Makin Mail Sacks

As I mentioned in my last post, one of the things I worked on over the holidays were Mail Sacks, using Pink Chalk Studio’s pattern. After I made one, I completely fell in love with this pattern….for lots of reasons…let’s count (and no, I wasn’t paid for this endorsement).

1)  The pattern is very well written and easy to follow. I think even a novice sewer could easily tackle this project.

2) The pattern offers options for different sizes, pockets, and fabric choices.

3) The finished bag is the perfect size (at least I think). Not too big and bulky, but big enough to carry all the things you may want (wallet, keys, sunglasses, cosmetics, first aid stuff…I sort of have a mom purse even though I’m not a mom).

4) Most importantly (to me) the pattern is easily modified to create even more options and variety.

With that last point in mind I decided I was going to really challenge myself and make as close to a fancy store-bought bag (think Fossil or something found at Anthropology) as I could.  So here is a little info, so you can make a fancy grown up bag of your own.

First I moved the exterior seam between the yoke and bag base down so I could add a leather base to my bag.  Leather always seems fancier to me, and I just happened to stumble across some leather at a fabric store in my home town when we were home for the holidays.  If you would like to get some of your own you can buy it online here.  I decided if I was going to go all out with the leather, the rest of the fabrics should be high quality as well, but I wanted to keep that Fossil vibe.  I just happened to find with was probably the last piece available…anywhere…believe me I’ve looked…of Elk Grove canvas in the dusk colorway.  I love this fabric.  It is made by Birch Fabrics and it 100% organic.  And I paired it with Elk mod basics in Sun, also by Birch fabrics.

Screen Shot 2014-02-02 at 10.02.01 PM

(image from:

mail sack 7

On one of the first versions of this bag that I made I discovered how to add an exterior pocket.  The pocket I added in much the same manner as the hidden pocket on Jessica Abbot’s Waterfront Park Pleated Tote Pattern.  I really love this exterior pocket, because it is just the right place to put a cell phone.  I wanted to keep this pocket on my fancy bag, but with the yoke seam moved down I wasn’t sure what to do.  That’s when I decided to put in a floating inset pocket.  Again, a great tutorial that I followed is here.

Mail Sack 8

The final decision was shoulder bag versus cross body bag.  I was really torn over this one.  I usually love a cross body bag, especially when I am out and about running errands.  It keeps you hands free.  But, sometimes I like a shoulder bag, especially when I go out to eat (a cross body bag hanging on the back of a chair usually ends up on the floor).  So ideally I like a bag with an adjustable strap.  But how was I going to make an adjustable strap with the Mail Sack Pattern, and if I could modify it, where the heck was I going to find the right hardware for it?  Well I looked and looked online and had a good think on it and came up with a fairly simple solution.

birch mail sack

I changed the top curve of the yolk piece of the bag and the strap to be asymmetric.  The left hand side narrows to approximately 2 inches and extends up an extra 3.5 inches, and the right side I left the same (for both the exterior and lining).  The strap I left one end the same and just kept the rest of the strap straight for the length that I wanted (approximately 53 inches total).  I constructed the bag just like the instructions state, but when the bag is turned right side out at the end I was left with one short stub and one long strap.  I used a 2 inch wide rectangle ring and a slide to connect the square end of the strap to the short stub on the bag body.  The hardware I found on Etsy, here.

adjustable strap detail

The final touch is a simple magnetic closure to keep the bag closed.  But you could use any number of closures for this bag.  And here is the finished product.  I LOVE IT!  And for once I feel like I have a handmade bag that looks grown up and not hand made.

finished birch mail sack


And what is a new bag without a new wallet to match?  I found this great pattern by Wood Violet Handmade on Pink Chalk Fabrics website.  It has all the features I need in a wallet; lots of room for cards, room for a checkbook (I almost never use it, but I still like to keep it handy in case I ever have to leave the country unexpectedly) and a zipper pocket for change.


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