Summer Sewing ~ On-the-Go Project Pouch

on June 15 | in Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 82 Comments

Angela from Saké Puppets loves to share what she learns about Japan on her blog; she’s lived in Tokyo now for a year and has a great time exploring the Japanese sewing and craft scene. Today’s project is something she sees everywhere in Tokyo, as fellow sewists take their projects on-the-go. She writes, “I learned how to make this On-the-Go Project Pouch from a group of obaachan (grandmothers) in my neighborhood, who carry one for every project.”

If Angela’s tutorial makes you want to explore Japanese-inspired sewing, be sure to check out her Saké Puppets shop for DIY sashiko kits and more, and check out her intro too.

For me, summer is about hitting the road. I love car trips, weekends in the woods or at the beach, and meals outdoors with family and friends. Of course, I can’t go anywhere without a sewing project. This On-the-Go Project Pouch is perfect for carrying a few supplies and will keep your projects organized during all of your summer adventures. Let’s get to it!

For this project you’ll need two pieces of fabric, each 10” by 14” in size. One will be used for the outside of the bag and the other for the lining, so choose your fabric accordingly. I like to use linen and cotton, but canvas or home-dec weight fabrics would be great too. You’ll also need 12-18″ of cording, and a 2″ x 3″ piece of felt.

You’ll also need scissors, a needle and thread, marker or chalk pencil, a handful of pins, embroidery thread and/or your favorite embellishment materials. A sewing machine would be handy, but is optional.

Part 1: Prepare your fabric
Cut both pieces of fabric to 10″ by 14″. Place the fabric for your lining aside.

Measure and mark a 1/2″ seam allowance around all four sides on the “wrong” side of your fabric.

On the long edge, starting at the seam allowance, measure and make a dash at 2″, 5″, and 9″. Do this on both sides. On the short edge, mark the middle of your fabric, 5″ in from either side.

Using a marker or chalk pencil, connect the center mark to the 2″ marks on each long edge. You’ve now outlined your pouch.

Transfer your 5″ and 9″ marks to the opposite side of your fabric, making a small dash within the 1/2″ margin of your seam allowance. These marks on the “right” side of your fabric will serve as guidelines when decorating your pouch.

Part 2: Embellish!
Decorate your pouch however you’d like, using embroidery, cross-stitch, or my personal favorite, sashiko. (Click here for a sashiko how-to.)

The possibilities are endless!

You can stay within the 4″ x 10” rectangle of space that will be the back of your pouch (as I did), or you can embellish the whole thing; it’s your choice.

Part 3: Pin and prep for sewing
Once you are happy with your design, it’s time to sew your pouch together. (A sewing machine would be useful, but it’s not necessary.)

Retrieve the fabric for your lining. On the “right” side of your fabric, measure 5″ from either edge (the center), and 2″ down from the top edge of your lining. Center the top edge of your piece of felt with this point, and pin it in place. Sew a straight seam through the center of the felt, backstitching at the beginning and end. Trim excess threads.

Retrieve your embellished fabric and line it up with the lining, “right” sides together, the felt rectangle sandwiched between both pieces at the top.

Pin the bottom short edge of both pieces of fabric together. Sew a seam along the bottom short side, leaving a 3″ gap in the center. (Later, you’ll use this gap to turn your pouch right-side-out.)

Fold your fabric over the seam, wrong sides together, and iron your seam flat.

Lay your fabric on a table and pin the two pieces together, about 3″ up from the seam on each long edge. Fold the top piece of fabric (the lining) down slowly until your two 9″ marks are revealed. Re-pin the fabric to include this third layer.

Pinch all four layers of fabric together at the fold, lift, and flip the lining fabric under so both pieces are folded. Again, re-pin to include the fourth layer.

Finish pinning around the perimeter of your pouch. Insert the cord between the two layers of fabric at the top, leaving about an inch sticking out at the point of the flap. Pin it in place.

Part 4: Sew your pouch
Lay your pinned-pouch on a table so the chalked lines are facing up, and the flap points up. Sew along the chalk line, beginning at the bottom left corner and continuing all the way around to finish at the bottom right, maintaing your ½” seam allowance. Make sure you sew across the cord at the point of the flap.

Trim the excess fabric from the top corners.

Flip your pouch right-side-out through the small gap you left in your first seam.

Press your pouch flat with a hot iron, and hand stitch the gap closed using a slip stitch.

