How to Sew a Hobo Bag

Kate Miller-Wilson
sewing purse

Hobo bags are popular for their chic looks and roomy practicality. If you want to make a fun fashion statement, you can sew your own bag out of a favorite fabric.

How to Sew a Simple Hobo Bag

Before you begin sewing your bag, give some thought to your choice of fabric. A hobo bag looks best and keeps its structure if you use a heavy material. Look in the home decorating section of your fabric store for heavyweight options. Printed cotton duck fabric is a stylish and affordable choice.

This purse project is easy enough for beginning seamstresses, and you can expect to spend a couple of hours creating your bag. For simplicity, this bag uses handles made of cotton webbing, but you can also make handles out of the same fabric you're using for the bag.

Things You'll Need

  • Half a yard of heavyweight, 54-inch width fabric in a print you like
  • Half a yard of heavyweight, 54-inch width fabric in a coordinating color or print
  • Matching thread
  • One 14-inch zipper
  • One and a half yards 1½-inch coordinating cotton webbing
  • Scissors
  • Tape measure
  • Ruler
  • Sewing machine
  • Pins
  • Fabric pencil

What to Do

  1. Cut an 18-inch by 14-inch rectangle out of one of your fabrics. Orient the rectangle so one of the long sides is facing you.
  2. Fold the left side of the rectangle over to meet the right side. Use your tape measure and fabric pencil to mark a spot that is two inches from the raw edge of the fabric on the top left corner of the folded rectangle. Use a ruler to draw a line from this point to the bottom corner on the same side. Cut along this line. When you unfold the fabric, it should look like a trapezoid with the narrow side at the top.
  3. Use this piece as a pattern to cut out three more sides, giving you two out of each type of fabric.
  4. Cut a long 46-inch by four-inch rectangle out of each of the fabrics.
  5. Starting with the lining fabric, pin the long rectangle along the sides and bottom of the bag shape, leaving the top open. Repeat for both sides of the bag, and then sew along these seams, using a ¾-inch seam allowance. Clip the corners to give the seam more flexibility. Trim off any excess fabric.
  6. Repeat this step with the exterior fabric. You now have two hobo bag bodies. Along the end of each bag, use your sewing machine to take large stitches for gathering.
  7. Cut the webbing into two 20-inch pieces. Turn the bags, and nest them together with their right sides facing in. Pull the gathering stitches on either end to adjust the width to one and half inches. Pin the webbing into the ends of the bag so that about half an inch of webbing sticks out through the seam. Sew the gathers and webbing in place.
  8. Turn the bag right side out, and pin the zipper into place. Top stitch the zipper to sew it to the bag, making sure that your stitches don't interfere with its functionality. If you want to keep things simple, skip the zipper and simply topstitch the edges of the bag.

More Hobo Purse Instructions

Several websites offer hobo bag patterns and instructions for making these stylish purses:

  • Vanilla Joy has a hobo bag pattern and photo tutorial.
  • CraftBits has a hobo purse project with detailed directions with pictures.
  • Simply Modern Mom has instructions for a reversible hobo bag.
  • Lula Louise has a pattern for a reversible hobo sling bag.

Add Embellishments

Now that you know how to sew a hobo bag, you'll be able to create fashion accessories for yourself and for others. Consider adding interior pockets, appliqués, fun zipper pulls, and other embellishments to give your bag an even more stylish appearance.

How to Sew a Hobo Bag