How to Make A Travel Art Bag & Journal

By Liz Kettle

Summer traveling is just around the corner. Create something special for your kids (or yourself), to keep them occupied on the road, or in the air.

This project is great for Tweens and Teens to make on their own or with Mom, and is an easy introduction to the world of fabric art!


Everyone loves getting new stuff for a trip, especially if it is made just for us. This travel art bag easily holds everyone’s favorite supplies and a special journal to record favorite parts of your trip, or for keeping kids occupied in the car to thwart that universal question “Are we there yet?!”

Supplies for Art Bag & Journal:

Art Bag Directions:

1. Choose your fabrics. The case is made from just one piece of MPC that is folded so if you have a directional print like I do, you will want to cut it and piece the pieces to ensure the print is the proper direction when the flap is folded over. If you don’t have a directional print simply cut your fabric to 11″ x 22 1/2″, using your Havel’s rotary cutter with straight blade, fabric ruler and cutting mat.


2. If you do have a directional print you will want to cut the main piece 11″ x 14″ and the piece that is for the front flap 11″ x 8 ½”. In this sample the blue fabric is the back and flap of the bag. The print is the front. I always test fold to make sure I have my fabrics going the right way.

Fuse the front fabrics to the Multi-Purpose Cloth with Misty Fuse or other fusible web. I like Misty Fuse because it doesn’t add extra stiffness to the project

3. If you have multiple fabrics for the cover it is a good idea to add stitching to secure the seams because this little art case will be hauled everywhere. I added a decorative satin stitch but any stitching would work just as well.

4. Fuse a piece of fabric to the inside of the bag cover. If desired, edge stitch the short edges of the bag. I used a satin stitch. You could simply straight stitch to ensure the fabric is firmly attached to the MPC base.


5. Add the Velcro for the bag closure. Place the stiffer side on the front of the bag and the softer side on the top flap area. Center the Velcro 2″ down from the top edge of the bag front. Stitch in place.


6. Center the softer side on the inside of the bag flap 1″ from the bottom of the flap. Stitch in place.


7. Optional: I created a flap to hide the stitching from the Velcro. It is just for fun and not a critical part of the bag. I just love this little owl and wanted to give him a starring roll. Cut two pieces of fabric 3 1/2″ x 3″. With right sides together stitch around three sides using a ¼” seam allowance. Trim the corners.


8. Turn right side out, fold in the open end, press and stitch closed.  Top stitch around the outside edge.


9. Place on the outside of the flap section and stitch in place.


10. Load the skip cutting blade into your Havel’s rotary cutter.  Cut along the length of the fabric 1/4″ from each long edge and the front edge.  The skip blade will make tiny slits along the edge but not cut off the fabric.  Press firmly to ensure you go through all layers of fabric.  you cannot re-cut if you don’t go through all layers.  For this reason, I suggest that you practice on a scrap of MPC layered with fabric to get the feel of how hard you have to press to go through all layers.


11. In this photo you can see the little slits created by the skip blade.


12. Next we will lace up the sides of the case.  I used a firm ribbon for this case, but I have also used ripped strips of fabric, rayon seam tape and thick yard.  The ribbon and seam tape give the most polished look and the ripped fabric the most casual look.  Ripped fabric strips, ribbon or seam tape should be between 1/2″ and 5/8.


13. Fold the bottom half of the case up 8 1/2″.  Cut the ribbon about 24″ long.  Thread your ribbon or fabric strips onto your large needle and knot the end.  Begin at the very bottom of the case and insert your needle from the inside of the case to bring it out on the backside at the lowest slit created by the skip blade.


14. Use a simple whip stitch all the way up the side of the case, around the flap edge and down the other side.  Simply thread the needle through the slits along the edge bringing the needle in from the front of the bag and out the back, lining up the slits.  Stitch up the side past the folded section of the very end of the flap.

15. Knot the ribbon or thread the ribbon tail back down the edge inside the previous stitching.

My Very Own Journal

This little journal is so easy to make you won’t mind making them for all your friends and their kids! It’s another fun craft project to introduce you more to the world of fabric art!

Journal Directions:

1. Cut a piece of MPC 8 ¾” x 12″. Cut your cover fabric the same size. Fuse the cover fabric to the MPC base. Fold the book cover in half and press to crease.

2. Use the skip blade in your Havel’s rotary cutter and run it down the crease. Feel free to mark the line with a pencil if desired.


3. Thread the ribbon through the slits leaving a tail on each end. Stitch around the outside with a straight or decorative stitch, catching the ends of the ribbon to secure them.



4. Fold the paper in half to create 5 ½” x 8 1/2″ size pages, creasing well. Nest three pages together to create a ‘signature’. You will have 3 signatures of 3 pages.


5. Set your machine straight stitch to the longest length. Place one of the signatures just to the right of the ribbon on the inside of the book cover. Use binder clips to hold in place if desired. Stitch down the inside crease of the signature. Repeat for the remaining two signatures; one in front of the ribbon embellishment and one behind the first signature.

Now you’re ready to fill it with doodles and dreams.


Liz Kettle is a textile and mixed-media artist who loves sewing and creating with fabric and thread. Sharing sewing joy and thread addiction with others makes her deliriously happy. Liz is co-author of two best selling books: Fabric Embellishing: The Basics and Beyond and Threads: The Basics and Beyond.  Share Liz’s stitch journey on her website and blog at




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