Sunday, May 14, 2017

A Tennis Tote Bag!

I have been playing a lot of tennis lately and have been sewing up lots of tennis skirts and skorts.  Seeing what RTW tennis wear sells for, I am very glad I sew.  Little tiny skirts that don't even have pockets sell for $50 and up!!!  Nice tennis bags also sell for big $$.  I finally came to the realization that I needed to make one myself when I realized how much stuff I carry to the court: my racquet, water bottle, and small bag/purse--too much stuff!

I searched online, on Pinterest, and through bag and tote patterns, and wound up creating a bag combining several different bags and features, along with my own spin (namely on the interior).

Let me start by saying it would have been cheaper for me to buy one of the nice expensive bags I saw on Etsy, but I need projects in my life, and I get a lot of satisfaction out of making things myself.  

Features I needed the bag to hold:
  • 2 tennis racquets (one day I may own more than one and I wanted to be ready)
  • water bottle
  • 2 or more cans of balls
  • wallet & phone
  • sunscreen
  • sunglasses
  • keys
  • sweatbands, rosin, & sweat towel
Details I wanted:
  • Zippered interior pocket for wallet and phone
  • A clip on the back that I could use to hang the bag on the fence rather than putting it on the ground or on a bench.  
  • Light colored interior (much easier to find things inside!)
  • Dark colored handles - to hide dirt/grime
  • Lots of pockets to prevent me from digging through the bottom of the bag

My first prototype attempt was wider than tall, more like a beach tote, and I felt like I was carrying a small suitcase.  It was too floppy, too big, and it felt sloppy.

My second and final prototype switched up the dimensions to be taller than wide, so my racquet would be more upright, and not flop around.  

This is my final product:
Front view

Back View

I used 4 different outdoor polyester canvas fabrics and heavy duty pellon sew-in interfacing, all purchased at JoAnn.
Patterned Exterior Fabric #1: Covington Outdoor Canvas Caribe Hurley
Teal green Exterior Fabric #2: Solarium Outdoor Fabric -Rave Aqua
Interior Lining fabric: Waverly Outdoor Fabric SNS Sunburst Seaglass
Straps and trim were a navy blue outdoor fabric

To provide padding in the racquet pocket, I sandwiched in some white polar fleece between the interfacing and lining.  I didn't want to have to turn and press my seams, so I bound the edges of the pockets with self-made, navy blue bias tape.  I sewed it onto the right side, pressed, turned it over the raw edges, folded the raw edge of the bias tape under, pinned in place and top-stitched through all layers.

Bias Tape edge finish
I stiffened the bottom of the bag using a kids stiff plastic place-mat that I found on sale at my local big-box craft store.  I trimmed it to be ~1/2" smaller than the bag bottom and trimmed the corners.  I made a little pocket on the bottom piece so that I could slip the place-mat in and it wouldn't move around.  

For the hardware, I had a good collection that I had scavenged from my husband's beat-up old laptop bag: clips, rectangular rings, & tri-slides.  I had magnetic snaps and velcro in my stash.  The only things I needed to buy were the bag feet and popper snaps.  I used rectangular rings and a tri-slide to make an adjustable strap.    

Bag Feet
The interior is fantastic!  The beauty of making bags for yourself is you can customize the number and size of pockets to suit your personal needs.

Look at all of these pockets!!
Inside View!
  • I have a zippered pocket for my wallet and phone.  
  • 2 smaller pockets for sunscreen and my sweatbands
  • a key clip (also useful for hair elastics)
  • 2 large pockets that can hold ball cans or my sunglasses case
  • 2 large external side pockets that can hold ball cans &/or my water bottle
The top closes with a magnetic snap on small tabs.  I got that idea from the book "The Bag Making Bible" by Lisa Lam.

Top View

I used popper snaps on the sides to keep the bag smaller when less full and able to expand if needed.  

I absolutely love how this came out.  It was a big hit with my tennis team, and I've already told them, "No, I will not make you one--too much work!!"


  1. Gorgeous! I love the fabrics you chose and how you personalized the pockets. The use of the placemat as a stabilizer for the bottom is a stroke of genius. Thanks so much for sharing your process.

  2. It turned out so nicely, and all of those pockets...sublimely functional.

  3. This is so clever and by making it yourself, as well as giving yourself a fun project, it's designed exactly for the things you need. Great job!


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