Big Fat Gorgeous Handbag Free Tutorial

  If you are considering a really roomy bag with lots of pockets and a zip closure, one with elbow handles and a shoulder strap, you might consider making My Big Fat Gorgeous Handbag.  This bag has plenty of internal pockets including a good sized zipped pocket.

Materials for Bag
65cm quilting weight cotton for exterior of bag and interior pockets
65cm quilting weight cotton for interior of bag
65cm Quilters fleece (Vilene Thermolam)
sew-in interfacing or “soft and stable”
30cm Iron on firm interfacing (Vilene H250)
Leather or Leatherette Handles
30cm open end zip (The sort with large plastic teeth are best)
2 x 24cm zips
15cm of elastic
I recommend using a 14 or Jeans needle in your machine.

Cutting measurements
Bag body: 38 x 35 cms
Sides 17cm x 27.5cm
Side Tabs: 12cm x 4.5cm
Handle tabs: 39 x 10cms
Zip sides: 33.5 x 10.5cms
Inside Pockets: 20.5cm x 18cm
Outside pocket: 14 x 16cms
Shoulder strap: 93cm x 16cm

Cutting list
Cut 2 bag bodies in main fabric, interfacing and lining fabric.
Cut 4 inside pocket pieces in lining fabric and one piece of iron on interfacing 20.5 x 7cm
Cut 2 outside pocket pieces in lining fabric and one piece of iron on interfacing 14 x 7cm
Cut 2 sides in main fabric, interfacing and lining fabric.
Cut 2 side tabs in main fabric, interfacing and lining fabric.
Cut 1 handle tab in main fabric and 1 in iron on interfacing.
Cut 2 zip sides in main fabric and iron on interfacing
Cut 1 shoulder strap in main fabric and iron on interfacing

Pattern notes
All seam allowances are 1cm unless otherwise stated.

Step 1. Prepare Zip Closure Apply iron-on interfacing to both pieces of the closure fabric. Press under 1cm all the way round.

Take one side of the closure and fold in half longways. Undo the open ended zip and place one half of the zip into the closure. This should be like a sandwich – with the 1cm pressed fold on the bottom, then the zip, then the top of the closure. Using pins or clips secure the zip into place.
Starting at one end of the closure panel stitch a straight line along the edge capturing the zip in the panel. Then stitch across both ends of the panel. Don’t stitch too close to the teeth of the zip or else you’ll have trouble opening it.

Put this on one side while you make the bag body. (In this photo it looks like the two zip panels are different sizes – they’re not! It’s just my poor photography skills)

Step 2. Exterior zip. I included this zipped pocket to hold my mobile phone. More convenient than fishing through the bag to find it. You can skip this step if you don’t want an exterior zip.

I stitched a piece of the lining fabric on the front by turning the edges under and top stitching onto the exterior fabric with the interfacing atttached. You can skip this step if you don’t want to have an
oblong of contrasting fabric under your zip opening. Whether you decide to have the lining oblong or not you will need to apply the interfacing to the wrong side of your bag front piece.

Measure 9cm from the top of the bag front in the centre and mark with a pin. This is the mark for the zip opening. Iron the interfacing onto the wrong side of one of the pocket pieces.

Measure 3cm from the top of the pocket piece and draw a straight line at this mark to measure 14cm. The line should be central to the pocket. Using the picture above as a guide draw two more lines parallel to the first line. The two outer lines should be 1.5cm apart with the third line in bewteen them. Enclose the lines as shown. These outer lines are the stitching line. Place the pocket piece on top of the bag front right sides together, putting the central drawn line over the pin on the front. Pin the pocket into place and remove the original pin in the front. Stitch around the rectangle (just the outer lines) through all layers. Remove the piece from the machine. Carefully cut along the central line to the juctions at both ends.
Then cut the two little “v” shapes to the corners of the rectangle. Push the pocket fabric completely 
 through the cut hole and smooth out. Press.

Line up the zip under the hole so that from the front the zip is the right side up and the zip pull is at the end of the hole. Pin into place.

Stitch around the zip from the right side (front of fabric). Remove the pins as you sew.

Remove from the machine. Lay the pocket back over the pocket front and pin into place. Make sure you only pin the two pocket pieces together – it should not be pinned to the bag front at any point. Stitch around the pocket.

