Made from large fabric scraps and/or thrifted clothing items (this bag is made from some IKEA fabric and two pairs of ladies’ pants), and the construction is simple enough to make this a one-day project.
I like a good fabric handbag. They’re inexpensive to make, so I don’t feel guilty about owning a half dozen. They’re washable, which is great for me and my exploding pens and leaking lunch containers (and good for you too – they can carry anything from books and laptops to nappies, craft projects and shopping). And best of all, they can be made from all sorts of thrifted items that, despite a beautiful color or pattern, should not be walking the streets in their current form (fashion police community service!).
My preference is a bag design that doesn’t necessitate closures. This is based purely on impatience (I like to finish projects in a day) and laziness (I don’t like fussing with zippers or button holes). I was admiring the construction of the reusable bags at our local grocery this spring, and realized that with a few tweaks it could be the new design I was looking for.
Osoberry is named after a plant that’s native to the Pacific Northwest. Also called “Indian Plum,” Osoberry is often one of the first plants to flower in spring! The bag expands to fit a knitting project or groceries for dinner, but folds over for when you’re just carrying the essentials. The pocketed exterior keeps cellphone and keys handy, and the reinforced bottom means you can safely carry a small laptop or a stack of library books.
Below you’ll find illustrated step-by-step instructions for making your own Osoberry. If you’d like a 2-page summary of the pattern, click here for a pdf to print and keep.
- Sewing machine, sewing shears, pins, ruler
- Contrasting thread color
- Some combination of fabric scraps and/or thriftstore items (my favorites are vintage bedsheets, printed cotton dresses, and ladies’ summer pants)
- If any of the fabric is flimsy or see-through, back it up with lightweight iron-on interfacing
Cut apart any thriftstore items so the fabric lies flat. Press. If needed, iron on lightweight interfacing. Use ruler to mark and cut pieces shown in drawing below [click for larger image]
Step 2: With bag exterior (A) right side up, place pocketed exterior and lining (C side up) on top, matching side edges. Place a pin every few inches. Stitch horizontal and vertical lines through all layers as shown in drawing. These lines create the reinforced bottom and the exterior pockets.
Step 3: Fold bag exterior (A) in half, with right sides facing. Sew side edges as shown. Press seams open. **Flatten bottom of bag exterior (A) so that edge indicated by “Arrow 1” matches edge indicated by “Arrow 2”. Pin and sew. Repeat from ** for other side.
Step 4 & 5: With right sides together, sew edges of interior pocket (E) and lining (F), but leave a 2” length of edge unsewn. Turn pocket and lining right side out and press, turning unsewn edges in and pressing in place.
With bag lining (B) right side up, place pressed pocket 7” from top edge of lining (B), with the unsewn edge of the pocket at the bottom. Sew in place, starting at one upper corner and sewing down and around to the other upper corner. Repeat Step 3 with bag lining (B).
Step 7: Sew top edge through all layers. Open a 2” portion of a side seam on lining (B) and pull bag right side out. Press, paying special attention to the upper edge. Topstitch upper edge through all layers. Sew shut the open portion of lining seam.
Step 8: With right sides facing, sew short edge of straps G&G and H&H together. Press seams open. With right sides facing, match all edges of G&G and H&H and sew. Leave one short end unsewn, and turn strap right side out. Press, paying special attention to the edges.
Final Step: Pin strap on bag, 4” from upper edge, and test length of it. Cut the unsewn end of the strap to shorten as needed. Turn unsewn edge in and press in place. Topstitch around the entire strap edge. Pin strap to bag, 4” from upper edge, and sew an “X” shape at strap end through all layers. (Attaching the strap 4” from upper edge allows the bag to fold over). Voila!