A set of animal print bags

This post is about a set of bags I finished over a year ago, but since I thought they turned out rather well (and I have been using them a lot), I thought they still deserve a blog post!


An overview of the whole collection: a large tote and a smaller shoulder bag designed to carry my laptops, a small purse and a shoulder bag with zipper closure.

The bags were inspired by some beautiful organic cotton fabrics I got at my favorite local fabric store: Finch sewing studio in Leesburg, VA. There I got a turquoise fabric with an abstract cicada print — I think I was drawn to this because I like insects — and a fun orange print with little fishes. For the bags with fish print I also got some matching orange-brownish leather.

Before starting to make the bags, I spend a long time browsing various websites with instructions for making bags. I then made some rough sketches of what I was planning to do, but I made a lot of alterations and adjustments along the way. Unfortunately I didn’t document the whole sewing process.


Fish bags

I’ll start by explaining a little more the thoughts that went into the design of the “fish bag collection”.

I work a lot on the computer, so I often carry a laptop around and I wanted to make sure that my laptop would fit the bag, so there was a size constraint on the large tote bag. To get the basic idea, I watched several of the nice video tutorials on the pattydoo website. To increase durability I covered the bottom quarter of the bag with leather. Making just a plane rectangular tote seemed a little boring to me, so I did a few things to break the symmetry. On one side I made the top seem a little curvy, as if pulled out by the handles. Following the (mirrored) line of the also asymmetric leather panel I also added an simple slip-in outside pocket, which shows a think stripe of the lining. Finally, I added a hook so that the purse could be attached to the bag (see below).

For my large work laptop I use a padded casing, so the bad didn’t need to have any additional protective patting (right image above). [Btw, the pillow casing seen in the background is also self-made and may be featured in a future post.]

I also have a smaller private laptop, for which I do not have a nice protective casing. Therefore I also made a smaller shoulder bag that is padded and designed to carry my a small MacBook Air. I got some very thick felt and quilted it to my lining, so this bag stands up on its own. Here I added a small magnetic closure and two inside pockets.


Finally, when I switch bags, which I do often, I frequently forget to move my purse  (wallet), keys and cell phone to the new bag. Further, I often can’t find my purse etc. inside the bigger bag. To solve both issues, I also made a small purse that could contain all those little things one should never forget at home. This little purse comes with a small ring, which can be hooked onto the two bigger bags (see photo at top of the page). If I was to design this again, I would probably add the hook to the purse rather than the bag.


Cicada purse

This little bag is for travel without a laptop, i.e. proper free time 🙂 . I really liked the look of the “June” shoulder bag on pattydoo. Since I’m cheap, so I decided to try making my own sewing pattern. I started by sketching out the rough shape on paper, cutting it out and testing the draping. Essentially there are two roundish front and back pieces, which are connected by a long strip. I reinforced that strip with a strap (same material as used for the shoulder strap), which ends on both sides with a metal ring, to which the should strap is connected with metal hooks. The bag is fully lined and has a small inside pocket. I fused the lining to a large cylinder made from the material of the outside bag (which later became to top edge of the bag) sandwiching the zipper in-between.  Then I finished to top hem by attaching a “cylinder” to the outside bag, folding it over (to form a rim) and fixing that fold with a seam. I’m sorry if the large part isn’t very clear. It would have helped to have photos of the process, I think.

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