Friday, September 30, 2011

Owl Bag Tutorial

E. started school this fall too. She's in an early childhood class four mornings a week and needed a mama-made bag of her own. My original plan was to make a messenger bag and applique an owl like the one on her second birthday dress. O. suggested that it should actually look like an owl, so I came up with this little guy.

I kind of love him.  Actually, there's no "kind of" about it.  I've been trying to decide if, at age 32, I can pull off using the bag when E. isn't, but I'm pretty sure the answer to that is a resounding no

Want to make an owl bag of your own? Here's how:

1 yard of main fabric, medium to heavy weight
1 yard of lining fabric
1 1/4 yard heavyweight sew-in interfacing
1 1/4 yard fusible featherweight interfacing 
Fusible webbing of your choice -- by the yard, the sheets are too narrow
12" square of fabric for the face
2 - 5x10" scraps for wings
Smaller scraps for eyes
Magnetic snap (optional)
Small piece of plastic canvas (optional)
1 packages of piping (optional)
Spray adhesive or fabric glue stick (optional)

** All seam allowances are 1/4 inch **

Print the pattern, making sure page scaling is turned off, and assemble.  Please note that to save paper the pages for the main body run horizontally, and the gusset pages are vertical.   I just realized that the gusset is mislabeled as the strap on the pattern, so please pretend that it's correct until I get a chance to go fix it.

Cut the two body pieces and one gusset (on the fold) each from your main fabric, lining fabric and both interfacings. Also cut a 5x30" strap piece from your main fabric.

Apply the heavyweight interfacing to the main fabric body and gusset pieces, either by basting or with the spray adhesive or glue stick.  Iron the fusible interfacing onto the lining pieces.

If you are using a magnetic snap, apply the pieces 1.5 inches down from the center on each lining piece.  If  magnetic snaps are new to you, Rae has a great tutorial here.  I like to reinforce mine with a small square of plastic canvas also.

Plastic canvas
Both sides applied

If you want any tags or pockets on the inside of your bag, add them now.  E. didn't need any pockes, but I did put on a tag.

Next, trace the face, eye pieces, beak and wings onto fusible web. You'll want to trace the nice Photoshop drawn circles for both sets of eyes, I just left the wonky badly-traced ones on the pattern for a placement suggestion.  ;) 

Tracing the face.  I used Heat'n Bond Lite.
Applique the face pieces onto one of your main body pieces from the bottom up: face, wings, outer eye, middle eye, pupil, beak. If you need an applique refresher, here is a tutorial.

Baste piping to the right side of the sides and bottom of the front and back pieces -- not the top!

Now pin the gusset to one of the body pieces, right sides together. I like to mark the centers and then pin from each center out.  Sew.

Repeat with the remaining body piece, then turn right side out. 

Baste piping to the right side of top edge of the bag. You will need to angle the piping where you start and stop.  I would *not* recommend doing this on the gusset, as my machine didn't like the number of layers once the strap piece was added also.  The center back may be a better choice.

Sew the lining gusset to the lining body pieces, leaving an opening for turning.

Prepare your strap by ironing it in half the long way.

Then open it up and iron each side to the middle.

Think  I need to wash my ironing board cover?  Eek.
 Refold along the original fold and iron again.  Topstitch both edges of the strap.

Center the strap on the gusset and baste into place.

Pin the lining and bag right sides together and sew along the top edge.

Reinforce the strap area by bartacking (sewing a tight zigag).  Turn the bag right side out.  Sew the hole in the lining, either by machine or by hand.  As many of you know, I avoid hand sewing at all costs, but decided to suck it up and do it for this bag. I'm glad I did, since you can't even see where the opening was.

Fill it up and enjoy!  We usually have a spiral notebook, E's leg braces, and a thermos of milk for snacktime in the bag, with some room to spare.

It fits perfectly in the basket of E's fancy-schmancy adaptive stroller.


  1. So cute!!! I just found your tutorial through your Purse Week submission!

  2. How absolutely adorable!!! Sneek it when she's napping ;)

  3. Love it, my baby girl has the owl theme and I need to make this for her. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I love love love that bag! I am pinning it to hopefully make soon. I will use it:)

  5. What a beautiful bag. Really lovely :-)

  6. What a great bag. Love the owl. I would love for you to join my weekly linky party, fri-mon, come strut your stuff at Bacon Time.

  7. LOVE it! thanks for sharing :)
    ps. I'm following you now!

  8. This is such a cutie! Thank you for sharing!

  9. And this pattern with a bit of adjustment could be used for several different animals. Monkeys and lions and tigers and bears, oh my. What a wonderful project.

  10. I am pinning this for my son because he loves owls and he would be beyond excited about a owl backpack.

  11. I was just wondering what is the gusset for on the owl applique? I cant quite figure out where it fits into the bag. can you explain that part?

    1. Hi Theresa,
      The gusset forms the sides and bottom of the bag. It's most visible in the last pic. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  12. I would use that bag every day for myself and I'm 37! :-) Love it!

  13. i've been trying to download the owl pattern and i keep getting the "sorry" screen from the download page.

    1. Sorry about that, Regina. I'm not sure why it isn't working, but email me at and I'll send you the file.

  14. Thank you for this awesome pattern! It is gorgeous! Bless you!



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