Freebie Friday: The Scientist’s Satchel

Well, check this out 😀 I’ve gone steampunk! I realize despite my nerdishness that I’ve never actually gone out of my way to show how much I love steampunk. But here it is! Granted, this is a very simple rendition of my fandom, since I was limited to just using my scraps, but I’m glad I finally got to do something with an alternate-future flair ^-^ In truth, I’m a huge fan of old school science fiction and always have been from late elementary school, particularly H. G. Wells and Jules Verne. I love the whole aesthetic notion that high-tech science existed in the shadows of the Victorian world.

I’m so very glad that I was able to use up this scraps of fabric 😀 This bag is made from leftovers of a skirt I made back in early college, when I was going for this sort of bohemian look that didn’t quite pan out XD I always thought this faux suede was gorgeous and wanted to find the right use for it, but nothing ever came up because the scraps were too irregularly shaped. Beyond that, the fabric was incredibly hard to sew through despite being lightweight. It’s a strange sewing anomaly I encounter once in a while xB must have something to do with fiber content and thread count.

However, I think this turned out to be a really great looking messenger-style bag with a super-useful front pocket and awesome turn-lock closure. I hope you’ll give it a try with your favorite neo-Victorian fabric ^-~


The concepts are pretty simple to get through, though the details can take a while.
Makes one bag that is about 12” wide, 8” tall, and 4” deep

Materials & Tools:
• 1 yd. of 45” wide or ⅔ yd. of 60” wide medium to heavyweight fabric for main bag (denim or canvas would be great – I interfaced faux suede)
• ¾ yd. of lightweight fabric for lining (I used quilting cotton)
• 1” turn lock
• 12” zipper (at least)
• Matching sewing thread
• Basic sewing tools (sewing machine, scissors, iron, needles, pins, fabric marker, seam ripper)
• Either various fabric paints for painting your image or:
Appliqué Supplies
• 10” x 10” scrap of appliqué fabric for gears (cotton or felt)
• 10” x 10” piece of light or heavy duty fusible web

Before you begin:
1. Print out the project pattern here
2. Assemble the pattern pieces, see the page here for more help
3. Lay out the pattern pieces on your fabric and cut them out
4. Mark the fabric pieces with the markings from the pattern

1. First I applied the gear motif to the lower left flap piece following the pattern guideline. I usually like doing my embellishments in appliqué, but in this case I opted for painting it on so I could use this copper fabric paint I have. If you’re not familiar with using fabric paint stencils, see the tutorial here for more help.

2. To begin constructing the bag flap, start by layering your zipper between the lower left bag flap piece and its corresponding lining piece. Line up the zipper tape with the raw edges and sew the three layers together. You’ll see that the seam allowances are ¼” here to account for how you’re using the zipper tape as your seam allowance. Make sure the top of your zipper is lined up along the top corner of the lower left bag flap piece (the one catty-corner to the curved corner). This is so your zipper slider is at the top of your bag when the project is complete. When you finish, press the fabrics away from the zipper.

3. For the other side of the zipper tape, layer the zipper in between the lower right bag flap piece and its corresponding lining piece. Repeat the same procedure as in step 2, sewing the three layers together, then press the fabric away from the zipper.

4. Now for the top section of the flap. Layer the whole of your bag flap so far between the bag flap top piece and its corresponding lining piece. Make sure you move the zipper slider down and out of the way, then line up the raw edges along the top of the flap. Sew these layers together, going through the zipper very carefully and slowly. Press the fabric away from the zipper as before.

5. The flap of your bag is nearly complete! Now to make a finished-pocket, we’re adding a lining. Start by layering your lining and flap pieces as follows: one flap lining piece (right side up), your zippered flap piece (right side up), then lastly your final flap lining piece (right side down). The edges all around the perimeter should line up pretty closely. You’ll want to sew around this entire perimeter except for the straight edge along the top. Leave this open for turning the flap right side out when you finish. You’ll have to sew over the zipper again when you sew, so again be sure to go very slowly, then trim off any excess zipper teeth from both the bottom and top when you’re done.