Step 3. Bag Body.
Apply the Thermolam to the wrong side of the other exterior fabric bag body piece with pins or spray baste. Place both pieces right sides together and stitch across the bottom.
Press the seams flat. Stitch along both sides of seam to keep the bottom flat. Next, apply the Thermolam to the wrong side of the side pieces. Fold the sides in half longways and mark the centre point. Lay the bag body right side up and place the side pieces on the body (right sides together) matching the centre bottom of the side pieces with the centre bottom of the bag body.
Stitch the side pieces to the bag body leaving 1cm at each end.

Make a little snip in the sides 1cm from each end where the stitching ends.

Swivel the sides of the bag body to match up with the sides of the sides. Pin into place. Stitch down both sides. Turn the body out to the right side.

Step 4. Handle tabs. Apply the iron-on interfacing to the exterior fabric. Fold both sides to the centre and press. Fold over again and press and stitch down both sides.

Choose a close zig zig stitch that is of medium width and stitch across all the ends of the tabs.

Put the tabs to one side with the leather or faux leather handles.

Step 5. Shoulder strap and side tabs.
There will be one shoulder strap and two side tabs Apply the interfacing to the wrong side of the tab exterior pieces. Place the tab top and lining right sides together and sew down both sides and
across the bottom. Clip the corners and turn out to the right side. Thread the metal o rings onto each tab. Zig zag across the unstitched ends.

Fold the tab over so the zig zagged end is about 2.5cm from the other end trapping the o ring in the fold. Stitch across the zig zagged end three times. Mark the centre of the bag sides approximately 10cm from the top. This is the stitching line for the tabs. Pin the tab into place and stitch across the bottom three times.

Apply the interfacing to the shoulder strap. Fold as you did for the tabs and stitch down both sides.
Trim the ends and zig zag across them. 

Slip the hooks over the ends of the strap and stitch across the ends three times, securing the hook.

Put the strap to one side.

Step 6. Slip Pocket.
Apply iron-on interfacing to one of the pocket pieces. Place the pocket pieces right sides together and stitch around all sides leaving a 5cm gap. Clip the corners and turn out through the gap. Press. If you want an elasticated pocket, fold the top of pocket over by 2cm and stitch along the seam to form a casing. Thread the elastic through the casing, stitch the elastic at one end to secure. Pull the elastic to create some tension and secure at the other end. 

(If you don’t want an elasticated pocket you can skip making the casing. When the pocket is stitched to the lining, stitch down the middle of the pocket making two smaller pockets). Mark one
of the lining body pieces 8cm from the top and in the centre. Place a pin in the top at the centre.

Place the pocket so that the centre is matched to the mark on the lining. Pin into place – if you are using the elasticated version the pocket should be stitched so that it is 1.5cm narrower at the top
than the bottom.

Stitch around the pocket both sides and the bottom, triple stitching at both top corners.

Step 7. Interior zipped pocket.
Follow the instructions at Step 2 to insert the zipped pocket into the lining. Make the hole 18cm wide instead of 14cms. Iron the interfacing to the top half of the
pocket piece instead of the whole piece.

Step 8. Lining.
Make up the lining in the same way as the bag body at Step 3 omitting the part about interfacing. Leave a gap in the bottom seam for turning out.

Step 9. Bag handles.
Placement of the handles will depend somewhat on the size of the handles you are using. Place the handles so that they are shaped as you will be using them in a nice crescent shape. Measure between the metal fittings on the handles. Use this measurement to work out where the handles will go on the top of the bag. Find the centre of the top of the bag and measure equally on either side. Make marks where the handles will go. Thread the tabs through the handle fittings. Put the tabs on the marks and stitch near the top of the bag.

Step 10. Assemble Bag.
With the handles lying flat against the bag body place it into the lining right sides together. 

Pin or clip around the top of the bag. Stitch around the top. Use the gap in the lining and turn the bag out to the right side.

Stitch the gap in the lining closed. (I do this by machine. Pin the gap together and stitch very close to the edge) Push the lining down into the bag. Topstitch around the top of the bag approximately 1cm from the edge.

Step 11. Finish.
Take the completed zipped panel. Place it in the top of the bag so it is the same measurement from each side seam. Pin or clip it into place. 

Stitch along the side of the zip panel trying to stitch on top of the previous stitching. (Don’t worry if this isn’t exact. Just use a toning shade of thread and no one will know) Triple stitch at each end.
Repeat for the other side of the zip panel. Take the shoulder strap and clip it to the o rings on the bag sides.

Give the bag a final press. If a dirt resist finish is required spray the bag with stain resistant spray like Scotchguard.

©Christine Down.
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