Celebrate National Sewing Month


Here we are again, September is National Sewing Month, and we’re ready to salute the art of sewing all month long! Want to join in on the fun? Here are a few ways to ignite your creativity for a September full of new sewing projects.


You don’t need a special occasion to make something meaningful for someone you love. Whether it’s a simple zippered bag or a customized totebag, a personalized gift means the most when it comes from you.



Share your sewing with those in need this month. Need a few ideas? Consider local charitable organizations who need sewing help, join a community centre sew-along project for goodwill, or gather your sewing friends to help out a local non-profit.



Check out one of the many free mini-classes from Craftsy’s crafting community while surfing the Web or let it run in the background while cooking or doing chores. Or, loan out a variety of great sewing books from your local library which you can read on the go or when you have a quiet moment to relax!



Make your sewing supplies last longer and work better with a good deep clean! Find out how to clean your ironsewing machine, and while you’re at it, your whole sewing room. By the time you’re done, you’ll be sewing more efficiently and productively.



The best way to celebrate National Sewing Month is to simply sew! Get started on a new project with patterns (some free) from the world’s best independent designers on the World Wide Web and right here on BAG’N-TELLE in our tutorial section.




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 All-You-Can-Watch Day


Hey, everyone… Craftsy is having All-You-Can-Watch Day. You may have heard by now…coming up on September 4th, they’ll give students a chance to wet their creative pallets by test-driving all Craftsy content for free (but only during that time period) and you can get a preview peek at MAKING LEATHER BAGS with Don Morin.

That’s right, you’ll have the ability to watch bag-making design content for free from 12am ET – 12PM PT. I won’t be available to answer your questions in class, nor will the course material be available but you will be able to preview my class and any other Craftsy classes all day, as many as you want for free!

So circle the calendar and save the date, Monday, September 4th and have fun on All-You-Can Watch Day. Spread the word to your friends.


Filed under Bag'n-telle, craftsy


bag strap 4_Fotor

While bag straps details are a small style component in bag designing, choosing the right strap for your bag design is important when you are designing a handbag collection. In the manufacturing world, most bag handles and other bag fittings are bought through wholesale suppliers but when it comes to the actual bag strapping, much of it is made in-house. When deciding on a strap style for your creation, it’s important to consider the length and width because each has their own characteristics which change the look, comfort, and the way the bag is carried.


The strap length is measured from one end to the other, including the attachable hooks/hardware. Please note that “strap length” is different from “drop length” which measures the distance from the top of the strap to the top of the bag, when being worn. Measure all straps by their length (from end-to-end) because the drop length depends on the type of bag, what type of clothing you’re wearing (a heavy coat for example), your height, the position the bag is worn and so forth. By using the end-to-end length method, you can select the length that works best for your personal needs.

drop length_Fotor

The standard strap lengths listed below should work for most people, however I’ve found that it is really a matter of personal preference. Only the user knows the strap length that makes carrying a bag comfortable and a pleasure. Here’s how you can find the right length.

To determine the length of strap needed, dressforms get used in my studio often, along with a tape-measure to help determine my desired strap length or drape it on my assistant (I’m certain you can find a volunteer live and willing) in the design studio. As well, I can recommend using a piece of cord or flat ribbon, attached to your mock-up sample, with it adjusted until the length is as desired. Measure the ribbon from end-to-end to determine your strap length. Another method that often works well is to find another sample bag you have produced that has the strap length you’re looking to replicate. You have already done the design work so odds are the strap length will be a good choice. If possible, attach it to the mock-up to see if it will work for the length you’d like to achieve on your new prototype.

I have categorized 7 typical uses and lengths of handbag straps:

  1. Wristlet (6 to 10-inch range)
  2.  Short Handle (12 to 20-inch range)
  3. Shoulder (30-inch range)
  4. Long Shoulder (40-inch range)
  5. Crossbody (50-inch range)
  6. Extra Long (60-inch range)
  7. Adjustable (22 to 60-inch range)

Wristlet Straps:

Wristlet straps fit around the wrist then attach to the bag, making them a great choice for smaller bags that need to be kept close, like a clutch or billfold. Wristlet straps have an approximately 6-inch opening for your hand to slip through. They are designed to fit most handspans, while still being “snug” enough when placed on the wrist that it won’t easily slide or fall off.

A wristlet strap can also be used as a lanyard or even as a large zipper pull for larger totes.

Short Handle Straps (12 to 20-inch range):

Short handle straps are used to carry handbags either as a top-handle carried with your hand or over your arm, or as a tight-fitting hobo-style strap. If you’re a petite person, a 20-inch strap may work well to hold the bag tightly under your arm.

Keep in mind, when attaching a short handle strap to a hobo-style handbag, the weight of the contents will change the shape of the bag and increase the drop length quite a bit (sometimes double) so be sure to test this on your mock-up bag.

