Category Archives: Bags & Pouches

Brooklyn Bag by Swoon Patterns

I purchased this pattern recently when attending the Bag Retreat in South Wales. When attending the Sewing Day organised by Sprat & Winkle Quilters I decided that making up the Handbag sized version for the first time would be a good project to concentrate on during the day. However, as it turned out, I did not get a lot done during that day and the bag had to wait until I returned from visiting my sister in North Wales before I could continue with the project.

For this first iteration I chose some Neutral-toned linen with an Oriental blossom-style floral motif from my stash of ‘landfill’ fabrics, whatever nickel hardware was in my stash plus some pretty multi-coloured cork bought from Purple Stitches that has long been in my bagmaking supplies.

I had not had much time to examine the sample bag thoroughly so this was pretty much an ‘exercise in the dark’. The Swoon instructions were comprehensive but as I have not made the style/type of bag before this was also a learning curve.

After several ‘false starts’ I finally managed to spend a couple of hours concentrated work on the bag. I used some remnant quilting cotton for the lining and added an extra slip pocket plus a long key keeper.

Quilting Cotton lining & long key keeper

I have learned a lot! The bag came up a little smaller than I expected though it is a good size for my personal requirements.

The Brooklyn Bag by Swoon Patterns

I will definitely make another using all quilting weight cotton fabrics and this time will order up hardware in the specific sizes as directed on the pattern. I will also adjust the length of the handles to my preferred dimensions as I found the ones cut according to the instructions to be a little short.

Project #052 completed 21st November 2022

Morgan Messenger Bag #2 – the ‘official’ one!

Bag Making Retreat in early October.

According to the pattern envelope the Morgan is the perfect gender- neutral, device carrying companion with secure top zip closure & flap in 2 sizes. The small size fits a tablet up to the size of 12.1” (30.7cm) screen inside the padded interior pocket. With zipped pocket, cargo pocket and hidden under-flap pocket, you’ll be sure to have plenty of space.

Construction notes: For this version I found a large remnant of some curtaining fabric and as the main colour was Blue, decided that I would use that combined with another large remnant of Blue quilting weight cotton for the lining. I have a large stash of nickel hardware so was able to use that, together with some newly purchased Bosal ® one-side fusible foam. After almost 2 hours of cutting out and applying various shapes of Bosal to the external pieces, I was ready to start the stitching. This time I did NOT make the error of applying Bosal to the flap before setting the zip for the under flap pocket! Once again I used a size 100 top-stitching needle for the final top stitching around the top of the bag and finished all the zip pulls with tassels!

Conclusion: For some reason, possibly the print of the fabric, this bag feels smaller than the previous iteration. Having now completed the ‘floating bridge’ method for insertion of zip closure on bags, I am more confident with this construction technique.

Morgan Messenger Bag #2 in Curtain-weight furnishing fabric
Internal ‘Floating Bridge’ Inset Zip closure
Internal Pockets

I am much happier with this bag so may even keep it for myself to use in the Summer next year.

Project #45 completed 5th October 2022

Companion Carpet Bag – re-cycling landfill fabric

Having just completed two versions of the Morgan Messenger Bag by Mrs H patterns I wanted to revisit my favourite Mrs H pattern – the Companion Carpet Bag. I had spied some lovely Lime Green Linen in the ‘proposed landfill’ stash and was determined to use it for an unusual bag! I already had an 8½ inch bag frame in my stash and together with co-ordinating fat quarters for the lining, this would be a ‘bag for free’.

I took the fabric, frame and pattern with me when attending the Bag Retreat in Wales but unfortunately did not manage to complete the construction whilst there. Also, I was seduced by the beautiful fabrics displayed by ‘Sew Hot’ in their pop up shop and purchased a metre of a contrasting cotton print (Nantucket Summer by moda ® Sail Check Plaids – Cream and Navy #55265 21) to use for the lining.

Nantucket Summer by moda

According to the pattern description The Companion Carpet Bag features a full width front pocket, which you can trim with piping or lace, bag feet, leather handles and optional leather snap tab. Inside there’s a zipped pocket and a slip pocket. The pattern uses an internal tubular frame, either 8.5″ or 12″.

Construction notes: Due to the thickness of the linen fabric I was able to omit fusible interfacing for the outer fabrics, but it was used on the linings and pockets. Bosal ® one-side fusible foam was used for the stabiliser to give structure to the bag, together with some plastic mesh bag base and some nickel bag feet from my stash of bag-making hardware.

Colourful zip and tassel on the internal pocket

For the internal zip pocket I used a Yellow zip with Cerise pink tassel for added colour.

External pocket trimmed with Nantucket Summer

The external pocket is trimmed with piping using the Nantucket Summer printed cotton.

Flap with magnetic snap underneath

I added a flap with magnetic snap fastener to go over the top of the frame and ensure that the bag is closed up. I also added my long zip keeper but this time it was not elasticated.

Long length key keeper

The linen fabric handles were made extra long so that they can go over my shoulder, they were padded with strips of Bosal for additional comfort.

