Canvas Shoulder Bag

Canvas Shoulder Bag, front

After experimenting with backpacks last summer (Roll top 1, Roll top 2), I got hooked on bag design. My roll top packs have been good travel companions, but occasionally there are times when I need something a little smaller with easy access zipper pockets. Filson makes some of the best shoulder bags on the planet, and naturally I looked to them for inspiration. If I didn’t enjoy making my own gear, I would be saving my money for a Filson briefcase style bag instead.

Canvas Shoulder Bag, pocket

I used 18oz canvas, heavy duty Riri zippers, cotton webbing and seam tape throughout. The front exterior pocket has places for pens, keys, and other small items. Within the main compartment is a sleeve for an iPad, phone pocket, and two slightly deeper billow style pockets for larger objects.

Canvas Shoulder Bag, side

On the backside is a flat, snap closure pocket for a newspaper, magazine, boarding pass, etc. The shoulder strap is adjustable and removable if I want to carry it more like a briefcase. The bottoms of bags and packs usually show signs of wear first, so I decided to brush the bottom panel (not shown) with a thick layer of latex for durability.

Canvas Shoulder Bag, back

Anyone who follows me on Instagram has seen pictures of this project in progress. Here is a little collage of iPhone photos that start with the initial drawing, move to the pattern making process, then pattern testing and construction, and lastly the final bag.


From here I think I am moving on from bags and packs for a little while and back to clothing. I know I’ve talked about making a men’s jacket/blazer several times, and even started work on it a long time ago. It’s time to actually do it. So, that’s my plan. I’m currently looking for a jacket drafting system that I can use to create the pattern. Once I find one, it will probably take me most of the summer (and beyond) to get the fit right and properly learn how to put a jacket together.

23 Responses to “Canvas Shoulder Bag”

  1. Wendy — May 28, 2014 @ 2:38 pm

    I love bags like this – simple and practical, with lots of little pockets!

    I’m curious about the latex you added to the bottom of the bag. It’s an interesting solution to the bottom-wear problem, and I’d like to try it myself. What type of latex is it? Have you used it before? Pros/cons? Could we see some pictures?

  2. Taylor — May 28, 2014 @ 2:53 pm

    It is a simple mold builder liquid latex. The stuff people use to build various types of molds. There are pictures of what the latex looks like painted on the same color of canvas here:

    It goes on white and dries somewhat clear. Pros- it is easy to use, dries quickly, offers some protection.

    Cons- it contains ammonia, and is probably pretty toxic. Once it dries I think its fine, but you don’t want to breath the fumes while applying it. It also shows scuff marks, and gathers dirt.

  3. Amy — May 28, 2014 @ 3:01 pm

    Gorgeous—clean, simple, and well-constructed. If you sold this pattern, I’d buy it!

  4. Lindsey — May 28, 2014 @ 3:01 pm

    Great bag! Have you ever heard of Samuel Regal’s The American Garment Cutter?
    It’s a men’s drafting manual from the 1800’s, but it’s amazingly detailed and has all the classic silhouettes for jackets, coats, vests, and pants. It’s difficult to track down, but I’ve gotten digital copies from friends. Might not have the modern cut you’re looking for, but the drafting methods might give you some insight. Also, if you’re looking, Classic Tailoring Techniques: A Construction Guide for Men’s Wear is a great tailoring manual that I learned from in college and still reference.

  5. Taylor — May 28, 2014 @ 3:32 pm

    Thanks Amy! My plan is to start working on some bag patterns and offer them for sale later this year. Most likely I’ll start with a simple backpack.

  6. Taylor — May 28, 2014 @ 3:34 pm

    Thank you! I have not heard of that manual, but will definitely check it out. I appreciate the link. I do have a copy of the Classic Tailoring Techniques book you mentioned, and I”m sure I will be spending lots of time with it later on.

  7. Ginger — May 28, 2014 @ 4:29 pm

    Wow! This looks amazing! I really appreciate your aesthetic- everything you make looks so clean and modern! This is no exception!

  8. Kelly — May 28, 2014 @ 6:12 pm

    Oooo, I love this one too! I don’t really go for girly looking bags, so I would be excited to make something like this or your roll top backpack if/when you come out with patterns 🙂

  9. Caroline — May 29, 2014 @ 6:12 am

    What a beautiful bag. Love the canvas, and it is so well made! I’ve just been ranting about perfect bags myself. There is nothing like a custom-made bag with multiple pockets to keep you happy.
    I’d love to see the inside too.

  10. Alex in California — May 29, 2014 @ 4:39 pm

    Beautiful. I would carry this bag everywhere all day long.

  11. Tammy — May 30, 2014 @ 6:13 pm

    This is a gorgeous, classic bag. I agree with the other people who said they’d like to buy the pattern and see inside of the bag.

  12. Sheila — May 31, 2014 @ 7:35 pm

    I just made a bag a few weeks ago, and I agree that it’s addicting! I love how meticulous you are in your sewing and construction. The bag looks marvelous! A side question- is there a name for the fine weave webbing you are using here? I used a much looser weave in my bag, the only stuff in cotton and the colour I needed, and it’s already stretched and narrowed quite a bit which I am not happy about.

  13. Taylor — June 1, 2014 @ 3:19 pm

    Other than 2″ cotton webbing, I’m not aware of any special name that this webbing goes by. Sometimes I see webbing labeled in different weights, light, medium, heavy, etc. You might want to try a heavier weight webbing next time.

  14. Kate McIvor — June 9, 2014 @ 8:22 am

    Look at all those tools”

  15. Kiki — August 5, 2014 @ 9:36 am

    I would also be interested in buying the patterns for your roll top ruck sack and the canvas shoulder bag if you should decide to sell them in the near future.

  16. Taylor — August 5, 2014 @ 10:00 am

    Thanks Kiki,

    I am in the process of developing a version of my roll top ruck sack/backpack pattern to sell. It will be a few months before it is ready, but check back later this fall.

  17. MaLora — September 8, 2014 @ 10:29 pm

    I am so very interested in making your bags as well. I would like to see how you use seam tape especially, as the insides are what counts. I can’t wait for you to release patterns!

  18. nickeya — February 27, 2015 @ 10:38 am

    This bag is so well crafted and love the color you chose. 🙂

  19. Karen — June 2, 2015 @ 7:50 pm

    Love this bag! What type of sewing machine do you use?

  20. Taylor — June 3, 2015 @ 3:35 pm

    Thanks! For this type of bag, I use a single needle Brother industrial machine.

  21. Diana — March 14, 2016 @ 4:48 pm

    LOVE this bag! Is the pattern up for purchase?

  22. Taylor — March 15, 2016 @ 2:19 pm

    Thanks Diana! This pattern is not for sale, but I am developing a shoulder bag pattern that I hope to release later this year.

  23. Lisa M — January 7, 2017 @ 12:38 pm

    I am in love with this bag. I have been searching for a bag to make for my guy. I haven’t found a pattern yet.

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