Shoulder Straps (30-inch range):

Shoulder straps are generally in the 30-inch range and are typically used to carry bags closely under your arm and close to the body. This is a popular bag strap length because the strap can also function as a top-handle for other bag styles, such as a tote. Many people like this length because it allows you to hold the handbag by the handle while you carry it on the shoulder, yet you are allowed to let go and be hands-free while commuting.

The beauty of detachable/attachable straps is the freedom to carry the bag any way you want. Simply attach the strap of your choice and go!

Long Shoulder Straps (40-inch range):

Longer shoulder straps are generally in the 40-inch range and allow the bag to hang down near the hip area when worn over the shoulder (depending on how tall you are, of course). For the petite person, this length can often be used to wear the bag across the chest, or often referred to as the “cross body” position.

When using as a cross body strap, this will have the top of the bag style sitting near the natural waist, depending on your height, weight and clothing. 

Crossbody Straps (50-inch range):

Crossbody (sometimes called “chest straps”) straps are generally in the 50-inch range. This type of strap allows the bag style to be worn securely over the head so that the strap rests on the shoulder and the bag crosses the chest then sits around the hip area on the opposite side of the body.

This style is very popular because it allows the bag style to be worn securely in busy areas while commuting or travelling, etc., frees up your hands to carry other things, and generally provides the most comfort. Even if the bag style wasn’t designed for cross body wear, it is usually possible to convert it using a longer attachable crossbody strap.

Extra Long Straps (60-inch range):

Extra long bag straps have many uses and are a great choice if the user is a tall or plus-size person, wear heavy clothing like a winter jacket, or prefer a low-hanging bag. This longer length is designed to provide a similar drop-length as the 50-inch crossbody straps, but for those that fall into the scenarios just mentioned.

It is possible to go longer than 60-inches, but the strap materials quickly become limited. Due to genuine leather hide size limitations, it is often not possible to go longer than 65 to 70-inches or some kind of hardware connection is needed. Other materials, like imitation  leather and nylon webbing, can be made into very long bag straps because they are yard goods available on large rolls.

Adjustable Straps (28 to 65-inch range):

Adjustable bag straps offer the ultimate in flexibility. Adjustable straps come in two forms: with the popular tri-glide “slider” hardware for precise tuning of strap length, or with “punched holes and a buckle” that have fixed adjustable lengths.

Adjustable bag straps range in lengths from 28 to 65-inches. Many customers elect for the 55-inch adjustable strap because its range can be changed quickly from 34-inches to 55-inches, making it seamless to convert the bag style from a shoulder to crossbody style.

A bag strap with a slider mechanism or buckle will alter not only the strap length but the drop length of a bag too. With an adjustable bag strap, the user has the freedom to carry or wear the bag exactly the way they want, on the shoulder hanging low to the hip, across the chest, or tightly under the arm.  This design detail makes any kind of bag styling much more versatile, therefore saleable, when presenting a new collection.

bag straps 2


The strap width is the portion of the strap that rests on the shoulder or in the hand (if used as a “top handle”). Generally speaking, the larger the bag strap width, the heavier a bag that can be supported. This is because the contact area of the bag strap increases as the strap width increases, which allows for improved weight distribution and comfort. This is particularly useful for anyone with sensitive shoulders (due to arthritis, for example). You could add a shoulder shield to the strap to prevent narrow straps from cutting into the shoulder and pad them a little bit to add additional comfort when carrying heavier loads.

Also interesting to note, a slender strap usually hugs the shoulder better, helping to prevent the bag from slipping or falling off. As a rule of thumb, smaller bags generally use smaller width straps, and larger bags generally use larger width straps. It makes common sense!

So the challenge becomes finding the right balance between usefulness (do I need to carry a large and heavy bag, or small and light weight bag?), comfort (will I be carrying the bag for extended periods of time and does it fit my body?) and appearance (does the strap look balanced with my bag?).

I have categorized handbag straps into 7 widths and uses:

  1. Extra Slender & Drawcord Straps (3/8-inch)
  2. Slender Width Straps (1/2-inch)
  3. Standard Width Straps (3/4-inch)
  4. Classic Width Straps (1-inch)
  5. Wide Width Straps (1½-inch)
  6. Extra Wide Width Straps (2-inch)
  7. Chain Straps (varying in width from ¼-inch to ⅝-inch)

Extra Slender & Drawcord Straps (3/8-inch):

An extra slender or drawcord bag strap is great for a minimal look on small bags. Drawcord straps do not come with attachable hooks (extra slender ones do, however) because they are designed to be knotted at the ends and looped into or through the bag’s hardware, or used on a bag style with a traditional drawstring closure.

Slender Width Straps (1/2-inch):

Slender bag straps are great for smaller bags, clutches, envelope bags, slender billfolds or if the bag styling is seeking a delicate or minimal visual look to your handbag collection. Slender straps tend to stay on the shoulder with less slippage. For bags designed to carry a lot of weight, choose the more apt “classic” or “wide” bag straps.

