See the Happy

Outside Explore Bag – Tutorial

My little toddler loves, loves, loves to go on walks outside. A walk around the block that used to take 10 minutes, now can take almost 45 minutes because she can walk herself around and there is just so much for a little one to see! She enjoys stopping to look at a rock, a leaf, a bug, and trash – anything that catches her eye. She also has a need to take the things she finds with her, the only problem is she only has two hands so either she wants me to carry these items or she leaves them behind in favor of something better.


I have been wanting to make her an outdoor explore bag for a long time, and finally had some time to do it. She has had a fun time loading it up with all her amazing treasure finds out in the yard and neighborhood. It’s got a pocket on the front with her name and the strap is adjustable with buttons. I wanted her to be able to use this for a long time so as she grows I will unbutton the strap to reveal two more buttons that are hidden inside right now, button those to the bag and voila! She has a longer strap! If your little one loves rocks and sticks as much as mine, this bag will be a great addition to your life! It’s fun and super easy to make. I had the fabric and buttons in my stash, so it didn’t cost me anything extra and I felt good about using things up from that stash! Natural fabrics are my favorite – linen, cotton, and wool especially. The fabric I chose is actually a cotton, but the weave reminds me of linen and I thought the color was perfect for something to be used for outside exploring!



First, a list of supplies needed:

½ yard of a cotton, cotton/poly blend or linen fabric

4 buttons, at least 1/2 inch in diameter

Matching thread

Embroidery thread in a color of your choice

A tapestry needle, size 9

Embroidery hoop

Marking pencil

I made this using my sewing machine, as well as my Olfa cutting mat, ruler, and cutter.



Let’s get started!

Once you’ve chosen your fabric, cut it using your mat and cutter. I cut the raw edge to straighten and then cut 4 pieces that are 9 inches by 10 inches. Two of the pieces are for the outside and two for the inside. I decided to line the bag. If you don’t want to line it, simply cut only two pieces rather than four.

For the strap you’ll need one piece that is 3″ x 30”. Set this aside for later.

Cut out the pocket piece – you will need two pieces.

Print your own copy HERE . Dropbox will ask you to open an account if you would like, which you do NOT have to do. Just click “No Thanks” and it will take you to the pattern piece to download for FREE.


DSC_0066Next – find a font on your computer that you like and type up your child’s name using it. I typed up my name 3 times suing 3 different sizes so I could make a decision on what size I ultimately would use. The font I chose is called Little Days Alt. You will tape the paper with your name onto a window to allow light though so you can trace the name onto your fabric. This will be used for the pocket, so cut a piece of fabric that is about 10”x10” square. This will allow you room to work as you embroider and then once you’re ready to cut out the pocket you’ll have plenty of space for that.

Trace the name using a pencil. Embroider the name using your hoop, tapestry needle and 3 strands of embroidery floss. I used a stich called the backstitch. This site has a great demo of how to do this stitch.

DSC_0073Once you have completed your embroidery, center the pocket pattern piece onto the name you’ve just finished. Make sure it’s center and pin in place. Cut the piece out. You will need to cut one more pocket piece out, without the name of course. Set these pocket pieces aside for now.


Take your 9×10” pieces and put two of them right sides together. Pin two long sides and one short side. You will sew these together, leaving one short side open. Do this same thing with the other two pieces. Use a ½” seam allowance.

**Note – if you prefer not to line your bag, only do this with two pieces. At this point you would need to finish the seam edges with a serger or a zig-zag stitch to prevent fraying. Also do this to the top edge.




You’ll want to press your seams to one side and the trim the bottom corners of each bag.

Turn one bag right side out and leave one inside out. Put the right side out bag inside the other, matching the seams and pin around the upper edge that has not been sewn yet. You will sew this, all the way around except for the last 3 inches or so. Use a ½” seam allowance. Once this is sewn, trim the seam allowance to ¼ inch. Reach inside the opening you left and grab the inside and start to pull it out through the hole. Do this until the entire bag has been pulled through. There won’t be any raw seams, inside or out because they will all be enclosed. Press the top seam of the bag, where the hole is, allowing those raw edges of the hole to fold in and press them down. Now the top of your bag should look the same all the way around, the hole hidden. DSC_0114

Now back to the sewing machine. Sew with your needle right near the edge of the top of the bag, 1/8” and stitch all the way around, catching the hole. Set the bag aside for now.

Grab your pocket pieces. Put them right sides together and pin all the way around. Sew all the way around, except for 1 ½ to 2” on the top center. Use a ½ inch seam allowance. Before flipping this right side out you need to reduce the bulk of the seams so the pocket will lie flat.


On the top edge that is shaped like a smile, clip the edge by cutting through the edge to and not through the stitches. DSC_0103

The other edges that are shaped like the edge of a pie you will cut out triangles or pie pieces. After completing this step turn your pocket right side out. Press all the edges to make them flat and crisp, allowing the edges of the hole to fold inside just like you did with the top of your bag. Make sure to press them flat so they don’t try to roll out later.

Sew the top of the pocket, right near the edge, 1/8” from the edge. This will sew up the hole.



Now, center your pocket onto the bag. You can decide just how high or low on the bag you want it to be. Pin it in place and then sew to your bag, leaving the top open. Take care to not sew through ALL layers of your bag. You want to still be able to put things inside the bag. Only sew the pocket onto the top (one layer if you are not lining the bag and 2 layers if you are lining the bag.



Now it’s time for buttonholes. Measure the diameter and depth of your buttons. The formula for determining buttonhole size is the diameter + depth + 1/8” = buttonhole length. You will make two buttonholes on the front of your bag. Measure ¾” from the side seam and ¼” from the top edge. This is where you will mark your buttonhole – mark it the length you figured from doing the calculations.


Sew your buttonholes using the sewing machine – I know you can do them by hand but it takes longer and I would rather save time!  Open the buttonholes after you’ve sewn them. Set the bag aside for now.

Take the strap piece and fold it lengthwise, right sides together. Sew using a 1/4/” seam allowance and leaving one short end open. Trim the corners and turn right side out. Using the eraser of a pencil can help you turn this as the eraser will kind of grab onto the fabric and make pulling the inside out much easier. Once this is done, press the strap, making the seam flat and crisp and pressing the raw edges of the open end inside to hide the hole. Stitch the hole closed, staying close to the edge – about 1/8” from the edge.

DSC_0123Now mark where your buttons will be placed on the strap. I put two of mine 1 inch from the short end, and the other two 4 inches from the short end, and centered between the long sides. Sew the buttons in place and then button the strap to the bag.

You’re all done! Hooray! Your child now has a lovely little bag to collect all their treasures in when you’re on a walk or taking a hike in the mountains.




Here are our treasures on display! We found all of these items out in nature during this autumn season. I found this tray at TJ Maxx and we just put all our items in here. It’s so fun for everyone to look at and my little girl is constantly on the look out for more things to add to our tray. I plan to do this for every season!



Enjoy your treasure hunting! 🙂


See the Happy!



2 thoughts on “Outside Explore Bag – Tutorial

  1. Meg

    I love the idea of displaying her finds and the bag is darling!! I have taken a few walks with that cutie and her love of nature and desire to see it all makes the walks more fun for me.

  2. Pingback: {The Kusi Life} Top 10 in 2016 – The Kusi Life

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