Ninja Monkey Bag

I’m now volunteering once a week at my kids’ high school in the Career Center.  So far I’ve discovered that there are few things more interesting than teenagers.  I don’t envy the balance they have to reach between conformity and individuality.  Not that the pressure for that ever completely goes away, but it definitely peaks during those years.

One thing I noticed recently was a lot of girls with a kind of hobo-style cross-body bag.  The funny thing is, I made one of these for my daughter and one for a friend’s daughter this summer, without realizing they were actually popular.  I feel so hip right now.  Don’t tell any of the kids I said that.

The first one I made was from a fabric with monkeys practicing karate on it, thus the name Ninja Monkey Bag was born.  I know you were wondering.  The one I’m showing you today is my first completed item for my newly open and stocked ETSY STORE!!!

To make your own, you’ll need:

1 1/4 yards of outer fabric

1 1/4 yards of lining fabric

10″ by 14″ medium weight fusible interfacing (cut in half for two 10″ by 7″ pieces)

2″ by 4″ heavy weight fusible interfacing (or heavy fabric and fusible web) (cut in half for two 2″ squares)

2″ by 5/8″ Velcro

1″ button

this pattern, printed, cut out and pieced together

Cut 2 of purse pieces from outer fabric and two from lining.

Cut one inside pocket from outer fabric.  Cut one large outside pocket from lining fabric.  Cut one small outside pocket from outer fabric, centering on a point of interest in the fabric.

Iron a 10″ by 7″ piece of interfacing to wrong side of back lining piece, centered behind pocket area.

Iron second piece of interfacing to wrong side of front body piece, centered behind pocket area.

Attach a 2 inch square piece of heavy interfacing or fabric using fusible web centered and about ½ inch from upper edge on both lining pieces to support Velcro.

Fold all pocket pieces right side together and sew each ¼ inch from raw edge, leaving about 2 inches open for turning.  Clip corners and curves.  Turn right side out.  Press.

Center small outside pocket on top of large pocket.  Stitch around sides and bottom of small pocket, close to edge.

Pin front pocket to outside of front outer piece, centering side to side and 2 ½ from top edge.  Stitch around sides and bottom, close to edge.

Pin inside pocket to back lining piece, centered and 3 inches from upper edge.  Stitch around sides and bottom close to edge.  Stitch from top edge to bottom 3 ½ inches from left edge to create two pockets.

Sew on Velcro, centered with top edge 1″ from top edge of purse, on right side of both lining pieces.

Lay lining pieces right sides together.  Pin.  Stitch around outer edge to tops of straps.  You’re basically sewing an elongated “U” shape.

Repeat same with outer pieces.  Press seams open.

Turn lining right side out.  Stuff inside purse, right sides together, lining up all edges, and pin.

Stitch around all raw edges, leaving 4 inches open for turning.  This is where you’re sewing the inner part of the “U” shape I mentioned before.  Turn purse through opening, turning long straps out to a point.

Push lining into purse.  Press. Topstitch around edge.

Sew on a flower, using instructions from last week’s More Fabric Flowers post, by stitching through a 1″ button on front and a button inside for support.

Tie straps to make purse desired length.

If you just have to have this purse, right now, go see it in my new Etsy store!

handmade projects

67 thoughts on “Ninja Monkey Bag

  1. Pingback: Free pattern: Hobo bag · Sewing |

  2. thanks for the pattern! although i’m still a little confused when it comes to the lining part. i’m new at sewing but i was wondering if you could possibly enlarge the photos so i know more of what you’re talking about when it comes to the bag coming together. i’m sorry for asking! but thank you anyway!


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  5. Hi Staci – we’re working on this as a spring break project – really newbie sewers. Can you help us understand how to cut out the purse pieces from 1 1/4 yds of fabric with the fabric folded? Do you attach the handle pattern pieces (B,C,D) to the bag pattern piece before you cut out the fabric, or sew them together afterwards?