Standard Width Straps (3/4-inch):

Standard width straps provide good carrying capacity for small to medium sized bags, and offer a good balance between the minimal look of a slender strap and the wider/larger look of a classic strap. These straps are comfortable to wear and are double-stitched to provide good carrying strength.

Classic Width Straps (1-inch):

Classic width straps provide great comfort and carrying capacity for medium to large size handbags and purses of all types. This is the most popular selling width and can carry heavier bags with ease.

Wide Width Straps (1½-inch):

Wide width straps offer excellent strength and comfort for large tote bags, brief cases, diaper, camera or weekender bags. These straps are great for carrying a lot of weight because they distribute the weight of the bag, easing stress on the shoulder.

Extra Wide Width Straps (2-inch):

Extra-wide width straps offer excellent strength and comfort for large shoulder bags, sports bags, duffles and other travel bags. These straps are great for carrying a lot of weight because they distribute the weight of the bag, easing stress on the shoulder or across the body. Often extra wide widths are top-stitched with multiple rows of machine-stitching which adds body and strengthen the strap. 

Chain Straps (varying in width from ¼-inch to ⅝-inch):

Chain straps range in width from ¼-inch to ⅝-inch. Most chain straps are metal making them impossible to cut by thieves and can carry a good amount of weight depending on the chain style and thickness. You can find plastic chains as well though they are used for making more of a fashion statement rather than for practicality. Remember though, carrying a heavy bag on your shoulder with a chain strap can quickly become uncomfortable. I don’t recommend carrying heavy bags on the shoulder with a chain strap due to the increased pressure. A wide fabric bag strap or a thick chain with leather shoulder/handle, is better suited for this scenario. That said, chain straps are great for communicating elegance, sophistication and class, which generally translates to fashion/style rather than function.

Luxury chain straps have the look and feel of fine jewellery and come with connecting hardware that are ready to attach to your bag. Chain straps are available to match with almost any bag design detail, whether it be: hardware, material, or colour, making them an excellent and elegant styling choice.


It goes without saying that if you are designing a bag fabricated in a certain material that the bag straps are made from the same material. However, thinking like a designer, there are other options you may want to consider. We want the bag strap to be durable yet comfortable to wear. We want the bag strap to appear balanced with the rest of our bag design to unify our design concept. We want the bag strap to be useful and support the weight we are carrying. Therefore you may want to consider other choices for making bag strapping apart from the fashion fabric.

Furthermore, by designing an attachable bag strap you can:

  • Add or replace a strap on the bag so you don’t have to replace the whole bag
  • Convert a purse or other bag into a cross body with an adjustable or long cross body strap
  • Restore your favourite handbag that is no longer usable with a new genuine leather strap or chain handle

Genuine leathers and imitation leathers are classic materials used to make bag straps as they are very durable and look great as a contrast detail. They are available in many traditional and fashion colours, and surface finishes. The only drawback is conventional sewing machines are not powerful enough to sew through thick layers of leather so hand-stitching may be required.

bag straps 3

Nylon webbing is incredibly strong, sturdy and durable. Cotton canvas webbing is sturdy, soft to the touch and complements many bag types. Webbing straps are also a low-cost alternative to a genuine leather strap. Adjustable O-rings and D-rings can be used as connectors and set in place with rivets. Webbing is available by the roll in a variety of solid and patterned colours.

Luxury chain straps have the look and feel of fine jewellery, are metal with a gold-tone, nickel, gunmetal or antique brass finish, and connecting hooks are available in matching metal colour/finishes that can be attached to the chain lengths. This material works well for making replacement bag straps for existing daytime bags and adds a lightness and sparkle for evening bags.


Now that the design dimensions of the bag strapping has been decided, connecting hardware needs to be chosen. There is plenty of choice in the marketplace but attachable hooks/attachable O-ring metal hardware seems to be the favourites among designers. These attachable connectors are ideal to making replacement bag straps for existing bag designs, as well. They are available is many different metal colours and finishes, from classic silver and gold with polished finishes to antique brass and gun-metal with brushed finishes.


Tri-glide sliders are popular for precise tuning of strap length and offer the ultimate in flexibility when designing adjustable bag straps.

Metal buckles can be used in your bag strap design that allow for fixed adjustable lengths to the bag strap by way of adding punched eyelet holes to the strapping.

Measure the inner diameter of the hardware to ensure the strap fits into the hardware without buckling or allowing any slack.

Also think design harmony within the styling of your bag. Try to match or compliment other bag fittings such as bag feet and bag zippers to the metal colour and finish of the connecting hardware you are using on your bag straps to create a unifying look. These little touches makes the difference between a homemade and a handmade bag.

Design Your Bag the Way YOU Want and Make the Style Your Own

With the right choice of bag strap, you have the freedom to design your bag exactly the way you envisioned it. There is no need to worry about how a bag will look or hang with the strap it came with as length and width have been well-thought out. Now, that choice is yours in the styling, with a strap that fits the user’s needs, mood or style!


Filed under Bag'n-telle, Design Ideas, Design Insight



Craftsy just sent me some exciting and exclusive news: DVDs are (finally!) coming to Craftsy.com!

