How to Make a Satchel

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Satchels come in a variety of styles, from large book bags with shoulder straps to rounded handbags with two short handles. This satchel makes a medium-sized bag with a single shoulder strap, and a flap that covers the opening at the top, but you can adjust it to match the size and style you need. You can make the satchel from just about any type of fabric, but a tough, durable fabric such as sturdy poly-cotton, heavy nylon, canvas or denim works best. You can find strap material in most fabric stores. It comes in a variety of colors and is usually sold near the ribbon and trim.

Things You'll Need

  • 1/2 yard fabric
  • Matching thread
  • Matching strap material
  • Clasp
  • Scissors
  • Straight pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Hand sewing needle

Putting It Together

Cut two pieces of fabric, each 12 inches wide by 10 inches tall. These will be the front and back of the satchel.

Cut a strip of fabric 32 inches long by 4 inches wide. This will be the sides and bottom of the satchel.

Pin the outer edge of the strip to the sides and lower edge of the satchel front, with the fabric right sides together. Stitch the strip to the satchel front.

Stitch the other edge of the strip to the sides and lower edge of the satchel back.

Fold the top edge of the satchel over 1/4 inch toward the wrong side and press the fold flat. Fold the edge over 1/4 again, and press it flat. Top stitch the fold in place.

Make the Satchel Cover

Cut a piece of fabric 12 inches wide by 16 inches tall. This will be the flap that goes over the top of the satchel.

Fold this piece in half from top to bottom, right sides together. Stitch along the sides, leaving the edge opposite the fold open.

Turn the open edges over 1/2 inch and press them flat. Turn the flap right side out.

Line up the folded edge of the flap with the top edge of the back of the satchel. Pin them together, making sure you catch both layers of the flap in the pins.

Sew the flap to the top edge of the satchel, making sure you don’t sew the satchel shut.

Pin the ends of the strap material to each side of the satchel. Place the strap over your shoulder, to make sure the strap is a comfortable length.

Cut the strap material shorter if needed. Sew one end of the strap material to each side of the satchel.

Sew one end of the clasp to the center of the lower edge of the flap. Close the flap over the bag and position the other half of the clasp just below it. Sew the other part of the clasp to the front of the satchel, making sure you don’t sew the satchel shut.

Tips & Warnings

  • For a curvier satchel, round off the lower corners of the satchel fabric and the corners of the flap opposite the fold.
  • For an extra decorative touch, buy piping and sew it in the seams of the front and back of the satchel.
  • Personalize the satchel with an embroidered monogram or applique on the flap.
  • Use caution when working with scissors, pins, irons, sewing machines and sewing needles.

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