The very first tutorial in our June Ready,Set,Go! series is here! The month is full of tutorials perfect for on-the-go fun. Today Jodi from Sew Fearless shows you how to make this cute and practical “You Can Take It With You” Embroidery Project Bag! (We think it would be perfect for any number of travel needs; it would make a cute cosmetics bag!) Don’t miss Jodi’s introduction with lots of fun links to show you how she tackles sewing projects head on with humor and grace. Also, be sure to comment on today’s post to win a new sewing book!

Ahh! The arrival of Summer! Sunshine! Birds singing! Green grass! Flip flops! But I was feeling blue. My poor sewing machine was doomed to gather dust while my children and I explore all the options that warmer weather offers. Something had to give, or I might have been forced to do something drastic… Like take up knitting.

I didn’t need to mope for long though. It turns out that embroidery is the perfect solution to the “It’s summer and I should take the kids outside to enjoy the sunshine, but I’m a sewing addict” problem.

The “You Can Take It With You” Embroidery Project Bag is a double-pocketed pouch– One side for your hoops and the other for embroidery supplies.

Toss it into your purse or diaper bag and you can sneak in some sewing wherever you may be– The backyard, the park, the beach, or swimming lessons.


  • Main fabric: 1/3 yard of a reversible *pre-quilted* fabric. (If you would rather, make your own quilted fabric by sandwiching a layer of batting between two fat quarters, and quilting the layers together.)
  • Accent fabric: 1/2 yard of a quilting cotton to be used to make the snapped pocket and some homemade 1/2 inch wide double fold bias tape.
  • Vinyl: 1/3 yard of 8 gauge clear plastic vinyl. This type of vinyl is usually found in a fabric shop’s home dec department.
  • A 9 inch all-purpose zipper
  • Coordinating thread
  • 3 snaps, like Kam Snaps size 20 plastic snaps. Buttons can be used in place of snaps
  • You will also need the usual sewing implements: sewing machine, needles, pins, etc. A rotary cutter, mat, and straight edge are recommended for preparing the fabric pieces.

Note: This bag fits embroidery hoops up to 9 inches in size.

1. Cut out the fabric pieces.
For the Body of the bag, cut out one rectangle 13 inches by 10 1/2 inches from the main (pre-quilted) fabric. For the Pockets, cut out two 10 1/2 inch squares from the vinyl. For the Pocket Top, cut out a rectangle 10 1/2 inches by 8 inch from the accent fabric.

2. Prepare the accent fabric pieces.
Fold the long edges of the Pocket Top in, wrong sides facing, meeting at the center. Press. Fold again along the center. The resulting rectangle will be 10 1/2 inches by 2 inches.

Use the remainder of the accent to make 1/2 inch double fold bias tape. You will need no more than 2 yards.

Have you ever made your own bias tape before? If not, you are in for a treat! I recommend using the “continuous loop” method of bias tape making. With this method, you can get as much 5 yards from just a fat quarter of fabric. (See this tutorial for more information.) Once the bias tape is made, you will need to iron it into “double fold” bias tape. (This tutorial will tell you how.) If you don’t want to make your own, you can always use purchase double fold bias binding.

3. Finish top of zippered pocket with bias tape.
Sandwich one edge of a Pocket within a 10 1/2 inch piece of bias tape, sew in place about â…› inch from the inner edge.

Note: Sewing vinyl can be kind of tricky, but these tips will help get you going:

  • Cover the bed of the machine with post-it notes to keep the vinyl from sticking.
  • Use a non-stick or roller presser foot. If you don’t have one available, covering the bottom of a standard presser foot with masking tape can help as well.
  • Be careful when pinning! The pins will leave holes. Only pin within the seam allowance. Tape or clips can be used in place of binder clips.

4. Sew the zipper to the pocket.
Position the zipper 1 1/2 inch down from the finished edge, the wrong side of the zipper against the vinyl. Pin or tape into place. Sew both sides of the zipper to the vinyl ¼ inch from the outside edge.

Turn the Pocket over to the wrong side, and trim off the vinyl between the rows of stitches to create a pocket opening.

5. Sew the zippered pocket to the body.
Lay the zippered Pocket on top of the bag Body. Line the unfinished sides of the Pocket with the (13 inch) sides and the  bottom edge of the Body, and the finished edge 2 1/2 inches from the top. Pin in place.

Sew the finished edge of the Pocket to the Body, about 1/8 to 1/4 inch from the outer fold. Then baste the other three unfinished edges of the Pocket to the Body.

6. Make the snapped pocket.
Enclose one one edge of the second Pocket inside the Pocket Top. Sew the Pocket Top to the Pocket 1/4 inch from the bottom fold.

Following the manufacturer’s directions, attach two “female” snap halves to the Pocket Top. They should be 3 inches from each side and 3/4 inches from the bottom of the Pocket Tab. (Buttons can be used in place of snaps, if preferred.)

7. Sew the snapped pocket to the body.
Baste the side and bottom edges of the snapped Pocket to the reverse side of the Body. Again, the finished edge of the Pocket should be 2 1/2 inches from the top. Do NOT sew the finished edge of this pocket down.

8. Finish the edges of the bag with bias tape.
Starting near the pocket opening, sew bias tape to the outer edges of the Body. Miter the corners as you come to them.

Stop sewing with the needle still down when you return to you started. Pull the bias tape away from the bag edge, so that it veers off of it.

Then continue your sewing, following the bias tape off the bag to make the bag Strap. Stop sewing when the strap is about 10 inches.

Trim off the remainder of the bias tape and tuck the ends into itself. Sew the end shut.

9. Finish attaching the snaps. 
Attach a “female” snap on the bias tape near the Pocket openings and a matching “male” snap to the end of the Strap.  Snap them together to make the bag handle. On the snapped Pocket side of the pre-quilted rectangle, attach two male snaps, 3 inches from the sides and 3/4” from the top edge.

Fold the top of the Body down towards the snapped Pocket. Connect the snaps to close the pocket. All done!

Comment on any post this week to win one of these new books!

Learn more about Mend It Better: Creative Patching, Darning, and Stitching by Kristin Roach and Modern Patchwork: 12 Quilts to Take You Beyond the Basics by Elizabeth Hartman in our June Book Giveaway post.