To sew a slip stitch, make a small stitch at the edge of the fold of one piece of your fabric. Then make a small stitch along the fold of the other piece of fabric, beginning just about the same spot you ended on your previous stitch. Continue along the length of the gap, sewing it closed with an invisible seam. When you reach the end, make a small knot and pull your thread back through the seam to hide the tail. Trim any excess threads.

Fill your pouch with your favorite summer sewing project, and head to the beach, the park, or wherever your summer travels find you!


A special thanks to my sashiko sensei, Yoshiura-san!

Comment on any post this week to win one of our Summer Sewing prizes! You could win four bag patterns from Fourteen May, a $25 gift certificate to Sew,Mama,Sew! or a copy of City Quilts by Cherri House.

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82 Responses to Summer Sewing ~ On-the-Go Project Pouch

  1. Tara says:

    This is such a cute project. I love the embroidery ideas.

  2. Emma says:

    I love the sashiko embellishment and the simple, clever construction.

  3. Diane says:

    Absolutely love the hand stitching! It makes the pouch!

  4. Cassie says:

    What a fun idea. Would be great for working on something while the kids are playing at the park.

  5. Margaret says:

    So simple, but the added touch of the sashiko makes these pouches really special.
    mcglen8 [at] gmail [dot] com

  6. Tammy says:

    Great idea and great tutorial. There can be so many uses for the pouches!

  7. Angela says:

    Thanks everyone for your comments! I’d love to see all your finished pouches!

    All the best,
    Angela over at Saké Puppets

  8. Sissy says:

    I love it! But one question…what is the cord for, is the pouch supposed to roll up? But how do you tie it if that is the case? Also, what do you do with your scrissors to keep them secured and not falling out? Help!

  9. Those are very neat and beautiful pouches. Thanks for the great idea and very nicely explained tutorial!

  10. Shirley Clark says:

    Cute pouch, and a great tutorial!

  11. katy says:

    can’t wait to try this out!

  12. JennX says:

    Love the sashiko! A new word and possibly a new skill I need to acquire….

  13. Crystal says:

    Great for bringing on the bus or to the doctors office. With 2 little girls you spend a fair amount of time waiting for doctors. Thanks.

  14. Kathy says:

    Those pouches are so cute! I can’t wait to make one!

  15. Steph says:

    I also like to work on small projects on car trips. This is the perfect little bag to keep everything contained!

  16. great project! so simple. the embroidery is a nice touch!

  17. Cute!

  18. Darling pouch. Love the sashiko (sic?)

  19. Jen S says:

    What a great idea! I could easily see using this to store notions or a work in progress while traveling.

  20. Sarah B says:

    Super cute!

  21. Miss Rachel P. says:

    Lovely! 😀 The embroidery is wonderful! What a fun and useful project idea…can’t wait to make one! 🙂 Thank you!

    ~Miss Rachel~

  22. Wow. Gorgeous hand-stitching. 🙂

  23. Ng Lay Yen says:

    Nice sashiko stitching. Have been to your blog and love your Tokoyo Craft guide. Hope to visit Tokoyo someday.

  24. Chris says:

    The embroidery is amazing. What a sweet way to take your projects with you.

  25. Renae says:

    Love this! This wold be perfect for our summer road trip next month! Thanks!

  26. Sherry J says:

    very cute,getting ready to take a trip, will have to make me one of these to pack along. thanks for the tute.

  27. Barb Colvin says:

    Loved the sashiko. A fun way to show off some hand embroidery, too. Thanks, Angela.

  28. Christina G. says:

    So many possibilities for this great little pouch. Thanks!

  29. Christine says:

    This is great! Thanks for the tutorial.

  30. Angela F says:

    This is such a cute project! I love the sashiko!

  31. Marcia W. says:

    I want to learn sashiko

  32. Alisa says:

    I like it! Great tutorial – thanks.

  33. Jacque says:

    I love this idea, since it is just the right size to carry my portable projects in, and so stylish!

  34. Katrina H says:

    Sooo cute, I love the stitching you did.

  35. Seanna Lea says:

    This looks like a lot of fun and I love projects where we are encouraged to do it by hand.

  36. natalia says:

    simple and beautiful, the best combination!

  37. Sara says:

    Now to find a sewing project that I can tote around in that cute little pouch!

  38. Ramona says:

    Very fun. I love this pouch!

  39. Stephanie S says:

    Love this idea!! It can work for so many things, not just crafting projects.

  40. Tara says:

    These are perfect! TFS!

  41. Jessica says:

    All the designs are so lovely!

