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Tutorial: Sew a monk’s bag from a pillowcase

Tutorial: Sew a monk’s bag from a pillowcase

I had this pretty floral pillowcase so I made a modified monk’s bag because I like over-the-shoulder bags. It’s modified because I added a curved bottom, and traditional monk’s bags have square bottoms. It’s also fully lined and reversible. I made sure to include tons of pockets too, because I hate losing my phone and keys in a giant bag.

I’ve never made a monk’s bag before, but the shape of the king-sized pillowcase just suggested it to me.

Tutorial: Sew a monk’s bag from a pillowcase

Here’s the inside of the bag. See: it has four pockets inside. I also attached a ribbon with a clip on it on the other side of the inside so I can clip my keys to it.

I have instructions for making your own, but it’s long and has tons of pictures, so click for more:

How to Make a Monk’s Bag:

Here’s how I cut my pillowcase up:

I folded it over and cut two straps on the two long sides of the pillowcase.
Then I used the remaining piece (in the middle of the pillowcase) to cut the main body of the purse (2 rectangles) and the main body lining (2 rectangles-same size as the first two).
There was a little bit left up at the top of the pillowcase, so I reserved those for the inside pockets.

How I cut the lining:

Cut 2 straps the same size as the outside straps. I just folded the fabric over and cut a long strip, then trimmed off the excess. I used the excess for the outside pockets.
You don’t need a main body lining from this fabric because you already cut one from the pillowcase.

First things first: Sewing pockets on

I made a larger pocket for the front of the bag by sewing two of the scrap pieces left over from the strap lining together.
Then I folded all four sides over (twice for the top edge of the pocket, to hide the raw fabric edge), and topstitched.
I used another single piece of  scrap to make a small pocket for the front of the big pocket. Folded edges over and topstitched it on to the pocket.

For the inside pockets:

I took the excess pillowcase fabric (same width as main body piece) and pinned it, facing downward, right sides together on the lining body piece. See diagram for clarification!
I sewed across the pinned area then flipped up the pocket and sewed up along the sides.
I also sewed a line down the middle of the pockets to make them smaller and more useful.

Here’s the inside panel with pockets all sewn up.

Sewing the bag together:

Open up strap, pin one body piece to bottom of strap with right sides facing together.
Sew along pinned line.

3. Attach second body piece to other side of strap and sew.

4. Attach second strap to other side of second body piece.

5. Sew second body piece to first strap to connect the whole thing. You will now have an inside-out purse shape.

6. To make the curved bottom, fold bag over (to make the curves symmetrical on both sides) and cut a curve.

7. Sew up bottom of bag.

REPEAT PROCESS FOR LINING (The last steps 1-6) but DO NOT sew up bottom.

Instead, you will sew curves up but leave bottom of bag open so you can turn the whole thing right-side out.

Assembling the bag:

Once the two “purses” are sewn up, you will want to join them together.

Turn outside purse right-side out.
Slip it inside the lining purse.
Remember, right sides should be facing each other.
Pin top openings of purses together.
You can also pin the sides of the straps together.

When I sewed it, I sewed across one side of the pinned area, then continued up one side of the strap.

Then I reset, sewed across the other side of the pinned area, then continued up the other side of the strap.

This leaves each strap with one side unsewn. I then sewed up the unsewn sides of the straps. I like to start from the body of the bag and sew toward the ends of the straps just to make sure everything stays lined up satisfactorily.

Leave the tops of the straps open.

Turning purse right-side out

Using that hole you left in the bottom of the lining, turn the whole thing right-side out.

You will probably want to give the whole thing a good ironing right now.

While you’re ironing, fold the lining opening over, and sew across the open line.

Push the lining inside of the outside purse.

Finishing the strap:

Fold one side of strap over and tuck inside itself to make a finished edge.
Tuck other side of strap inside and pin.
Be sure you didn’t twist any of the straps during this step!
Sew across the pinned area. I sewed across twice to reinforce.

Open the bag to your favorite side, fill ‘er up with your stuff and use it!

Tutorial: Sew a monk’s bag from a pillowcase

Tutorial: Sew a monk’s bag from a pillowcase

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