Bowler bag – Free sewing patterns


Three fabric prints, 50cm of eachCoordinating sewing threadLightweight fusible interfacingHeavyweight interfacingZip, 44cmLeather bag handles

Dimensions List

27cm x 37cm (excluding handles)

Stitch a bag

1 Download the template and print, trace onto card and cut out. Select three different prints for the outer bag, contrasting sections and lining. Cut two 7cm x 48cm pieces of contrasting and lining fabrics to make the gusset for the zip. Fuse lightweight interfacing to the lining pieces and trim to size, laying one of them horizontally, right side up on a work surface. Place the zip face up on top, lining up the bottom edges. Lay one contrasting section face down, to sandwich the fastening. Ensure there is 2cm of spare fabric at either end.

2 Use a zip foot on your sewing machine to stitch the three pieces together, close to the teeth of the fastening. Unfold the layers so the fabrics lay wrong sides together and the zip sits along the top, press and topstitch 3mm from the zip. Repeat this process on the other side of the fastening and zigzag stitch the long outer edges on each side of the panel to hold it flat. Trim the short ends of the finished band to 1cm from the zip end.

3 Cut 13cm x 18cm of contrasting print for a small side pocket. Interface half of the wrong side, fold the fabric over it and press. Zigzag stitch around the three raw edges. Cut 12cm x 13cm pieces from the outer print and lining fabric to make the short side panel. Fuse interfacing to the wrong side of the inner print. Sandwich the closed end of the zip panel between the two pieces, making sure the prints are right sides together. Stitch across the end of the gusset.

4 Open out the fabrics so they lie wrong sides together and topstitch 3mm from the seam. Line up the raw edges of the folded pocket and the side panel and zigzag stitch to hold in place. Make a larger pouch from 13cm x 30cm of contrasting print, and a lined side panel of 13cm x 33cm for the other side of the bag in the same way.

5 Cut two 26cm x 31cm pieces of the contrasting print to make the internal pockets. Fold them in half widthways right sides together. Sew around the three raw edges, leaving a 10cm gap in the middle of one side for turning. Turn out and press, folding the raw edges of the gap inside.

6 Using the template, cut two bag pieces from both the lining and outer fabrics. Fuse interfacing to the wrong side of each inner piece and trim to size. Position a pocket on the right side of each one and topstitch 3mm from the edge around the sides and base to hold in place. Find the centre of the zip panel and mark with a pin. Do the same on all four bag pieces.

7 Lay the bag lining right side up and completed gusset outer side up on a work surface with the outer bag face down on top, match the centre marks and pin in place. Pin the edge of the zip panel between the two bag pieces, working out from the middle and easing the fabric on the curve. Sew in place. Turn the fabrics right sides out, topstitch 3mm from the seam and zigzag the bottom edge to hold. Attach the other half of the bag to the zip panel in the same way. Turn the bag inside out.

8 Cut 14cm x 40cm of the outer fabric for the bag’s base. Pin and stitch to the bag, right sides together, making small tucks at the corners if necessary for a perfect fit. Cut 13cm x 38cm of heavy weight interfacing and iron to the centre of the wrong side of 17cm x 42cm of lining print. Fold the edges of the fabric over the interfacing and tack down.

9 Place the stiff lining piece over the bottom of the bag, wrong sides together. Pin in place, tucking the raw edges underneath. Slip stitch in place and turn the bag out. Pin leather handles to each side of the bag, ensuring they are level and the same distance from the centre. Sew them in place by hand with strong, thick thread and backstitch, passing through all the layers of the bag.