They have carefully selected a set of classes for the first round of DVDs … 60 titles are available on Craftsy.com since May, and hope to add another 60 titles by the end of June. How wonderful!

Selling Craftsy class content in this format I think will provide a unique hands-on way to introduce the crafting community to Craftsy and its company of talented instructors through crafting publications & catalogs, libraries, other online retailers as well as brick & mortar retailers.

I’m really excited about this opportunity, and today they are all on sale!

Bring your favourite Craftsy classes to the big screen. Craftsy is putting all of their DVDs on sale at $19.99USD each – today only.

All DVD Craftsy Classes at $19.99 USD each. Sale ends June 13, 2017 at 11:59PM MT.


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Secrets of the Handbag


I love it when one gets privy to a peek at excellent design and quality workmanship

Chanel sent Trendland the exclusive insight of the making of their infamous 2.55. Here is the view of “The secrets of the Handbag” and its press release – “People often ask why CHANEL accessories never seem to age. It is because, having been influenced by the men in her life and even more by her own experience, Mademoiselle Chanel designed them to be practical and, except for a few decorative trimmings, always sensible. Above all, she was her own model: she imagined them, then wore them and finally added the finishing touches. Each detail was there for a reason. She endowed them with perfection and made them the emblem of luxury and elegance.”


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A functional yet basic convertible bag design. A book bag, a market carry-all, the perfect everyday tote. Carry by hand when in use; then fold it into its zippered pouch and slip it in your coat pocket so that it is at the ready.

Dimensions: 18″ high / 16″ wide / 4″ deep, with an exterior zippered pouch pocket and nylon handles. [45.75 cm x 40.5 cm x 10 cm]

Construction Method: Turned finish – this method may be recognized by noting the lack of machine-stitching that is visible at points of assembly on the exterior side of the bag.  This is possible by placing the material, or parts, face to face, machining and turning right-side out. It is the most commonly used assembly process.

Material Used: 100% nylon ripstop, 60″ wide

You will need:

  • 1.25 yds. [1.15 m] water-proof nylon ripstop, 60″ wide [152 cm]**
  • 2/3 yds. [61 cm] nylon webbing, 1″ wide [25mm] *
  • 1 reversible zipper, 10″ long [25.5  cm]
  • 1.25 yds. [1.15 m] double-fold bias tape, 1/4″ wide [6 mm] (optional)
  • 1 spool polyester thread

** NOTE: If your fabric choice has a directional printed design like mine, you will need to cut the body section in half. With wide goods, you’ll only need half the required yardage as the front and back sections can be cut side by side across the fabric’s width. No allowance made for matching the print.

* NOTE:  Bag handles can be made as shoulder straps by increasing the yardage of webbing, as shown below in diagram.



The pattern itself is based upon a simple flat grid, which fits into a long rectangle, of which the size depends on the desired depth of the style (in this example, 4″). So the overall bag dimensions are 18” high (length) by 16” wide (width) by 4” deep (depth). This will give a roomy bag cavity volume of 1,152 cubic inches which should carry a reasonable amount of items and weight.

The exterior pouch is a zippered pocket that can be used to carry keys, wallet, etc. When not in use, the totebag can be folded into the pouch for storage.

Seam allowance (1/2″) or [12 mm] is included in this pattern-draft.



  • cut 1X body (see note above)
  • cut 2X pocket
  • cut 1X pocket side
  • cut 2 bag handles from webbing, 12″ long [30 cm] (see note above)


Make the pocket pouch. With right sides together (RST), fold the POCKET SIDE piece in half lengthwise, and wrap around the end of the reversible zipper. Stitch across the short end. Repeat this step with opposite end of zipper.


Turn fabric right-side-out and press seams flat. Top-stitch across ends of zipper.

Align the “open” side of the POCKET SIDE to the edge of one of the POCKET pieces. The seaming of the zipper should be in the middle of the shorter sides of the rectangle. Pin/baste the POCKET SIDE to the POCKET piece. There is no seam allowance value on the zipper tape itself so stitch along the edge of the zipper tape when joining the two sections. Sew around the perimeter of the POCKET SIDE and clip seam allowance in the corners if the fabric does not lie flat. Grade the excess material in the seam allowance.


Place remaining POCKET piece on top of the pouch assembly, with RST and match in the corners. Flip the whole assembly over so that the previous line of stitching is visible. Pin/baste perimeter of rectangles together. Beginning slightly inside the lower corner, stitch following previous stitches, around the lower corner, up the side, across the top, down the side, and around the last corner, leaving an opening to turn out the fabric. Trim diagonally at each corner to reduce any bulk. Turn pocket out through the opening and slip-stitch opening close. Set aside.

Apply pouch to body. Position pocket with zipper facing toward top edge of bag. Place it in the center of the front bag section, 7.5″ [19 cm] from the top edge and 8″[20 cm] from either side seam. Pin/baste in place. Sew along the edge of the folded fabric and zipper tape to install.

