place.
NOTE: The faux leather we used was thin and a little bit stretchy so it was easy to curve it nice around the curved bottom corners of the flap. If you are having trouble, snip into the faux leather to help it ease around the curve.
- Continue using a Walking foot or your machine’s fabric feeding system. You could also try a Quarter Inch Seam foot.
- The machine should still be threaded with thread to best match the flap in the top and bobbin. Re-set the stitch length to normal.
- Stitch the binding in place through all the layers, using a ¼” seam allowance.
- Again, clip into the curves if necessary to keep the binding nice and flat.
- Bring the folded edge of the binding up and over to the back of the flap.
- The folded edge should cover the original seam line. Pin or clip in place.
- Thread a hand sewing needle with thread to best match the binding and carefully hand stitch in place. We used a traditional ladder stitch. You want your stitching to be small and even with just a tiny vertical stitch showing.
- Set the flap aside.
Make and attach the piping to the exterior panels
- Find the two strips of piping fabric and the two lengths of piping cord.
- If necessary re-thread the machine with thread to best match the piping fabric in the top and bobbin. Re-set for a standard straight stitch.
- Place the piping down the center of the wrong side of each strip.
- Wrap the fabric, right side out, around the cord. Pin close to the cord to hold it in place.
- Lengthen the stitch for basting.
- Attach a Zipper foot and stitch close to the cord to create your fabric covered piping.
- Find the two exterior body panels.
- Pin the piping to the right side of each panel along both sides and around the bottom, aligning the raw edges of the piping with the raw edge of the panel.
- If needed, you can carefully clip into the piping along the bottom of the flap to ease the piping around the curves.
- Trim away and discard any excess. The top straight end of each panel has no piping.
- At the top corners of both the front and back panel, use a seam ripper to take out the piping’s basting stitch about ⅝”.
- Cut back the piping cord to this depth.
- Place the “empty” piping against the panel and re-pin. By removing this little bit of piping at the top it will make all the layers come together during the final steps more easily and with less bulk.
- The stitch should still be lengthened for a basting stitch. Still using a Zipper foot (or as shown in the photo below, use your standard foot with the needle position all the way to left), baste the piping in place around the panel. Run the seam as close to the piping cord as possible.
- Remove any visible basting stitches.
NOTE: If this is your first time making piping, you might be interested in reviewing our full tutorial, How To Make And Attach Your Own Piping.
Attach the flap to the back exterior panel
- Find the exterior back body panel, which should have the piping basted in place.
- Find the bound flap.
- Position the flap 2” down from the top raw edge of the back body panel. The flap should be right side down – so the right side of the flap is against the right side of the back body panel.
- Place the raw edge of the flap at this 2” point, centered side to side. Pin in place.
- If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to best match the flap in the top and bobbin.
- Re-attach the Walking foot or engage your machine’s feeding system. Re-set the stitch length to normal.
- Using a ½” seam allowance (½” from the raw edge of the flap) stitch across the flap. This means the seam itself is 2½” from the top raw edge of the panel.
- Trim back the flap seam allowance to about ⅛”.
- Fold up the flap along the seam line. You may need to futz with the binding a little at the outer edges to get a smooth fold. Since the faux leather doesn’t ravel, you could even trim it at a bit of a diagonal to keep it from showing along the edge. We had no trouble with our binding and simply stitched in place and then folded up along the seam. Pin the flap in this “up” position.
- Lengthen the stitch.
- Topstitch ¼” from the original seam line – this secures the flap in its upright position and conceals the original seam allowance.
Stitch the top half of the latches in place on the flap
- Place the original pattern piece on top of the finished flap. Place a pin at the Center Latch vertical marking.
NOTE: These steps are for the latches we originally used. Your latches may require a different installation method, such as a Push Lock for which we have a full tutorial.
- Place the outer hole of the top half of the Dritz Latch at this pin point. It is approximately 1” in from the side of the flap…
- … and 1” up from the bottom of the flap.
- With a straight pin through each hole of the latch, it will easily stay in position.
- Find the Waxed Cotton Thread (or a similar heavy weight thread) and a large-eye hand sewing needle.
- Stitch one hole, using three to four loops. Keep the tail of the thread long at the back.
- Bring the last stitch through to the back and double knot the thread. Clip close to knot.
- Because of the waxed surface, you can gently twist the cut ends into the knot so they form a simple, neat ball at the back of the flap.
- Repeat to secure the other hole. Then repeat to attach the second latch half at the opposite corner of the flap.
Attach the front and back panels to the side panel
- Fold the flap back down again and pin it in place against the back panel to keep it out of the way of the side panel seams.
