I decided I needed a bag to wear when I’m out dancing. I have a huge collection of handbags and I do like to show them off, but when I’m jumping around on the dance floor I don’t want to be worrying if my stuff is ok. Plus, after a few tequilas I’m liable to leave my bag lying about and that’s just no good. So I decided I’d make myself what is known affectionately as a bumbag (or, in the US, as a fanny pack). Only a hip version – in both senses of the word.

I started out with the belt. For this I wanted something very straightforward. I bought a clip buckle – the kind most often used on backpacks. I measured the space inside the beltloops on my jeans and it was 3cm. So, allowing 2cm either side of that, I cut out a 7cm strip. I wanted the belt to sit on my hips and be a bit flexible, so I cut the strip 100cm long – about 8cm longer than the widest part of my hips. Then I cut a 3x96cm strip of interfacing and ironed that on to the belt strip. I folded in the 2cm allowance on either side – it met in the middle with a teeny overlap, and sewed each side in place. Then I sewed a second line closer to the edge of the belt for effect. I folded in the corners of the 2cm on either end of the belt (kind of like when you’re wrapping a parcel) to form a triangle, then folded that in and stitched a double line over that as well. Then I threaded one end through one side of the buckle, folded it over and stitched it into place. The other end is threaded through the buckle but unstitched, so that I can adjust the belt depending on how I’m wearing it. It does tend to slip a little though, so at some point I may have to stitch it into place.

Making the bag

I totally made this up, starting with a basic sketch, and I’m not a particularly clever-at-sewing person, so I hope it makes sense. I made the bag a size that wouldn’t be too clunky on my hip but would hold all the essentials for a night on the town. It’s 16cm wide and 20cm long. It’s fully lined so as to be hardwearing and protect things like my phone from getting banged.

You need: 2 fabrics – one for outside and one for lining. I used 2 versions of a pink and red spot and kind of swapped them around for the different parts for more funkiness, but you can just use a plain lining. Interfacing – I used a fairly thin fusible interfacing, just to give it a little strength. 18cm zip – the whole zip was 18cm long, though the actual zipper part is only 16cm. I don’t know how they decide what length that is when you buy it. Embellishments for pocket, if you like.

1. Cut fabric and interfacing as follows:

Outer fabric: 1 piece 24cm x 20cm; 1 piece 20cm x 17cm; 1 piece 20cm x 11cm; 1 piece 14cm x 11cm.

Lining fabric: As for outer fabric.

Interfacing: 1 piece 24cm x 20cm; 1 piece 20cm x 17cm; 1 piece 20cm x 11cm

When cutting, I strongly recommend you use a rotary cutter and ruler. You want all your lines nice and straight and sharp so everything fits together nicely.

2. Iron fusible interfacing to backs of outside fabric except for the 14cm x 11cm piece (this is for the front pocket).

3. Match outside fabric and lining fabric pieces to each other, right sides facing. Measure and mark a line 1cm from the edge all the way around (you can skip this but it does help to be really precise with this one) and pin your fabrics together.

Pin outside and lining fabrics together, right sides facing.

Pin outside and lining fabrics together, right sides facing.

4. Now sew along your marked lines around each set, remembering to leave a decent-sized gap for turning. Clip corners for a neater edge, turn and press. Use a skewer or pencil to gently poke your corners out to ensure they’re nice and square.

5.  If you’re embellishing your front pocket, do it now. I just added a line of rickrack to the top of the pocket.

6. Take your two front pieces (the original 20 x 17 and 20 x 11 pieces) and sew a 1cm hem on the top edge of the larger piece (along the short side) and the bottom edge of the smaller piece (that’ll be the long side).

7. Centre your pocket on the front of the larger piece (remembering there’ll be a 1cm seam at the bottom) and topstitch on around the sides and bottom.

8. Lay your front pieces out face down with the hemmed edges just meeting. Lay your zip along the space where they meet. If, as I suspect, zip widths are reasonably standard, the side pieces of the zip should be exactly as wide as your hems. Pin in place and then sew – this is much easier if you have a zipper foot but I didn’t and it worked just fine. You don’t need to sew the short ends as these will be caught inside the seams on the sides of the bag.

The zip is just sewn onto the two hems at the back. This is the front showing pocket and zip.

The zip is just sewn onto the two hems at the back. This is the front showing pocket and zip.

9. First, remember to open your zipper halfway or you’ll sew your bag closed and have to unpick it like I did. Now place your front and back pieces right sides facing, mark the 1cm line all around again, and pin to secure. Sew all the way around, being careful as you go over the zipper ends. Clip the corners to make it neat when you turn it.

10. Open the zipper fully and turn the bag right side out, using your pencil to poke into the corners and get them nicely angled.

11. Put your belt on and check where you want the bag to sit on your hip – I just held the spot with my thumb but you could get more professional and pin it.

12. Place the bag under the belt in your marked position. I put the bag just half up the belt but you could put it all the way under as there’s enough allowance for it if your belt is 3cm wide. Sew a double line of sewing across the belt over the bag, clip and tie off. Voila!

The finished bag sewn onto the belt.

The finished bag sewn onto the belt.

The finished bag in place. It stands out a teeny bit, but not more than a handbag slung across your shoulder would.

The finished bag in place. It stands out a teeny bit, but not more than a handbag slung across your shoulder would.