  6. What does it mean on the pattern “cut on fold”? Do i cut there or fold there? (sorry im new at sewing 🙂 )


    • No problem, Amanda! That means you fold your fabric in half and line up that edge of the pattern with the fold in the fabric. You don’t cut that particular edge. When you’re finished cutting, you should be able to unfold that piece so it’s double the original pattern piece. Does that make sense? If you need any more help, feel free to e-mail me (my address is in the sidebar to the right)!


  7. I just made a slightly altered version of this purse tonight. Love it! I appliquéd a peace sign made out of that obnoxious (but cute) sparkley dot material rather than using a front pocket and flower. I am hoping that my niece will love it tomorrow. Thanks for sharing it!


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  12. So I got as far as putting the velcro onto the lining pieces. But everything else doesn’t make sense in my head. Pretty much stuck where Robyn Burnham was in the earlier comments.


    • I was going to send you an e-mail, Elaine, but I couldn’t find one attached to your profile. Once you lay the two lining pieces right sides together, you should be looking at a big letter U with a fat bottom. You’ll stitch around the outside of the U. Do the same with the outer pieces (what will end up being the outer part of your bag). After you press all the seams open, turn the lining right side out. Stuff it inside the outer part, lining the edges up so you have a U again. Now, stitch around the inside of the U, leaving 4 inches for turning. If this doesn’t help, please feel free to e-mail me at craftystaci at gmail dot com and we’ll get it sorted out!


  13. Do you cut the pieces of the strap and sew them together? Or cut it all as one piece? And what is the diamond shaped strap in the picture?


    • Hi Megan –
      The strap and bag are all one piece. I think the diamond shape you’re referring to (in the first photo?) is actually the flower embellishment that’s added at the end. If you need any more help, feel free to email me!


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  17. Hi Staci!

    Love the bag, just a little confused about the lining as well as two of the girls who commented above (sorry, i only sewed a bag a couple years back and trying to get back in the swing of things!) do you think you could send me an email @ to try to clear things up a bit for me? Thanks!! 🙂


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  20. Well i REALLY want to make this bag. and it looks amazing! but i cant really figure out with the directions how to actually make the bag and what to sew. if theres anyway you could help!


      • well i was really confused on how to attach the straps of the bags to eachother. and is it really necessary to have the interfacing parts?


        • You definitely want to use the interfacing. I use it in areas where you’ll be sewing things like pockets and you’ll need the added strength. Otherwise, the fabric will tear too easily where it’s been sewn. I just added a couple of photos and some additional wording to the instructions. Can you read through it again and see if that clears it up? Thanks!


  21. Pingback: Ninja Monkey Bag | Free Purse Patterns

  22. Like others, I am a rookie sewer. Help! I ironed on a 10″X7″ pc of interface to wrong side of back lining, as direction state. Then it says to attach a 2″ pc about 1/2 in from edge. Does this mean I iron this on the top of the 10×7 pc. I just ironed on? Maybe send me a bigger pic, or instrustion to help me understand better. Thanks!


    • Sorry for the delay June. I’m going to try to address each of these separately so it’s a little more clear. If you look at the photos above, the third one down shows the two pieces of interfacing applied to the bag, and yes, they do overlap a bit.


  23. Me again, Instrustion say, cut one pocket of each size…however on next page instruction say fold pocket pc right sides together, and sew. If I only have one pc each, how do I sew right sides together? Thanks again!


    • It’s the “fold” part that’s important here. You aren’t sewing two different pieces together, but folding one piece in half with the right sides touching, then stitching around. If you look at the fourth photo down, you’ll see that once you’ve folded it the pockets are half the size of the original pattern piece.


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  27. Pingback: Ninja Monkey Bag

  28. The Ninja Monkey Bag pattern is a good pattern but it says nothing about the handles. Can you give me information about sewing the handles?


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  30. Absolutely love this pattern. But I am getting confused with the strap, do you cut the pattern with a full strap from both (inner and outer) fabric – eight pieces all together and sew to make it double wide or do you cut the strap on one side only and have the back as just a D shape.


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