Ok, time for another bag post! I warn you it’s a bit lengthy, but I’m up for it if you are?

This is a nice big bag: 50 cm long, 30 cm tall and 25 cm deep. Perfect for a Long-weekend! I made it back in the summer and so far it has been to the USA and France, closer to home it’s been to Kent, Sussex, the Isle of Wight and all over london!

One of the things I love about making bags is how you can bespoke it to exactly what you need. I’ve put in a quilted pocket for my iPad and a long zip on the outside for a few toiletries, but you could add a pen holder, a hidden passport pocket, glasses holder… anything! Once you’ve got the list of pieces, it’s easy to re plan a bag to whatever size or pockets you need.

If you’re interested, here are some of my others…

Quilted Velvet BackpackWinter Backpack

Cousin M’s Everywhere Bag

Holiday Bags & Travel Bag (Variations on Cousins M’s Bag)

Ukulele Bag

Clutch-Bag/ Scissor Pouch

Gentlemans Wallet (Not a bag, or my own design, but here I explain how I attach the twist closures & magnet snaps)

I took my inspiration for this one from a picture of a vintage London bus. It makes me think of weekends away in the 1920’s, in an open top car, driving through the countryside with a wind up gramophone and a picnic hamper! Too much?

I chose two Faux Leathers for the main body and a jolly camper van printed Cotton Duck for the lining.

Once I’d sketched out the design and decided where the pockets would be, I worked out what pieces I would need. I thought about using green piping on the main curve, but I knew the seams would get thick very quickly and didn’t want to risk wrecking my machine! This is the first time I’ve sewn with faux leather so I didn’t want to over complicate things.

  • Pattern Pieces.
  • Base – 50 x 25 cm – 1 x Green – 1 x Lining – 1 x interfacing – 6 x silver stud
  • Upper sides – 50 x 20 cm – 2 x Cream (curved at 10 cm on top corners
  • Lower sides – 50 x 10 cm – 2 x green
  • Front pocket – 50 x 11 cm – 1 x lining
  • Lining sides – 50 x 30 cm – 2 x lining – 50cm zip
  • Zip extension -79.6 x 12.5 cm – 2 x cream – 80cm zip
  • Lower zip extension – 10 x 25 cm – 2 x green – 2 x lining
  • Patch pocket – 30 x 20 cm – 1 x lining
  • Quilted iPad pocket – 50 x 25 cm – 2 x lining – 1 x wadding (cut to size after quilting)
  • Handles – 50 x 5 cm x 2 green – 50 x 2.5 cm x 2 interfacing – 4 x square ‘ring’ 2.5cm
  • Handle tabs and Side tabs – 5 x 8 cm – 6 x green – 2 x D-ring 2.5cm

That’s 28 pieces! So much for not over complicating things.

  • Drafting kit:
  • Long metal ruler
  • Square quilting ruler
  • French curve
  • Swedish tracing paper
  • Pencil (& eraser!

Draw all the pieces. Add seam allowance. I used 1.5 cm throughout. 3 cm for top hem of patch pocket. No seam allowance for the 6 tabs or 2 handles.

Sewing Kit:

  • 100 leather needle
  • 70 regular needle
  • Polyester thread – green and cream
  • Sewing clips, if you’ve got them. (I ordered some online, but they didn’t arrive on time!)
  • Glue – I used UHU all purpose and a basting spray
  • (stitch length set to 3mm)

I must have changed feet a million times between the Walking Foot, Zip Foot, Regular Sewing Foot and the Overcast Foot.

I planned the order of construction so that the only raw edges left would be the inside base. This I could bind with some home-made bias binding.

  • Do the interfacing & Prepare the base, handles & tabs.

Interface the handles and green base. Be careful with the heat if you’re using a fake leather.

Mark the position of the studs on the green base. Hole punch and fit the studs.

Handles and tabs- Apply glue, let it get tacky then fold the long edges into the centre. Sew four rows of stitching once the glue has dried. Baste d-rings onto 2 tabs.

  • Make and line the top zip opening.

Sew the zip, face down on the long edge of one zip extension. Sew the lining extension on top of the zip, right sides of fabrics facing. Press back to reveal zip teeth.

Repeat on the other side by doing up the zip and lining up the edges of the pieces.

Top stitch both sides of the zip.

Baste a tab with d-ring over each end of the zip.

Pin the right sides of the lower zip extensions to the short ends of the zip piece. Be careful if you’re sewing over your zip. Sew the extensions and top stitch from the right side.

  • Assemble the side outer faces.

Front zip – measure the width of your zip teeth, divide it by 2 and add that amount to the seam allowances either side. (I added 0.5cm so folded at 2 cm)

Place the folded edge of the lower side piece right up to the zip teeth, you don’t need the zip foot for this one, sew with the regular foot to give the teeth a bit of space to breathe.

Position the lining piece behind the zip and match the top edge. Sew to the top of the zip tape.

Line the folded hem of the upper side piece with the zip teeth and sew in place. I thread a piece of ribbon through the zip pull to help when sliding the puller out of the way during sewing.

Sew the other side pieces together, topstitch the allowances down.

Fold and glue baste the 4 handle tabs with their ‘rings’ – mark the position and sew onto the side pieces.

  • Assemble the side linings and pockets.

Finish and press the seams of the patch pocket. Hem the top edge and sew onto one of the lining sides. Sew up the middle to make 2 pockets and bar tack the tops to strengthen.

Glue baste the wadding to one piece of the iPad pocket. I quilted mine at 4cm.

Cut the pocket pieces to size and sew with right sides together, leave a gap for turning through.

Topstitch the top edge of the pocket, then position it on the other lining side piece and sew the sides and bottom, closing the turning gap as you go. Add a label above the pocket now if you have one!

  • Sew the sides.

Attach the lining sides to the zip extension first. Staystitch and clip into the curve. Pin from the centre towards the curve then from the ends up to the curve. Ease the curves into position and pin them. Sew carefully and reposition often to help avoid any puckers. Backstitch at the beginning and end, leaving the seam allowance un-sewn at each end. Attach both lining side pieces the same way.

Notch the curved edges of the outer side pieces and pin, right sides facing, to the right side of the zip extension. This stage is pretty hard to photograph and takes a good bit of wriggling to get through the machine. Take it slow around the curves.

Turn the sides through and all your seams are tucked away.

  • Attach the base.

Pin and sew the base with the outer right sides facing. Sew from the seam allowance to help keep the corners sharp. Do the long sides first then the short sides.

Finish the inside of the base with bias binding.

  • Attach the straps

Lastly, attach the straps. Fold the ends and check they’re the same length, stitch in place.

Then, pack it full of stuff and take it everywhere!

Happy Sewing!

Notes to self:

  • Try scaling down the pattern for a smaller everyday version?
  • Maybe try with lighter fabric and sturdy piping to add structure…?