Long padded handles for use over the shoulder

Conclusion: This pattern is definitely my favourite style of handbag and so far each one that I have made has something a little different. So after making 3 bags ‘on the trot’ it is time to return to dressmaking as I am in need of some new ‘Autumnal’ dresses and blouses…..

Project #46 completed 9th October 2022

Morgan Messenger Bag #1 – trial and error!

Further along the way of my bag-making journey I am booked into a Bag Making Retreat in early October. In advance of the retreat we were sent a copy of the bag pattern that is planned. After perusal of the pattern I felt it would be a good idea to make a ‘trial’ version.

According to the pattern envelope the Morgan is the perfect gender- neutral, device carrying companion with secure top zip closure & flap in 2 sizes. The small size fits a tablet up to the size of 12.1” (30.7cm) screen inside the padded interior pocket, whilst the large size will accommodate a laptop up to the size of 15.4” (39cms) screen. With zipped pocket, cargo pocket and hidden under-flap pocket, you’ll be sure to have plenty of space.

So, from this description I realised that the bag would be quite an involved and complicated sew. As I knew that I had no need of the large sized bag, I planned to make the smaller version. I had just over a 1 metre remnant of cotton fabric from cutting out a ‘Harley’ dress and decided to use this to make an ‘in your face’ BOLD bag!

BOLD cotton print fabric

Construction notes: Although the instructions are very comprehensive, I did manage to make some minor errors in the construction. As envisaged, the bag is a complicated make. I usually budget 4 hours to make a blouse or shirt, 6-8 hours for a dress, but this bag took 10 hours of intense work!

I have a large stash of nickel hardware so was able to use that, together with ‘headliner’ foam instead of the recommended Bosal ®. I made an error in applying the foam to the front flap BEFORE inserting the zip for the hidden pocket and that made the zip facing and insertion a little difficult. The tab at the end of the inserted zip is not my best work and I added an elasticated key keeper.

Morgan Messenger Bag – internal pockets

I left the bottom of the internal zip pocket unstitched and it was fairly easy to turn the bag through to the right side before stitching the opening closed again. The top stitching around the top of the bag was completed using a size 100 top-stitching needle which worked well – something to remember next time.

Morgan Messenger Bag – small version

Conclusion: This could be a very useful bag for someone needing to carry a lot of ‘kit’ around. As I do not have a need for this type of bag, although I will be making again at the retreat probably using fabric from my stash, it is not something that I will keep.

Project #43 completed 23rd September 2022

Annette handbag #1

By way of easing myself back into the process of bag making, I decided to ‘have a go’ at the Annette bag. I have had the pattern for a very long time but simply never got around to it.

Screenshot of the Annette bag by Swoon Sewing Patterns

According to the Swoon website the Annette bag is perfect for all occasions. The tote is stylish and practical with a sleek and classic look. The bag features handles, a removable shoulder strap, two exterior pockets and optional decorative feature. The bag can be made in fabric or vinyl/faux leather. Bag dimensions are listed as width: 13″ (33 cm), height: 9″ (22.9 cm), depth: 5″ (12.5 cm).

This bag pattern was the project undertaken at Kittenish Behaviour’s most recent Sewing Retreat but unfortunately I was unable to attend. However, Sian has released a vlog demonstrating how to add an internal zip closure to the bag rather than a zip at the top of the bag and this was the prompt for me to try the pattern.

As this was going to be a ‘trial run’ of the bag, I chose fabric from my vast stash of ‘landfill’ furnishing fabrics. I had a small piece of print featuring birds in autumnal shades plus some geometric print in a coordinating colour. I decided to use nickel hardware as there seemed to be plenty of that in my bag-making stash.

Construction notes: I used fusible interfacing to stabilise the furnishing weight linen and ‘headliner’ stabiliser. ‘Headliner’ is a foam stabiliser (an alternative to Bosal ®) that is used in the car manufacturing industry to line the insides of cars e.g. roof and door panels. As it is not fusible I machine basted within the seam allowance to the interfaced pieces of the bag. Inside the bag I added a zip pocket, a divided slip pocket that is specially sized for my ancient mobile phone and an extending key keeper. I added 6 bag feet and my own ‘Carousel Cottage Crafts’ label.

Internal pockets
Extending Key Keeper

Conclusion: Unfortunately constructing this bag was not a particularly pleasant experience especially as I made so many basic errors during the process it has rather coloured my view. I don’t think that I will use it very much, if at all.

Small Bird Panel

It all started to go wrong when I realised that I had cut the outer of the side pockets in the wrong print and by the time I realised the error, there was insufficient of that print fabric remaining. When attaching the D rings for the handles I did not notice that I was blocking out the head of the large bird print on the panel.

Large Bird Panel

I was impatient to get the internal zip fitted and did not take the time to check online for instructions. I now know better! I took on board Sian’s suggestion to leave part of the side panel lining unstitched so that I could turn the bag right side out through that larger opening. It was still a wrestling match. Had I taken the time to layer and clip the seam allowances the top edge of the bag would be neater as would the top stitching. Although I was aware of the dimensions of the finished bag, to be honest it is larger than I like. I cannot envisage that I will ever use the external pockets as I don’t consider them to be secure enough, except perhaps for a water bottle. I have a strong suspicion that my next bag will be the Carpet Bag by Mrs H. I have previously made at least 3 versions of that bag and it is definitely my favourite!

