THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

April 8, 2007

Bag faux leather

Filed under: Accessories,Bag,Els,Pattern Reviews,sewing — Els @ 12:00 am

I made this bag last year when I could download  the pattern for this Nairobi bag from the Hotpatterns newsletter in October 2006,

 I used a faux printed green leather to make this bag with some modifications.

 The size of the bag I made is 15½ x 11 x 2 inch (39 x 28 x 5 cm)

The pattern came with sewing instructions but I did not follow them because I made some alterations on the pattern so I used the common sense attitude.

I used green faux printed leather, a woven interfacing to support the faux leather, 2 metal teeth zippers, rigilene boning, lining which I interfaced with a fusible stretch interfacing, double sided fusible craft tape, 2 silver metal D-rings with screws, a bag stop and a key ring  all from my stash.

I made some minor design changes. First I like my bags with a zipper closure so I redraw the opening for the bag in a more fluent shape so I could attach a zipper to close the bag, see the red lines for the new shape opening.


 I also did cut a longer shoulder strap.

To attach the bottom side part I used 3/8 inch (1 cm) seam-allowance instead of the 5/8 inch (1,5cm). This will result in a bit wider/deeper bottom/side part as well as  the bag itself.

I wanted to keep the shape of the bag and prevent my bag to collapse , so I used rigilene boning .

I glued the boning all away around the bag between the seam allowances of the bottom/side part start and finish about 5/8 inch ( 1,5cm) from the opening .

Used a double sided fusible tape and fused this tape ( using a Teflon sheet to protect the faux leather) next to the bottom seams, glued the rigilene boning to the tape and top-stitched the seam allowance from the right side . The first stitching line is close to the seam and the next stitching line a bit farther away. 


 The zipper closure is made of 2 rectangle pieces of fabric and lining the same  wide as the upper side opening.


  For the closure of the bag I sewed the lining (facing) at the zipper tape next to    the teeth, fold the lining away and sewed the zipper at the fabric, pinned the lining  bag  at the bag opening and sewed the closure/opening part at the bag opening, pivoting at the corners on which I already basted the shoulder strap loops.

Double sided fusible tape is also fused at the seam allowances of both the bag upper part and the part where the zipper was stitched, top-stitched those seams from the outside, fused the tape also at the zipper tape next to the lining and folding the lining over it and hand stitched the facing lining at the bag lining part. This way the top-stitching is only visible from the outside and invisible from the lining part.

 The fabric loops for the D-rings are made to measure.
The faux leather fabric is interlined with a woven fusible interfacing , the lining with a stretch fusible interfacing and I did the zipper pocket my way, also placed the pocket lower than the pattern marks.
 The pattern for the cell phone pocket was too narrow for my cell phone so I adjusted that and skipped the other small pocket. Sewed the cell phone pocket at one side of the bottom side part and added a key ring to the other side which in this picture is not visible.

For both the pockets I used the lining fabric double to add some strength .
For the shoulder strap I did not want to add bulk by using seam allowances on the long sides so I did some testing to get the least bulk at the seams.

 I sewed the strap wrong sites together in half with a loose tension large zigzag stitch but only ½ of the zigzag stitch catches the fabric, pulled those two edges from each other and the result was a non bulk shoulder strap.

 I wove a piece of cotton twill tape through the shoulder strap with the help of a  safety pin and top-stitched the strap along both edges.
The finishing touch was attaching a bag-stop,

Which I glue on every shoulder strap of my bags rtw or self made,to prevent sliding from my shoulder.



  1. What a great looking bag. Great tutorial.

    Comment by Rosemary — April 8, 2007 @ 12:46 pm

  2. You did a wonderful job, both with the bag and this tutorial. Very nice construction details and a lot to learn from.

    Comment by Tany — April 9, 2007 @ 5:23 am

  3. Hi love the bag
    I was wondering where you sourced the bag stops.
    i always have the prblem of bags slipping off and I have never come across them in Australia and I would love to start adding them to bags I make.


    Comment by theoreticgal — April 9, 2007 @ 6:42 am

  4. Thanks for your comments.

    I buy my bag-stops at the local shoe repair shop. I searched and found a source in the US
    and another one in France but that is a bag stop from Prym which looks a bit different.

    Comment by Els — April 9, 2007 @ 8:39 am

  5. I would like to have the bag pattern. It looks fabulous!


    Comment by Maureen — April 11, 2007 @ 12:24 pm

  6. Thanks for the tutorial. Where does one get a bag stop? I would love to put them on my shoulder straps too?

    Comment by Nancy — April 11, 2007 @ 12:44 pm

  7. What a terrific looking bag!! And the tutorial is very well done and informative. Many thanks!!!

    Comment by Annette — April 12, 2007 @ 7:10 pm

  8. Great looking bag! Your tutorial was truly very helpful. I downloaded this pattern long time ago and never made it.

    Comment by Linda L — April 13, 2007 @ 6:33 pm

  9. I would love a copy of the pattern. I loved your info!

    Comment by Kathy Jakee — April 14, 2007 @ 5:06 pm

  10. Thanks for the bag stop sourcing info. I shall check them out.
    Really appreciate it.

    Comment by theoreticgal — April 15, 2007 @ 4:16 am

  11. if it is still available i would enjoy the pattern for this bag ! thanks for your time.

