If you sew, sooner or later someone’s gonna offer you some upholstery samples. I know I should say no, but I just can’t turn them down. There’s something about all the colors and textures, and all perfectly coordinated with each other. The only problem is, what to make with them?
I’ve had a pretty good collection of these small fabric squares just sitting in my stash, perfectly folded and awaiting their destiny This year, creative inspiration hit.
Those rich textures and deep reds would be perfect to make a fall tote! So, I pulled some of the samples from the stash, patchworked them together, and created a brand new bag for myself! I paired it with some natural linen and some vintage crochet lace trim. A bit of burgundy velvet ribbon was the perfect finishing touch! Now I’ve got a fresh new bag all ready for my fall outfits and holiday parties.
I’ve got a tutorial for you below showing how you can make one for yourself!
I made my bag from a patchwork of upholstery fabrics. It’s a nice look but it is an extra step or two. You could just as easily make the bag from a solid fabric, no piecing, and the bag would still look nice. So in the instructions I’m just going to give the dimensions of the piece of fabric you need to end up with, whether you create that piece from patchwork or cut it from a single fabric is entirely up to you.
Finished dimensions are approximately 13” wide x 9 ½” tall, which is big enough to carry most everything I need for running around town, but still small enough that stuff doesn’t get lost down in the bottom. The bottoms are boxed for a nice finish.
I added a zipper pocket to the lining so I’d have a more secure place to hold smaller items.
But my most favorite feature is a hidden zipper pocket under the cuff! It’s the perfect spot to stash a bit of emergency cash or an extra key.
Both pockets are completely optional. Keep in mind that if you choose to put a pocket on the outside of the bag, you’ll need to be sure that the main bag fabric is not too thick. I’d avoid using upholstery samples with a thick chenille or velvet with the pocket.
Let’s get started!
Bag body fabric – 2 pieces, 15”x 13” from upholstery fabric samples. Patchwork is optional. See my note below for how I sewed the pieces together.
Lining fabric – 2 pieces, 15” x 13”
Strap fabric – 2 pieces, 4” x 23”
Strap fabric – 1 piece, 4” x 12” (for D-ring tabs)
Cuff fabric – 2 pieces, 15” x 9”
Lace trim – I piece, 30” long
4 1” D-rings
For each zipper pocket (optional):
Lining fabric – 2 pieces, 6” x 8”
6” (or longer) nylon zipper
How I created the patchwork: Instead of sewing them right sides together, which would create bulky seams, I just overlapped the edges and sewed them down. It left some raw edges but I liked that look for this project. I just zig zagged over the raw edges to keep them from fraying.
All seam allowances are ½” unless otherwise noted.
RST = right sides together
Make the zipper pockets (optional)
Instructions below are for a pocket on the lining. If you want to make a secret pocket under the cuff, follow the same process but use a bag body piece instead of a lining piece.
Place the pocket piece with the zipper markings on one of the lining pieces, RST, 1” from the top and centered horizontally.
Sew the box marked on the pocket piece.
Cut the line marked down the center of the box and make angled cuts toward the corners. Cut right up to the stitch line in the corners, being careful not to cut through the stitching.
Pull the pocket piece through the hole to the back of the lining piece. Press the edges and corners. You should now have a rectangular opening in the center of your lining piece.
Working from the front of the lining, center the zipper behind the hole. Glue baste in place. Stitch around the rectangular opening close to the edge.
Turn the lining piece over, so it is wrong side up. Place the remaining pocket piece on top of the pocket piece sewn to the back of the lining, RST.
Sew the pocket pieces together around all 4 sides with a ½” seam allowance, moving the lining out of the way as you sew. Sew only the pocket pieces; DO NOT sew through the lining.
Make the Cuff
Sew the short ends of cuff pieces RST to make a circle of fabric.
Fold the circle in half, raw edges touching and WRONG sides together.
Sew your trace trim around the bottom (folded) edge. For a clean finish, start sewing 1/2” before a side seam, continue around the cuff, and then stop stitching ½” before the end. Cut the trim an extra ½” longer than necessary and then tuck it under. Continue sewing the trim to the end, turn the corner and sew down the folded edge.
Make the Straps and D-Ring Tabs
Press the 2 23” strap pieces and the 12” D-ring tab piece in half lengthwise wrong sides together, then open up and fold long edges to the center and press again.
Top stitch close to the edge down both sides of each strap.
Cut the D-ring tab piece into 4 sections, 3” each.
Assemble the Bag
Sew the bag front to the bag back RST at sides and bottom.
Box the corners to create a 3” bottom. (To make a 3” bottom , your boxing seam should be 1.5” from the tip of the flattened out side seam.)
If you haven’t boxed corners before, here’s a good tutorial showing how.
Repeat above steps with the lining pieces.
Thread each D-ring tab through a D-ring, matching raw edges. Baste to top of lining 2.5” from each side RST and raw edges touching, with a ¼” seam allowance.
Pin the cuff around the top of the lining (layered over the D-ring tabs), RST and raw edges aligned. Baste in place with a ¼” seam allowance.
Turn the lining inside out. Place inside the bag outside, wrong sides together. (The straps and cuff will be on the inside of the bag.) Sew all the way around the top. Do not leave a hole for turning.
Zig zag over the raw edges to control fraying.
Flip the cuff over the top of the bag and press.
Finally, attach the straps to the D-rings. Being careful not to twist the strap, thread the ends of the strap through the D-rings, overlapping to the back by roughly 1”. Stitch across the strap to secure. If you want the seam to be extra strong, stitch a box and X pattern like below.
Your bag is finished!!