Staring at my (unfinished) list of Christmas sewing, a bit overwhelmed, I decided to make myself a bag instead! Just a bit at a time, in stolen moments. Encouraged by the success I had making MrA’s Quilted Backpack, but not wanting to ‘waste’ too much time on myself, I thought I’d keep it a bit simpler this time… also, the quilting didn’t show up on the test piece I did, so that saved a good couple of hours!

I had some lovely wool left over from a jacket I’d made…

…and some off-cuts of gabardine left from the trousers I made when I went to a friends wedding recently. First, I drew out a plan…

… in the vague hope of keeping things simpler, I decided to not bag-out the lining, instead I opted to use my overlocker on the inside seams.

Next I cut out all the pieces… So many pieces!

I used the gabardine to back the wool like a sew-in interfacing, giving a bit of structure and hopefully stopping it from stretching out. So I basted the wool & gabardine pieces together first. Next I started constructing each ‘face’.

Outside Front:

  • Baste the box pleat.
  • Fold the zip cover flap & attach top to bottom with the zip.
  • Attach the front bottom pocket lining.
  • Cut a window out of the top.
  • Sew on & push through the front-top-pocket linings.
  • Position the zip & sew on.
  • Sew up the top pocket lining.

Outside Back:

  • Attach top & bottom with the zip.
  • Sew on the pocket backing.

Inside Front:

  • Left plain.

Inside Back:

  • Cut out window, fold through to wrong side. Glue baste.
  • Sew on zip.
  • Attach lining to zip allowance & sew up.
  • Hem bottom pocket & stitch on.


  • Place zip face down on right side of outer fabric. Pin.
  • Lay lining fabric face down on top. Re-pin.
  • Sew all layers together with zip foot.
  • Repeat for other side.
  • Topstitch.
  • Baste outside edges of fabric & lining together.
  • Sew ends to sides & topstitch.


  • Take 2 x 15cm lengths of 2.5cm webbing. Feed through the buckles.
  • Fold the webbing in half.
  • Lay one wool piece right side up, place webbing on the curved edge.
  • Lay the other wool piece face down on top.
  • Lay gabardine lining on top.
  • Pin & sew.
  • Trim curved seams & turn through.
  • Press & topstitch.
  • Baste straps to top edge of outside back piece.

Then it was time to put it all together. I marked the centre top of the main bag pieces & the halfway mark on the zip piece. I matched the seams at the sides with the front pocket flap seam and pinned all the way round.

It was a bit tough sewing through the thickness at the straps, but, taking things slowly, I got through it. My overlocker struggled a bit more, so rather than using the cutter, I trimmed down the seam allowance and tried again. I broke four needles, but eventually got round.

I had a big enough scrap of fleece backed nylon in my stash, so used that for the base.

  • 3.5cm spacing, quilted to gabardine.
  • Mark base size, sewing line & diagonals at the corners.
  • Pinch up corners & sew to make a ‘tray’.

You could cut the corners off, but I basted them to the sides for a bit of extra support.

  • Baste 2 x 25cm webbing to outside bottom bag piece, about 3cm from the outside bottom edge.
  • Match corners and pin base (right sides together) inside the base of the bag.
  • Make sure the top zip is open so it can be turned through
  • Sew the base on & overlock the seams.

Turn it through and… hey presto! A bag!

If you follow my instagram (@bustersew) you may have seen the picture of the massive building project going on barely 3 metres from my flat. It looks like this…

… and it makes a terrific racket.

So, to allow us some respite, our very dear friends LadyE & SiPi have lent us the keys to their London ‘pad’ in Acton. The delicious pub dinner, peaceful nights sleep, lazy lie-in & views of trees did just the job, soothing our frazzled nerves. We’re lucky to have such good friends (with such a beautiful, peaceful, mostly empty house). Adding to the joy, my new rucksack got its first outing…!

Happy sewing!

Notes to self:

  • Don’t overstretch the capabilities of your machines!
  • Get all the bits needed before starting.