Cargo pants to purse: a tutorial

29 09 2011

A long time ago I mentally bookmarked this tutorial from noodlehead to make a messenger bag from a pair of cargo pants.  I even went to a thrift shop and bought a pair… and they sat, and sat, and sat down in the “to recycle” pile.  Note to self: mental bookmarks are not the way to go when your brain is like swiss cheese!  Anyway, I finally got around to it when I decided my old purse wasn’t working out.  I love it, but it’s so open on top that things fall out of it.  After losing my phone in the car a few times I decided to get serious about making a new purse.  So I went back to that tutorial, and realized it was too much like the scavenger hunt bag I made for BB in its construction (ie. too much work).  In light of that, I came up with a similar bag with a simpler construction.  (At least it was supposed to be simpler, until I decided to add pockets on every available surface, because really, what good is a purse that is not full of pockets?)  Here it is!



It has 2 pockets on the inside plus 2 carabiner loops, and 2 more pockets on the outside.  Here’s how I made it:

Gathering the materials:

  1. I cut out one big piece of the outer fabric and one of the lining.  They measured 25” x 11”, but it could be made any size.  In retrospect I think it should be shallower (less than 25” long would be better, I think).  The pocket from the cargo pants will end up on the outside of the bag.  IMG_4200
  2. I did some math.  I was going to sew up the sides to make the bag, using a 0.5” seam allowance, so the final width of the bag would be 10”.  The strap is going to be 2” wide, centered on the seam, so 1” on each side left an 8” opening for the flap.  I cut 2 pieces 8×10”, one of the lining and one of the outside, and rounded the corners.  (10” long was just how big I wanted it, not a calculated number.)IMG_4198
  3. I wanted a 2” wide strap, and the length I just eyeballed based on draping it over my shoulder – very scientific!  The easy way would be to cut pieces 3” wide of outer and lining, but I was running out of lining fabric so I cut a 2” wide piece of the lining fabric and a 4” wide piece of the outer fabric.  Also pictured: sort-of-matching bias tape used to trim the flap.  IMG_4201

Bag construction:

  1. Sewing the flap: put the wrong sides together, pin in place, and sew on the bias tape on three sides as shown:IMG_4212
  2. Constructing the strap: place inner and outer pieces right sides together and sew. IMG_4213 Then match up the other side to make a tube, wrong sides together, and sew.  IMG_4215 Turn the tube right side out, center the contrast fabric, and press.  IMG_4216 Topstitch along the edges. IMG_4217
  3. Optional: add pockets!  I cut out a cargo pocket from the pants (they had a lot of pockets) and just zig-zag stitched it onto the lining.  The only thing to make sure is that it’s right side up!IMG_4218 I added another scrap of cargo pant to the other side for another pocket (this one is oriented the other way, so it will be right side up in the end).  IMG_4219 And I sewed another scrap pocket onto the outside piece:IMG_4220
  4. Sew up the sides: put the right sides together for the outer piece and sew up the sides to make a pouch:IMG_4221 It doesn’t look like much, just an inside-out pouch!  Do the same thing for the lining.  (Oooh, I almost forgot, at this step I added two loops on the side of the lining.  I just stitched closed some of my bias tape and tucked it in the side seams, about 1.5” down from the top edge.  These are my carabiner loops which I love for holding keys and things when I don’t have pockets.)
  5. Square the corners: There may be better instructions out there but I’ll try: flatten the bottom corners as shown:IMG_4222 I wanted to make a 2” wide corner, so I made a line where it was 2”, then sewed along it.  Snip off corner.  Done!IMG_4223 Repeat on the other corner, and for both corners on the lining.
  6. Final assembly: With the outer part of the  bag right side out, pin the straps in place, right sides together.  Then pin the flap in place right sides together.  Finally, turn the lining inside out and shove everything into it, matching up side seams.  Pin all around.  Sew, leaving an opening to turn.  It’s pretty bulky, 3” should do it.  IMG_4224
  7. Turn right side out and if you did everything right in the previous step you have a purse!  Topstitch that opening closed and you are done.  Take a picture before you even wash off the marker!IMG_4232

I didn’t do a closure, I think the flap stays closed fine without any help.  I am in love with this pocket-laden, messenger-style, machine washable bag.  Only a mom could be so geeked out about this, but that outer cargo pocket (on the back) holds a diaper and wipes, so this is my diaper bag too!  Hope this inspires someone to make their own!

I am entering this in A Lemon Squeezy Home’s Purse week, check it out for some way better tutorials and substantially more fashionable entries!


End of summer

22 09 2011

I am majorly saddened by the end of summer today.  As much as I love fall, it’s a sad fact that it will not last from tomorrow till mid-December.  Winter will be here long before that!  So I wanted to take a minute to reflect on what we did this summer.  I had a list of goals, and I actually did refer back to them when I was thinking of things to do.  We didn’t accomplish everything but we did a lot, and had a wonderful summer, which I suppose is why it’s so sad to see it ending.  (In reality it ended 2 weeks ago, I guess, when the kids started preschool and life became a busy whirlwind of rushing here and there.)

My goals: Total FAIL.  I accomplished 0 of 3.  None.  Zip.  Nada.  I guess in the summer I just don’t spend any time sewing.  Not entirely true though!  I failed to make garments (which is sad because the patterns are all summery), finish a romper for LB (stopped with only snaps to go!), and carve one. single. stamp.  BUT, I made myself the purse of my dreams:


I’m planning a whole post on this.  It’s not so exciting to look at (although I love it), what’s exciting is the abundance of pockets and some carabiner loops I sewed in.  It’s so perfect! 

Outdoor goals:  Pretty good here. 

* Bean bole teepee: check.  It didn’t turn out great and unfortunately I didn’t get a picture in its full glory but here it is in its early days:


Sadly, my neighbor, who is wonderful and watched the garden while we were out of town, weeded a little too enthusiastically and “weeded” the bean plants and 2  of our three cucumbers.  Sigh. 

* Moving to a real bike: check.  Thanks to a wonderful friend, BB acquired a real bike with training wheels and he has loved going for rides on it.  I can’t even keep up with him!


* Go camping: double check!  We went once and loved it, and immediately planned another weekend excursion.  I would hardly say they went without a hitch, but we all had a great time and BB is still talking about going camping. 



We didn’t do any letterboxing, but other than that we completed all our goals!

Art goals: pretty good also.  We didn’t manage to do an index card a day but we did a whole lot, and mostly watercolor (BB loves watercolors), also some oil pastels and sharpies but watercolors were a clear winner here.  Some of BB’s work:

2011 09 September

I always asked him what it was because, let’s face it, it’s pretty abstract.  Every time we sat down to do a card, I did one too.  These are some of mine:

2011 08 August2

I really enjoyed drawing with sharpie and then watercoloring the drawing.  I had never thought to do it, but it seems to be a common practice in kids’ books and I can see why!  Very fun.  Most of mine are pen and ink.  Some are coped straight from Made by Joel, as I tried to get the boys into the coloring pages, but neither one was having it.  I think his illustrations are fantastic.  We didn’t do any more formal art classes, although we might be doing one now in the fall.  This was just perfect as an informal way to do some art all summer long.  I hung them up on our art line and we had a rotating gallery of masterpieces all summer.  🙂

I think that’s enough of a summer reflection for one night; this weary “soccer mom” has to get up early and gogogogogo again tomorrow.  Goodbye summer!  We loved every minute!