Colette Cooper Bag Hack

by | Aug 9, 2016 | Accessories, Sewing Projects | 3 comments

The wait is over! I know you have been dying in anticipation since my last post. I made a new thing! My Cooper Backpack Satchel Hack, here I come!


Are you all not DYING right now at how super cute this bag is? #humblebrag #notsohumblebrag
Shauna and I have wanted to make a Cooper bag for abbbbbboout 3 centuries. I remember when we first got the pattern and  were all like ‘this will be us’ and then a literal millennia went by. Every few months, we were like, ‘oh yea, we are making a bag right?’ aaaand then cut to three more months going by and asking the same question.
FINALLY THE PLANETS ALIGNED and it was time to rock our socks off. The Cooper Bodybag pattern comes with three different designs: you can make a messenger bag, a back pack, or a bike satchel.
cp2003-cooper-19-large-41a3ec8d1076c1f81ef3efa5bb78e5ba38719e1084dd94fe56782af2032cf36cMy previous day-to-day purse was a side bag, and I knew I wanted to steer clear of the boob slicer style for now. My office also moved to a new location that is an EXTRA 5 MINUTE WALK UP HILL (#firstworldproblems), so the backpack style was the best choice for my daily commute. However, I was lenient about giving up upper handles, as from time to time I wanted to have this as a ‘purse’ and not just a backpack. It became officially that I would be make version 2 and version 3 kiss kiss and hack my way through this pattern.

I know this pattern says it is a beginner pattern, but I cannot go on without recommending  the Cooper Companion by Colette to assist you in your bag making process. We started working along side the sew-a-long for this pattern, but found that the Cooper Companion just had a wealth of knowledge that was a huge asset; especially when I was making my own straps and working in-between patterns. The instructions also differ slightly between the sew-a-long and the companion, and Shauna and I both found that we liked the companion instructions better.

As soon as I saw that this print, Dottie’s Friends, came in a canvas I knew that it was going to be the fabric for my bag. I am in-love with this print, and wish that my whole life could be draped in Melody Miller’s Fruit Dots print collection. I purchased the canvas from, you guessed it, Fabric Spot, and the pleather is from Dressew in Vancouver. Shauna and I both knew nothing would be right in the world unless we had antique brass fixtures for the bag, and after a bit of googling found this amazing Canadian retailer, Emmaline Bags.  Go check her store out for some absolutely stunning hardware and bag bling! Onward, ho!

First things first, envision your bag and make sure you choose the right idea for the main fabric and contrast fabric for the project. Prior to cutting, I has assumed the canvas was my main fabric (because I wanted it to be the main focus of my bag) and my pleather was the contrast fabric material (because, in my mind, there was less of it). However, half way through placing everything out to cut, I realized that it is actually the other way around and I had totally mucked it all up. Lucky for me, I could squeeze by with the fabric I purchased with minimal issue, and it all turned out in the end. So, yeah, watch out for that kids.


Full disclosure, I had a LOT of fun playing with this piece after putting the male part of the magnetic snaps on. THEY LOOK LIKE TINY NIPPLES PEOPLE CMON.
PS. you may be questioning the true colour of the bag. It turns out this ‘sunlight’ business can severely alter the colour in photos. Who knew, right? I tried to take out as much warmth in the photos I took outside, but if you want a true colour look at the progress shots.

The bag itself is fairly straight forward to put together. The pattern is fairly ingenious with the way it sections off pockets with handles and the punch of the main fabric as to let it have it’s own moment. Speaking of pockets, boy howdy do you get a lot. You have 4 inner pockets (I made two smaller pockets and opted to leave one super long), and 4 outer pockets. I can see why they consider it to be a beginner project, as it really just is a front and back pieces, with their own small embellishments, a flap, a bottom piece, and lining. I made mine in stages, but I don’t imagine it would take very long to complete from start to finish. The bag initially looks gigantic, but it fits nicely as a backpack, and still has enough room to carry a lot of my daily junk. 10/10 would make again (you hear that, Shauna?!)