- Place the side panel right sides together with the front exterior panel. Start at one top corner of the panel and pin down, around the curved bottom of the panel, and back up to the opposite top corner. As you did with the piping, you can clip the side panel to ease it around the curved corners.
- Attach the back exterior panel in the same manner to the remaining raw edge of the side panel. If the side panel extends beyond the base panel, trim away the excess from the side panel so the two layers are flush along the top.
- Attach a Zipper foot and re-set the stitch length to normal.
- Stitch both sides of the side panel, running the seam as close as possible to the piping, which should be an approximate ½” seam allowance. Go slowly to keep your seam even and straight – especially around the curved bottom corners.
Stitch the bottom half of the latches in place on the flap
- Turn the exterior bag right side out.
- Unpin the flap and bring it over into position on the front of the bag. Remember to not pull the flap too taut. It should bridge across the top by about 1½” – 2” to match the side panel.
NOTE: As mentioned above, your latches may have a different installation method.
- Clip the bottom half of the latch through the top part in order to best mark the position for the bottom half.
- Check again that the flap is laying flat and centered and is not too taut across the top. Then as you did above, place a pin through each hole in the bottom half of the latch. Our positioning was 5” up from the bottom piping on the bag…
- … and 2¾” in from the side piping.
- Unlatch and stitch the bottom halves into position in the same manner as for the top halves. You are stitching through the corduroy exterior and the fusible fleece.
- Knot at the back.
Create the straps
- Find the four strap pieces, which all should have been rounded at one end using the pattern.
- Separate into two pairs, and place each pair right sides together. Pin together.
- Re-attach the standard presser foot.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along each side and around the curved point, pivoting at the point itself. The opposite straight end remains open.
- Clip the curved ends and grade the seam allowance on both straps.
- Turn right side out through the open end. Gently push out the curved end to create a sharp point. A long knitting needle or chopstick works well for this.
- Press flat.
- Pin one strap at the top of each side panel. The raw end of the strap should be flush with the top raw edge of the side panel. Center the strap between the piping. Pin in place, then hand or machine baste in place.
- Find the 7” x 10” pocket panel and the 6” x 5” interfacing panel.
- Fold the pocket in half, wrong sides together, so it is now 7” x 5” and press to set a center crease.
- Unfold so the crease line is visible.
- Place the interfacing against one half of the pocket panel on the wrong side. One 6” edge should align with the center crease and there will be ½” of fabric extending beyond the interfacing along each 5” side. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Re-fold the pocket in half, but this time it is right sides together. Pin along both sides.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the lining.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch both sides.
- Press open the seam allowance and clip the corners.
- Turn right side out through the open end. As you did above with the straps, gently push out the corners to create sharp right angles.
- Press flat.
- Find the 2” x 7” pocket binding strip.
- Press back each end ½”.
- Then press back one long side ½”.
- Find the pocket. The open edge is the top of the pocket. Pin the non-folded edge of the binding to the top of the pocket, aligning the raw edges of all the layers.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch the binding to the top of the pocket.
- Bring the folded edge of the binding up and over to the back of the pocket. The folded edge should extend over the existing seam by about ⅛”. Pin the wrapped binding in place.
- Flip the pocket to the right side and stitch in the ditch (stitch right on top of the previous seam), catching the back folded edge in this one seam.
- Place the finished pocket on one of the body lining panels. The bound top of the pocket should sit 2” down from the top raw edge of the main panel and be centered side to side.
- Edgestitch the pocket in place along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners.
- Finish the lining following the same steps as above for the exterior body of the bag. There is no piping on the lining, so you can use a standard presser foot.
Assemble to finish
- Press down the top raw edge of both the lining and the exterior ½” all around. This is where cutting back the piping cord comes into play; it will be much easier now to make a clean fold.
- This means you are also folding under the ends of the basted straps along the top of the side panels on the exterior bag.
- Keep the exterior bag right side out. Turn the lining inside out. Slip the lining inside the exterior so the two layers are now wrong sides together. The lining’s pocket should be against the back of the exterior.
- Align the side panel seams and the top folded edges. These folded edges should be perfectly flush. If they are not, adjust the fold of the lining to get an exact match. Pin the layers together all around.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the exterior in the top and to best match the lining in the bobbin. Lengthen the stitch.
- Starting at a side panel seam, edgestitch around the entire top of the bag through all the layers.
- Remember to pull the straps up into position so they are out of the way of the edgestitching.
- Knot together the straps at your desired length. The tails of our knot are about 2½” as shown in the sample images above.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild