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The Bag Boutique

If you are looking for a simple design to begin your bag making journey, you may have found it here! This backpack looks complicated but it is a zip–free zone and the techniques are fairly repetitive.

Finished size: 31 x 39 x 9cm (12¼ x 15½ x 3½in), plus straps

  • Sewing
  • 2-3 hours
  • Intermediate

Fabrics needed:

  • A: 1 fat quarter mint floral, for the upper front and back panels
  • B: 1 fat quarter coordinating pattern, for the lower front and back panels
  • C: 30cm (12in) coordinating pattern for straps
  • D: 1m (39½in) coordinating pattern for lining
  • E: 1 fat quarter brown linen
  • 20cm (8in) square green floral, for the outer pocket
  • 30cm (12.5in) coordinating pattern, for the inner patch pockets
  • 8 x 41cm (3¼ x 16in) red check, for the back bottom strip

Interfacings needed:

  • 1m (39½in) foam interfacing
  • 1 fat quarter fusible interfacing
  • 1 fat quarter of lightweight fusible interfacing
  • 30cm (12in) fusible wadding/batting

Everything else:

  • 2 silver magnetic clasps
  • 2 pretty crochet flowers, different but picking out a colour from the fabric
  • 2 cute buttons
  • Coordinating threads for topstitching
  • 2 4cm (1½in) silver rectangle rings
  • 2 4cm (1½in) silver bag sliders
  • 30 x 9cm (12 x 3½in) foam board
  • 2 coordinating plastic snap fasteners
  • Your usual sewing needs

The front:

  1. Cut a piece of fabric A, 21.5 x 41cm (81/2 x 16in). This will form the top part of the front. Cut a second coordinating piece of fabric B, 23 x 41cm (9 x 16in) for the bottom of the front. Sew them together and press.

  2. Sew the whole piece to a piece of slightly larger piece of foam interfacing using a half–normal seam. Trim the foam interfacing back to size.

  3. Using the brown linen (E), cut a 3.5 x 41cm (13/8 x 16in) strip. Fold, then press the long raw edges under so that the strip measures 15mm (2/3in) wide. Topstitch the strip in place over the join in the fabrics, along both long edges, using coordinating thread.

The front pocket:

  1. Cut a piece of fusible interfacing (such as S320), 17.5 x 16.5cm (7 x 61/2in). Cut a piece of green floral fabric and a piece of lining fabric to 20 x 20cm (8 x 8in). Centre the interfacing shape onto the back of the outer fabric and fuse.

  2. Cut a small piece of lightweight interfacing (such as Decovil I Light) to reinforce where the magnetic clasp will go - I sited mine about 7.5cm (3in) down from the top of the interfacing that is already attached. Fuse this on the back, over the attached interfacing, in the middle.

  3. Install the female half of the magnetic clasp.

  4. With the right asides together (lining and fused outer), sew around the interfacing edge leaving a gap in the bottom. Trim the seam allowance back to 5mm (1/4in). Turn out through the gap and press neatly.

  5. Measure down 18cm (7in) from the top of the front bag panel and site the pocket. Topstitch into place along the sides and bottom edge.

The pocket flap:

  1. Cut a rectangle of linen and a rectangle of lining fabric measuring 22 x 14cm (83/4 x 51/2in). Using the pocket flap template, cut two shapes from fusible interfacing (such as S320). Fuse one interfacing shape to the wrong side of the linen and the other to the wrong side of the lining fabric.

  2. On the back of the flap lining piece, reinforce the place where the other half of the magnetic clasp will go with a small piece of lightweight interfacing (such as Decovil I Light) - centrally, about 2cm (3/4in) up from the bottom edge. Attach the other half of the clasp.

  3. With the right sides together, sew the fused linen section to the lining piece leaving the top (flat) edge open.

  4. Trim the seam allowance back leaving a double seam allowance on the top (flat) edge. Clip the curves and turn the right way out. Topstitch in an appropriate thread colour very close to the edge.

  5. Sew the crocheted flower and button on over the top of the magnetic clasp.

  6. Sew along the top edge of the flap very close to the edge to close it. Site the flap 2cm (3/4in) above the pocket - it is actually more important that the magnetic clasp closes neatly so let that be your guide. Fold the sewn and trimmed top edge under and attach the pocket flap to the backpack front with a double row of topstitching.

The back:

  1. Make the back exactly the same way as the front, but without a pocket, and make the bottom panel a little shorter: it measures 16.5cm x 41cm (61/2 x 16in). Be very sure about measuring. When you come to sew on your linen trim, ensure that the strip will match up exactly when you put the front and back pieces together with the top edges aligned - it should travel around the bag without a step.