Finish bag opening. If using, open bias tape flat and sew onto top edges of bag. Wrap raw edges with the bias tape and bind. Otherwise, sew a narrow 1/4-inch double-rolled hem to complete the bag opening.

Add bag handles. Position each webbing strip, 6″ [15 cm] from each corner of the bag, on the inside of the bag (wrong side of fabric) to form a loop for the bag handle on each section and X-stitch in place to secure.

Complete totebag. Fold the fabric with WST, and match at corners. Sew French seams on both sides of the bag, by stitching a 1/4-inch seam allowance, then trimming seam allowance close to stitching. Turn bag inside-out and sew another 1/4-inch seam allowance along sideseams; press seams flat.

Note: If using a directional printed fabric as in this tutorial, cut the body section in two and add a 1/2-inch seam allowance. Sew a French seam along the bottom edge of the bag before closing the sides. miter_fotor

Miter the gusset end by marking with a pin where the gusset end fold will come on front and back panels, (in this case, it is 2″ in and 2″ up from edges). Fold in the side turn at the pins, where the gusset fold will come; and, fold in the corner triangle to the pins. Press along the folds. Stitch across side seam from pin to pin to create each gusset for the totebag.

The tote bag when flattened, folds vertically into thirds towards the centre, then the layers fold horizontally two times from the bottom and two times from the top, both resting on top of the pocket pouch,  which is itself reversible and wraps around the stacked layers. To contain the tote bag, the pocket zips closed. The smaller unit can now fit easily into a coat pocket or purse, ready to be used when needed.



Filed under Bag'n-telle, Design Ideas, Design Techniques


purse-3If you plan to use a fabulous fabric with a printed design or textured motif, you will need to match the print when doing the seam construction in making up your bag.  First you must determine the height of the pattern repeat which is called a vertical repeat.  Simply measure from the top or base of the motif in one spot, down to the same spot in the design, when it appears again in the length of the yardage. That distance will be the vertical pattern repeat and is an integral part of the fabric design. For every cut-length of fabric required for your bag design, you will need to add 1 vertical repeat (amounts vary so measure the repeat) to the overall yardage. The distance of a repeat can often be indicated on the fabrics selvedge by dots or crosshairs. There are times when matching the repeat in a fabric pattern isn’t crucial such as a small print or a geometric one. Though you do cut into a pattern repeat, it is not “lost” when you sew two pieces together. You still get the tiny daisies or the polkadots. The same may be said of “abstract” styles. When cut pieces are sewn together, it still looks abstract in appearance and scale. However, when you follow your pattern-draft and cut through a sizeable motif or image printed on that fabric’s surface, say the large butterfly or cabbage rose, ideally as designers we want the other half of that butterfly or rose to align with its counterpart to regain the whole motif of the surface design to make the final product’s appearance, a harmonious one and pleasing to the eye. This tutorial takes a look at using a patterned fabric to create a soft-sided purse and how to go about using the fabric and its patterned surface to its best advantage to create unity and harmony in your design.

Featured fabric:


The fashion fabric used in this tutorial is a beautiful textured chenille upholstery fabric made up in a jacquard weave on a stylized twill background. In the dominant motif of the pattern, the chenille yarn is used to create a stylized lily set within a hexagon leaf border. The vertical pattern repeat is 9-inches [23 cm]. The over-all pattern arrangement is a half-drop repeat.

The Creative Dilemma:

pattern-repeat_fotorAs handbag designers, we love working with textile prints and textures. Upholstery fabrics are thick wide goods textiles that lend themselves well to fashion bag designing. In this particular selection, the fabric is wide (54” / 137 cm) and the pattern repeat is 9” / 23 cm in length. The bag dimensions are 13” H x 18” W x 4” D (33 cm x 46 cm x 10 cm). The stylized “lily” is about 6” x 6” (15 cm x 15 cm). Nine inches will fit within a area of 13 inches top to bottom and 18 inches side to side. Then, what is the dilemma?

If the bag styling required a front and back section cut in one-piece, there would be no need to match the surface pattern as the vertical pattern repeat could not be disrupted and being that the cloth is wide, each section could be cut side by side across the width of the fabric, therefore only requiring approximately half-yard of goods for front, back, and base of the purse.

However, there is more to the bag design. There is an exterior pocket on the front section. A patch pocket sized to make best use of the 6 x 6 flower would accommodate the motif yet would not appear very polished style-wise. So the exterior pocket is styled as a pouch pocket on a centre panel positioned between two mirrored side panels (see the Rule of Three). This pocket style is sleeker in appearance and sits flatter on the front plane. However, it cuts through the surface pattern and the motif is lost.

The Creative Solution:

After you have determined the vertical repeat, add that amount to your overall yardage required for your pattern-draft, even if you are able to get more than one section width from the fabric’s width as most upholstery textiles often are wider than most fashion fabrics. The larger the shape of the bag or the more intricate the pattern design is, the more waste there will be.

