Yoga bag

After years of paying for gym memberships but never going, I’ve now started putting my money towards yoga and pole classes instead. So far this is working great – finding exercise I enjoy doing has changed everything! I’ve invested in a yoga mat for yoga classes and for flexibility stretches for pole and after carrying it around tucked under my arm for too long, I made myself a yoga-mat-carrying shoulder bag (the name needs a little work!).

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It’s a large shoulder bag – plenty of room for a change of clothes, yoga kit such as blocks and warm clothes for meditation (although this is the most awkward part of the yoga class for me – I can’t keep a straight face for the ‘ohms’!). The straps are designed to hold the yoga mat on the outside, but I think it will also make a great beach bag, maybe carrying towels instead of a yoga mat.

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And here’s how to make it!

You will need:

  • 2.5 metres of fabric (44 inches or 110cm wide) or 1.5 metres of fabric (60 inches or 150cm wide). Something sturdy such as cotton canvas works well. I used the same fabric inside and out but you may want to choose a contrast fabric for the lining.
  • 4.5 metres of approximately 1 and a half inch (4cm) wide webbing for the bag handles
  • matching thread

It’s really easy to make, so I’ve explained how below. Please do ask questions in the comments if anything is unclear though.

I used a 1/2 inch seam allowance throughout.

Step 1 – Cut out your fabric.

You will need 4 bag pieces (2 from your main fabric and 2 from your lining fabric). Using tracing paper of greaseproof paper draw a 22 by 24 inch rectangle. Along the long bottom edge, measure a 4 inch square in each corner and cut the corner out (see the illustration below). You will also need 2 pocket pieces – 9 x 9 inches.

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Note – you may wish to alter the depth of the bag. It’s quite deep which is fine for me, but I suggest taking 4 inches off the depth if you prefer a smaller bag.

Step 2 – sew the pocket

Place the pocket pieces right sides together and sew together, leaving a 3 inch gap along the bottom edge. Turn the pocket right sides out through the gap and press. Edgestitch around the entire pocket piece, closing the gap at the bottom.

Mark the centre line of one of the inside bag pieces (I do this by folding it in half to make a crease). Place the pocket piece on the right side of the back lining piece, 5 inches down from the top edge. Line up the centre of the pocket with the centre crease on the bag piece and pin in place. Sew the pocket to the bag along both side edges and the bottom edge sewing along the existing edgestitching (shown with a red dotted line below). Make sure to leave the top edge open.

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Step 3 – cut the handle pieces and hem the ends

Cut your webbing into the following lengths:

1 back strap – 74 inches
1 upper front strap – 64 inches
2 lower front straps (bottom half) – 19 inches

Take the two bottom front strap pieces and fold under one of the ends of each piece by 1/2 inch and 1/2 inch again. Stitch two lines across the top and bottom of the fold to hold this in place. This will hem the end to ensure it doesn’t fray.

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Take the top front strap piece and fold under both ends by 1/2 inch and then 1/2 inch again. Stitch two lines across to hold these in place as well. Make sure that you have folded it under the same direction at both ends.

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Note – I have the handles fairly long, but you may prefer to shorten them by a few inches. Just make sure you adjust the length for both the front and back handle. If you have altered the depth of the bag you will also need to adjust the handles accordingly.

Step 4 – sew velcro to the handles

Cut two 7 and a half inch strips of velcro for the handles. Sew the edges of the rough velcro strips to the  ends of the front upper handles. Sew the edges of the soft fuzzy Velcro strips to the lower front handle.

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Step 5 – sew the handle to the back piece

Sew the long strap piece to the right side of the back exterior panel. Place the strap 6 inches in from the edges and pin. Sew the handles to the bag piece by edge stitching from the bottom of the bag up until 1 inch below the raw edge. Then rotate and sew across the handle to the other edge, rotate again and stitch along the other edge from the to to bottom. Repeat this for both sides of the handle.

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Step 6 – sew handles to the front pieces

This is the most fiddly bit of a very easy project. I’ve done my best to explain this, but also added some illustrations to help make it clear.

First place the lower front handles six inches from the edge, at the bottom of the front bag piece, and pin. In the same way as the back handle, sew up from the bottom of the bag – but this time only sew the first 9 inches before stitching across the handle and back down the other side, leaving the velcro ends unattached.

Take the front upper handle and place the ends 6 inches from the edge of the bag. The ends should be 18 inches from the hemmed edge to the raw edge at the top of the bag. This time, sew the edges of the handle to the bag from 1 inch below the top raw edge to 9 inches down from the raw edge. Sew across the handle and back up the other side. Again, this should leave the Velcro ends unattached to hold your yoga bag.

sewstrapstofront-step6

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Step 7 – sew bag together

Take the exterior bag pieces and place them right sides together. Sew along the side edges and the bottom edge with a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Do not sew the corners yet.

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Pull the inside corners of the squares in each corner apart, so that the seam for the bottom edge and the side edges meets in the middle (see the pictures below). Pin together and then sew.

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Repeat this for the lining of the bag.

Step 8 – Sew outer bag and lining together

Turn the lining wrong sides out and the exterior right sides out. Place the outside bag (right sides out) inside the lining (wrong sides out). Pin and sew together along the opening leaving a 6 inch gap at one of the side seams. Turn the bag right side out through this gap.

Press the edges, turning the raw edges at the gap under by 1/2 inch. Then edgestitch once 5mm from the edge and a second time 1cm from the edge.

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Step 9 – reinforce the handles

This bit is a little awkward, but helps to hold the lining in place inside the bag.

Sew over the existing stitching on the handles, through the exterior and lining pieces. This will help to hold the lining in place inside the bag.

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On the back exterior and lining piece I sewed over the existing stitching on the handle, on the outside edge, from the top down as far as the sewing machine would comfortably allow.

On the front exterior and lining piece I sewed over the existing stitching on the upper front handles. I’ve shown the stitching in red in the illustration above. You can just about make out the stitches to reinforce the handles in the picture below (although it doesn’t stand out much, my thread matches too well!).

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Et voila! You have a yoga bag!

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