Nature Study Bag

To make this nature study bag

You will need:

  • material to fit the size of your drawing book/ journal and paint box
  • lining the same size as the material
  • a long strip (about 1m) of fabric 4″ (10cm) wide for the strap
  • Several pieces of fabric and lining for pockets.
  • Several pieces of fabric and lining for the zipper pouch for the pencil/paintbrush bag
  • about a 10″ (25cm) zipper for the bag
  • a 7″ (18cm) zipper for the zipper pouch
  • a button/ press studs
  • thread, rotary cutter and ruler

To make the bag:

  • Lay the books and paint box on your fabric to determin the size of your bag.  (I’m sorry, but I didn’t note exact measurement for the tutorial.)
  • Cut out 2 pieces of fabric and 2 pieces of lining the same size as the fabric.

  • Cut out your strap strip.
  • Fold the strap in half length-wise with right sides together and sew.
  • Turn right side out with a large safety-pin (or ribbon clasp).
  • Sew the 3 sides of the pocket and pocket lining right sides together.  (I made the pockets about half the height of the bag and almost as wide.)
  • Turn the pocket right side out and press.
  • Fold in the remaining pocket side and top stitch close.
  • For a customized water bottle pocket, I cut fabric and lining the height of the bottle and wrapped around.  Then I cut out a half-circle fabric and lining base just larger than the bottle.
  • Sew the 3 sides of the pocket right sides together.  Turn right sides out. Press.
  • Use a piece of elastic about half the length of the pocket.  Pin to the ends and middle. Stretch the elastic as you sew it to the inside of the pocket.
  • Sew the rounded half circle right sides together.  Turn right side out.  Press.

  • Pin the rounded circle base to the bottom of the pocket with right sides together.
  • Overlock/ serge/ sew together.

  • Pin the pocket to the lining.  Top stitch.
  • Attach the other pockets to the other lining.

Assembling the bag:

(Although this involves sewing a zipper, it is actually a lot easier than sewing a zipper in a dress or skirt!)

  • Place the fabric right side UP, place the zipper right side DOWN with the pull-tab at the left.
  • Place the lining right side DOWN on top of the zipper.  Pin.

  • Attach your zipper foot.  Sew as close to the teeth as your zipper foot allows.
  • Turn both fabric and lining wrong sides together.  Press.

  • Now place the other fabric piece right side UP, place the zipper right side DOWN with the pull-tab to the right side this time.
  • Place the lining right side DOWN on top of the zipper.  Pin.
  • Sew as close to the teeth as your zipper foot allows.
  • Turn both fabric and lining wrong sides together.  Press.

  • With your regular sewing foot, top stitch through the fabric and its lining next to the zipper on both sides.
  • Now open the material so that both fabric sides are facing RIGHT  sides together and both lining sides are facing RIGHT  sides together.  (The open zipper is inside. If you don’t open the zip you will not be able to turn the bag the right side out!)
  • Pin around the entire bag, leaving a 3″ (8cm) opening at the bottom of the lining.

  • Sew around the bag till the opening in the lining.
  • Take care when sewing over the zipper ends.  Mind the needle does not go through the metal teeth.  (I turn the machine needle by hand.)

Boxing the corners:

This step will give your bag a base.  It will allow the bag to hold bulk. And it looks professional! 🙂

  • Put your hand through the opening in the lining and pinch the corner so the seam aligns at the corner.
  • Press the seam flat with your fingers.
  • Mark a perpendicular line about 1.25″ (3cm) from the corner.

  • Sew along that line.
  • Clip the corner leaving a 1/2″ (1cm) seam allowance.

  • Repeat with all the fabric and lining corners.

Attach the strap:

  • Mark the bag on the outside where you want the straps attached.  (I placed mine almost halfway down the side seam.)

  • With your hand inside the lining and up into the inside of the fabric, pin the straps, making sure that the strap is not twisted.
  • Carefully ease the bag under the sewing foot so that your lining does not get caught under the sewing.
  • Sew a zig-zag box for an extra-strong finish.

To finish:

  • Turn the bag right side out through the opening in the lining.
  • Sew the lining opening shut with a very small seam.

  • Push the lining into the bag.
  • Press your fingers into every corner so that the boxed corners lining and bag are matching.
  • Fold the top of the bag over.
  • Attach button strap just under the zip and sew button on where the button strap meets.
  • On my bag I used press studs.  (I had to use celotape and a hammer to attach the studs because the bag was too thick to fit between the opening of the special pliers.)
  • Sew the button-hole and measure and sew the button on.
  • Add a folded piece of ribbon through the zipper’s pull-tab’s hole for an extra finishing touch.

Make a little zipper pouch for pencils and paint brushes:

  • I made a little pencil bag to match each bag.
  • I lined this bag too,  and you sew it in exactly the same way as the instructions for assembling the bag above.

How to make your flowers:

  • I used 2 complementary colour scrap pieces of material
  • Cut out 2 large circles of about 3″ (8cm) diameter using pinking shears.
  • Cut out about 4 circles of about 2″ (5cm) diameter.

  • Mark a small circle in the middle of the material circles.
  • Sew small running stitches around the circle.
  • Draw the thread tight so that the centre puckers.
  • Stitch to secure closed at the back of the flower.

  • Lay the largest circle fairly flat as the base.
  • Layer the next large circle puckered on top of the centre of the base petal.
  • Arrange the smaller little flowers on top to these 2 layers.  Stitch to secure.
  • I added a medium-sized bead to the centre of each small flower.
  • Sew through the petals and secure at the back.
  • Attach to the bag

This flower will be a wonderful accessory on a girl’s headband,

pinned on a jersey or dress,

sewn on a pocket,

arranged on a picture frame,

placed on a ribbon for a choker necklace …

I hope you can follow the instructions and try make your own bags!

I enjoyed this so much that I think I will whip up a few little bags for gifts for this Christmas.

(Each bag took me an afternoon.  The planning or cutting takes the longest time.  The real sewing took me about 1 and a half hours.)

If you are uncertain of anything, you are welcome to email me on my About Me page.


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