Begin by designing the exterior pouch pocket on the center front section of the bag. When cutting the fabric, you would not know where the motif or pattern repeat began nor ended on the pocket. The only thing you would know is that you want the motif or pattern to be centered on the pocket. Therefore you would cut the pocket first, then the remaining top portion of the center panel to size all the while aligning the missing part of the motif, plus an added extension for the pocket opening.

Then, cut the side panels a bit larger than the center panel section. This will allow you to travel upward or downward along the seamline to align the overall pattern. It is best to sew the panel widths together first and then trim the excess from the panels to your desired length and width in accordance with the pattern-draft. Remember to cut mirrored images. Most decorative fabrics are made so that the print matches at or just inside the selvage.  If you line up the print on each width of fabric at the selvages and stitch right along or just inside the selvage, the print should match (just like you may put up wallpaper). 

Once the front section is complete, use it as a guide to cut out the back section all-in-one. Clever planning will allow you to use the waste part of the the un-used fabric for facings, handles, and other similar details in your design.

Dimensions: approximately 13 high / 18 wide / 4″ deep with a 12” wide base; 24″ [51 cm] fixed strap handle and 16” zippered opening,

Construction Method: Turned finish – this method may be recognized by noting the lack of machine-stitching that is visible at points of assembly on the exterior side of the bag.  This is possible by placing the material, or parts, face to face, machining and turning right-side out. It is the most commonly used assembly process.

Material Used: chenille brocade upholstery fabric; percale lining fabric

You will need:

  • 1 yd. [0.90 m] patterned upholstery fabric, 54” wide [ 137 cm]
  • 1 yd. [0.90 m] high-thread count lining fabric, 54” wide [137 cm]
  • 1/2 yd. [46 cm] coordinating fabric (for contrast trim & handles)
  • 1/4 yd. [23 cm] ripstop nylon fabric, 54” wide [137 cm] (for exterior pocket lining)
  • 1 yd. [0.90 m] knit-fuse interfacing, 60” wide [152 cm]
  • 1/4 yd. [23 cm] heavy-duty Pellon interfacing, 45” wide [115 cm]
  • 3/4 yd. [ 69 cm] ban-roll buckram, 1” wide [25mm]
  • 1.5 yds. [140 cm] single-fold bias tape, 1/2″ wide [12 mm]
  • 1 closed-end pocket zipper, 16” long [41 cm] x 1” wide [25 mm]
  • 1 closed-end pocket zipper, 10” long [25cm] x 3/4” wide [20mm]
  • 1 spool all-purpose thread



Scale = X = 2 inches [ 5 cm]; the prototype is 4″ deep [10 cm]

The draft and formation of this prototype is based upon a simple flat grid, which fits into a square or rectangle, of which the size depends on the  desired depth of the style (2″ or greater).

** Add seam allowances to all pattern pieces.

The following is the proportionate pattern-draft. Enter any value for X you desire.


Front section of the purse including gussets


Base & Back section of the purse including gussets


Lining pattern & patch pocket


Fabric yardage will be dependant upon width of goods and number of vertical pattern repeats needed, the type of block pattern used, and the type of pattern match required. Remember to add seam allowances before cutting fabric.

  • Cut one piece of fashion fabric for each exterior pattern piece. Read pouch pocket instructions below before attempting fabric cutting.
  • Fuse interfacing to back of lining fabric following manufacturer’s directions. Cut two pieces of fashion lining fabric for the interior lining and one piece for the interior patch pocket.
  • Cut one rectangle of lining fabric: 12″ x 3″ [30 cm x 8 cm] for interior pocket facing.
  • Cut one square of lining fabric: 12″ x  12″ [30 cm x 30 cm] for pocket bag.
  • Cut two pieces of ripstop nylon fabric using the POCKET pattern piece.
  • Fuse interfacing to back of contrast trim fabric following manufacturer’s directions. Cut four pieces of contrast trim fabric: 19″ x 2″ [49 cm x 5 cm].
  • Cut two pieces of contrast trim fabric: 26″ x 2″ [66 cm x 5 cm] for purse handle.



Making pouch pocket. When cutting the printed or patterned fashion fabric, you want to match the pattern yet you do not know where the pattern repeat lies on the exterior pocket. The only thing you do know is that you want the motif to be centered on the pocket. Therefore you would cut the pocket first, then the remaining top portion of the center panel to size. Note: You want to make up the front center panel first before cutting any other parts of the purse’s exterior.

Using the POCKET and TOP CENTER PANEL pattern pieces, overlap them 1″ [25 mm] at the top edge of the pocket opening and securing with paper clips. This is the entire front center panel. Lay the pattern on your fabric and align the pattern to the center of the motif. Do this in the middle of the fabric’s width; reserve the selvedge edges for the front side panels.  Using tailor’s chalk, mark the four corners of the POCKET pattern piece. Now remove the paper clips and align the POCKET pattern only to the chalk marks and add seam allowance all around. Set aside.


