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Make a Mary Poppins-Style Carpetbag: Part 1

After ordering the bag frame online, I sat down and created a rough sketch of what I envisioned.

After I completed the kilim carpet coat, I had leftover pieces of carpet. Not wanting to waste them, I decided to make myself a Mary Poppins-style bag.

I first ordered the bag frame online, sat down, and created a rough sketch of what I envisioned. Once I was sure of what I wanted, I set to work.

This bag was never going to fit under my sewing machine, so I decided to teach myself how to hand-stitch it.

img src=”https://images.threadsmagazine.com/app/uploads/2017/10/11030335/tc004.jpg” alt=”” width=”385″ height=”513″ />

I ordered a set from Tandy that included the basic tools, a copy of The Art of Hand Sewing Leather by Al Stohlman (The Tandy Leather Co., 1977), as well as a wooden device called a stitching pony.

I decided to trim the bag with black, alligator-embossed leather.

Before cutting into the leather, I tested the pattern I had drafted for the base. The remainder of the bag is essentially a rectangle, so the base was the only pattern piece I needed.

After testing the pattern, it was time to cut leather.

After cutting, I marked the stitching with a tracing wheel specially made for marking on leather.

I glued the corners together with contact cement before stitching. I thought this additional step would make the stitching easier–and I was right.

Then it went into the stitching pony for the hand stitching.

The four corners were stitched.

Here’s a close-up of the stitching. It looks like machine stitching.

After the base is sewn, a firm “floor” is needed.

I glued three layers of mat board in place and weighted them until they dried.

The carpet needed piecing, as there was little material leftover from the coat project. Since I wanted clean corners, I needed to stitch a leather…

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  1. User avater
    Gozermom | | #1

    I love this bag! I do have two questions about the base, however. First, why did you sew the corners wrong sides together, so that they stick out? Will they be covered later? Second, what did you use to stiffen the bottom? I'm not quite sure what you mean by "mat board." Thanks!

  2. User avater
    micksmom2 | | #2

    This looks great! I recently purchased the same type frame to make a leather version of your carpet bag, and so I'm thrilled to see this tutorial. What weight leather are you using? What size frame is this?

    I can't wait for the next installment!!

  3. sbsings | | #3

    Way cool bag, Kenneth! Could you tell me where I might find pieces of killim carpets? I see pillows made out of them all the time.
    I'm hoping I can use a C-clamp, or some such homemade device for the stitching pony.
    I've made backpacks with my handwoven fabric as an accent, but I think the killim would hold up better for the body. Do you find that it's scratchy against the skin?
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. dakota1275 | | #4

    unless I missed it, there is no picture of the finished product!

  5. LAKBerry | | #5

    I'd love to see the how to do the hand stitching of the back -- not just a picture of the very fine work. Also would love to see more of the whole bag. It makes it easier to put the parts detailed in perspective.

  6. 101catpawz | | #6

    I've done this with upholstery fabric and canvas. I've made them small for handbags and large for travel bags. My method could use some improvement. Thanks for the resource for the frames. I wonder why you made the seam allowance of the bottom sticking out. Will you sew them down later or cover them? Thanks for sharing your know how :)

  7. user-2091848 | | #7

    This is going to be beautiful! I've made a couple of handbags with brocade trimmed with nappa leather and a leather clutch with a hex snap frame, but I've never tried to cover a carpet-bag frame. I did the sewing on my home machine. I'm curious to see how you're going to do the handles. I made rouleaux handles and ended up needing to do the final sewing by hand after folding the leather around the D-rings. For adhesive, I like the 3M 465 transfer tape, rather than the gooey types that have to dry.

  8. User avater
    jbnelson41 | | #8

    i like this idea. want to see the finished bag!

  9. BlueWisteria | | #9

    An authentic Kilim carpet is a work of art, not appropriate to be carved up to make a coat or a bag. Please select a non-precious, modern rug for your project.

  10. Moonbeams | | #10

    I enjoy seeing the work of Kenneth even though I don't make many things! I wait for his articles. You are great, Kenneth!

  11. User avater
    kennethdking | | #11

    To ca2james: I sewed the corners as I did, as a design detail. They will stick out in the finished piece. On the next one I did (a smaller one), I made the bace completely differently. I used a double thickness of mat board for the stiffening.

    To micksmom2: This is the 18" long frame--a large bag.

    To Divaweava: It isn't scratchy against the skin, but I haven't carried it in the summer--I regard it a winter bag.

    To Dakota75: This is a two-part post. The finished bag will come later.

    And, as for whether or not to cut up a carpet for a bag and coat (earlier posts), that's a difference of philosophy. Susan Khalje's husband, who is a carpet dealer, said it would be OK and not disrespectful. I respect his knowledge and opinion on these matters.

  12. laigueglia | | #12

    Can you tell me which set you bought from Tandy?

  13. User avater
    kennethdking | | #13
  14. User avater
    maddie964 | | #14

    I saw this bag in person and just like the kilim carpet coat, it is a piece of art. I loved reading how it all came together, and I am looking forward to the follow up post about the lining.

    It's interesting how much engineering goes into a bag, also, how much glue is used! I just sewed rhinestones onto a Peter Pan collar and before attaching them, I lightly glued them in place. It made the sewing so much easier!

    And have I made a similar bag? Well... I've made lingerie if that counts!

  15. User avater
    [email protected] | | #15

    Hi Kenneth,
    Great bag, so distinctive. Did you reinforce the handle loops and strap on the wrong side? If so, how and what product(s) were used?

  16. furballs | | #16

    ca2james, mat board is the flat, stiff, usually coloured board used to make picture frame mats. Those are the coloured surrounds you see on most paper art pieces that are framed under glass.

    Any place that does picture framing will have mat board, and you can buy it at many art supply stores. It's possible that a framer might be willing to sell you offcuts that are of no use for mats for less cost, though they tend to try to cut as many useful mats as they possibly can from each cut out centre piece, to save waste.

    Mat board comes in a variety of types. It can be made entirely from paper, either acid free or not, or from rag, which is the highest quality, most costly, and always acid free. Sometimes called museum board too, as it was once the only type used for museum, or conservation style framing of paper art and is still the safest product to use for conservation framing. Conservation meaning to preserve the original piece for as long as possible in as close to original condition as possible. That's why mats are used, to create a safe environmental 'package' around the piece of art, where it will be preserved as much as possible from the effects of air pollution, humidity, insect damage, light or anything else that might alter a piece.

    The least costly type is the paper board that is not acid free. For a bag bottom, I'd think the least costly type would be ok, but if you had any concerns about the paper acids leaching & possibly damaging the fabric dyes later on, use acid free or rag board instead. Acid damage often appears as brownish staining and later on breakage,often at the edges of paper. Wood acids can affect natural fabrics and dyes too. Unless the label says a paper product is acid free, most paper and card stocks are extremely acidic, much as bare wood is. Bare wood also should never touch art or most fabrics either. Wood's acids will eventually rot many fabrics to shreds.

  17. User avater
    kennethdking | | #17

    To Neucarol: I didi reinforce the insides of the loops that attach the handle to the bag, with another layer of thinner leather, contact-cemented in place. It did dual duty of finishing the inside of the loop and strengthening the leather for more durability.

  18. tfor1 | | #18

    Hi , i am wanting to make this bag but i cannot seem to get past the first page. Can you tell me how to get to page two as the link does not work.


  19. User avater
    kennethdking | | #19

    to tfor1--click the "view all" phrase at the bottom of the page...

  20. user-4673846 | | #20

    I can not get past page 1 either ... :(

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