Friday, January 22, 2016

Zip A Bag Chapter 8: Fold-Over Shoulder bag

Today, we are going to make our first BAG. Hurrah!

This is also the first barkcloth-and-vinyl combo in our series. The vinyl is a light gray upholstery-grade vinyl and the accent fabric is Jessica Jones' Time Warp Navy Ripple from Cloud9 Fabrics

The lining is Heather Bailey's Pop Blossom and the solid navy is a duckcloth. 

To the side seam, I added strap anchors with D-rings. I would've preferred circular rings, but was insufficiently motivated to go shopping. A carrying handle is sewn permanently through the D-rings, leaving room for a snap hook attached to a longer, adjustable strap.

The carrying handle has a tubular insert. I used a thick piping/welt cord instead of my preferred vinyl tubing because it was what I had at home. 

The handle doubles as a short shoulder strap.

The longer, adjustable strap allows the bag to be worn lower on the shoulder or across the body.

The bag itself is a big, flat zippered pouch with a gusseted base. 
See how the flap is totally symmetrical. And because the strap anchors are also sewn symmetrically along the side seam, the handle and strap can be shifted to lie on either the print or solid side of the bag,

so that it can be used either side out

with either a solid or printed flap.

Accessing the bag contents by unzipping the flap can take some getting used to, so if you prefer, the flap can be unzipped fully and tucked into the bag cavity,

so the bag becomes a regular open-mouth tote,

with no flap at all.

Not bad for a variation on that standard flat zippered pouch design, right? Rather versatile, I thought.

So let's make this bag, shall we?

The outer layer has three parts - dimensionally-identical front and back pieces, and a funky-shaped base gusset. In the picture below, the base gusset is cut as two pieces, joined in the middle where the shape is thinnest. If you zoom in, you will see the cut edges behind the pink letter g.

Here is that same photograph, annotated to help you visualize how it's put together. 
The zipper goes between X and Y, the gusset attaches along ACB, and the short sections AX and BY are bridging seams, over which the strap anchors are sewn.

Here are those points on the finished bag:

This configuration is repeated exactly in the lining fabric. Because the print makes it hard to see the outlines, those orange dashed lines here are simply to demarcate where the fabric pieces overlap. You can see now the two separate base gusset halves more clearly. Sew these together at their short seam to make the full gusset piece. I added a simple patch pocket to the lining layer to increase the functionality of the bag as a whole. In a proper bag, that pocket would be in the same fabric as the rest of the lining, but this is a sample for this tutorial, so it's white for high contrast.

And here is the schematic plan.

All visualized?
Right, then - let's get to the actual making.

Stage 1: Install the zipper
This is done exactly the same way as with all the other who-knows-how-many lined pouches we've made so far. The only thing different is that we're installing the zipper along a curved edge. 

I used a double-pull zipper, incidentally. This felt like the kind of bag whose flap needed it - it probably had something to do with all that inherent symmetry.

So go ahead and prep your zipper with fabric stops, and baste one side to the edge of one piece of lining fabric. The WS of the zipper should lie against the RS of the lining.

Do not sew the last 1/4" of the fabric stop. This is to allow you to pinch that last 1/4" into the bridge seam later.

Like this - see? 

Now add the outer fabric, sewing from X to Y. Here, the outer fabric is the solid navy piece. You will now have faced half of the zipper (i.e. one side of its zipper tape).

Repeat this process to face the other half of the zipper, sewing the other side of the zipper tape to the remaining outer body (the print fabric, in this case) and the remaining lining body piece.

When you are done, turn everything RS out for inspection. You will have the zipper attached to all four fabric body pieces from X to Y. The rest of the edges are loose (you can see the raw SA beyond the red arrow in the photo.

Fully unzipped from X to Y, the opening looks like this. Again, you can see the remaining open seams beyond the red arrows.

Stage 2: Sew the bridge
Turn the bag WS out again. Pair the outer layers together, and the lining layers together, as shown, with their respective RS in contact.

We'll be sewing each pair of fabrics into a separate bag and each separate bag to its respective gusset later.

Sew the bridge seams - these will be four disconnected seams: two on the outer pieces between XA and YB, and two on the lining pieces between XA and YB (in the photo, points X and Y are hidden). 

Do you see the loose ends of the fabric stops? Push them out of the way of your stitching lines without sewing over them - they will naturally settle into the SA region in a neat point when you turn your bag RS out.

Turn the bag RS out now and attach all strap anchors to the RS.

Stage 3: Attach the gussets
Now turn the bag WS out again, and attach
  • the outer gusset to the outer bag along both seams ACB, and
  • the lining's gusset to the lining bag along both seams ACB. Leave a gap along part of the seam for turning RS out later. 
Meet the seams at a neat point and, if you like, edge-stitch on the WS to flatten the SA and keep the seam edges crisp and sharp.

Here is the lining side:

Turn the bag RS out through the gap and hand-stitch that gap shut.



  1. very cool! thanks for such a great series, your directions are fantastic!

  2. I love how you turn an all-time basic into something new and one of a kind !

  3. This is such a cool bag. Thanks a lot for the tutorial.

  4. Can you explain this line a little more:
    edge-stitch on the WS to flatten the SA and keep the seam edges crisp and sharp.
    It's from Stage 3: Attach the gussets

    I'm not sure if I edge-stitch the main fabric or the lining or both and if I edge-stitch on one side or both sides.

    Thanks again for this great series. Can't wait to make myself a bag like this one for my knitting. I wanted something with a zipper so I didn't lose the little fiddly knitting accessories.

    1. Yes, Monica, and it's a great question. I'm glad you asked it! You do this to ONLY the outer layer (if you look at the second to last photo, you'll see no edgestitching along the lining gusset). And you do this while you can still access the RS of the finished, separate outer bag (i.e. probably before you attach the lining gusset to the lining body).

      As for the exact edgestitching procedure, I pressed open the gusset seams, then edgestitched on either side of those seams, stitching through the SA on the WS.

  5. I love the versatility of this bag. The extra height of the fold-over is perfect for rummaging through a stuffed bag (guilty of sometimes stuffing bags here) without anything falling out.

  6. This is great! Thank you for sharing.

  7. I am so impressed with this bag... I love this gusset style. Have you done a tutorial showing us how to make a rolled handle?

    Thank you so much for this post!

  8. In this part of your tutorial when you ask to push the fabric stops out of the way of the stitching lines without sewing over them you mean I should push them inside of the bag? I'm just trying to visualize this part and I am not sure I understood it right. And by the way....this is a GREAT series...loving it!

    1. Fernanda: No, don't push the fabric stops inside the bag (which would be the RS of the bag), because they would then show up on the outside of the bag when it is finished. Simply push them aside on the WS of the bag. Just don't sew on them at all.

    2. Ok, thanks! I'll understand this better when I make the bag. Can't wait!


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