Thursday, 3 March 2016

Grey and Yellow Cross Body Bag

I love a cross body bag.  Hands free for spinning the many plates we all have to keep going on a day to day basis!  Also they help to prevent me inevitably leaving the bag somewhere while I run after dog/child or when just wandering off in a distracted way.  This is a self drafted pattern that I've used and reused many times before, tweaking the design depending on what fabric I'm using and the sort of look I happen to want at the time.  

Now when I say self drafted, we all know that I actually mean 'draw a square shape then improvise' (which is the method I've used also with some success on clothes in the past).  It really is as simple as that with this bag, just a wide rectangle as a pattern and then everything else is added on and scaled to fit.  The finished bag is roughly the size of an A4 sheet, maybe a bit squarer.  This was not a deliberate measurement, more going by what size fabric remnant I have and what looks like a nice size and shape for a medium cross body bag.  Very technical this.

I started with my scraps of grey and yellow fabric gathered from my stash, after being inspired by the colours of an old bag bought years ago in the sales.  My battered, grey and yellow, pleather shopper from Primark, cheap as chips in the sale (probably cost less than a fiver) has been used constantly for the last couple of springs and summers  Purely because it's lightweight and the colours seem to go with absolutely everything.  So when I fancied a cross body style, spring bag for going out and about at the weekend, these were the colours I looked for.  

Here it is, the poor saggy old battered Primark bag!  A sad sack indeed.

Here's what I started with: A long strip of grey, loose weave linen mix, (that made two approx A4 size bag front and back pieces and then a long strap piece), some yellow cotton for the lining and a piece of leather left over from this skirt.  Gosh the piece I lopped off the bottom of that skirt hem has gone a loooooooong way!  I've only just finished using some other remnants from it on my Houghton jacket for the cuffs and piping.  This very last scrap in the pic below is all that remains.  

I also found a seven inch yellow zip, yellow cotton and decided to include a popper closure (I didn't have a standard magnetic bag closure to hand and as this was a make-on-a-whim project I didn't want the delay of purchasing one specially).  I had originally thought of making the bag both yellow and grey on the outside somehow, but then after fiddling about with layouts I changed my mind and went for all grey on the outside, with a yellow lining.

The piece of leather already has a flat felled seam running down it, so I decided to use this to my advantage and create two pockets by sewing it to the front bag piece, following the existing seam line.  I turned the top of the leather over to hem it and used the yellow thread to topstitch in place, just a little nod to the yellow interior.  The rest of the exterior of the bag was constructed by simply sewing the back and front together along the sides and bottom with right sides together, enclosing all the raw edges, as you would usually do.  I used a leather needle for all of this and in fact didn't bother changing it for the whole project.  You can also at this point cut the excess seam allowance off your bottom corners so that when you turn them there is less bulk.

I wanted to include a zip pocket on the inside too, as a more secure place to stash keys etc.  I cut two identical pocket pieces (again just a rectangle scaled down a few inches to fit inside the bag) from the lining material.  You could use a completely contrasting fabric here for a secret pop of pocket colour!  It's a good idea to put a bit of iron-on interfacing on at least one of these pieces as it helps to give the pocket a bit of structure and stop whatever you've got stashed in there pulling the sides of your bag out of shape.  If you're like me and tend to accumulate a bag full of junk, your inside pockets can easily start to pull away towards the inside of the bag.  From here on, I used the usual method, and there are loads of great tutorials out there on the web for inserting a zip pocket so that it looks like this:

Here is a quick run through: Take one of your pocket pieces (the interfaced one if you have used it) and measure one and half inches down from the top of the pocket and draw a line across, then measure 2 inches down and draw a line across in parallel.  Then measure your zip opening and mark this width (centre it on your pocket piece) on the parallel lines.  You now have a long thin rectangle, or letter box shape, where your zip will go.  Draw a line right through the middle of this now, which will be where you eventually cut through.

