Tuesday, August 23, 2011

DIY - Envelope Bag

It was my intention to make this bag into a laptop sleeve or more of a file/paper organizer than a purse, but when I got down to it I just really wanted to turn it into another cross-body bag to use for the rest of the summer.  Needless to say, this project made it onto my list of Top DIY Pins for August
 This post by Veronika of Tick Tock Vintage served as my inspiration. I love  the lines that make it "envelope-y" and the giant leather tassels keeping it closed.

I used this tutorial from SwellMayde for an oversized envelope clutch and adapted it as necessary.  This tutorial is for leather, vinyl and other materials that don't fray, but my envelope is going to be made of a home-dec fabric. Click on the illustration to enlarge for her measurements and instructions.

My pattern piece for the bag is 24" long from bottom to point and 14" wide.  The thin strips to the right are going to be my make-shift bias tape to bind the raw edges of the bag. They are 2" wide.  Not pictured is a 50" long x 2" wide strap.

I started by folding the bag how it will be sewn and pressed it so I would have some guidelines.  To make the "envelope" style lines on the front of the bag's body I took the front two corners and folded them down, creating the style lines. I stitched these down as close to the fold as possible and pressed the front open again.

I don't want to leave the opening of the bag with a raw edge and I thought a bound edge would look nicer than just a rolled hem. Start by pinning the strip to the edge, right sides together. Sew with a 1/4" seam allowance.

Press the strip up with the seam allowance towards the strip. Now press the free edge of the strip in towards the seam. The edges shouldn't meet in the middle as this will cause bulk. Fold the strip so the raw edge is now enclosed under the nicely folded edge. Stitch in the ditch, hiding your stitching line in the already-there seam seen from the front.

I love the band it creates while hiding all the raw edges.

Repeat for the point of envelope flap, doing only one diagonal at a time.

Fold over 1/2" at one edge of the strip and overlap the finished binding at the point. Sew and press this strip up and repeat the binding steps.

Look how clean the edges of the envelope look!

Fold the bag on the previously pressed guidelines, right sides together. Pin and sew the two side seams at 1/4" seam allowances, backstitching several times at the beginning and end to secure the corners.  Turn the bag right-side-out and press the side seams flat.
To create the cross-body strap, fold the 50" strip in half width-wise, right sides together, and sew all the way down at a 1/4" seam allowance.  Thanks to Pinterest I came across a great tutorial from Pickup Some Creativity to make turning a tube super fast and easy. Before folding in half, sew the end of a long, thin grosgrain ribbon to one end of the strip and sandwich the ribbon between the fold of the strip. Make sure the ribbon won't be in your 1/4" seam allowance and sew all of the way down the strip. Pull the ribbon to turn the tube right side out.  Love this tip and there's much more on their Sewing 101 page!

 I added a magnetic snap to the point of the flap to keep things closed and an eyelet above that to secure my fabulous gold tassel. Follow the package instructions to install both of these (completely optional additions).

Thread the loop of the tassel through the eyelet and either tie it in a knot (if it's long and wide enough) or tie some ribbon through the loop and into several knots.  This will keep the tassel from slipping through the eyelet.

Sew the straps to the side of the envelope bag, making sure to secure with lots of stitching. I did a box of stitches where the strap's raw edge is folded under.

Then I added my tag :)

Then I proceeded to take WAY too many photos because I am severely in love with this bag.

 Look how cute that tassel looks!


  1. awww... thank you for the feature! you are awesome! and great job on your envelope bag... love the strap and fabric too!!

    take care, aimee
    diy blog: swellmayde.com