  2. The back has a special section on the bottom, which will be prepared now and then attached later on. This is where the straps will attach. Sew your 8 x 41cm (31/4 x 16in) coordinating strip to a piece of foam interfacing with a narrow seam. That’s it for now!

The flap:

  1. Using the main flap template, cut two pieces from lightweight interfacing (such as Decovil I Light) and one piece from wadding/batting. Cut a piece of linen 33 x 20cm (13 x 8in) and a piece of lining the same size. Fuse a piece of lightweight interfacing to the wrong side of the flap lining and the linen. Fuse the piece of wadding/batting over the interfacing on the back of the linen. Centre all of these well.

  2. Attach the male half of the magnetic clasp centrally, 1.5cm (3/4in) up from the bottom of the flap lining.

  3. Place the two flap pieces right sides together and line up the interfacing, feeling your way. Sew around the curve leaving the straight top edge open.

  4. Clip the curves and turn the right way out. Topstitch with coordinating thread. Sew the other flower on top of the magnetic catch, using the button to decorate the centre.

The straps and tabs:

  1. The straps measure 10 x 80cm (4 x 311/2in) each; the tabs are each 10 x 15cm (4 x 6in). It is easier to make the whole length in one go and then cut. Depending on the size of the user, the straps and tabs may be shortened or lengthened.

  2. Cut the fabric for the tabs and straps: 10 x 190cm (4 x 75in). Also cut a strip of wadding/batting 190cm (75in) long and 3.5cm (11/2in) wide.

  3. Enclose the wadding/batting inside the fabric, hiding all raw edges, and pin in place. Topstitch once along each side and three times up the centre.

  4. Cut the strip to create your two 15cm (6in) long tabs, and two 80cm (311/2in) long straps.

  5. In each of the tab strips, thread through a rectangle ring, fold over and stitch to secure the ring in place.

  6. On the bottom of the back of the bag, with right sides facing, sew a tab to each side, 7cm (23/4in) in from each side. Take the extra fabric strip that you made in step 16 and sew it onto the bottom so that the bag back is complete. Press.

    Tip: Usually, Bundfix tape is my go-to for straps, but on a backpack it can be a bit more comfortable to have a slightly wadded strap. There isn’t any magic involved with this though – simply make it up as you would normally.

The lining:

  1. Cut your two main pieces of lining fabric, 41 x 38cm (16 x 15in).

  2. Make a couple of patch pockets, each 15 x 21cm (6 x 81/4in). Attach one to each piece of lining fabric and sew some vertical divisions as needed. Use fusible interfacing (such as S320) to keep the pockets beautifully crisp.

    Tip: To ensure the pockets are convenient, don’t place them too deep in the bag. Think about what you need them for and custom-make them.

Putting it all together:

  1. Place the outer pieces right sides together and pin very carefully, lining up everything well. Sew the sides and base.

  2. Cut 4cm (11/2in) squares out of the corners and box them. Turn the right way out.

  3. Pinch the edges very narrowly from the top edge of the bag down to the linen trim and sew a narrow seam to help define the edge (see opposite). Repeat for the other three.

  4. Cut a piece of foam board 30 x 9cm (12 x 31/2in) and a piece of spare foam interfacing (if you have a bit) the same size. This measurement is a starting point. You will need to trim back so that it fits well. Hot glue the base into the bag and then glue the foam interfacing on top of it.

  5. Fit the other half of the second magnetic clasp on the front of the bag. Measure down 10cm (4in) from the front centre top and install the female half. Don’t forget to reinforce behind the clasp with a scrap of lightweight interfacing first.

  6. Attach the straps by threading them through the sliders and then crossing them over at the middle top of the bag. There will be a slight angle to be trimmed away - this makes them more comfortable to wear. Sew in place.

  7. Sew on the flap, right sides facing the back of the bag and aligning the raw edges, making sure that it fits well with the magnetic snap on the front. Again, some trimming is nearly always necessary.

  8. The lining is next. With right sides together, sew around the sides and bottom of the lining pieces, leaving a gap in the bottom edge for turning through. As in step 29, box the corners with 4cm (11/2in) squares.

  9. With the lining still inside out, pull it on over the bag so that the right sides are together. Sew around the top edge and turn out through the gap. Stitch the gap closed and then topstitch around the top edge.

  10. On the top edges, install a plastic snap fastener each side to keep them together (see opposite) - this gives extra security for the contents, but you can open them out if you need to have a good rummage.

What You Need