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”

  • Tina

    I haven’t sewn in over two years, and have only sewn simple projects in the past (i.e. pillow cases and baby blankets). I made this for my daughter in two hours start to finish. I am so excited about the way it turned out I’m going to have to follow a few more of your tutorials. Thank you for sharing!

  • Rebecca

    I just made one for my grandaughter, who is three. She loves monkeys so I made it pink stripes with monkeys with a fleece lining. Just the right size for her books.

  • Tabitha

    I definitely want to make this for both my daughters who are starting dance class. I would like it to close, though. Would it be easy to add a zipper to this bag, and if so how would I go about it and how long of a zipper would I need?

  • Julie

    Hi, I love this! I already had it in my head to use Dana’s Hobo sack tutorial for the bag but I used your ballet shoes pattern with my daughter’s name as well on the front. Thank you for sharing! This is adorable!

  • Katherine

    I just got my daughter dance classes for Christmas and bought her ballet and tap shoes. I was thinking about wrapping the shoes but I wanted to get her a dance bag also. I love this one you made it is adorable! So I am going to make one and put her shoes in it instead of wrapping them 🙂

  • Rebecca black

    Hi!! Love this bag my neice is 3 and takes
    Ballet I want to make this for her
    Was wondering?? I printed out the pattern
    Is it to scale or do I need to in large it?
    Thank you!!!

  • Rebecca black

    Also have you made the 2 hour tulip purse? Any more tutorials
    On purses!!

  • Brenda

    loved the ideal i ended up making a purse for myself out of this pattern as well 2 dance bags for my grand-daughters they just loved it thanks for sharing this

  • OffQuilter

    This is pretty cool. Loved the braided strap. I’ve started making simple totes for everything, learning to add pockets and embellishments with each new project. I really enjoyed Brett’s online class at craftsy.com, which covers bag making basics and beyond…

  • 1adybug

    This is VERY cool and easy to do. I love and can’t wait to make my own!
    Thank you for the tutorial.

  • Fatima

    This is EXACTLY what I was looking for! I bought a cheapy see-thru tank that has killer sequin design of topics for $5 @that major cheapy box store-idea being to convert to stylish bag—this pattern will make it totally possible! Thinking to use a matching cotton on both inside as well as 2 layers on that 1 portion that is see thru—haven’t worked that part out yet totally but THIS design will make it pull together. While I never understand how young(er) women think this would even qualify as a cover-up, I is definitely perfect for upcycling!!! Thanks!!!

  • Bobbie

    Thanks for sharing the pattern. I made these last year for two of our granddaughters and this year am making another for a different granddaughter. All love ballet and enjoy taking their bags to class. Instead of stenciling, I used a contrasting fabric for the slippers and appliquéd it to the front. I did the same for the back – using the first initial of their name for the appliqué. This made it easy to know whose bag belonged to whom. 🙂 I also included a light weight interfacing to give the bag a bit more body. Thanks again. Your pattern and instructions were very easy to follow. Sincerely, Bobbie

  • Lindsey

    I made this bag for my daughter yesterday. It came out SO CUTE!! She loves it 🙂 Thanks for the fantastic pattern and great directions – much appreciated for this beginning seamstress 🙂

  • Morgan

    Hey I love this idea I have been dancing for 10 years this is a great idea thanks 🙂

  • Tracy

    I gave it my best beginner shot… Would of loved my handle a bit longer , might do that next time

  • Rita

    Love it need to make me one to carry my stuff to work in. Going fabric shopping is always a plus.


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