Milla Backpack Sew Along

In celebration of Sewing Month, Art Gallery Fabrics and I have teamed up to host two Sew Alongs in the month of September. The first is using this uber awesome free Milla bag pattern that I’ll be converting into a mini back pack for Helena. The second is shrouded in mystery and you’ll find out about that in a couple weeks. To celebrate, AGF is having a giveaway of an awesome sauce bundle, so head over to their blog to sign up if awesome free fabric is your thang.
To up the celebration at the Milla bag fabric party, I’ll also be having an Instagram giveaway of a fat quarter bundle from the Lagom collection on September 16th for those who participate. Simply post your progress and completion pictures using the hashtags #AGFMillaBag & #MisterDomesticsewalong and I’ll choose someone at random on September 16th @ 5:00 pm PST.

So how does this work? Well, starting today, September 6th, I’ll begin making my version of this bag, updating this blog post and Instagram with progress shots and tips as I work through the pattern. If you have any questions or hit any snags, I will totally be available to you to help make sure you come out the other end with an awesome bag, so post any questions here and I’ll respond ASAP. And even though I’m making a mini backpack version, feel free to make your own version, whether it’s the bag in the pattern, a grown folk back pack, or the mini that I’m making.

So, if you’re planning to make the Milla shoulder bag in the pattern, then you’re good-to-go with the fabric requirements, additional materials, and cutting directions. If you’re planning to make either of the back pack versions, then you don’t need the leather and get 1/4 yard of Fabric C instead of 1/8 yard. I’m also using two 1.5″ adjustable triglides and rectangle rings for the back straps. I’ll provide an option for a non-adjustable strap if you don’t feel like heading out to the store or dialing Amazon for hardware. 

For the grown folk back pack version, add this to the cutting directions:

  • Four (4) 2″ x 22″ strips from Fabric C (Back Straps – Top)
  • Two (2) 2″ x 22″ strips from Stabilizer (Back Straps – Top)
  • * Four (4) 2″ x 3″ strips from Fabric C (Back Straps – Bottom)
  • * Two (2) 2″ x 3″ strips from Stabilizer (Back Straps – Bottom)

* These cuts are only necessary for adjustable back straps.

For the mini back pack version, use these cutting directions:

  • One (1) 9.5″ x 12″ rectangle from Fabric A (Back Bag)
  • Two (2) 9.5″ x 12″ rectangles from Fabric D and fusible fleece
  • One (1) 3″ x WOF strip from Fabric A, D, and fusible fleece (Side Panel)
  • Two (2) Flap Patterns printed at 75% from Fabric A (Flap)
  • One (1) Flap Pattern printed at 75% from Fusible Fleece
  • Two (2) 3″ x 9.5″ strips from Fabric A (Flap Panel)
  • One (1) 3″ x 9.5″ strip from Fusible Fleece
  • Four (4) 5.25″ x 6.5″ rectangles from Fabric A (Pockets)
  • Two (2) 5.25″ x 6.5″ rectangles from Stabilizer (Pockets)
  • Two (2) 5.25″ x 12″ strips from Fabric B
  • Four (4) 2″ x 9.5″ strips from Fabrics C (Flap Strap)
  • Two (2) 2″ x 9.5″ strips from Stabilizer (Flap Strap)
  • Four (4) 2″ x 22″ strips from Fabric C (Back Straps)
  • Two (2) 2″ x 22″ strips from Stabilizer (Back Straps)

So here are the main cuts with fusible & fleece attached and hardware:

And here are the back pack add-ons with hardware:

Now it’s time to prepare the front snaps. The first step is attaching the male part of the snap to the strap fabric with interfacing on it. For the mini version, I measured 1.5″ up from the bottom of the strip and placed a dot in the middle and followed the rest of page two in the pattern. 

In sewing the front and back pieces of the front straps together, I used a 3/8″ seam allowance sewing only the long sides together and trimmed off an 1/8″. After turning the straps right-side out, I tucked in a little over 1/2″ and top stitched as close to the edge as I could to make it still look cute. FYI, I tried the 1/8″ top stitching, but it hit the snap prongs. There is the option the push the prongs in, which would allow you to do the 1/8″ top stitch. Thanks Crystal @clothalbatross!!

Now it’s time to attach these bad boys to the flap piece with fusible interfacing attached. Adjusting for the mini, I attached the strap 1.75″ from the side at the top and then top stitched the strap onto the flap going down to .75″ from the bottom and then back up on the other side.

After attaching the flap panel with the fusible to this piece and the non fusible flap panel to its flap, I pinned the straps up and, with like sides together, sewed around the long sides and the curve per the instructions in diagram 9.1. Before sewing, I pressed the fusible seam toward the back and the non-fusible toward the front so that when I top stitched in the next step, the fusible seam was reinforced.

After the flap is turned right-side out, iron it as flat as possible and top stitch as shown in diagram 9.2.


Now it’s time to put together the front panel and pockets. Once the pocket panels and linings are seen together and top stitched, I basted them onto each main panel piece along the entire bottom and on each side only at the top half inch.

Then I grabbed the two panels with pockets and, right sides together, I basted over the top of the pockets before sewing them fully together to make sure that the pockets stayed lined up.

Next, I pressed the seam to the right and top stitched over it to secure the seam and make the pockets uber durable. 


Now it’s time to install the female part of the snaps on the pocket. If you line the seam between the flap and flap panel to the top of the panel, then you’ll be able to see where the snaps should go on the pocket. Mark a dot there and repeat the installation steps you used to secure the male parts onto the straps.

Now snap the flap straps to the pocket and gaze at your amazingness.


