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Bohemian Carpet Bag – A Purse Pattern Review

A carpet bag sewing pattern - the Bohemian Carpet Bag by Sew LIberated. A giant bag to sew - this is so fun for road trips! Pattern review in the post.

My very first real bag! I’m sharing a review of the Bohemian Carpet Bag pattern from Sew Liberated – I initially sewed this up and wrote the review as a part of Purse Palooza over on the Sew Sweetness blog. I have been using it for a few months since then, it has held up great. Something I didn’t think about was how pained I would be when it got dirty – unlike a shirt, I can’t just throw it in the wash. I’m thinking I should have Scotch-guarded it or something? I’d love to hear your tips!

I wrote a positive review for the sewing project book “Growing Up Sew Liberated” so I started out a fan before even opening the pattern.

Once I actually had everything cut out, I panicked a little. This bag is huge! But after I actually started using it, it isn’t hard to fill up when we go out of the house with two kids.

It is a great pattern for showcasing large prints! You can’t see the lining when it’s shut, so a perfect spot for something a little wild.

I didn’t even know what a carpet bag was, really (I had picked the bag as a part of an “Anne of Green Gables” challenge, because she carried one), turns out it is this nifty frame feature that pops open and snaps back together. I was very intimidated by the installation step, but you basically just unscrew it, insert it, and screw it back together. The seller I bought my frame from isn’t open anymore, but this Etsy shop has a few to choose from.

I’m not 100% sure if the joints are supposed to be that exposed, having never seen a “real” carpet bag and the pattern was pretty light on illustrations. But it works well and I like how it looks, so I guess that’s what matters!

The top is folded over to create the casing, instead of sandwiching in a third layer. This was a little bulky to sew, my walking foot was essential.

Purse feet look so classy to me, and they were also way easier to insert than I anticipated.

The pattern calls for a bottom insert with foamboard and foam; it didn’t mention tacking it down or anything so I think it just remains removable? It gives it a really nice shape.

I was surprised that it included a key fob but no interior pockets. The pattern called for fusible fleece on the key fob strap, which made it insanely thick folded over, I’d definitely just use one layer of interfacing for any future bags.

I’m 5’2, for scale, and this bag is definitely hefty.

I kept opening and shutting it with one hand – super handy when juggling babies! I’m so proud of my final bag and how it looks, it was nice to have a little challenge, but I’m sure it would be a very quick sew for someone used to sewing purses. It feels good to cross this off my UFO list too!

Pattern:Bohemian Carpet Bag pattern by Sew Liberated

Finished Bag Measurements:  16.5″ wide, .75″ deep, & 16″ tall (excluding the handles).

Price: $12.95

Fabric I used: The outer ikat fabric is actually a clearance tablecloth from Target, the denim is from Hancock Fabrics, and the lining is a pretty peacock quilting cotton from Jo-Ann’s as well. 

Changes I made: None

What I might do if I make it again: I think I’d add interior pockets, definitely make the key fob thinner.

Overall thoughts on the pattern:

  • The paper pattern has all of the pieces full-size, but you do have to measure for the bottom insert (I used their suggested measurements and it fit great).
  • The pattern didn’t include a step for topstitching the zipper, although the bag clearly shows it topstitched in the example.
  • When constructing the top of the zipper pocket, the pattern calls to iron each long side down 1/2″, but it should only say one side otherwise it’s too narrow.
  • The illustrations are pretty sparse, and don’t show the fabric’s wrong side/right side. The only step I actually felt like I needed an illustration, sewing the lining and exterior together at the “dots” for the side channels, there wasn’t one.
  • There are several places where the layers seem unnecessarily thick, such as where the strap pieces join, or when the key fob is flipped over. I’d adjust the fusible fleece so it wasn’t in the seam allowances in these spots.

Fabric & Notion Requirements:

Wendy commented below that she buys her supplies from!

  • 1 & 1/3 yard of exterior heavyweight fabric
  • 1 & 1/3 yard of lightweight lining fabric
  • 1 yard coordinating heavy weight fabric for corners & straps
  • 1 & 1/3 yard of fusible fleece
  • 16″ tubular frame ( this Etsy shop has some)
  • 1 set of purse feet
  • 1″ swivel clasp
  • Piece of 1/4″ foamboard measuring 7″ X 17″
  • 1 piece 1/3 inch foam, 7″ X 17″
  • 7″ zipper

This is the biggest purse pattern ever! Check out the review for the Sew Liberated Bohemian Carpet Bag - a sewing pattern for a "mary poppins style" purse that is perfect for road trips.

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Wendy K. Harrison

Saturday 10th of March 2018

I've been making bags for a while now and I always - ALWAYS scotchguard all fabrics once I have them cut out, prior to sewing. Another thing I often do is use a fabric safe waterproofing spray on the exterior bottoms of the bags (even if using feet). I offer the waterproofing treatment for a nominal fee to my customers, but the scotchguarding is always just included in the price. Doesn't matter if you're making it for yourself or another, the amount of time, love and effort that we put into each new creation always makes this a worthwhile step.

Love your bag, love your review! Have made it a couple times now and I love this design/pattern! Happy sewing from Alberta, Canada :D

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Tuesday 13th of March 2018

Such great tips! Thank you for the kind words about my bag and post - stay warm up there and happy sewing to you too :)


Wednesday 8th of March 2017

I love this carpet bag pattern. It is absolutely beautiful and probably will be the next bag I will be making. The fabric used just goes perfectly with the pattern.

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Wednesday 22nd of March 2017

Thanks so much Sandi! I'd love to see it if you make one :)

Judy Ramsey

Wednesday 8th of March 2017

Were did you purchase a clasp for the carpet bag. Great job and love it. Love the print inside. Is it of butterflies? Reminds me of them. Thanks for all your interesting posts. Judy

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Wednesday 22nd of March 2017

What an oversight! The seller I bought my frame from isn't open anymore it seems, but this Etsy shop has a few to choose from: (affiliate link)

Mariana Kirova

Monday 15th of February 2016

Great job on the bag, Stephanie! It's really big, can fit everything! I love the colours you've chosen to combine, too! It will be even better if all the fabric is from something unused from the cupboard;) Cheers, Mariana

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Monday 15th of February 2016

Thank you Mariana! These are some of my favorite colors :)


Friday 12th of February 2016

Oh wow! It's much larger than I thought.

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Monday 15th of February 2016

It is ridiculously big, I should be embarrassed :)

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