Nerissa from nissaMade designed this small shoulder bag to be worn across your body. Learn more about Nerissa’s love for sewing bags in her introduction, and visit nissaMade to say hello. We have lots of great bag-making resources for you to explore here at Sew,Mama,Sew!

I’m so excited to share this bag with Sew, Mama, Sew readers. It is a small zippered cross body bag, perfect for the times you just need a few items and your hands free. I called it the “J” Cross Body Bag since the straps and pocket make a backward “J.”

The front and back both a full width pocket to slip items in like a tissue pack, sunglasses or maybe a diaper. The main compartment has a zipper closure to hold items securely.

Here’s what you need to make this bag:

  • 2 contrasting exterior fabrics
  • Lining fabric
  • 10” or longer zipper
  • Slider set for the adjustable strap
  • Interfacing (medium weight fusible)
  • Fusible fleece for strap
  • Template/Pattern

Print the Template/Pattern twice on letter sized paper. Make sure you choose “Actual Size” when printing. The width of the template should be the full width of a letter sized paper. The markings on the template might not reach the ends of your printout due to margins but when cutting out, cut to the edge of the paper keeping the templates at 8.5” wide.

From one print out cut straight across the dotted lines to get a rectangular template. From the second, cut the template with the curved handle attachment. Again both should be 8.5” wide.

Cutting Fabric
Cut fabric as indicated on template. Exterior 1 is the solid black in my case and Exterior 2 is the flower print. For the curved pieces, DON’T flip the pattern (even if you are tempted!).

When cutting the interfacing from template pieces, I suggest cutting it ½” smaller than the template on all sides to avoid bulk in seams.

Additional Fabric Pieces
From either exterior fabric cut a 4 inch strip at least 48” long for the cross body strap. Cut a 1” strip of fusible fleece a few inches shorter.

Cut a 4” by 3” piece out of one of the exterior fabrics. Cut a 2” by 3” piece of interfacing. This will make the piece to hold the ring.

Cut a 2” by 3” piece of exterior (either one) for the zipper tab.

Note: ½ seam allowance should be used.

Fuse exterior fabric pieces to their corresponding interfacing pieces. The assembly of the bag is really like making a lined zipper pouch with exterior pockets and attached straps. We’ll start by making the tab to hold the ring from the slider set.

Take the 4” x 3” piece of exterior fabric and fuse the 2” x 3” interfacing, leaving a ½” border on longer edge.

Fold in center along the 4” side and press. Open and fold each side to the middle and press again.

Fold at the center to get a 1” x 3” strap with raw ends.

Sew along the long side close to the edge. Thread through ring and fold. Set aside.

Now we will make the exterior pocket with fabric pieces you should have cut from the template.
Layer fabric pieces in this order: lining pocket piece right side up, ring tab pointing downward, exterior pocket piece right side down.

Sew along the top edge only. Snip seam allowance along the curve.

Flip so wrong sides are together. Press to get a nice curve. Top stitch along the top.

Set aside.
The second pocket is done slightly differently as there is no ring. Place the lining and exterior pieces right sides together. Mark off a 1.5” gap at the straight top of the curve.

Do not sew between the two marks, and backstitch at either side. Snip your curves. Press down the seam allowance at the gap and flip right sides together.

Topstitch along the top, remembering to leave the gap. Place each pocket piece on top of the exterior rectangles.

Baste the pocket the each rectangular piece within seam allowance.

Now we need to attach these to pieces to the zipper just like making a lined zipper pouch. One of my favourite ways of doing this I learned by following Noodlehead’s Open Wide Zipper tutorial. Treat each pocket/exterior piece as one exterior piece and you can sew just up to the point where the zipper is attached to both front and back. You should have this:

As in the usual lined zipper pouch methods, put your exterior fabric right sides together on one side and your lining right sides together on the other. Open your zipper.

Sew starting at the lining bottom. Go around the side, across the zipper, along each side of the exterior, across the zipper again and back to the lining. Stop about 4 inches from where you started leaving a gap in the lining bottom.

Turn right side through the hole.

Close up the gap in lining.

Push the lining into the exterior and you have a strapless bag, i.e. a “pouch.”

Now to make the strap! Iron down one short end of the 4” strip about ½”. Fold in the middle and press. Open and fold both long sides to that crease line and press. This is similar to making the little strap for the ring. Put the 1” strip of fusible fleece inside one of the folds.

Fold again to get your strap. Sew down the short end that was turned in and along the long side. You will have one raw end and one finished end.

Take the raw end of the strap and push into the gap of the pocket without the ring. Neaten so it is nice and flat. Sew across a couple times to secure.

Thread the finished end strap though the slider from under, then go back over.

Thread this through the ring on the bag from top to bottom as below:

Then thread it back though the slider. I usually loosen the strip that is already threaded.

Once it’s threaded, fold it backwards to itself about 3 inches and sew to secure. Make sure you only sew through two layers of strap.

OK, you’re nearly done… All that’s left is to make the tab for the zipper.

Keeping the zipper closed, cut the zipper a couple of inches from the end of the bag (if you used a longer zipper).

Using that small 3″ x 2″ piece of fabric, fold down ¼” inch on each side and iron. I fused a scrap of interfacing to one side of the piece.

Fold with the cut edge of the zipper sandwiched between, and stitch each sides of the tab securing it to the zipper

And you are done! Enjoy your new little bag!

If you make one, I would love to see a photo. Drop by my little blog to be in touch!