Zipper Top Tote – Free Bag Pattern

Zipper Top Tote – Free Bag Pattern


zipper top tote

This pattern isn’t for beginners.  I’m calling this an Intermediate pattern and as such, it comes with regular pattern-style instructions rather than the full step-by-step tutorial you might find with beginner patterns.  So some previous experience in sewing bags before and an understanding of construction would be useful for this project.

But it’s well worth it – this is a great bag.  Previously my husband told me my Expanding Nautical Tote Bag was the best bag I’d ever made, but now he says he thinks this one is even better – looks like it was from a ‘nice shop’ he said.  Praise indeed!

zipper top tote

Sadly I had a bit of an interfacing issue and my interfacing came away in parts when I turned my bag, giving it a bit of a crumpled and bubbly look, but I can live with it.  When I get more supplies, I’ll make this one again, maybe in a stripe!

The Zipper Top Tote

Features:

  • Full-length top zipper as a feature
  • Two front slip pockets with twist locks
  • One full-width outside zipper pocket on the back
  • Ready-made handles
  • Zipper pocket and slip pocket inside
  • Finished bag measures about 12 inches wide by 15 tall, plus handles.
Love how good this bag looks, can't believe its home-made. Free pattern.

Materials needed (to make one the same size as mine):

  • Outer fabric – 1/2 yard  ( I used an organic cotton twill from Fabric Mart)
  • Lining / contrast fabric – a bit less than 1 yard
  • Two small twist locks
  • Ready-made handles
  • Top zipper – 16 inches
  • Back zipper – 12 inches
  • Internal zipper – 6 inches (suggested)
  • Dangles – cute pink flower dangles – optional
  • The pattern download

I used materials that are all available from Amazon.

Fabric Suggestions from Amazon.com

Pattern Download

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Pattern Download HERE

Instructions on how to make the Zipper Top Tote Bag

Full step-by-step and photo instructions are included with the download PDF file.  Abbreviated instructions and small photos are included here so you can see if the pattern is for you.

Love how good this bag looks, can't believe its home-made. Free pattern.

Cut and interface all of your pieces.  Assemble the outer front pocket by stitching the pocket lining to the top edge of the pocket.  Turn and press.

Line up the pocket on the outer of the bag and pin in place.  Draw a line with a disappearing pen down the center of the pocket top to bottom, and stitch through all layers, reinforcing the stitching at the top.  Install the twist-lock hardware.

Love how good this bag looks, can't believe its home-made. Free pattern.

Assemble the back of the bag.  Take your lower back piece and the zipper.  Center the zipper at the top edge with the right side of the zipper facing the right side of the fabric.  Add the pocket lining on the top, face down.  Match up all raw edges and stitch with your zipper foot.  Press and topstitch.

Take the upper back piece and match it right sides together at the other side of the zipper.  Bring the bottom of the pocket lining up to match to the raw edges and stitch through all layers.  Press the lining towards the bottom and topstitch along the top of the zipper.

http://wp.me/p2WfGc-2W1

Assemble the lining.  Match the facing at the top of each lining piece, pin, and stitch. Press the seam between the two and topstitch.  Check the length of the lining pieces to the outer pieces and trim if necessary.

Inside pockets.  Add a pocket or pockets of your choice to the lining of the bag now.  You can read here how you can add the perfect slip pocket, or how to add in an internal zipper pocket.  I’m adding a zip pocket to my bag on one side and a small slip pocket on the other side for my phone, keys, and pen.

Love how good this bag looks, can't believe its home-made. Free pattern.

Add in any handles and decorative studs or hardware at this point.  I used ready-made handles.  To place them, turn over ½ inch at the top of your fabric to check for placement.  Make sure the handles are level and equal on both pieces, front, and back.

Love how good this bag looks, can't believe its home-made. Free pattern.

Prepare and add your zipper tabs.  Repeat for both ends.

Lay the outer fabric face up.  Line up the zipper on top and center it with the same overhang at either end.  The zipper teeth should be facing the right side of the fabric.  Place the lining on top, face down.  Mark in 2 inches from the edge of the fabric on each side and stitch through all layers between these 2 marks only, securing the zipper in place.

Repeat for the other side of the bag and zipper.

Love how good this bag looks, can't believe its home-made. Free pattern.

Flatten out your bag with the right sides of the outer fabric together and the right sides of the lining together, and the zipper in the center.  Match up seams and edges carefully and stitch around the perimeter.  Leave a large gap in the side seam of the lining to turn the bag right side out later.

Box the corners of the bag, both the outer and the lining with a 2-inch line across each corner.

Love how good this bag looks, can't believe its home-made. Free pattern.

Turn the bag right sides out and give it a good press.    Press the fabric carefully away from the zipper, front, and back.  Close the gap in the lining by hand or machine.  Push the lining down inside the bag.  In the gaps under the zipper at each end, turn in the raw edges, match up seams, and pin.

