Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tutorial: How I Made a Bag from a Jacket

A Jacket + An Idea = A New Bag

As I promised, today I'm showing how I made a bag from a jacket you saw in my previous post. The bag is not hard to make and does not require a lot of skills, so don't hesitate to make it even if you never made a bag before! So, let's move on to the tutorial :)

For my latest creations, please visit my blog: https://sewingjulie.com/

Attention: I'm not the professional (have that in mind) and there are many ways to sew the same garment, this is how I make it!


- Jacket or any other material for outside of the bag. My jacket was from a material called alcantara (I guess), which is nice to work with but very hard to find (I heard of it for the first time). So I would suggest you use faux leather or suede (because they are waterproof and lasts long), but it's up to your fantasy - you can use either mentioned materials, either fabric, either mix of different materials. However, the stuffed handles might look weird in fabric, so use faux leather or something like that for handles or make different kind of handles.

- Infusible interfacing. I used the strongest interfacing they offer in a fabric store.

- Fabric for lining. Use what ever king of fabric you like, though I suggest either dark colored, either fabric with lots of print on it - it won't get dirty as quick as bright colored fabric will.

- Zipper. If you want the zipper detail like in my bag, your zipper has to be longer than the length of your bag. Of course, if you don't want your zipper to stand out, you can use a shorter zipper :)

- Cardboard. Ok, I'm a bit confused whether this is the right translation, but anyway, I used that sturdy piece of paper from the back of notebooks ;D This will make the bottom of the bag sturdy.

- Glue. I use Moment Universal glue. You can only use glue for suede and faux leather, so if you use regular fabrics you won't need this.

- Stuffing for the handles. As I haven't yet found the perfect stuffing, I used cotton cosmetic pads torn in little pieces, but feel free to use something else if you don't have any.

- Thread.

The Plan:

If you read any of my previous tutorials, you know that I always start with a drawing of the bag:

This is a drawing I made. The colorful lines show the most important measurements. This is a part you need to think of how big you want your bag to be and what proportions to use.

Red line in my bag is equal the green line and they both are 30 cm length. I do understand that other women carry a lot in their bags, so don't hesitate to change the measurements to meet your needs :)

The front detail is just a decorative part, if you don't like it - simple change this part (this bag is so easily changeable that you can make it look whatever you want it to be). Anyway, yellow lines are 4 cm each, and the blue line is 22 cm long (30 - 4- 4 = 22).

The width of my bag is 10 cm.

The Pattern:

Details of the pattern for the outside of the bag with the measurements I used (all measurements are in centimeters; measurements are without seam allowance, so when you cut the pieces, don't forget to add it):

A - the middle square (22x22); you'll need 2 of them, since the front and the back of the bag are the same;

B - these go on top and down of the detail A. You'll need 4 of them (4x22);

C - these go to the sides of detail A. You'll need 4 of them (4x30);

D - bottom (10x30), 1 detail;

E - sides. 2 details (10x26);

F - zipper details, length matches the length of the bag, 2 details (4x30);

G - handles; 2 details (I'll talk the measurements later);

H - side detail for the zipper; must be wider than a width of the zipper (mine was 6x2). Zipper will also require long stripes for the sides, 2 details (3x25) and one small details for the end (~4x3).

For lining, I cut 2 side pieces and 30x70 piece, and a little square for pockets.


Front details

You'll be creating 2 pieces (for front and back of the bag) like in the photo. For this cut pieces A, B and C and iron on the interfacing on them.

If you cut the jacket, make sure you cut the biggest parts first, because later you may not have enough fabric. I usually leave 1 sleeve for the handles.

Take part B (wrong side up) put on the top of the piece A (right side up), sew along the long edge, then put the second part B on the bottom of piece A and sew again.

To create a flat look for the outside, go to the ironing board, put the detail wrong side up and fold the seam (photo 1), put a long strap of interfacing on top (p. 2) and iron. This will glue the seam to the detail and the right side will look smooth.

Than take piece C, sew on the side of the piece A (p. 3) and sew the other piece C to the other side. Iron on the interfacing like in photos 1 and 2, so that you have a nice square like in photo 4.

Create the other square exactly the same way.

The Handles

Now that you have the front and the back done (p. 5), lets make the handles. To decide what kind of endings I want for the handles, I cut to different shapes and put them on top just to see which one looks best (p. 6). I decided to go which sharper look (p. 7). The length of the handle is a very subtle thing. For example I like to carry my bag and I like short handles, so I cut about 47 cm length straps (the length without the endings). If you like to carry your bag on shoulders, cut longer handles. Width is ~4 cm. Iron on interfacing at the ends (p. 8).

 Fold the ends of the handles and stitch by hand (p. 9), then make a nice seam and remove the stitch you made by hand (p. 10). Fold the long edges and make seams (p. 11), then fold the handle along the long edge and sew around (p. 12).

Repeat with a second handle.
Take one end of the handle and secure it (p. 13), take the stuffing and stuff the handle (p. 14). Make sure the handle is evenly and strongly stuffed, with no bumps. 

Place the ends of the handles on the front piece and sew (p. 15). You should attach handles by sewing on top of the seam you made in photo 10.

Repeat with a second handle.

The Bottom and Sides

Cut the bottom piece and iron on the interfacing. Attach the bottom to the ends of the front squares (p. 17).

Now we are going to make that little thing that holds the hanging zipper in place. Take a small piece of fabric (about 6x2 cm plus seam allowance), fold the long edges and makes seams (p. 18). Put on one side piece, a little above the middle, and sew sides (p. 19).