Next, cut two pieces of ripstop nylon using the POCKET pattern in the same manner as described above. With right sides together (RST), place 1 nylon piece with the pocket piece and sew across the top of the pocket. Press the seam open and grade the ripstop nylon’s seam allowance. On the right side of the ripstop nylon, under-stitch the nylon to the fashion fabric’s seam allowance. Fold the fabric along the pocket opening and press flat. (You may add top-stitching to the folded edge if you wish).

Now, position the sewn pocket piece onto the fashion fabric and find the missing part of the motif. Align the sewn edge of the pocket to match that of the motif. Chalk the upper corners of the pocket and remove the pocket piece. Using the TOP CENTER PANEL pattern, set the bottom corners of the pattern piece on the chalk marks and trace out the pattern and extend 1-inch below the pocket opening (bottom edge of pattern) to create an overlap. Add seam allowances all around. Before cutting out, recheck pattern match with POCKET section.  When ready, cut out FRONT TOP PANEL. With RST, place remaining nylon piece with the TOP CENTER PANEL piece and sew across the bottom of the panel. Press the seam open and grade the ripstop nylon’s seam allowance. On the right side of the ripstop nylon, under-stitch the nylon to the fashion fabric’s seam allowance.front-center-panel_fotor_fotor

Make the front center panel. To complete the center panel, layer the POCKET section on top of the TOP CENTER PANEL section and match up the print. Pin together and measure distance from top of panel to the pocket opening. Each side should be equally distanced. Baste within the seam allowance, from the pocket opening to the bottom of the panel to catch the layers of ripstop underneath. This will create the pouch cavity. Set aside.

                                           front center panel                                                                      

Adding the side panels. Most patterned fabrics are made so that the pattern matches at or just inside the selvage.  If you line up the print pattern on each width of fabric at the selvages and stitch right along or just inside the selvage, the print should match.

Using the left selvedge of the fashion fabric, fold under the fabric just inside of the selvedge and press flat. Match the pattern drop to the right side of the center panel. Pin the pressed edge of the cloth to the seam allowance of the center panel section. Mark and cut the fashion fabric slightly larger than the RIGHT FRONT PANEL pattern piece (about 1″ all around will do). This will allow you to slide the fabric up or down along the seam to match the print. Repeat this step for the LEFT FRONT PANEL section, using the right selvedge edge of the cloth to mirror the image along the left side of the center panel section. It is best to slip-baste the seam lines carefully together with the face side up to match up the pattern motif and sew the panels together first with right sides together. Press the seam allowance toward the side panels and grade the bulk from the seams.


Then, chalk out the RIGHT SIDE and LEFT SIDE PANEL pieces onto the fabric, adding seam allowance. Trim the excess from the side panels to your desired length and width in accordance with the pattern-draft. Top-stitch along both vertical seams to create the pouch pocket. Set aside.

Make the back panel. Using the completed FRONT section, lay it on your fashion fabric and duplicate the look of the matched surface pattern. Using tailor’s chalk, mark the four corners of the FRONT section. Now remove the FRONT section and align the BACK PANEL pattern piece to the chalk marks and add seam allowance all around. Cut out the BACK section and set aside.

Make the base. By now you have a lot of fabric waste. Find a cloth piece large enough to mark out the BASE pattern piece and add seam allowance. Cut out the base section and set aside.


Prepare the lining fabric to receive the pocket detailing by ironing Fusi-Knit® fusible interfacing to the back of the fabric following manufacturer’s directions. This will stabilize and the reinforce the lining for inserting pocket compartments and protect it from wear.

There will be two interior pockets: 1) a zippered inset pocket on the back section of the lining for security; and 2) a self-lined patch pocket on the front section of the lining that can be divided into smaller compartments for organization.

With RST, fold the lining fabric with selvedges matching and lay the BACK pattern on the cloth on straight-grain. Mark out its shape and add seam allowance. Cut 2X lining. Set aside.

Make the patch pocket. Mark out the patch pocket pattern onto the lining fabric and add seam allowance. Cut out the pocket. With RST, fold the pocket in half and match the corners. Stitch each side of the pocket from the fold to the bottom edge, leaving the bottom open for turning out. Grade the seam allowance. Turn pocket right-side-out and press pocket flat. Top-stitch along the fold of this self-lined pocket.

With the pocket held upside-down, align the open edge of the pocket to the placement line indicated on the lining pattern and pin into place.  Stitch across the open edge to close the pocket. Trim the seam allowance close to the stitching line. Next, fold the pocket up towards the top of the lining and press flat. Top-stitch close to the edges of the patch pocket to attach it to the lining. This is a large pocket compartment that will get a lot of wear and tear when in use, so add narrow bartacks to the top corners with your zig-zag setting. This pocket may be divided into smaller compartments as desired by sewing vertical rows of stitching on the pocket face (I did a narrow column along one side to hold my pen).

Make inset pocket. Cut a rectangle of lining fabric: 12″ x 3″ [30 cm x 8 cm] for interior pocket facing. Mark the outline of the pocket opening on this piece based upon the zipper chain length (I used a 10″ closed zipper).