  42. Wonderful project and tutorial, something simple and fun to use.


  43. Meagan says:

    Such a cute bag! And very practical too.

  44. Jessica says:

    Wow this is great! I can think of at least five people besides myself that will need one right away…

  45. Sammy says:

    How wonderful! I really enjoyed reading this tutorial and I am so inspired to create an on the go project pouch. I love the detail of the embroidery – what a great way to keep your sewing goods handy!! Lovely work!!

  46. Fran says:

    Thank you for a great tutorial….
    love learning a new (to me ) technique.

  47. Lorrie Orr says:

    what a fun project!

  48. Maeve says:

    P.S. Is there anyway one can printout the directions without all the comments? Help!

  49. Maeve says:

    Such a cool idea! I would definitely like to make one of these and keep a small project with me in the car for all those times when waiting is necessary. Between that and a good book to carry along, I’d be occupied regardless of the situation! Thanks for the instructions!

  50. Amy G. says:

    What a great idea, and cute too!

  51. brenda says:

    Love that little bag. The embroidery is perfect.

  52. Kelli says:

    oh my goodness, love the zigzag!!!!!

  53. Holly says:

    What a great idea! Everything in one (cute) convenient spot.

  54. Thanks for this sweet tutorial! I lived on a Japanese island for 3 years so I have a soft spot in my heart for anything related to the Japanese culture. 🙂

  55. Rebecca says:

    Very fun and very practical!

  56. Tammy says:

    Very cute!

  57. Sharon says:

    I love seeing hand stitching added as details. Very cute.

  58. Cameron H says:

    These are lovely! Thanks for the great tutorial.

  59. Kris says:

    This is just adorable! But, why the cord and not a loop for a handle or something. Thanks for the clear instructions!

  60. Jocelyn says:

    What a very cute pouch!

  61. Suzanne says:


  62. N. Perez says:

    Very nice hand-stitching. The pouches are super cute. Too bad I can’t stick my sewing machine in there.

  63. suzee says:

    those are great! love the embroidery work!

  64. Lizzie says:

    This is precious! I’m in.

  65. Patticakes says:

    What a brilliant idea for holding your portable sewing projects! I’m going on vacation in a couple weeks and this will be perfect for my hexies!

  66. Anne Marie says:

    Love this project!

  67. Gill says:

    This is gorgeous!
    Thank you!!

  68. i love this idea! I will be making one for sure! and i would love a copy of the City Quilts Book!

  69. Karen Compton says:

    Nice little pouch! It would be great to organize all kinds of things in my tote bag!

  70. Your sashiko is stunningly beautiful, and makes these little bags even more perfect. I love the on-the-go pouch idea and hope that I have a chance to whip one (or more) up soon!

  71. A very new take on a pouch. Something to look into, for sure.

  72. Rhonda says:

    Cute little pouch. This would make a great little take a long bag to hold a single diaper and a few wipes for a new mom.

  73. Pat says:

    My grandson is coming to visit and will have to spend some time entertaining himself while I am at work. I was trying to think of some unique ways to keep him occupied…These little pouches with different themes, filled with activities will fit the bill nicely… Thank-you for the inspiration.. I can see a racetrack embroidered on the front with his minicars inside, one filled with arts and crafts , etc…Help me with ideas to keep a 6 year olds mind occupied…

  74. Charlotte says:

    So cute! A great idea. I think I’ll need many:)

  75. seashoreknits says:

    I LOVE this tutorial! One of the sweetest sewing projects I’ve seen. Thank you so much for it – and I can’t wait to check out Angela’s blog!

  76. Asta says:

    Such great idea. I’m planning a holiday and wondering if I need a special pouch for my tiny sewing projects that I will be taking with me. Thanks so much.

  77. Eleonora says:

    a simple, nice idea to have at hand our sewing projects when we are outdoor! perfect for the summer! thanks

  78. Lexi Lucas says:

    That’s a cute pouch. I’m going to go and whip one up for a gift.

  79. Mhairi says:

    Love this idea. Make it a bit bigger and it could be an emergency diaper clutch. Big enough for one diaper and a travel wipes pack. Then I would have the coolest baby in the change room 🙂

  80. Melissa says:

    What a lovely idea! And a great tutorial. Thanks, Angela, for taking such good pictures and writing it so well. I take stuff along, but my pouch isn’t nearly as fabulous as these. 🙂

  81. Serena says:

    I really love the sashiko!

  82. angelina says:

    love those balloons..

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