Saturday, 20 March 2010

Hobo Shoulder Bag

Now that I have conquered one of my biggest sewing fears of zips and actually found out that I really enjoy sewing with them I wanted to continue using them for now. For this tutorial I have chosen to make a Hobo Shoulder Bag based on one of Diana Rupp’s patterns taken out of her Sew Everything Workshop book.
I still had some of that funky fabric left over which I made my pencil case out of and thought it would make a great bag. 

Equipment Required

  • 15” x 11”  2 different Fabric (for outside & lining)
  • 3 1/4”x20” Fabric for the Strap (Outside & Lining)
  • 20” All-purpose Zip
  • Sewing Machine (Universal and Denim/ or Stretch needle)
  • Seam Ripper
  • Loop Turner or Stick
  • Scissors
  • Thread Cutters
  • Matching Thread
  • Rotary Board/ Ruler/ Rotary Cutter
  • Paper/ Pen – For making the pattern
Techniques: Basting Stitch, Top Stitching, Zips, Straight Stitch, Lining,  Loop Turner, Pattern Making, Grading & Clipping
Seam Allowance: 1/2”
Time Taken: 1 Day

1. Making the Pattern


For making the bag pattern measure a rectangular shape of 15” x 11” and use a curve for one of the corners. The handle is a 3 1/4”x 20” long rectangle. The body of the bag needs to be cut on the fold. As I recycled a skirt, I folded this over and placed the body of the bag pattern on the fold, which I then cut out.

2. Cut out the Pieces


Cut out 4 pieces from the main bag pattern (2 for the outside and 2 for the lining). Cut 2 of the handle (1 outside and 1 lining).

3. Constructing the Main Outer Body of the Bag


Put the right sides of the main fabric for the body of the bag together. Measure a 1/2” seam allowance at the top, this will be used for inserting the zip later.

Basting Stitch
Put the sewing machine on straight stitch setting  and adjust the stitches length to the longest, this will create a basting stitch and make it easier to un pick later. Tip: As basting stitches are only used for a temporary measure I find it easier to use bright thread to make it easier to see when unpicking later.

4. Press the Seam


Use an iron and press open the seam, which you have just created.

5. Using the Zipper


Line up the zip face down on the open seam. Pin to hold it in place. I used a smaller zip (around 15”) long than the size specified in the book but this later caused me problems in the final construction stages.

6. Baste the Zipper in place


Use the basting stitch to hold the zipper in place.

7. Secure the Zip


Use a straight stitch with your zipper foot and sew the zip into place. For advice on sewing with the zipper foot see some great video tutorials on YouTube.

8. Unpick the Stitch


Now that the zipper is secure on the fabric use the seam ripper and unpick all of the basting stitches.

9. Bag Seams


Use a regular straight stitch and sew from where the zipper is around all the sides, remembering to back stitch at the start and end of stitching.


Press all the seams open using an iron.


Use either a pair of scissors or rotary cutter and grade all of the seams. Grading means to cut one side shorter then the other. Clip the curves of the bag using scissors be careful not to cut into the stitches.

Making the Lining


Put right sides together and stitch along the sides and the bottom of the bag, leave the top open. As I was sewing with satin fabric I needed to use a denim needle, so I swapped my universal needle and replaced it with this needle to be able to sew better. Remember to press open the seams and clip the curves.

Making the Handle


Place the right sides of the handle together and pin along the top. Sew a straight stitch along where the pins have been placed. Trim the seam allowance to 5/8”. Use a long stick or loop Turner and turn the handle the right way round. For instructions on how to use a loop turner see Burda Style techniques.


Use an iron to press the handle flat and top stitch along the outside of the edges.

Attaching the Handle to the Bag


Line up the centre of the handle to the corners of the bag and sew in place. Go over the same stitches a few times to make it strong.

Putting it All Together


Slide the lining over the bag and tuck in the top, this is to cover up the raw edges and to stop fraying of the fabric. Use a straight stitch and stitch all around. Be careful not to get the lining caught in the zipper. Use the free arm on the sewing machine to help. The bag is complete and ready to go.

Final Thoughts


This is the first bag I have made apart from shoe bags and I am very pleased with the results. Using a smaller zipper created problems where I could not sew all the way around using the sewing machine and I had to finish off hand sewing. The lining was mixed with two shades of gray as I did not have enough of one fabric to cover the whole of the inside of the bag, however I love the contrast it creates. Now I am waiting for the warmer weather to be able to show off my new summer bag.

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