You can now place your pocket onto the lining of your bag, somewhere in the top half, leaving a bit of clearance at the top for your seam allowance and any closure, fabric wrong side up (or right sides together in other words) and sew around the letter box shape you've drawn.  Then cut through the centre line almost to the ends of the rectangle, stopping just short and cutting right into the corners.  Turn the whole pocket through the slit you've created, flatten it out on the other side and give it a press.  You should have a nice neat opening now to place your zip over and stitch in place, going around the edge of your letterbox.  Then carefully place your identically sized pocket piece over the back and sew all the way around, being careful not to catch any of your bag lining on the way!  You can now add your closure to each side of the bag lining if you wish, I've used a simple popper for this bag, and put a scrap square of lining fabric at the back to give it some extra support.  Then sew the front and back bag lining pieces together around the sides and bottom the same as you did for the outside pieces.

The next steps are the neatest way I've found to fit the lining to the bag and enclose your straps securely at the same time.  I made the straps from the same fabric as the body of the bag by the way, using the long selvage edge left over.  I made a tube out of it by folding it, sewing down the long edge and then turning it the right way round.  Then I gave it a good press and stitched along each of the long edges.  My strap is 54 inches long, which includes two inches allowance for it to go inside the seam.  So it's a really, really, super-long strap!  The bag falls in exactly the right place on my hip for me, with the bottom of the bag at fingertip length.  It also means if I ever fall into quicksand one day, I could use it to lasso a tree, and pull myself to safety.

So, place your strap ends over the side seams on the outside of your bag.  Have the raw edges lined up, and your actual strap travelling down and away from the top edge of the bag.  Make absolutely sure the strap length is not twisted.  Sew this in place about 1cm from the top edge, or just inside whatever seam allowance you've given yourself.  You can see here I've zig zagged around the main bag pieces because this material happened to be very loose weave and frayed a lot while I was working on it.

Then tuck your exterior bag inside the lining.  The important thing to remember here is that you will need to have the right sides together at this point.  Line up the raw edges and side seams and pin in place, making sure that your strap is shoved right down out of the way (it will be somewhere out of sight between the bag and lining at this point).  

Sew round the top now, but you'll want to leave around 3 inches or so open in order to turn it the right way round.  Then for the magic reveal! Pull the whole lot through your opening, turning it out so that both the bag and lining appear right way round.

At which point you'll have this.

So then you can shove the lining into the inside of the bag.  While you still have an opening in the lining, you can get in at this point to poke your bottom corners out so they are nice and pointy.

Nearly done now!  You can see how nicely your bag straps are secured inside, and they are now double stitched and sturdy - they will be triple stitched at next final step.  So all that's left to do is carefully roll the lining to the inside and press it in place, finally topstitching all the way around for a neat finish, triple securing the strap in the process, and to finally close that open seam.  I used grey thread on the top and yellow underneath.  Neat as a pin!

This will be my weekend bag for spring and I know I'll use it to bits.  It is sleek enough to be discreet, but has a nice happy lining and already goes with my new bomber (worn in the photos here), charity purchased Alberta Ferretti jacket and a gazillion other things new and old in my wardrobe.  

I love the yellow lining that shines out and the leather gives it a bit of luxe.  And the outside colour doesn't show too many marks, which is a bonus when you've got kids.  Last week I found the remains of a bacon baguette disintegrating inside one of my bags, which I now vaguely remember one bambino shoving in there "for later mummy".  This was just as we were leaving a cafe and I was distracted at the time by gathering up the little people's 47 layers of hats, coats and hoodies.  I will try to spare my shiny new bag from this sort of ambush, oooh for at least a couple of weeks anyway.

Rigel Bomber and Bag are handmade by me.  


  1. I want a bag like this!!! A great tutorial from Studio63, I definitely want to have a go at making one of these. Looks great and what a brilliant way to use up small pieces of fabric.

  2. It's easy peasy AWR, I challenge you to make one! Sarah X

  3. Oooh yes, do update me if yo make one! What will you use? Mine is so useful.