Sew a trendy slouchy bag for summer from a couple of tea towels! Use my free sewing pattern and tutorial to create an easy DIY sling bag in about 30 minutes.
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I’m always on the lookout for cute tea towels. Because what’s not to love about a rectangle of pre-hemmed fabric from a pretty print?
Last summer I used a couple of Target tea towels to make an origami tote. Slouchy and lightweight and made from a bright happy print, it was the perfect summer bag! (Get the tutorial for my tea towel origami tote here.)
This year I decided to continue the tea towel bag tradition, but with a slightly different style. This one still has that slouchy style I love for summer, but with a sling bag shape instead of the folded fabric of the origami. Kind of a Boho sling bag with a summer vibe.
I’ve got a tutorial below for you sew your own DIY sling bag.
See that scrunchie I carry in my bag? I made that also. See my knot bow scrunchie tutorial for how to make one of your own!
Starting with tea towels make this a super fast easy summer bag to sew up! There’s just one pattern piece to cut out, and just a handful of easy seams. And because the tea towel is hemmed, the seams on the inside are already finished so there’s no need for a lining.
For my DIY sling bag, I started with some inexpensive tea towels from Target. The blue and white stripes lend a breezy, almost nautical look. And the fabric has kind of a linen-y texture that feels just like summer to me!
At the top there’s a leather strap cover that makes a nice finish (and also hides a raw edge). Finished dimensions are approximately 10” tall x 14” wide, with a 13” handle drop and corners boxed to 3” deep.
How to sew a DIY sling bag from tea towels
2 tea towels, approximately 18” x 28” each
Scrap of leather or faux leather 3” x 6.5”
Free pattern – Summer Sling Bag
RST = Right sides together. All seams allowances ½” unless otherwise stated.
Cut out the pattern
Cut the pattern from your tea towels. Pay attention to the placement of the fold line, which is along the long (handle) edge.
Sew the bag shape
Place the two bag pieces RST. Sew both short sides.
Open out the bag and rotate it so the side seams are now in the middle and the handles are on the sides. Sew across the bottom.
Box the corners
Box the corners to give it a 3” bottom. If you haven’t boxed corners before, here’s a good tutorial showing how.
To control fraying, zig zag over the raw edges after you trim off the ends. I used a stitch width 5 and a stitch length 1.2.
Hem the straps and top
Now let’s do something about the raw edges on the edges on the straps and the top of the bag.
The easiest way to do this is to create a simple double-fold ¼” hem. To do that, simply press a scant ¼” to the wrong side, and then press another ¼” over to the wrong side encasing the raw edges. Stitch the hem in place close to the edge you folded over.
If your tea towel has too much body to get a smooth finish on your hem, you could also use bias tape to turn the raw edge to the back. Here’s a tutorial showing how to do that.
Create the strap cover
Take your leather and fold it in half lengthwise, WRONG SIDES TOGETHER. Then stitch down the side with a ¼” seam allowance, creating a tube.
For best results when sewing on leather (or faux leather), use a leather needle and either a Teflon presser foot or a walking foot. If you don’t have a Teflon presser foot, you can cover the bottom of your presser foot with tape. This will keep the faux leather from sticking to the bottom of the presser foot.
Also keep in mind that pins create permanent holes in leather, so use fabric clips instead of pins.
Trim the seam allowance to 1/8”. I like to use a rotary cutter for this step so my edges are nice and straight.
Turn the bag right side out.
Thread one of the straps through the strap cover.
Being careful not to twist the straps, bring the strap ends together and let them overlap by ¾” or so. Sew across the overlap. You may want to sew back and forth across the overlap several times in order to create a stronger join.
Finally, slide the strap cover over the seam to cover the raw edges. You just made an adorable slouchy summer bag from a couple of tea towels!