Creativity · Sewing

Simple shoulder bag (with 9 pockets!)

Here’s a little shoulder bag I made. The first one was for my mom for Christmas, but I liked it so much that I decided to make my own!


I’m going to write up some general notes, dimensions, etc. Keep in mind that none of these dimensions are set in stone. Make this bag in whatever size you so desire.

Cut the following pieces (all measurements are in inches):

12×10 – body – cut 3
34×4 – underbelly – cut 1
34×2.5 – straps – cut 2
3.5×10 – pocket 1 – cut 2
2×5 – pocket 1 lid – cut 2
4×4.5 – pocket 2 – cut 4
2×5 – pocket 2 lid – cut 4
8×6 – pocket 3a – cut 1
2×9 – pocket 3a lid – cut 1
5×4 – pocket 3b – cut 2
2×6 – pocket 3b lid – cut 2

1. Serge or zig-zag all edges of everything except the body and underbelly. This prevents raveling. I think it looks cute in this project to use coordinating (but not matching) thread to give a plain fabric a little more zing.

2. Sew all pockets onto a piece of body, leaving the top open. You’ll have two sets of pockets facing outward and one set of pockets on the inside divider. I did the pocket 1 set on the inside of the bag and pockets 2-3 on the outside, but again, do whatever you want.

3. Attach lids to the pockets. You do this by overlapping the pocket with the lid, so that there is .5″ overhang on either side and 1.5″ overhang from the top. Sew the sides and top edge of the lid, leaving the bottom open so as to access the pocket.

4. Serge or zig-zag the top edges of all 3 body pieces, then sew the front body panel to the inside body panel (wrong sides together), 1/4″ seam, long stitches. You can rip these stitches out later if you want. They’re just to keep the whole thing from sliding apart.

5. Sew the underbelly to the front body panel (right sides together, so the seam will be on the inside of the bag). When you reach the corner, put the needle down and rearrange the fabric, then turn and continue across the bottom side.

Note: on my project, after attaching the underbelly to the body, I had about 3″ of extra fabric. This is normal. Don’t panic that it didn’t line up.

6. Sew the back body panel to the underbelly to complete the bag (again, right sides together, so that the raw edges of seam are on the inside of the bag), starting your stitches on the same side of the underbelly as before, ending on the overhang side. Trim off the overhang, then serge or zig-zag the top edges of the underbelly piece. Finish the body-to-underbelly seams by zig-zagging or serging all layers together.

7. Attach the straps (you can attach 2 separate straps to the front and back panels, or double them up by sewing them together and making one strap and attaching it to the underbelly piece sides. I did the latter). Overlap the strap to the purse by about 1.5″ and sew along the strap at purse’s top edge, then diagonally across to the strap’s opposite corner, then back across the bottom of the strap edge, and back across diagonally… This makes an x with a bar on the top and the bottom (see the picture above). Be sure the strap isn’t twisted, then attach it to the other side.

That’s it! Clear as mud? Probably. It’s my first pseudo-tutorial, so have patience with me. If you have any questions, ask them below in the comments and I’ll get back with you.

When it all comes down to it, it’s your bag, so do whatever looks right to you. It’s all a learning proces… at least it is for me!


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