6. Trim the seam allowances in the corners of the flap, then turn it right side out. Poke the corners with a chopstick or similar tool to get some definition, then press the flap flat. Since you have a zipper in the flap, there’s a good chance it won’t stay perfectly flat due to the metal or plastic teeth. So I topstitched around the perimeter of the flap to keep everything flat and neat. I took this opportunity to use one of my specialty stitches that looks like a hand-sewn blanket stitch. I thought it gave a more rugged look to the bag overall.

7. I also took the opportunity to topstitch the seam above the zipper and to the right of the zipper, both for looks and also isolate the area that the zipper opens, making a more compact pocket. After this, your flap is complete!

8. Now onto the body of the bag, which is actually much easier. Start by sewing the bottom seams of the bag front and back. Do this by lining up the notched edges of the bag pieces and sewing along the edge.

9. Now we add the sides of the bag. This is done by lining up the left and right raw edges of the bag front and back with the curved edge of the bag side pieces. Start by lining up the top corners and working your way around. Clip the seam allowances of the bag front and back by about ½” to help the bag body curve around the bottom of the bag sides. The center seam should match up with the notch at the bottom of the bag sides. Continue lining up the edges along the other side until the other corners match. Sew these edges together to complete one side of your bag. Repeat this for the other edge and the remaining bag side piece to complete the other side. That also completes the body of your bag! To create the lining, simply repeat steps 8 & 9 with your lining pieces, but remember in step 8 to leave an opening as the pattern indicates for turning the bag right side out later.

10. With the body of the bag done, what’s next is the straps! From your strap piece, fold under ⅝” from each long side and iron the folds flat. Then fold the entire strap in half lengthwise. Sew these folded edges together with an edge stitch (or more decorative topstitching as I’ve done).

11. Next we need to baste the straps to the main bag. Take one raw edge of your strap and center it along the side of your bag with right sides facing together. Baste it in place within the seam allowances. Repeat this with the other end of your strap and the other side of your bag, being sure not to twist the strap along the way.

12. We’re going to baste the flap to the bag in the same manner. Take your flap piece and with right sides together, center the top edge along the back side of your bag. Baste it in place within the seam allowances.

13. The bag is almost complete! Now to really see it come together we’ll need to sew the top seam. Nestle the main bag into the lining with right sides together and line up the top raw edge all the way around. Your seams should match up as you go. Sew around the entire perimeter, and note that you’ll be sewing through the straps and the flap as you get to them.

14. Turn the bag right side out from the opening in the lining, then press the top seam so it’s nice and crisp. I did some more topstitching along that seam to add to the look of the bag. I would suggest you do it as well at least to keep the lining from peeking out of your bag ^-^ When that is complete, go back inside the bag and sew the opening in the lining closed either with a hand-sewn ladder stitch or with your machine.

15. Lastly we install the turn-lock on the front of the bag. Install the top of the turn lock in the middle of the gear motif on the flap as the pattern guideline indicates. The bottom of the turn lock is also indicated on the pattern for the bag front, but fold down your flap and check to make sure they line up in a way that you like. When you’re sure that you have the placement right, then install the bottom of the turn lock on the bag front. Now go on some sciencey adventure, because YOU’RE DONE!

I’m so happy with how all the decorative stitching came out! I can see doing some really awesome stuff in this bag 😀
What do you think? Do you have any favorite steampunk projects? Let me know in the comments!
I hope you enjoy making this project!
And if you do try making the project, I’d love to see it! And I’ll send you exclusive free patterns as a reward!

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16 thoughts on “Freebie Friday: The Scientist’s Satchel

  1. One thing you might consider (optional of course!) is having a download link/pdf for these tutorials! It’d be super handy!

  2. I have a question about the white stuff (interface?) you added to the bag. If I want to add it, where are the ideal places to. All throughout or just in the body and around the zipper?

  3. I love this! I’d understand if you don’t want to state brand names, but what kind of paint did you use for the gears? It’s dazzling!

  4. I have a Husqvarna Daisy 315 and I noticed that the machine you were using in the photographs looks a good deal like mine. If you have a Husqvarna Daisy, would you be able to tell me what foot and/or stitch you used to get the edge stitch you were using?

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