Anti Pickpocket Bag: FREE pattern, tutorial, and video sew-along

anti pickpocket bagThis is my take on an anti-pickpocket bag made of fabric with twisted handles.  I'm calling it Helsinki and here's the backstory to this design:

As many of our regular readers know, I was recently away on vacation with my family.  During the break, we managed to visit the Bernina factory in Switzerland, call in on what I'll argue is the finest fabric shop in the world in Italy, and as a final stop, we went in search of the famous design house, Marimekko, in Finland –all of which I'll be writing about in the near future.

My Bernina Sewing Machine Factory Tour In Switzerland

anti pickpocket bag

In search of Inspiration, a visit to Marimekko in Helsinki

In any case, while we were in Finland, in supposedly one of the safest cities in the world, my teenage daughter was pickpocketed and lost her very, very expensive new iPhone.  Needless-to-say, her father was none too happy about this.  The small handbag she was carrying was relatively open and the thieves just brushed up against her and it was gone.  Poof!  We were in a department store and the security cameras got it all on video, but it happened so fast and the perpetrators were gone by the time the tapes were reviewed.

anti pickpocket bag

It got me thinking that this can't be a rare occurrence and that I should design an anti-pickpocket bag with internal pockets, secure zippers, and strong straps to keep this thing from happening again.  I started designing and as soon as I got home, put this new bag together.  I think you'll find it an easy project to follow and the bag will not only be an attractive addition to your wardrobe but also super functional if you're traveling or spending time in crowded places.  The twisted fabric handles are relatively unique and very strong.  So Helsinki, this one is for you..

Skill Level: Advanced

If you have made a nag with lining and pockets, this project is easy for you to accomplish.  If you, however, have never done a bag before, you will find this difficult.

Key Features:

  • Secure main zipper with no gaps around the gusset making it is hard for a thief to access.
  • Zippered inner pockets for money and valuables.
  • Strong twisted fabric handles that will let you hold the bag securely.
  • Complete video tutorial and sew-along (links at the end of the article)
  • Dimensions 17″ by 11″

anti pickpocket bag

Materials for the Anti Pickpocket Bag

Recommended Fabric Options

Here are some suggestions for potential fabric options.

See the entire sewing tutorial series here:

  • 11:34
    Sewing the Anti Pickpocket Bag: Part 3, Assembling the Bag
  • 8:45
    Sewing the Anti Pickpocket Bag: Part 2, Sewing the Lining
  • 13:7
    Sewing the Anti Pickpocket Bag: Part 1, Making the Handles
Subscribe to the YouTube channel:

See next page for free pattern download.

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260 Responses to Anti Pickpocket Bag: FREE pattern, tutorial, and video sew-along

  1. Evelyne says:

    Thank you so much Mayra for the pattern of beautiful bag.

  2. Beautiful bag and a good idea 🙂

  3. ana says:

    hola saludos desde Costa Rica, me encanto este bolso el problema es como poner las argollas dentro de los ojetes de metal no se pueden abrir. algun cosejo de como poner esos aros dentro del ojete metalico. x favor.

    gracias bella forma y detalles para enseñar,


    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hola Ana, estas argollas tienen como abrirse, tienes que encontrar las que se habren. Si me mandas un correa a te mando donde las puedes encontrar. Saludos desde Singapore pero soy de Panama.

  4. Cyndi says:

    You might try using ‘hardware cloth’ for a cut proof liner. It is a wire mesh from the hardware store. Any cut ends would need to be turned under or covered with glue of some sort so it won’t poke thru your fabric.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Sounds like a great idea! I am interested on your project, will you keep me inform of how using the cloth turn up? what needle you used? pros and cons? I an so very curious about your experiment.

  5. Carol Rode says:

    Love the bag, but I can’t seem to see the part where you suggested fabrics for the project. Did I miss something?

  6. June says:

    I do like the bag. We had a relative carrying a bag on the shoulder, motorcyclist at the street corner, snatched it right off her shoulder, she fell into the street. Fortunately, she didn’t get seriously hurt, mainly bruises. Bag was never recovered. Seems if the bag is on the side, then can grab easier.