Topstitch all the way around the top of the bag, making sure to push the lining down and away from the back of the zipper as you go.  Close the gaps under the zipper.  Add on your cute zipper dangles for a bit of fun.  Give everything a final press and you are done.

zipper top tote

I hope you enjoy your bag as much as I love mine.  Do you have any ‘must-have’ features on bags that you always look out for or add when making your own?


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Anti Pickpocket Bag: FREE pattern, tutorial, and video sew-along

Anti Pickpocket Bag: FREE pattern, tutorial, and video sew-along


anti pickpocket bag

This is my take on an anti-pickpocket bag made of fabric with twisted handles.  I’m calling it Helsinki and here’s the backstory to this design:

As many of our regular readers know, I was recently away on vacation with my family.  During the break, we managed to visit the Bernina factory in Switzerland, call in on what I’ll argue is the finest fabric shop in the world in Italy, and as a final stop, we went in search of the famous design house, Marimekko, in Finland –all of which I’ll be writing about in the near future.

anti pickpocket bag

In any case, while we were in Finland, in supposedly one of the safest cities in the world, my teenage daughter was pickpocketed and lost her very, very expensive new iPhone.  Needless-to-say, her father was none too happy about this.  The small handbag she was carrying was relatively open and the thieves just brushed up against her and it was gone.  Poof!  We were in a department store and the security cameras got it all on video, but it happened so fast and the perpetrators were gone by the time the tapes were reviewed.

anti pickpocket bag

It got me thinking that this can’t be a rare occurrence and that I should design an anti-pickpocket bag with internal pockets, secure zippers, and strong straps to keep this thing from happening again.  I started designing and as soon as I got home, put this new bag together.  I think you’ll find it an easy project to follow and the bag will not only be an attractive addition to your wardrobe but also super functional if you’re traveling or spending time in crowded places.  The twisted fabric handles are relatively unique and very strong.  So Helsinki, this one is for you..

Skill Level: Advanced

If you have made a nag with lining and pockets, this project is easy for you to accomplish.  If you, however, have never done a bag before, you will find this difficult.

Key Features:

  • Secure main zipper with no gaps around the gusset making it is hard for a thief to access.
  • Zippered inner pockets for money and valuables.
  • Strong twisted fabric handles that will let you hold the bag securely.
  • Complete video tutorial and sew-along (links at the end of the article)
  • Dimensions 17″ by 11″
anti pickpocket bag

Materials for the Anti Pickpocket Bag

Recommended Fabric Options

Here are some suggestions for potential fabric options.

See the entire sewing tutorial series here:

  • Sewing the Anti Pickpocket Bag: Part 3, Assembling the Bag

  • Sewing the Anti Pickpocket Bag: Part 2, Sewing the Lining

  • Sewing the Anti Pickpocket Bag: Part 1, Making the Handles

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See next page for free pattern download.



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Turning Japanese Bag – some variations

Turning Japanese Bag – some variations


Japanese Bag

Have you tried the Turning Japanese Bag pattern yet? You should give it a try – it’s really easy! Part of the ‘My First Bag series’ it’s a single pattern piece, no fancy zippers or closures, the handles are ready-made and it’s perfect to showcase a really nice fabric or a large-scale print.

However, just because it’s simple, there’s no need to stop there. A simple pattern is often an ideal base to start from if you want to add a few additions of your own.

Japanese Bag

In this example:

  • I add a hard bottom and some shiny bag feet
  • It has a couple of small d-rings on the side where you can add a removable shoulder chain
  • I split the pattern to use two different fabrics instead of just one. You can split it in any direction, sew a curved seam, diagonal, or even patchwork.
  • I add a simple slip pocket
  • I also (very badly) add on the bias trim handles instead of the ready-made grommet handles.

Here is the original bag.

Japanese Bag

You can watch me make a few simple changes to the pattern and hardware to create something a little different.

Links you’ll need:

Please review this tutorial

Here’s some more information on Making the Perfect Slip Pocket for Your Bag

Japanese Bag

Making changes and additions to the Turning Japanese Bag pattern

Subscribe to the YouTube channel:

 

So, to summarize, make a better job than me with the bias tape handles or treat yourself and create a much better bag with the metal ones!  (I’ll be getting myself another set of those handles and replacing my terrible sewn ones!  Ashamed…)  Otherwise, the additions of the bag feet and the strap are really nice, and I’ll use this version of the bag a lot. I like having a light shoulder strap so I can keep my hands free while shopping and then just slip the chain back inside when I’m not using it.  More versatile than a heavier-weight long strap I think.

Japanese Bag

Having the option to change up the look with the different fabrics is an easy way to change the pattern and I think I might make another with a diagonal fabric change, perhaps in a really bold combination, or even with faux leather!  If you know me, don’t look – you’ll probably be getting one of these bags for Christmas!


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