Okay it’s back strap time!!!  Basically follow the instructions for the front straps with the sewing and top stitching. Once that’s good-to-go, it’s time to attach the hardware.  I’m not a big pinned when sewing, but I definitely like the pin my strap ends over the hardware before I see them in place to make sure both are even. For the bottom, I folded the sewn end of the small straps over each rectangle ring at .75″.

I prefer to tack hardware in place with a zigzag stitch that has a .3 stitch length and 2.5 stitch width. I just think it keeps it super secure, but you can just go over it a bunch of times if your machine can’t do that. Then for the top long strap, I stitched the folded sewn edge over the middle bar of the adjustable triglide. 

Now before you tack the straps onto the back panel, you need to slide the long strap into the rectangle ring and triglide so that it looks like this:

And like legit it always takes me doing this like 5 times before my brain figures out how to do this right. But you want the length of the long strap showing, so just remember to slide the long strap under the rectangle ring and you’ll be golden. 

Next, tack the strap duos to the back panel, with the short strap on the bottom and the long on the top. The measurements in the cut list are precise for the mini backpack, but you might need to shorten the long strap on the grown folk version.

For the mini, I tacked the straps 1.5″ from the side. For the grown, I’d do it between 1.75″ and 2″.

And I totally know I’m teasing the completion with this pic, but this is what the back should look like. 


Yaaaaay! Now it’s time to put it all together!!! I marked the center of the back panel and flap before sewing them together. 

Next, sew the WOF side panel with fleece to the front and back exterior panels down one side, across the bottom, and back up the other side. Do the same with the lining pieces.

Turn the exterior panel right-side-out and then stick it inside the wrong-side-out lining. Pin or clip the four corners of the exterior to the corners of the lining and sew around the top, leaving a 6″ opening on the front. For added stability, stitch over the back a couple times to secure the flap.

Now pull the exterior of the bag through the opening, allowing the interior to come along for the ride. With everything right-side-out, stuff the lining into the exterior. Now sew the opening closed. I chose to machine top stitch, but hand stitching to hide the thread is always an option.

Now it’s time to enjoy!! Or make another one. 

Legit thanks a millions for joining me on this sew along! You have until September 16th for a chance to win the FQ bundle, but even after this date, make sure to use the hashtags #agfmillabag and #misterdomesticsewalong on social media so we can all see your pretties!!


  1. Mathew Boudreaux

    I went to check out the pattern for this awesome thing and the link is no good, my sweet ole computer says. Would you check it again please?
    Love your mini backpack for Helena.

    1. Mathew Boudreaux

      Howdy Marsha! The link worked for me but this has happened to someone else last week. I just emailed you the pattern. Let me know if you have any questions along the way.

  2. Mathew Boudreaux

    Hi there! What do I do if I live in a place where there’s no fusible fleece…? Is there a way to use normal fleece instead, or any other suggestions? Thank you!

    1. Mathew Boudreaux

      Howdy Manuela!!! You can totally use regular fleece and either attach to the fabric with an adhesive or quilt it. At a minimum make sure to baste the fabric and fleece together. If you need more help, please ask! Yaaaay!

      1. Mathew Boudreaux

        Oh quilt it!!! Yeah, maybe that! We’ll see… depending on little one’s fever disappearing soon and giving me more time to sew without a baby barnacle…! Thank you!!

  3. Mathew Boudreaux

    Hi! I’am from Finland and I don’t understand yards at all… Can you tell me what’s length and width of the fabric in centimeters? (I mean : Fabric A 5/6yrd, B 1/4, C 1/4, D 5/8) I want make that back pack because first: it is very cute and second: my name is Milla too 🙂

    1. Mathew Boudreaux

      Howdy Milla! I totally think you were meant to make this backpack. The centimeter conversions are:
      Fabric A: 76.2 cm
      Fabric B: 22.86 cm
      Fabric C: 22.86 cm
      Fabric D: 57.15 cm

      If you need help converting the cut list, just let me know. ?

  4. Mathew Boudreaux
    linda Ru

    Excited to sew along. looks like a lovely bag and very functional. do you recommend any type of fabric or is canvas best?

    1. Mathew Boudreaux

      I’m using Quilter’s weight cotton and that’s working great. Canvas would definitely be more durable and I had fun using that to make that swoon bag. There’s really no wrong fabric. Well maybe not faux fur, but everything else is fair game.

  5. Mathew Boudreaux

    Okay I’m in, you convinced me, (@mara.creates on IG) this will be so cute, I am making the larger version but for my son, he picked out the fabrics, (his favorite part of the process and mine) will get started tomorrow.

    1. Mathew Boudreaux

      OMG this is the best news!!! I’m super stoked you’re gonna play with us. Helena totally picks out fabrics too and loves it!!

  6. Mathew Boudreaux

    Hi I might be missing it somewhere but is the seam allowance 1/2″?

    1. Mathew Boudreaux

      Howdy Linh!! The seam allowance is 1/2″ unless otherwise instructed!

  7. Mathew Boudreaux

    So there’s a bit of an argument in the sewing community about whether mag snap prongs get pushed outward or inward. After 100s of bags, I’ve decided that either way is just as effective. But if you’re having difficulty topstitching, you could always turn your prongs inward. Technically, this is what you’re supposed to do, but it adds more bulk this way so I don’t always. Anywho, beautiful bag and thanks for the SAL!

    1. Mathew Boudreaux

      You know what? I totally pushed them in in my previous bag and it was fine. But this pattern had them pushing out so I followed it. But that’s a great solution for those that want the 1/8″ top stitch! Thanks for the comment!! ??

  8. Mathew Boudreaux


    I cannot get the link to work. Could it be my computer?

    Thank You ever so much.

    1. Mathew Boudreaux

      Howdy!!! I just emailed it to you. It’s not working for some people for some reason.

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