How to Sew a Simple Satchel




Introduction: How to Sew a Simple Satchel

About: Make. Learn. Repeat! I got an old sewing machine when I was just a kid, and I've been making stuff ever since. My name is Sam and I'm a community manager here at Instructables.

This is a small satchel-style bag I made for my daughter.

For a 6-year-old without any income, candy is her currency . . . and she hoards it like a miser.

She's got a perpetual stash of candy and has been keeping it for months in a gallon-size ziploc bag.

I figured if I was a good dad and sewed her up something a little more classy, she might share some of her candy with me.

Nope! I'm still candy-less.

But the satchel turned out very nicely, and I think the design is easily repeatable and scalable. No pattern required!

Step 1: Material

If my daughter is a candy hoarder, perhaps that tendency comes from me, as I'm a fabric hoarder.

I especially like harvesting material from thrift store clothes, and the funkier and more interesting the better.

We have a large jar of buttons that was inherited from a Grandma, to which I occasionally make new contributions from the spoils of my fabric pillaging.

This bag was made from a pair of my own old work pants, a knit sleeve from a rather ugly sweatshirt, a webbing belt, and a button from our old button jar.

Step 2: Cut Out Two Tall Gumdrop Shapes

I didn't use a pattern or take cues from any place, but this design seems so simple and logical that I'm sure it already exists in many forms. So while I "made it up" . . . I'm certain I'm not the first to make a bag just like this.

I started by cutting out two equal shapes from the pant leg material.

The size and shape are shown in the photos. This was just made up based on the amount of material available, and what I thought looked good.

Step 3: Cut One of the Shapes

One of the shapes was folded over, ironed down, and cut along the crease. The measurement for the cut is noted in the photo.

The cut edges were sewn with a zigzag stitch to keep them from fraying.

The lower piece will become the front panel of the bag, and the upper piece will be used to reinforce the flap which is also the top half of the back panel.

Step 4: Join Top Cut Piece to Whole Piece

The top piece cut in the last step was pinned to the top of the remaining whole back panel/flap piece, and then stitched down as shown.

Step 5: Prepare and Attach Gusset

A long strip of fabric is prepared to join the front and back pieces of the bag (thus making a gusset).

This was made from two 2 1/2" wide strips of the funky sleeve material, joined to make one longer piece that was about 32 inches long.

This was clipped to the front panel piece cut in step 3 with the good side facing in, and stitched in place as shown.

Step 6: Trim and Zigzag

The extra material from the gusset ends is trimmed off and the sewn edge and top edge are zigzag stitched.

This entire top edge could have been zigzagged in one shot at this point, rather than separately as I did.

Step 7: Hem

The top edge of the front panel + gusset ends is folded over about 3/8" and ironed and clipped to hold, and then stitched down.

Step 8: Join Front Panel to Back Panel

This is the trickiest part of this project. Place the panels good sides face-to-face, and clip or pin together.

Note the orientation of the back panel's reinforced upper flap and make sure it is facing as shown in the photos.

Sew the gusset to the back panel and zigzag the edges to prevent fraying.

Step 9: Cut Notches in Flap, Fold Right-sides Out

The back panel's flap portion needs little notches cut all around in order for it to fold right-sides out and be able to be ironed flat.

Cut notches as shown, fold it right-side out, and iron it flat.

Step 10: Top-stitch Flap

The edges of the flap are top-stitched as shown. The zigzagged straight edge of the reinforcing panel is also stitched down.

Step 11: Add Strap

The old belt was used to make the carry strap. It was trimmed to a length that looked good to me, and the edges were hit with a flame from a lighter to prevent them from fraying.

The ends were stitched to the inside faces of the upper ends of the gusset, using a zigzag stitch.

Step 12: Choose a Button, Mark for Button Hole

We looked through our button jar for an especially large and distinct button that would fit nicely on the bag, and chose this plastic reddish one.

Marks were made for a large button hole at the bottom of the flap.

Step 13: Make a Button Hole

A button hole was sewn. No automatic button hole makers on my machines, I just do it the old way with zigzag stitches.

Using a sharp chisel and a backing block, the actual button hole was cut between the stitches.

Step 14: Stitch on the Button

The button was stitched onto the front panel of the bag by hand.

That's it - you're done!

You've got a brand new satchel for your candy stash.

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    2 years ago

    Great job. That turned out really nice. And, that candy!!! Wow! I love that you used clothing to make it. That's awesome.


    2 years ago on Introduction

    Super funny "dad".. Now you can sew her a matching wallet and coin purse. ( maybe someday she will share her stash of cash;))


    2 years ago

    This look nice ! Too bad you didn't get to eat candy.

    Penolopy Bulnick
    Penolopy Bulnick

    2 years ago

    Love that bag! Looks so straight-forward to make :)


    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks! It was super easy - and I think adding pockets and maybe a liner wouldn't be too hard to include as additional features.