    Comment by kat — May 11, 2007 @ 9:29 pm

  12. Thanks for the tutorial and great pics. I would appreciate the Nairobi pattern.

    Comment by Mary — May 24, 2007 @ 8:09 pm

  13. I love the fact you altered the pattern to suit yourself. I do this also. I would love to have this pattern sent to me at this address. I do however have a question about the sewing process. What size and type of needle did you use?
    Thanks in advance for your response and keep the imagination going!
    Rita Maar
    Rita, I did use a Schmetz needle size 90 or 100

    Comment by Rita Maar — May 25, 2007 @ 2:23 pm

  14. I’ve been making handbags for awhile, and want to delve into using leather. How do you deal with the thickness of the fabric, when attaching straps, etc?.
    I have a high-end machine, but it is not a commercial one, and I have broken many needles and had my machine jam, when trying to sew through multiple layers.


    Comment by Jeanne Thomas — July 12, 2007 @ 1:12 pm

  15. Hi Jeanne,
    I sewed my leather or faux leather bags on a commercial Pfaff Creative 1467 which could handle it. Sewing the multiple layers like adding the straps I needed to sew very slowly and/or by turning the hand wheel with my hand. It helps too when you flatten the multiple layers first by pounding with a hammer prior to attaching them to the bag.

    Comment by Els — July 13, 2007 @ 5:18 am

  16. I would love this pattern. Could you please tell me how I might acquire it? Thanks for the great tutorial. Mary Ann

    Comment by Mary Ann Carlson — July 30, 2007 @ 9:01 am

  17. love the tut
    love you to send me the pdf for the nairobe bag.many thanks

    Comment by jeanette — August 23, 2007 @ 4:48 am

  18. I been searching everywhere for this pattern I to would like a copy. I alos got a download for any late comers like me. Just drop a line. Thanks!! Alicia McAlister

    Comment by Alicia — September 25, 2007 @ 11:06 pm


    Comment by Alicia — September 25, 2007 @ 11:07 pm

  20. Cool Web site, and a great tutorial
    I would love to have a copy of the pattern.

    Comment by Marcela — October 16, 2007 @ 7:26 pm

  21. Hello Divas!
    I have been searching, searching & searching (you get my meaning) for this pattern. I would appeciate your sending me the HotPatterns Nairobi Bag pdf. I love the step-by-step tutorial for your handbag. Many thanks!

    Comment by Janet Smith — October 31, 2007 @ 1:06 am

  22. I would very much appreciate the pdf. Great instructions and you made a lovely bag!!

    Comment by Sharon — November 17, 2007 @ 1:00 pm

  23. Would you send me the pdf as well? Thanks!

    Comment by Jessica Ozment — November 17, 2007 @ 9:54 pm

  24. Thanks for all your comments on this bag post.
    The pdf is no longer available.

    Comment by Els — November 18, 2007 @ 12:59 pm

  25. Can you please tell me where I can buy or order the bag stops. I use them all the time and the store I used to buy them from no longer carry them and I cannot find them anywhere.


    Bagstops are not made anymore, the production stopped.
    Prym makes a similar anti slip band for bags called Non-Slip tape,
    Rutsch Stop in German, or Bande Agrippante in French .

    Comment by Jeannie — September 8, 2008 @ 1:27 pm

  26. I love your bag! It’s very professional looking. Great job on it and the tutorial! Thanks for sharing.
    Scarlett in MO

    Comment by Scarlett — December 11, 2008 @ 7:45 pm

  27. I love your bag!!! I have been trying to get a copy of this pattern for a long time now…… can you send me the email if you still have it thanks so much!!!

    Comment by Locosewer — February 26, 2009 @ 12:28 pm

  28. Hi

    Do you still have the pdf of the nairobi bag? Are you willing to share it? The pattern is unavailable at Hot Patterns -alas


    Comment by sewingpdx — August 27, 2009 @ 8:40 am

  29. I just discovered your site while searching for information on how to make a professional looking bag.

    I was so dissapointed earlier that the Nairobi bag was no longer available from Would you be so kind as to forward it to me?

    I also saw a Vouge pattern for a shoulder bag but really like this one much more.

    You did an amazing job in your construction! It’s beautiful.

    Thank you!!


    Comment by Denise — October 11, 2009 @ 3:04 pm

  30. Hi, I just started to be interested in sewing handbags and have been researching tutorials and came across your site. I love the look of your bag. It looks beautiful inside and outside. Any tips for the sewing the zipper pockets and zipper opening? thanks. Could I trouble you to forward the pdf for the pattern if it’s possible. Thanks so much.

    Comment by anh — May 2, 2010 @ 10:35 pm

  31. Wow, that is a fantastic bag, it looks like it would have cost a lot of money, the fabric and workmanship are just stunning. If you still have the pattern pdf, I would love to have it, though I probably will have to do several practice bags to get to this level.

    Comment by Christine — May 15, 2010 @ 12:38 pm

  32. I am from South America. I would very much appreciate the pdf file with the patterns. The pdf is no longer available. I would love it. Can you?

    Comment by Keira — December 12, 2010 @ 10:35 pm

  33. The free download is no longer available but you still can buy the pattern from Hotpatterns see

    Comment by Els — December 17, 2010 @ 9:10 pm

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