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Second attempt at a bag for MIL

My MIL asked me to make her a bag as she had broken the handle on her old one (and it was a bit worn and tatty).  Her bag was real leather, but unlined and had no pockets inside just a slip pocket on the outside.  She kept her keys in one section, and her purse in the other.  She said she wanted to have the same two zipped sections, but didn’t need the shoulder strap.  I started by hunting for any bag pattern that had two zipped sections and a single handle.

The only one I found was the Butterfly Sling by  It has two zippered sections which fold up, and are held together with a strap.

sling shot

Not quite what she had in mind but I bought it and made this one for her to see.  She said she liked it, but really wanted one more like her old one, without the strap but with a handle.  So the Butterfly has flown to a new home, and I have gone back to the drawing board – literally.

I’m no bag designer, I’ve seen how much work is involved in getting a pattern just right.  Instead I am doing what our sister garment sewers call a mash-up, taking some elements from the Butterfly Sling and using them together with tips I learnt from making the “Essential Wristlet” ( to produce my own unique bag pattern.


Here are my pattern pieces;

  1. the main pouch, which is larger and has curves instead of corners

  2. a small zipped pocket, but for the inside of one of the pouches not the outside

  3. a more basic version of the card slots (just one full depth, undivided slot and two card slots)

  4. the side panel for the card slots insert

  5. zipper tab

  6. no pattern piece, but I am cutting a strip to make a handle too

The main problem difference is that I am using vinyl, which means I can’t just unpick it if it goes wrong!  It’s a rather nicely textured reddish black colour, recycled from an old bag, and won’t need any interfacing.  Leather was not really an option.

For the lining I’m recycling a shirt, wrong side out as I liked the colour better!  I ironed on some interfacing and have added the zipped pocket and card slots.  I am adding some applique hearts to the other sides as a surprise.

I fitted a new Leather needle and my walking foot, and used my u-handbag sewing clips for the vinyl.  I did not add any fleece or sew-in interfacing to pad it out as I didn’t think my machine could cope with all the layers vinyl, interfacing, lining and padding too. It actually went quite smoothly.  I have got into the habit of using my Jean-a-ma-jig when sewing from the thin to thick layers on these seams when I made the wristlets.

Here is the first pouch finished.  I used black zippers rather than try to match the red, and the tab ends are from some recycled black jeans.  It looks okay.  I’ve been warned off topstitching as it adds bulk in the seams, so the lining does bellow out a little as the vinyl won’t lie down.  I’ve since watched that pleather video with Nick Verreos and apparently I could have used glue and a hammer.  Oh well, maybe next time.

My lovely young assistant is showing you my card slots and applique hearts.  I did notice that her original bag had the two zippers the opposite way round, not both at the same end as on the Butterfly Sling, so I shall do the same.

Here is the second pouch, with the zipped pocket and more applique hearts.  Putting the hearts back to back will mean the zips open opposite ends, and then I will join them together as there are no pockets or slots in the way.

I have made my own piped vinyl handles.  Never tried this before.  I folded the edges in to meet at the middle, then folded that in half and clipped it in place, and stitched up the open side, close to the edge.

I pushed in a piece of handle tubing (reclaimed from another bag), moved my needle all the way to one side, and stitched up the other side of the handle and across the ends.

I left about 1 1/2” flat at both ends, ready to fit between the two pouches.  Fitting it all together with rivets was the most nerve racking part.  I measured and marked where I wanted them, then crossed my fingers and punched the first hole with my rotary punch.  Much to my surprise it actually worked, punching right through all the layers of lining and vinyl of both the pouches and the handle!

I used my 4 – 6mm Prym rivets as I needed longer ones than usual, and ended up putting 3 in each handle (playing it safe!) then one of my usual small ones in the centre of the bags to stop them gaping apart.

The finished bag is a little plain for my taste, but it’s not for me.  It’s big enough to hold her purse in one side and her keys in the other.  She may not use the zipped pocket or the card slots, but she can if she wants to, whereas her old leather one was unlined with nothing inside.

This bag will stand up by itself, and the handle can be held in the hand or hang on the wrist.  The old one had to be held in the hand and didn’t stand up.


So what do you reckon, is it pretty good or pretty ugly? 

Will she like it, or should I make her something else?

Log in to Word Press and let me know what you think!


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