Kutsu Bag Tutorial & Interfacing Challenges

I started on a serious sewing adventure from last year.  Today, there are 3 sewing challenges that still stress me out...big time.  1) Attaching Zippers  2) Top Stitching a straight line 3) Choosing the right interfacing

Of the three, choosing the right interfacing is the stress winner.  "Scrambled" is the best word to describe how my brain feels after reading blogs and books on the subject.  In each writing there is usually one common note that is; working with interfacing comes with experience.

So I decided on an interfacing experiment with this one bag project using a cotton linen blend fabric. If you have any suggestions...pul-leeze (please) share ~~ thank you.

This is my first experiment : Using Fusible Fleece Pellon 973F : For some reason this pellon does not show up in any meaningful results in google search and is not on the Pellon site.  Why oh Why??  I'm starting to stress.  ( The 987F Pellon may be similar; described as adding a 'lofty' look and feel to a bag.)

For this project, I'm making a Kutsu Bag. In Japanese, "kutsu" means "shoes".  My guess is that children in Japan use these bags to store their shoes in school.  But this kawaii styled bags are too cute for just shoe storage ! 

Kutsu Bags are popular in Japanese craft books

My Finished Zakka Inspired Kutsu Bag


This is a basic tutorial for a Kutsu Bag.

Step 1: Prepare Fabrics
  • Exterior Fabric for Top : Cut one piece 18" by 8.5" Plus Fusible Fleece
  • Exterior Fabric for Bottom : Cut one piece 18" by 3.5" Plus Fusible Fleece
  • Lining : Cut one piece : 18" x 12"
  • Long Strap : Cut one piece : 12" x 4" ( a little small; perhaps 14" or 16" is better) Plus Light Weight Fusible Interfacing )
  • Small Pull through Strap : Cut one piece : 2.75" x 4" Plus Light Weight Fusible Interfacing Pellon 911FF
  • Attach Fusible Fleece to Exterior Top and Bottom pieces according to manufacturer's instructions and Light Weight Fusible Interfacing for straps

  • To sew seams, I simply line the presser foot along the edge and sew. 
Step 2 : Pin and sew top and bottom pieces

  • Sew bottom and side of exterior fabric
  • Optional : Top stitch
Step 3 : Sewing Side and Bottom Seams
  • Fold exterior piece in half so that bag width is 9".  Pin and sew side and bottom seams. 
  • If you'd like to add embellishments, do this before sewing the bottom and sides

Step 4 : This is an optional step : Sew boxed corners

  • Press the seam open
  • Measure 1" from the tip (it's easier to find the tip if you snip the seam open to lay it flat)
  • Be sure that the seam is in the center by lining up a line from your ruler on top of the seam line to check that the fabric to the left of the seam is the same width as the fabric to the right of the seam. 
  • Draw a sewing line and sew
  • Cut off excess fabric; leaving about 1/4" 
how the boxed corner looks from the outside
 Step 5 : Pin and Sew Lining

  •  Fold lining piece in half so that the lining is 9" in width.  Pin and sew the side (LEAVE A 2"+ GAP FOR TURNING THE BAG RIGHT SIDE OUT ON THE SIDE).  
 Step 6 : Prepare the Long Strap/Handle & Pull Through Loop/Strap

  • Fold the strap in half lengthwise and gently press to create a crease line down the middle.

    • Fold sides towards the center line
    •  Now fold sides together, pin, and lightly press
    • Top stitch along both sides
    •  Remember my stress about top stitching a straight line? As long as I can use this 1/4" zipper foot ... no problem!    

     Step 7 : Attach straps to front body; along top edge

    • Turn bag right side out
    • Find the middle of the bag
    • Fold long strap in half.  Place strap to right side of bag as shown in pic. If you like, baste the strap together to prevent slippage when sewing it to the bag. Pin long strap to front of bag (if there is front vs back to your bag). Baste stitch in place
    •  Fold short strap in half.  Attach your pull through "?" ... hmmm, I don't know what to call it...pull through "adornment" ?  It's the heart shaped thing in the pic which is actually a key ring. 
    Step 8 : Attach Lining to Front Piece

    •  Insert the front piece into the lining; right sides together and sew along the top 
    Step 9 : The Finish

    • Pull the front piece through the gap in the side of the lining
    • Sew gap
    • Top stitch along the top edge ( I didn't do a top stitch because I couldn't use the 1/4" edge foot to do this job due to the bulk from the fusible fleece; one lesson learned )
    • Lightly press your finished bag
    Notes :
    • I decided to hand sew lace trims to the bag as an embellishment
    • The fusible fleece does make for a nice, soft bag.  I like the look although the fleece did present a challenge for sewing a top stitch along the top edge  
    • For the strap, I adhered the 911FF (Mid weight fabrics used in dresses such as challis, chambray, jersey, broadcloth, linen) on the entire piece. This made for a really thick, stiff handle because of the fold.  I think the next time, I'll add the interfacing to half of the strap to minimize the thickness for this particular project.
    The great thing about simple bags is that there are many ways of making it your own. 

    • Change up this bag by making it in one piece instead of 2 (top and bottom for exterior), 
    • Add an embroidery design, ribbons, patch, buttons ...
    • For the straps, use cotton or nylon webbing or leather
    • I used a key ring heart ring for the pull through. Heavy plastic rings, metal rings or d-rings are other options.  But other options are to 1-make the handle strap longer; sew the handles in as you would a handbag  2-form a loop with the short strap for a pull through 
    • Instead of boxed corners leave the corners as is or sew rounded corners
     Next week I'll try this bag again with another interfacing option.  Till then...aloha


    1. I must ask, where did you ever find such pretty fabric? And I love the heart shaped key chain adornment, did you just happen upon it in a store - or purchase it special? And a note: I added you to my own blog list of "blogs I enjoy" so I hope you stop by sometime!

    2. Hi Bethanee ~~ Thank you so much for adding my blog to your blog! As for the fabric..I'm afraid you are not going to like my response: I got it in Japan. Yup. But on a good note, the heart shaped fob is from etsy .. check out this shop http://www.etsy.com/listing/67651335/heart-shaped-key-ring-nickle-plated-32mm This shop sells the fobs in different quantities. And I am going to your blog...Now...hope to talk to you again~~