Take a side piece (I didn't iron the interfacing on side pieces, but you can do so if you like), attach it first to the bottom (p. 20) and later sew sides. Repeat with other side.

Turn the bag inside out carefully. You can now see how pretty it's going to look like :)

Set the outside of the bag aside.

The Zipper

If you want your zipper to hang like mine does, take a much longer zipper than your bag length is: since my bag is 30cm long, I took 55 cm length zipper. You will also need to cut the 4x3 piece for the end of the zipper and 2 straps for zipper sides, about 3 cm width and the length of those straps is counted like this: Zipper length minus bag length (55-30=25). You will first mark on the zipper the 30cm mark (where the bag ends) and attach sides and ending like in the following photos (I hope photos are enough to explain):

After you attached the sides and the ending (photos above), fold the beginning of the zipper (photo in the left), attach the piece F along the long edge and sew (as in photos on the left). repeat with the other side.

Set the zipper piece aside.

The Lining

For the pocket, I took a piece of fabric (about 15x20 cm), folded all the sides and sewn them (p. 21), then put the pocket on the main lining, pinned and sewn. I then made a seam in the middle of the pocket to dived it into 2 pockets (because I like to keep my phone in a separate pocket, because I don't like it to get scratched).

Ok, I must admit - I hate (well, maybe it's too strong to say so, but I really dislike it!) making drop-in lining, but for this bag drop-in lining was the only choice :D So, take the main lining piece and attach the sides just as you did with the bag outside details. Iron the seams.

Inserting Zipper And Lining

From the cardboard cut the detail, just a little bit smaller than the bottom of the bag and glue it to the inside of the bag (p. 23). Don't overuse the glue and make sure that the glue isn't visible outside he bag (try glue on a small piece of material first). This will make sure that the bottom won't collapse and always will look nice. Let the glue dry before the next step.

Take your zipper piece (zipper has to be opened), put it on the top of the bag like in photo 24 and sew side-top-side. Then put in the lining and sew the top (as in photo 25). Cut the corners like in photo 26 (this will make the corners look nice). Repeat with the other side. MAKE SURE THAT THE ZIPPER IS INSERTED RIGHT and closes nicely (sadly, I didn't took a photo of this step, but you will see it  when making :)

Now turn the zipper part inside out (it now should look like in a finished bag). Take your glue and glue inside of the cuff (ah, lost in translation again - the inside of the top piece), press it nicely and let the glue dry (this difference is visible in the photos: the left photo is the cuff without a glue and it looks puffy; the right photo is the cuff glued and it looks smooth and gives a finished look to the bag). Don't glue the zipper itself, otherwise it won't close.

Now the finishing touches. Hand-stitch the lining to the zipper as circled in photo 27. Then fold the top of the sides and glue (p. 28).

By this point the bag is finished. All you have to do is to run through the bag with your needle and check for any mistakes/weak seams/raw edges. My corners didn't look strong enough, so I secured them with stitches (see circled part in photo 29).

And it's done!

If you have any questions - don't hesitate to ask in the comment section :)

For my latest creations, please visit my blog: https://sewingjulie.com/


  1. Thanks for sharing. I will definitly make one!

    1. I'm glad you liked it, Jos. I hope all the instructions will be clear :)

  2. I love sewing and like to learn DIY projects. Thanks for the tutorial. Hope I'll be able to make one.

    1. I hope the tutorial will be clear :) Good luck in making!

  3. This bag looks so much fun and I can hardly wait to get out to the local thrift store to get a jacket to use.
    Do you by any chance have a pattern for a hobo style handbag as my daughter in law wants one.

    1. I'm glad you liked it, Sandra. By the way, you can use not only a jacket, but a regular material, too :)
      I'm sorry, but I don't have a hobo style handbag pattern, as I like more structured bags. However, I have written in a blog how to draw a pattern yourself, so you can easily do it yourself :)

  4. Wow ! Great job! I think you should write patterns. I try to sew , but cant read the pattern. thanks for sharing. Happy Creating! Beth

    1. Thank you, Beth! Actually, when I started sew, I never used to read patterns, because there were no patterns in a language I could speak. So basically I learned to sew from looking at the pictures in Burda gray pages and Burda easy magazine, that has pictures of steps :)

  5. This really is amazing! I really don't think I could do it but it is so great! We are going to follow you now!


  6. it's fantastic! I finally know how to make proper handles :)

  7. This bag is amazing...great job! Thanks for the tutorial!!

  8. I would have never thought of doing that!! I also sew and craft and I just started a blog and would love for you to join me. www.sewcraftykathy.blogspot.com

  9. Hi! This is a great tutorial. Thank you! I just used it to make my own bag! First time making a bag and it turned out just like I hoped... well the handlers could be better but i am happy for a first time. I've learned and will improve.

    I'll be happy to share my final result if you want, just as soon as I post it on my blog! Let me know!


    1. Hi Rita! I would really like to see the results of your bag - please share it :)

    2. Here it is: http://seelovemake.blogspot.pt/2012/08/xl-orange-bag.html
      After such a quick reply I couldn't resist posting it right away! ;)

  10. i love this tutorial but 18,20,and 24 has me a bit confuse i want to make this bag real bad already have the fabric but i dont want to get stuck in these areas please help

  11. Hello, uluvreds :-) please let me know, which parts of those steps are unclear - I'd be glad to help!

  12. Glad to know this, you made something another creative out of jackets. Got inspired from this work.

  13. im so confused as to how you put the lining in and where the lining is attached to the zip! ah!

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  15. Bravissima!!!!Il tutorial è bellissimo.Ti seguo con piacere.

  16. Esta idea esta genial quiero probar hacerla.