Hobo Dance Bag Tutorial

I wanted to sew a purse this year. That was one of my goals. So when Kaye started her dance class and I realized she needed a dance bag for her tap and ballet shoes, I found this to be the perfect opportunity to fulfill my goal. I drafted this idea in my mind and it actually worked out great. I love it when that happens. And it goes perfectly with the ballet bun holders I made last week.

Since it’s a dance bag, I wanted to make it pink and girly. I found pink drapes at the thrift store that I used for the outside of the bag. Then I used freeze paper stencil to paint the ballet slippers on the front of the bag. I also wanted to make it long enough where she could wear it cross-shouldered. Kaye loved it.

Now I want to make one for myself, not a dance bag but a hobo bag for me. Remember, if you make something inspired by Simply Modern Mom, please upload pictures of it to our Flickr group to show it off to everyone. You may be featured on Simply Modern Mom. And please let me know if you have questions about this tutorial.


  • 1/2 yard outer fabric
  • 1/2 yard matching fabric for inside lining
  • hobo dance bag pattern (click to download)
  • matching thread and needle
  • freezer paper
  • ballet slipper pattern (click to download)
  • permanent fabric paint
  • exacto knife and cutting board

1. Download the hobo dance bag pattern and follow the instructions to put the pattern together. Then end pattern should look like the picture below. You will need two pieces of this hobo bag pattern on each fabric. I folded the fabric in half and cut two at once.

2. Download the ballet slipper pattern that I designed. Then traced it onto the dull side of freezer paper, not the shiny side. Please use actual freezer paper and not wax paper. I will have this pattern tomorrow too.

3. Using exacto knife and cutting board, cut out the pattern but keep the pieces you cut out that were inside the shoe and the loop piece inside the ribbon portion. Then place the stencil where you want it on the right side of one of the outer fabric pieces. Iron on high without steam for about 30 seconds to seal the stencil to the fabric. Make sure to iron over the edges carefully so you don’t have any openings where the paint can seep through.

4. Use permanent fabric paint and paint 2-3 coats onto the fabric. Allow to dry between coats. Check the instructions on your paint to see how long to wait. I waited about 2 hours between coats and 6-8 hours for the entire thing to dry completely.

5. Once the paint has completely dried, peel off the freezer paper. Ta-da! Now grab a thin cloth and place on top of the paint. Iron on high without steam to cure and set it.

6. Gather your pieces and match right sides together. Sew along the outside of the bag from opening to opening (one big U). Do this to the outer pieces and the inner lining. But for the lining, leave an opening at the bottom big enough to fit your hand.

7. This is optional but you can make darts along the curves. Then iron your seams to make it look nice.

8. Place the outer and lining bag pieces together. The outer pieces is wrong side out. The lining’s right side is touching the outer bag’s right side. Match and pin in place. Sew along the U-shape of the opening of the bag. DO NOT sew where the handles will attach to the bag.

9. Pull out the lining of the bag. It should be wrong side out. Then using that opening at the bottom of the lining flip the bag right side out.

10. Iron the seam at the opening of the lining. And hand stitch or sew the opening shut. Then tuck in the lining into the bag.

11. Iron the opening of the bag where the two fabrics meet. Then top stitch that on both the front and back of the bag to keep it in place.

12. To attach the handle strap of the bag, cut 3 pieces of the outer fabric into 28 x 2 inches. Then gather the 3 strap pieces together, fold and tuck into one of the handle openings on the bag. I hand stitched the fabric in place.

13. With each piece of the strap, I folded in the raw edges toward the inside middle of the 2-inch then folded in half, pinned and ironed in place. This is the prevent the edges from fraying. Next I braided the handle and tacked the end of the braid leaving about an inch to tuck into the second handle opening in the bag. Repeat step 12 to attach the handle to the bag.

14. Cut 2 pieces of the lining fabric to 4 x 6 inches. Then fold, iron and sew the top and bottom (lengthwise) seams.

15. Fold over the handle of the bag and sew in place lengthwise. Do this to both sides of the handle. This is going to cover where the handle and the bag attached. Once the edges are sewn together, flip right side out. Use a safety pin or a dowel to help flip it right side out if needed.

16. Do a basting stitch on two opposite sides of the cover to get an even scrunch. I did the basting stitch by hand. Slide the scrunch down to cover where the handle and bag attached.

17. Tack the scrunched pieces in place so it doesn’t slide around. I tacked it in place at the top and bottom. If the top opening of the scrunch is too big to fit around the handle, then do another basting stitch around it inside the seam and scrunch the opening to fit the handle. Then tack in it place. And done!

