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Forever Shopper Bag Sewing Project

I treated myself to this pattern by Spencer Ogg because it looks so good! I have never worked with oilskin or waxed canvas, and I had never even heard of dry oilskin before, but I wanted to try it now. The suggested supplier for the u.k. are Merchant & Mills who ship worldwide, but you can get oilskin in the U.S. from and A.L. Francis Textiles, and in Australia from Merchant & Mills do have fabulous oilskin/dry oilskin fabric at £20/22 per metre, but I was a bit dubious about using it for my first attempt so I opted for some waxed canvas I found on eBay instead.

It wasn’t a heavy 10-12 oz weight as suggested, so it can’t stand up by itself, but it was really easy to sew and let me make mistakes without being consumed with guilt! Please don’t say you never have days where you sew a 1/2″ seam when it should have been 1/4″ or I shall feel very alone!

The pattern gives you lots of options to choose from. I went for using rivets to reinforce the pocket and fix the boxed corners in place. I made my own handles from some leather I was given, stripped from a sofa before it was taken to the dump. I simply cut 2 strips 3/4″ wide and 23″ long and stitched them together. I skipped the magnetic catch but did make the ring tabs for a shoulder strap from the same leather. I liked that they were riveted on too!

I did kick myself for using a brass jeans zipper and brass D rings but silver rivets! I have ordered brass rivets today ready for my Oilskin (or maybe Dry Oilskin) version! As mine cannot stand up and hold it’s shape as well as it would in the heavy fabrics, I made a base with some plastic corrugated card slipped into a waxed canvas sleeve. The bag still folds flat but has a bit more definition in the derriere! I guess you could call it my wearable muslin!

I took it out and about in the truck yesterday, filled it with shopping and loved it! I came home and looked at the piece of waxed canvas I still had left from the one metre I had bought, and decided there was enough to make the smaller version too! I just had to make the pockets smaller (and I skipped the D-ring tabs) but otherwise it is just the same, but smaller.

Big sis and Little sis!

I made the straps the same size so this is more of a shoulder bag than the big version, though I can just about get that on my shoulder too. I love them both, so the next big decision is what colour to make my Oilskin/Dry Oilskin one! Then whether to carry on making my own straps or treat myself to some proper leather ones! Another option is to recycle a leather belt, but that would depend on what my local charity shops have.

The Forever Shopper out shopping

Spencer designed it to be “A proper retro shopper like the good old days, just like your granddad used to have in the cupboard under the stairs. A great unisex shopping tote.” I think she has nailed it! I love that I can chuck them in the truck and not fuss about them.

So in the end I bought ‘Chocolate’ oilskin from Merchant & Mills here, and tan leather strapping from Leatherworld Direct on e-bay. I made both the large and small bag at the same time. In tandem! I rounded the ends of the straps and punched holes for the rivets, and this time I used antique brass effect rivets to go with the brass zippers.

I had bought a bone marker as suggested (this set from and found it very useful for marking the cutting and sewing lines accurately, and the whole experience was very satisfying! Rather addictive in fact. I may suffer withdrawal symptoms!

Here are my Chocolate girls enjoying the sun!

These are the two small versions out for a shopping spree!

You can buy the pattern from Spencer Ogg’s shop on Etsy here


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