I have been searching for a new sketch bag. There are sooooooooo many cool sketch bag options on the internet. I have spent hours browsing them online and admiring something about each one. But to find one that fit my specific needs was like looking for the “needle in the haystack.” I finally decided to attempt to make my own bag. That started another internet search for patterns and tutorials. I wanted something simple, small and easy to grab when heading off to sketch. It needed to be just large enough to hold my sketchbook, and a few supplies, but not large enough to be heavy, or awkward. And I hoped to find one that was easy to make. This free box bag tutorial on The Cottage Revolution, kept grabbing my attention as I surfed around exploring the many options and patterns. It looked roomy enough for my supplies, while still being compact in size. And, I love the boxy shape. I finally decided to go with it, and to add a few details of my own, such as pockets. I can never have too many pockets!
I lengthened the pattern by an inch so the bag would accommodate my 5.5″x 8.5″ sketchbook. For the top of the bag I used an upholstery fabric sample; the contrasting bottom half of the bag and the handles were cut from a red leather jacket purchased very cheaply at a yard sale. The zipper I found in my stash, and I added cotton fabric backed with fusible interfacing for the lining and used mesh edged with bias tape (from the same cotton as the lining) for the pockets. Most sketching bags are quite pricy, so I was happy with finding what I needed to make this one already in my supplies.
Even though the bag pattern is simple, this sewing project took all day to complete. A great portion of the time was spent figuring out how to make two-sided handle straps from leather. The solution I found was to cut the pieces twice as wide as needed, with a line drawn down the center of the length on the wrong side. I cut thin strips of Heat-n-Bond and ironed them on the outer edges of the wrong side of the pieces. After cooling, I removed the paper from the Heat-n-Bond strips, folded one edge at a time toward the center, to meet the line I had drawn down the center. I ironed the fold until it adhered. When both sides were folded and ironed, I top stitched along the edges of the straps. One piece of leather that I cut for a strap ended up not tolerating the heat of the iron and turned crispy and hard. Hmmm. I don’t know why. because there was no problem with the first strap tolerating the heat. So I lowered the heat a little and made the third strap successfully. Also, I found that sewing through leather is challenging. But I am proud of my sturdy little Featherweight Singer, which handled the multiple thicknesses just fine.
The pockets work great for fountain pens and a water brush.
Even loaded up with all my supplies, it still feels roomy.
The zipper pull detail is cut from a scrap of the red jacket leather.
I am very happy with the way this little bag turned out, and the size is perfect for carrying everything I need to take on a sketch outing. It is very sturdy and the pockets add some bonus storage room. Besides looking great, the leather will add to the long life of this bag. I’m looking forward to taking it on a test run.