bag, sewing, SOSM

SOSM: Challenge #3, It’s a Cinch Bag

When we were given this project, I was a bit worried: I’m not a seasoned bag maker, having only made a few over the years as a pattern tester for Samantha.  But I actually needed a stylish computer-carrier for work, so I was up for the challenge of making the “It’s a Cinch Bag“, by Lisa Lam at U-Handbags.

A huge part of the task was just figuring out what fabric and style I wanted.  For a bag to be truly useful for me, it had to be fairly neutral and without a design on the fabric (despite how much I was drawn to them in the store.  My plan for a simple bag was almost undone with this one.)  In the end, I used a light gray cotton canvas duck (Joann’s) for the main body, darker gray canvas (Hart’s Fabric, leftover from my skirt) for the straps and a lovely organic quilting cotton for the lining.  The accent pieces and pocket linings were coordinating quilting cotton solids and the hardware is from Clover, both purchased here.

With a simple gray background, a pop of color was definitely needed, so I created a honeycomb-like fabric texture for the middle section. I sewed alternating strips of equal widths of the pink and coral and then stitched in the ditch to raise the coral strips.  Then, with pinning and stitching, I alternated the strips up and down to create the honeycomb. The panel was basted in place on the main gray fabric, before sewing the pocket zipper and straps.

As it happens, I have a week-long teaching workshop starting tomorrow.  With a specific upcoming purpose for this bag, I knew some features would be important; namely, a place for my laptop and more zippered pockets.  For the padded laptop pocket, I used fusible fleece between layers of lining fabric, quilted it for structure, used some elastic along the top and added a little Velcro closure.  I took this photo before sewing the lining together, to show the construction of the pocket:

Laptop pocket construction
My laptop fits perfectly!
In lieu of an elastic-topped internal pocket, I opted for a zippered version, and added a second external zippered pocket on the back of the bag.  Seriously, you can never have too many pockets.
Internal zippered pocket
Back zippered pocket

Here’s a full view of the inside.  With my computer in it’s slot and lipstick/tampons/laser pointer in the zipper pocket, there’s still plenty of room for papers, lunch and a sweater.  And that lining fabric just makes me happy!

Its cavernous inside!
For the straps, I used this useful product and made my own, since I thought the darker gray canvas straps would give the bag a more refined look.  The inside of the shoulder straps is accented with the lining fabric.  The side cinch straps were lengthened a bit (from 4″ to 5.5″) so the bag could function with the clasps attached all the time and not squish up my laptop slot.

All cinched up

Top zipper shot.  These YKK zippers are fabulous for bags–super smooth zipping and durable, but not too bulky.

Top zipper

With some extra fabric and a spare zipper, I made a much-needed new wallet/ organizer to match.  It holds everything!

My phone even fits in the zippered coin pouch, which is super handy if I want to carry the wallet without my bag:
 Requisite poses with a human:
A rare outdoor photo!
And my adorable husband.  He’s really working it, huh?
This was a great, challenging project and I’m so excited to use my new bag for my workshop this week (and my school year, coming up!).

46 thoughts on “SOSM: Challenge #3, It’s a Cinch Bag”

  1. I love every part of your bag! I didn't realise it was so big from the photos of Lisa's bag, but when you said you'd put a laptop pocket in I realised! How handy, an overnight sized bag with a laptop pocket and in handbag style! I love the pink detail on the front and I love the pop of colour on the inside of the handles. You're amazing, I hope you win! xx


  2. Beautifully done! The colors are so well chosen, and your honeycomb detail is just perfect. Is the wallet from your own drafting, or did you use a pattern?
    Good luck in the contest–I enjoy following along. Maybe I'll sew up a tote too.


  3. This bag is fantastic! I love your textured idea and how it is so classy. It also seems like the perfect bag to hold a laptop. What size laptop do you have? I am not very experienced with sewing bags but I really want to give this pattern a try with your additions. =)


  4. Im so glad i found your blog! This bag is awesome. My mother in law asked me to make her a bag for her ipad. I'm for sure going to do the honey comb effect. And now i need one for my laptop! Haha… That lining is beautiful. I agree with your pocket theory!… Did you use a pattern for the wallet? I need one exactly like that asap!


  5. Well, my laptop is pretty small, and I have to wiggle it a bit to get it past the zipper, but it's would work great as an overnight bag (even with the laptop in there)!

    You are so sweet!


  6. Thank you! I used it for my workshop today, and I truly couldn't be happier with the functionality. It was also lightweight, but well padded! Bonus!


  7. I have to carry my laptop around a lot, so I definitely needed that feature! Works great! (An iPad would fit, but might shift a bit.)

    I'm not sure my husband expected I'd actually post that photo, but he's such a cutie, I couldn't resist!


  8. Thank you, Lyanna! I really wanted to keep the bag sleek and modern, but with a twist (literally!). I have a 13″ MacBook Pro (this year's model, which is substantially thinner than previous models), so it's pretty tiny. I have to wiggle it a bit to get it past the zipper, but it fits beautifully in the pocket and the bag. Best of luck with your bag!


  9. Thank you, April! I really wanted to keep it simple, sleek, and modern, but just had to add some details to make it cute, too : ) It works great for my teaching job!


  10. When I first ordered this bag, I wanted it for my gym bag. I needed something I could throw on my back and go. I figured that it would be kinda small, like most others are. Well, I was surprised when I opened the box and it was big enough to put all my gym stuff in, and then some! It's roomy, has a nice front zipper pocket and two mesh side pockets that are so deep, it fits my water bottle and mixer very well. If this bag ever wears out, I'm buying another! I definitely recommend gemline 4976


  11. Let me start by saying…how sporting of hubby to pose…and to work it as you said….not sure if its the bag or him that rocks more in the last pic…thanks hubby for posing with your bag.

    Now, you did a great job of the bag, I love the honeycomb detailing, it really does 'pop'.

    Congrat's on your new bag.



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