» Tell me… Do you like to sew purses and bags? What are your tips and tricks?

98 Responses to “Hobo Dance Bag Tutorial”

  • Linnie

    I’m stuck at step no.8. “Place the outer and lining bag pieces together. The outer pieces is wrong side out. The lining’s right side is touching the outer bag’s right side. Match and pin in place.” Help!! I’m an absolute beginner, and I can’t seem to get the matching right or I dont understand the explanation. Can you please help me out. I’ve already cut out and followed up to no.7. Perhaps rephrase the instruction for me?

    • Tiffany

      the lining of the bag is the star fabric and the outer bag fabric is the pink fabric in the picture. have your outer bag piece flipped with the wrong side facing out. then have your lining piece with the right side facing out. then tuck the lining inside the outer bag piece. the right sides of each bag piece should be touching on the inside. match the openings at the top so you can sew it together. but leave an opening for you to flip the bag right side out. hope that helps.

  • felicia

    what is the length and width of this bag? i want to make it bigger with a longer strap.

  • Deanna

    Thats really cute! I have bought 2 different prints of ballet fabric to make my little girl a dance bag – i might look at yours!
    On a different note, if you dont mind, ive never seen freezer paper in Australia – anybody know if there is an equivalent?

  • Morgan

    Wow, I’m terible at following derictions, but these REALLY helped. thank you so much! Keep sewing!

  • Morgan

    You should make a vid. But thanks for he great pics and tut! I can’t wait to make it. Soooooooo cute!!!

  • Tonya

    Love the bag super cute! I was wondering about the stencil part though. How does the paint turn out perfect on the fabric when its not perfect on the wax paper? Help?

  • Catherine

    This pattern is outstanding! You have a way with tutorial words. My daughter is over-the-top for ballet, so I made the bag, and substituted toe shoes from some clip art I found online. I’m filling it with assorted ballet gear for her birthday! Thank you so much!

  • Linda L.

    I made this bag (minus the ballet design) for my friend’s daughters. I made them quite a bit smaller (the girls were 1 1/2 and 3 at the time), and added little pockets to the inside and the outside. I also added their pictures to the little pockets using t-shirt transfer paper. They were so cute!!!

  • Abigail

    Way cute and so very simple. Adding my own flair to this design. Love it.

  • Tameka

    Hi…I want to make these bags for my daughters who are in dance. Would you say that the material of the primary fabric is canvas? Thanks for your help!

  • Katie

    My daughter just started her first year in dance and this will be perfect! We’ll see how it turns out…Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Tamara

    Hi I have been dancing for 10 years now and I looooove this bag!! I only have one question though do you have any tips on putting little pockets on the inside to put things in?? Not necessarily with a zip just for small items. Thanks

  • Tamara

    Hi this pattern is amazing and will be fantastic for dancing!!! I have to ask though how big are the shoes because I will need to fit 5 pairs of dance shoes in. Would you be able to give me an estimate of the new measurements if necessary?? I you could that will be really helpful! Thanks so much

    Ps: if this helps my biggest shoe is a size 8

  • Carla

    This is adorable! I love the braided handle! Thanks for the tutorial–I’m sharing it on FB!

  • Julie

    This pattern worked great! I am a beginer, and had no trouble at all. Thank you for being so clear and thorough- my little girl was THRILLED!

  • mommy2girls

    Thanks for the tutorial— I added some interior pockets and it’s my 3 year old’s new favorite bag (perfect for both ballet AND soccer!)

  • Rocio Skinner

    Love how you did this! I am looking to make a bag for my ballerina’s 4th year of dance classes. It seems we go through a new one every year and at $20+ each it would be nice if it was just the way we want it! Thanks for the tutorial 🙂

  • leli

    Love bags Will try this one Seem to be very simple and quick to make

  • Denise Nelson

    I love this pattern. I made it for my grand-daughter who is about to start dance lessons. The only thing I did different is that I appliqued the ballet shoes, instead of painting them. I also added fusedable interfcing, since I used a thin material. Thank you so much.

  • Courtney

    What types of fabric did you use? it’s hard to tell from the pictures. it looks like the outer fabric may be canvas, but it doesn’t look like the inner lining was canvas.

    • Tiffany

      the inner lining was just your typical quilter’s fabric. reg cotton stuff.

  • Swati

    Could you suggest a pretty stencil for a bag that goes to architecture college with me?

  • Paula

    Great bag. I embroidered cupcakes over a “sprinkle” material. Inner is all over cupcake pattern. A great surprise for a grandaughter. Wonderful directionbs too. Thyank you.


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