Introduction: Make a Stylish Shoulder Bag

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A stylish shoulder bag designed and made by Davina Thomas at Popular Patchwork.

When Davina was asked to donate a quilt to a promises auction, she was put off by the terrible tales of quilts auctioned for less than the cost of the fabrics, disregarding the time and effort taken. Instead she promised to donate a bag to be made in the winner’s choice of colour and style. The front and back of the bag are not the same although you could choose to have both sides the same if you preferred.


60cm of fabric for lining and handles
Four fat quarters of toning fabrics for patchwork
Two packs of 3⁄4in Clover adjustable strap slide or other oblong rings
50cm of lightweight cotton wadding

Finished Size
40 x 18cm (15 x 7in) plus strap

Skill Level

Step 1: Preparation

1. Cut two straps 2in wide across the width of your fabric. You can wait until the bag is made to check the length, but you want to make sure you leave enough fabric to cut the long strips. If you forget you can piece them later.

2. Use the template to draw the full size pattern. Davina used a dinner plate to get a good curve between the handles. You can either draw half the shape and pin onto the folded fabric or make a full version. Cut two pieces of lining and wadding using your pattern piece.

Step 2: Triangles

1. The front of the bag has two styles of triangle borders: a free cut log cabin row and a small triangle row. For the log cabin blocks cut small triangles approximately 2in on each side. Sew a strip of contrasting fabric to each side in turn, until the triangle has a border all the way round.
2. Join the triangles together, alternating the direction of the points to make a strip. It does not have to be a straight strip, and depending on the starting triangles and borders, it might not be straight.
3. Lay the triangles and the finished strip on to your lining fabric as this helps you judge where to add the next triangle. Continue until it is long enough to go right across the bag.
4. To make the small triangle borders, cut 2 1⁄2in strips from your four fabrics. Layer them all RS up and cut across into triangles.
5. Take one fabric from each layer in turn and lay them out to give a new strip of alternating coloured triangles. Sew together to create a row of small triangles.
6. Continue working in this way until you have created a piece of fabric large enough for one side of the bag. Davina chose to have a plain section at the top where it turns into the handle for simplicity and strength.

Step 3: Braid

1. The back of the bag has two rows of braid running down from the straps to the bottom of the bag with plain strips in between.

2. To make the braid cut 1 3⁄4in strips from your fabric of about 6in long. Starting with one colour sew the next so it meets the bottom of the first strip at right angles.

3. Continue adding strips on alternate sides until the braid is long enough to go from the strap down to the base of the bag. Trim the sides of the braids level, cutting off the spare triangles. The thrifty maker could save these to use for the centres of other log cabin triangle blocks in the future. Make two braids.

4. Join together the spare strips to make a panel large enough to cover the central area and sew the two braids to either side. Add a dark purple triangle section to the sides until you have made a piece large enough.

Step 4: Quilting and Pocket Details

1. Davina chose to quilt over just the wadding and top, but if you wanted you could add a lightweight backing. Don’t forget there is a lining fabric too and you don’t want the bag to be too bulky.

2. Add pins to hold the wadding and top fabric together and free machine quilt in triangles and swirls over the bag. Repeat for the other piece. Hand stitching would work equally well; you could try big stitches along the braids and around the triangles.

3. For a key loop sew a small rouleau (or cheat with ribbon) and add a ring to one end. For the inner phone pocket, join together some scraps to make a small pocket of 4 x 6in and sew a hem on top.

4. Press under a hem around the three remaining sides and pin in place. Catch the key loop in place as you sew. Try to have a small pleat in the bottom of the pocket as this makes it easier to slip your phone in and out. Don’t forget to check that your phone will actually fit before you stitch the pocket.

Step 5:

1. With RS together pin the lining to the bag and sew the upper curved edges. Open out and pin the side edges of the bag together, then pin the two lining edges together. Sew in one continuous seam; you can use a generous 1⁄4in seam allowance. Sew the base of the two bag pieces together. To create the flat base pinch together the two short seams matching the seamlines and sew across. For the lining base ensure that you leave a 5in gap in the base to turn through later and then complete sewing as for the bag’s outer section.
2. If you want a firm base in the bag insert a piece of thick card 10 x 3in and then slipstitch the gap in the lining closed. To keep the lining inside the bag you can top stitch just away from the edges of the curved seams.
3. To make the handles, hold the bag in the position it feels most comfortable and get a friend to measure the ideal handle length. Add 1in for turnings. Take the two 2in wide pieces you cut in step 1 and trim to the correct length. If in doubt add extra length as it is easier to cut off than to add on.
4. Fold the straps RS together and sew the long seam. For added strength you can press Vilene onto the whole strap before you sew. Turn through to the right side.
5. Slip the upper ends of the bag over the straight edge of each slider and fold. Turn under the ends and stitch in place. For strength, sew this by machine with a zipper foot so you can get close to the slider.
6. Repeat to sew the straps to each slider in the same manner, adjusting the length if needed. Ensure that the straps are not twisted before you sew.