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.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome Memory Craft 5200)
Fabric and Other Supplies
- 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
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.
- Lay out the bag body (the 30″ x 20¾” piece) right side up on your work surface.
- 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.
- 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.
- Using a regular pen or pencil, trace the print that is under the pattern piece onto the paper
- It is not necessary to trace the entire print, just capture a few key points, like the four corners.
- 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.
- 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.
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
- Turn under ½” along all four sides of the pocket and press.
- Top stitch ¼” from the fold on the top edge of the pocket.
- On the right side of the pocket, center and pin a 2″ piece of Velcro ½” from the top finished edge.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Pin pocket to the bag body, matching up the design.
- 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.
- Pin the pocket flap to bag, matching the fabric designs and lining up the Velcro pieces.
- Edge stitch along top of flap.
The bag body
- Fold the bag piece right sides together and pin the long side.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch this long side together, stopping 3″ below top.
- Press seam open, including the very top of the seam that you left unstitched.
- Turn the bag right side out.
- 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.
The cord casing and strap
- To make the cord casing, work with the bag right side out.
- Turn down the top raw edge of the bag ½” and press. Turn down another 1″ and press again.
- 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.
- To make the strap, take the 36″ x 3″ piece and fold it in half lengthwise, right sides together.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch both sides and all along the bottom, leaving about a 2″ opening to turn.
- 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.
- 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.
- Stitch strap in place. Stitch again two more times to reinforce.
Finishing bag bottom and strap
- To attach the bottom of the bag, turn the bag body inside out and pin the bottom circle to bag, right sides together.
- Stitch all around, using a ½” seam allowance. Stitch around again to reinforce.
- Turn bag right side out.
- Fold under the top of the strap 1½” and then fold under again 1½”.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation & Instructions: Jacqueline Smerek
Other machines suitable for this project include the Bernina activa 220 and the Elna 3230.