For all of you eagle eyes out there, the deconstructed picture above is actually incorrect. I forgot to attach the top of the backpack straps on the back of the bag, so you are just seeing the satchel straps instead of everything that is supposed to be there. Luckily, I have no shame in seam-ripping. Best part, when you put everything together it totally looks like a fabric vagina. Which, like, you know…it’s a thing you laugh at when you are so tired by only 2 steps away from completing a project. WE ALL DO IT, OK?


Speaking about handles, holy guacamole! Pleather handles are a handful! There was a point during the process where my sewing machine had to go through 6 layers of pleather and she was like BICH. BICH NO BICH. Thinking I had a one up on the ol’ strap game, I you-tubed some leather-working videos and had a go at hand-stitching the straps together. Luckly, what no one will ever see is the one strap that literally looks like what Hellraiser and Leatherface would create if they were in a sewing club together. It’s not pretty. I ended up casually sipping a few glasses of wine, using a stronger sewing machine, and we all got through it together.


Here are all of the ways I differed from the actual pattern and instructions, for all of those wanting to recreate my madness. The main adjustments:
1. On the back panel, I omitting the D-Ring Attachments (N) that were included in the satchel pattern, and added two Straps and Strap Tabs (J) from the backpack pattern. If you need any guidance on the straps, the Cooper Companion is your best friend. I also cut down the Back Handles (P) so the ended just below the Back Top Panel (G) instead of running all of the way down the bag. This totally makes sense if you do not have the D-Ring attachment, trust.
2. I  did not permanently sew on the Handle Grip (M), which was suggested in the satchel pattern. I opted to have it detachable so that I could hold the backpack straps together if I was carrying it like a purse (like in the picture below).
3. I opted to have the Front Body Pocket (H) in the contrast fabric, as I didn’t want to content with a pleather pocket on pleather materials. I could sense the slippery nightmare that would have been straight away!
3. I switched the materials for the Bottom Gusset (F) as it called for a piece from the contrast fabric, but I wanted a pleather bottom for my bag.
4. I made a last minute decision to add two more magnetic snaps on the two front side pockets, as I have a bit of fear that my keys and what not would fall out when I had it as a backpack. They are hidden, as I made sure to not push all the way through the Front Bottom Pockets (D), but they are incredibly effective!
5. As stated above, instead of having 4 inner pockets, I did not section off one side, so I have two smaller pockets and a large pocket which fits my wallet perfectly!


The only additional thing I would add if I could time travel back would be to add a zipper enclosure to the top. I feel that all of my stuff is fairly secure, but that extra layer of insurance would be primo.

I was super cautious the first few days of using it as my main day-to-day bag. Having never sewn a bag before, I was sure that my handles were going to rip out, or a magic hole would open in the bottom while I was walking and all of my shit would fall out. Turns out sewing is a real and my bag is still going strong (it has only been 2 weeks, I know). HOWEVER, I even made a new friend when she commented on my perfect fabric choice. THIS BAG IS A MIRACLE AND EVERYONE SHOULD MAKE ONE. IMG_20160729_200855

Let me know what you think, or if you have any more questions on how to hack this bad boy. I am your Cooper whisperer, hear to offer all of the guidance I can.



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  1. jsholm

    Amazing job as always!!

  2. Stephanie

    Did you make one option before this one or just full speed ahead? I wanted to hack all of them together so it would work for my capsule wardrobe but I cant figure that out yet. I love what you did but I find it a bit hard to follow. I would love to see more photos of the inside. And can you link to your friend Shawnas? Id love to see her bag as well. Just to see the difference. Great job!!

    • Natasha

      Hey Stephanie, thanks for reading my post! Sorry for being a little bit all over the place, haha! I just went hog wild on my first try and made sure I had my seam ripper handy. The Cooper Companion really does come in handy, as they have individual instructions for all 3 separated bags, so you can skip around to see how each component fits together and how you can hack your way around it. So are you thinking about making a messenger bag with backpack straps and a handle? I have seen a few different versions on the internet that are the messenger bag/backpack combo as well, and they work really well, as you would just be adding the webbing to straps to the backpack before you add in your lining. Anyways, off topic! Let me know if you have any specific questions about the construction and I will do my best to see an easy way to rock it! Also, I WISH I could show you Shauna’s bag, but her webbing ripped and it is no longer a functioning messenger bag! I will definitely post an update when she makes another one!


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