Project #41 completed 7th September 2022

Ethel Tote Bag

As a change from dressmaking, I decided to make a new handbag, especially as I have not made one since BC (before Covid!).

Ethel by Swoon Patterns

I chose the ‘Ethel’ by Swoon patterns. Ethel is a roomy, sturdy and stylish open tote bag. With a teardrop shape, Ethel veers away from the usual boxy tote. It’s a “stuff it in and run out the door” kind of bag, designed to comfortably sling over your shoulder. There are a few slip pockets for the small things.

Ethel bag for a friend

I have previously made this bag as a gift so now I will have one of my own. I used a remnant of stretch cotton denim that I had left over from a pair of ‘Texas’ trousers. For the lining, I used remnants from the recently made ‘Libby’ blouse.

Construction notes: I used fusible interfacing to stabilise the stretch floral print denim and ‘headliner’ stabiliser. ‘Headliner’ is a foam stabiliser (an alternative to Bosal ®) that is used in the car manufacturing industry to line the insides of cars, e.g. roof and door panels. As it is not fusible I machine basted within the seam allowance to the interfaced pieces of the bag. Although not instructed in the pattern, I also used headliner in the handles and 2 layers in the bag base. I cut a pattern for a Flap to which I attached a slip lock in nickel (from my bag-making hardware stash) and added 4 nickel bag feet to the base.

Elasticated slip pocket

Inside the bag I made an elasticated top slip pocket plus a divided slip pocket that is especially sized for my ancient mobile phone.

Wrangling the bag is a little like arm wrestling when turning right side out but I am delighted with the end result.

Ethel in Stretch Floral Print Denim

Project #38 completed 16th August 2022

Sweetpea Pod Pouches & Pin Dog

At a recent sewing morning with friends I was asked to make a couple of these charming Sweetpea Pod pouches so that they could be gifted to a new sewing granddaughter of one of our members.

I recall that many years ago I made a dozen or so of the pouches as Christmas gifts, however I did not remember exactly how to make them. After a long search through the pattern files on my computer I gave up and ordered a new copy from a seller on

The pdf arrived and has now been safely stored on my patterns usb memory stick. I have also printed off and placed in my ‘quick projects’ folder!

It took about 40 minutes to make the two pouches and I still had a large piece of the fabric remaining. What to do? I made yet another pin dog! So in the space of 1½ hours I had completed the projects and hope that the recipient will enjoy using the sewing accessories as much as I did when making them.

Sweetpea Pouches & Pin Dog

Project #29 completed 27th May 2022

Applique Patchwork Bag

The second Monday of each month is when I attend the Patchwork & Quilting club/class at Franklins in Salisbury. This week we enjoyed a new form of raw-edge applique using patchwork shapes.

Emma had sent through a list of requirements together with a link to a Youtube video on how to make a simple lined tote bag. I prepared as per the instructions and during the morning’s class was pleased to make the initial appliques and fuse them onto the centre panel of my bag.

I completed the decorative stitching on the appliques at home together with the construction of the bag. I watched the vlog on my Hudl tablet but must admit that I found the instructions confusing. I think in future I will stick my TNT method for bag making.

Conclusion: I am very pleased with the end result which has used up a tiny fraction of my scraps stash fabrics. There will definitely be more in the future!

Project #4 completed11th January 2022

Bargello Patchwork Bags

Now I am in full swing for Christmas gifts sewing. These are the first to be completed but the descriptions will not be posted until after Christmas Day as I know the recipient regularly visits this blog.

I made two Bargello patchwork blocks using a Fabric Freedom jelly roll that I knew matched one that Antje had shown in her correspondence with me. I bordered the blocks with strips from the jelly roll to give larger blocks as I wanted to make this a LARGE bag. I used a contrast lining of Blue background Lewis & Irene print that I had been keeping for a special project. I added a small zip pocket to the lining, plus a slip pocket as I always find such things very useful. The carrying handles/straps are made from strips from the jelly roll and are extra long so that the bag can be carried over the shoulder.

The second item made using the jelly roll was a patchwork project bag. I utilised some of the remnants of the Bargello patchwork for one side and made a ‘quilt as you go’ diagonal patchwork for the reverse. The zip closure came from my stash and I added a pretty tassel to the zip pull as that little something extra!

To complete the project I added a key fob using yet another strip from the jelly roll. The parcel was posted off to Germany on Monday 6th December. I hope that it arrives in time and that Antje is pleased with the gift.

Projects #84 & #85 completed 2nd December 2021

Oriental theme Christmas Gifts

For this person I chose some fabric printed with little Japanese girls in traditional dress. The recipient seems to have an affinity with the Orient as her website has a Japanese name and in the past she has introduced me to Manga art.

Once again I made a ‘window’ project bag and supplemented this with a simple slip case suitable for a ‘kindle’ or ipad.

The project bag was filled with a printed pattern for bagmaking and a selection of charm-sized (5 inch squares) pretty cotton fabrics.

Projects #90 and #91 completed 6th December 2021