With RST, place the facing piece on the remaining lining piece and align the outline to the placement line indicated on the lining pattern and pin into place. Sew around the outline.

Cut down the center of the outline stopping 1/2-inch (13 mm) from each end, then cutting a diagonal angle into each corner of the rectangle, as shown. You will be cutting through both the facing and lining pieces. Pull the pocket facing piece though the opening and press flat.

With the lining facing up, place the zipper behind the opening, centering it then pin/baste in place. Top-stitch around all edges of the opening close to the turned edge of the opening.

Cut a square of lining fabric: 12″ x  12″ [30 cm x 30 cm] for pocket bag. Pin the back pocket bag section to the pocket facing section (1), folding the right side of the back to the wrong side of the front portion to create a pocket bag (2). Keeping the pocket bag free, stitch around all sides of the pocket bag (3).


Stay-stitch the inside corners of each of the lining sections. Fold and align the edges of each bottom corners on the lining sections and sew together.  Set aside.

Make the bag handle. Begin by cutting 2 fabric strips from contrast cloth that have been fused with interfacing. The cutting dimensions for the purse handle are 26″ x 2″ [66 cm x 5 cm]. Set aside.

Place a strip of basting taping down the center of a 1-inch wide [25 mm] strip of ban-roll buckram; remove the protective backing from the basting tape and center the buckram strip onto the back of one of the contrast fabric strips and flatten down. There should be a half-inch of fabric visible of either side of the ban-roll. 


bag handle layout

Place another strip of basting tape down the center of the ban-roll strip. Fold the edges of the contrast fabric over the edges of the ban-roll strip and press flat. Remove the protective backing from the basting tape and adhere folded edges to the ban-roll strip. Press flat.

With the wrong side of the handle facing up, place a strip of basting tape along both long edges of the handle, while avoiding the every edge where you will be stitching. Adhere single-fold bias tape as a decorative trim along the long edges of the handle. Have the bias tape slightly visible beyond the folded edge. Set aside.

Take the remaining contrast fabric strip and turn under long edges so that the raw edges meet at center. Press flat.

Place another strip of basting tape down the center of the back of the handle. Remove the protective backing from the basting tape and with WST, adhere the second contrast strip to the handle. Be certain to match up one strip directly upon the other. then, press flat. Top-stitch along either long edge of the handle piece to complete. Trim away the excess material at the short ends.

For a 6.5″ drop [17mm] on this bag style, cut the handle length to equal 24″ long [61 cm]. Note: The drop measurement may be lengthen or shorten depending upon how the purse is worn.

Completion of the Purse Exterior. Being that a contrasting fabric was used to make up the bag handle, the designer should incorporate the contrasting element at least two more times within the bag design to create a unified and harmonious appearance, as outlined in the Rule of Thirds.

Cut four pieces of interfaced contrast trim fabric: 19″ x 2″ [49 cm x 5 cm]. Two strips will be used as a top-stitched 1-inch wide [25 mm] appliqué along the bottom edge of the front and back bag sections, while the remaining two strips will be used along the top edges as a Hong Kong finish to the zippered bag opening.

With right sides of the lining to wrong side of the zipper, sew the top of each lining section to the back of the zipper tape. Press the seams away from the zipper and under-stitch lining to zipper tape.


With right sides of contrast trim to right side of zipper, sew the top of each exterior section to the zipper tape. Press the seams away from the zipper and stitch-in-the-ditch along the contrast trim to create the Hong Kong finish detail.

Clip diagonally (45 degrees) into the stay-stitched top corners of the exterior sections and sew short ends of the handle (face up) onto the ends of the zipper tape.

With RST, fold the exterior sections together and match up the contrast trim at the bottom of the bag, along the side seams. Sew up side sides and press open. Perpendicular to the side seam, fold the side of the bag on top of the zipper ends to enclose the bag handle in between. Sew across each end to miter each corner. Set aside.

Note: Before attaching the bag’s bottom section, open the zipper.

Baste a stiff piece of heavy-duty interfacing, cut to size, to the back of the base section. Pin/baste the base section to the bottom edges of the exterior sections. Do this by starting in the middle of each piece and working outward to the sides; allow for the seam allowance at each end. Sew base section in place. Trim away excess interfacing in seam allowances. Clip diagonally (45 degrees) into the seam allowance up to the end of the stitching at each bottom corner at the base section.

Perpendicular to the side seam, fold the side of the bag on top of short ends of the base section to create wide gussets . Sew across each end to miter each corner. Trim any excess interfacing from seam allowance.

Completion of Bag Interior. With RST, align and match up lining sides and bottom together. Sew up side seam and pivot at bottom corner and continue sewing up to 1 inch beyond the corner on each side.

Turn bag right-side-out through the zipper opening and through opening in lining. With WST, match up lining bottom at opening and edge-stitch closed. Drop lining into the cavity of the purse.


Filed under Bag'n-telle, Design Ideas, Design Techniques