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IOU a Bag

Updated: Jan 30, 2023

I am not one of those mums that has a pile of gifts ready for birthday parties. I am the one that leaves the house feeling like they are missing something and then remembering it is good etiquette to take a gift when you are invited to a birthday party. Sometimes I think of something really thoughtful to make but I just don't have the time before hand. When George was invited to a birthday party recently, I gave her and IOU and asked her to let me know if she would like a bag, skirt or some hair pretties. I then asked what colours or fabric she would like and told her she could design it for me if she wanted. A few days later I was handed a drawing of a bag. There is a button and zip and a long strap. She likes pinks and turquoise, a little lady after my own heart. I had just the fabric for the job.

I had this idea in my head but halfway through it turned into trial and error. I love the finished bag but there are some pictures missing on some of the steps while I tried to work out the best construction method.


  • Half Metre of Rainbow Fabric

  • Long Quarter of Leopard Fabric

  • Bosal Iron on Interfacing

  • 35cm zip

  • Button

  • KAM Snap and tool

  • Sewing Machine

  • Iron and Ironing Board

*all sizes are a guide and can easily be sized up or down to suit your fabric and zip stash.

I have used a 1/4" seam allowance throughout.


1. Cut your fabric:

  • For the flap - cut a 35cm (Width) x 25cm (Height) from the rainbow fabric.

  • Cut x2 35cm (W) x 25cm (H) in rainbow

  • Cut x2 35cm (W) x 25cm (H) in leopards

  • Cut a pocket piece - I have cut a size that fits this leopard pattern which is roughly 17cm x 12cm

  • For the strap - One full bolt width of 1.75" wide. Cut this in half. ( I cut the straps 2.5" wide but in hindsight, I think they would have been better narrower)

Cut your foam stabiliser:

I love this Bosal fusible stabiliser for bag making and all sorts of crafting. You will see if pop up in my tutorials a lot. This was gifted to me with no obligation to share but it arrived just in time for this project, and I couldn't be more grateful. If you don't have it or can't get hold of it, you can use normal quilting wadding to add some structure to the bag.

  • Cut x2 35cm (W) x 25cm (H)

  • 55cm x 4cm (1.75")

2. For the flap - Find the centre and then mark 18cm down. From there, cut a line to each top corner to make a triangle.

3. This piece should fit on the remaining fabric to create a second triangle. This way you create less waste.

4. Place these two pieces right sides together and sew the two sides. Clip the point, turn out and press. Top stitch the same two edges.

5. Iron the interfacing to the back of the two front pieces of fabric and one of the straps.

6. Press the top edge of the pocket twice and top stitch. Press over the three other edges once. Place in the centre of one of the back pieces and top stitch in place.

7. Place the triangle with raw edge against the top edge of the back outer piece of fabric. Stay stich.

8. With a scrap piece of fabric, cover the raw edge of the end of the zip as pictured. This is easiest done by pressing over the two edges and the pressing in half.

9. Place the zip right sides together with the back piece, lining up the covered edge with the edge of the fabric. Stitch in place with your zipper foot. You can see that my zip is too long, I will cut it down to size later.

10. Repeat this on the other side of the zip with the front of the bag. As you can see I have made the most of the pattern on the front and ensured the pattern was central.

11. This is the point I experimented a bit and didn't have as many photos. I have an example of this method from another project (take a walk on the wild side is the lining). Pin the lining to the edge of the zip so all the fabric is sandwiched between with right sides together. Repeat on both sides.

12. Lay out flat and press so the zip is flat. Stop stitch along the zip on each side. Stay stitch around all the sides of front and back so that the lining and front fabric doesn't shift.

13. Pin the strap pieces right sides together and sew down the two long edges. Turn them out, press and top stitch the two long edges.

14. Line each end of the strap with the zip. Make sure the zip is slightly open, so the pull doesn't get sewn closed. Stich carefully in place and back stitch, ensure you don't go over any metal parts.

15. Fold the bag so the right sides are together. At this point I realised my straps were a bit wide, so I have pleated them slightly. This is why I recommend the strap being slightly narrower. Pin in place and sew around all three sides.

16. Add binding to all three sides. You can leave the corners raw as you will be cutting them when you add a box pleat in the next few steps so, don't worry about any mitred corners. I have made my own binding from the rainbow fabric. You could use any in your stash that coordinates with your fabric.

17. Add a box pleat to the bottom corners. If you haven't done one of these before, follow steps 7 and 8 on my box pencil case tutorial. You can add binding to the raw edges if you prefer not to overlock or zig zag.

18. You can add your fastening of choice. My brief was a button, but I didn't want to put a hole in my bag and I wasn't sure a loop would work. I decided to add my trusty KAM snap to close the flap and I have hand stitched this cute heart button I found in my stash over the top of it.

Your bag is complete. Now the biggest challenge is to gift it! I know the Mum of this recipient is already eyeing it up. Hopefully you are inspired to create this bag or get your hands on this gorgeous fabric. To be the first to hear about new fabric and free tutorials, make sure you are subscribed to my mailing list.

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