This cute tall and narrow tote is named after my very favorite Angela, my oldest daughter. She designed the bag with a bit o' help from her very favorite aunt. Together they created a simple yet stylish shoulder bag, using Angela's own stash of fave fabric scraps and cotton webbing for the strap. We thought it turned out so well, we asked the designer's permission to share it with you. She graciously agreed to let us re-create the bag, and even let us pick our own fabric. I guess the whole 'designer thing' hasn't gone to her head yet, causing her to throw scissors across the room and shriek, "Tell that Klum woman and Tim what's-his-name to get me some fabric I can work with!!! " If you want to make your very own Angela Bag, you get to pick your own fabric too... and no one will throw scissors at you – I promise.
We liked the way the pretty curves at the top stood up straight and tall. If you'd prefer your bag to have a floppier top so the curved ends overlap one another forming a loose closure, cut the batting back from each curved end about 4-5". Your batting piece will be a simple rectangle approximately 12" x 22".
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome Jem Gold 3)
Fabric and Other Supplies
- Scraps of various cotton fabrics or ¾ yard cuts (you need TWO pieces for the bag itself, both 12" x 32" and TWO pieces for the interior pockets - one at 8" x 8" an one at 5" x 5"): we dove into our collection of scraps and came out with a piece of Amy Butler's Lotus for the outside of the bag and the interior pockets plus a piece of coordinating tan for the lining from French General for Moda
- Scrap or ⅓ yard of lightweight batting (ONE piece 12" x 32"): we used Kyoto Bamboo batting from Fabric.com
- 1¼ yards of 1½" wide strapping material: you could use soft cotton webbing, make your own strap from coordinating fabric, or use a leather or suede - we uses a burnt orange faux suede binding left over from our Pendleton blanket projects
- All purpose thread to match fabrics and strap
- Tracing or pattern paper
- See-through ruler
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Straight pins
- From the fabric for the bag exterior (Amy Butler's Lotus in our sample), cut:
ONE rectangle 12" x 32"
ONE square 8" x 8"
ONE square 5" x 5"
- From the fabric for the bag lining (French General tan in our sample), cut ONE 12" x 32" rectangle.
- From the lightweight batting, cut ONE 12" x 32" rectangle.
- From your tracing or pattern paper, cut ONE 12" x 12" square.
- Draw a free-form curve on one side of the square. Don't be scared; there's no wrong way to do it. Just start and end the curve about ½" from either edge. Ours looks a bit like a cresting ocean wave... for the poetic ones amongst you.
- Cut the curve along your drawn line.
- Layer your large rectangles as follows: batting, lining right side facing up, exterior fabric wrong side facing up.
- Pin your curve template in place on one end of the assembled layers. Align the side edges and bring the curve very close to the raw edges. Pin and carefully cut.
- FLIP the template and cut the opposite end.
NOTE: You need to flip the template so the curves are cut in the same relative position and will match up when you fold up the bag to stitch the sides.
At Your Sewing Machine
Create and place the pockets
- Find the 8" x 8" interior pocket piece. Orient it on your work surface so your fabric design is running the right way.
- Fold in ½" on both sides and the bottom and press well.
- Fold in along the top ½" and press, then fold again 1" and press.
- Stitch close to the folded edge to create a simple hem along the top of the pocket.
- Repeat with the 5" x 5" interior pocket piece.
- Find your curved lining piece and place it, right side facing up, flat on your work surface.
- Place each pocket 5" down from the top of the curve and centered side to side. On the large pocket, this should be about 2-5/8" from each side. On the small pocket, about 4" from each side. Pin in place.
- Edgestich each pocket in place along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners.
Create the body of the bag
- Re-assemble your layers: batting, lining with right side (pocket side) facing up, exterior with wrong side facing up.
- Carefully align all the raw edges of all three layers. Pin in place, leaving an approximate 5-6" opening along one side.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch around all sides of the layered fabrics. Go slowly around the curved ends, stopping as needed, with your needle in the down position, to slightly adjust your presser foot position if needed. Remember to back tack or lock stitch at either side of the 5-6" side opening.
- Trim the seam allowance and clip the curves. Do not trim back the seam allowance along the opening.
- Turn right side out through the opening. Use your finger or a long blunt tool, like a chopstick or knitting needle, to help smooth out the curved ends.
- Fold in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam. Pin in place.
- Fold the bag in half, right sides together. Make sure the layers are smooth and flat across the bottom fold. Align the top curves so they are a perfect match. Pin both sides.
- Using a 3/8" seam allowance, stitch both sides from bottom to top.
- With the bag still wrong side out, the next step is to box the bottom corners of the bag.
- Using both hands, pinch and pull apart the bottom corner.
- As you pull, the fabric will begin to make a little peak with the corner point at the top and the seam line running down the middle of one side.
- Center the side seam within this triangle peak.
- Measure 1" from the point of the peak and draw a line.
- Pin your folded peak in place and stitch along this drawn line.
- Stitch back and forth along the line two or three times to reinforce.
- Do NOT trim away the peak on either side. There are no raw edges, so we are going to simply leave the little peaks as is – they'll be hidden inside the bag.
Attach the strap
- Prepare your strap as needed. If you are making a strap from fabric scraps, you'll need to fold and stitch a narrow strip to make a long tube. If you are using a cotton webbing or suede (we used faux suede) or leather there's no fraying and so no need to finish the edges, you're good to go at a width of approximately 1½".
- Cut your strap to a length of approximately 45". Pin it in place at this length and try it on, adjust it slightly longer or shorter to best fit your style.
- Fold under one end approximately 2" and pin in place at the top of the side seam. Center the folded end on the seam.
- Your inside finished seam allowance should be spread open so it lays as flat as possible.
- Box stitch in place. You'll need to maneuver the bag carefully under the presser foot so you keep everything flat. Don't be afraid to twist and fold the body of the bad to get it to lay right; you can press it when you're done.
- Repeat to attach the other end of the strap.
Project Design: Angela Johnson and Anne Adams
Sample Creation: Liz Johnson
Other machines suitable for this project include the Elna Sew Fun and the Singer 2259 Tradition.