    If the bag is a crossbody, RFID proof bag carried to the front chest area, with metal cable strung through the strap. I think the thief would not have been tempted. taking the temptation out of it, less of an easy target would, hopefully, lessen the theft.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hopefully June, times will change when we do not have to worry about this things. But, then again why make yourself an easy target?

  7. Debbie Pakr says:

    Is there anywhere that shows how to lay the pattern out. I am having a hard time trying to figure out out to put the pattern pieces I downloaded together.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Debbie, I have added a picture of the layout on the second page before the instructions. Enjoy the pattern.
      Kind Regards,

    • Debbie Park says:

      i see the pattern layout now on the web page. If it was there before, it was not loading through my internet. Thank you

  8. Gwen Harlow says:

    Is there a written pattern somewhere? My very slow broadband isn’t allowing me to watch the video at the moment.

  9. Maria says:

    Maureen, congratulations! You are one lucky gal. I hope that you will enjoy your machine for many years. So happy for you.?

  10. Amanda says:

    I have made two of these bags so far, friends are putting in their orders, changed up the handles and the pockets, great great pattern, fantastic tutorial. I thank you my family and friends thank you.

  11. kct3458 says:

    If I were to win the Janome sewing machine, I’d love the 2015 pattern collection.

  12. Prune says:

    Thank you so much for the free pattern of this pretty bag.
    When I want to download the pattern there is ” error message” on the white page.
    Is there an other way to get this pattern?

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Prune, I’ve just checked all the links and everything seems to be working fine. That being said, Craftsy, where we host our patterns, has been doing a major upgrade over the weekend so perhaps there is some disruption somewhere in the system. Please try it again and let me know. Maybe you can clear your browser cache and that might help.

    • Jo King says:

      Craftsy does this on my Internet Explorer browser – try Firefox. It displayed correctly for me.

  13. Lùna Grant says:

    Hi Mayra. Thank you for sharing the pattern with us. However I can’t manage to open the next page to download the pattern.

  14. Ginger Erickson-Johnsen says:

    Unfortunately, I could not access the “next page” to download the free pattern.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Ginger, please give it another try. This page gets a lot of traffic and I’ve not heard this issue from anyone else. Let me know if you’re still having problems.

    • Jo King says:

      Ginger, make sure you’re signed in to Craftsy. The download button doesn’t work until you are, although there is no error message. It’s a bit confusing.

  15. Barbara E. says:

    Beautiful bag! I’m looking forward to making it, am just looking for the “right” fabric. If you could be so kind, what are the approximate finished dimensions of the bag?

  16. Elizabeth says:

    Hi…a great tutorial, however a couple of things as I am a newbie sewee….
    1) none of the pattern pieces are labelled as to what they are except for the pocket.
    2) are three of the pieces cut on the fold of the fabric???? As they have the symbol for it.


  17. Heidi says:

    An extra strong bottom would be handy, in Las Vegas they slash the bottom of your purse with a knife while you walk thou the crowds at famous attach ions.

  18. Terry says:

    I would love to make this bag! Could you tell me where can I find the fabric you used for it? My daughter loves the blues and the design. Thank you for sharing.

  19. Bobbi says:

    Is there a place to print the instructions? I don’t have or use a computer or tablet in my sewing space and prefer to be able to write notes down for future reference. The download only had the pattern pieces.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Bobby, I am always running late with the instructions, it takes me 5 days to write a tutorial without the PDF, sorry dear as soon as I can, I will load them,
      Kind Regards,


  20. debbi says:

    I was attracted to the design of your purse at first glance. Thank you for sharing! this is on my to do list soon.

  21. Pat says:

    First let me say I love this bag. I read through the comments and what great ideas to make it even more secure! I have one question though, it looks like there are 4 metal rings inserted through the 4 metal grommets. How did you do that? I’m looking at the metal rings I bought and there is no opening to put them through the grommets (or the visa versa). Is there something I’m missing?

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Good catch and Thank you! I forgot to put the link to the rings, I have edited the post so it is there now.
      Kind Regards,

  22. Meredith says:

    Just a quick question having printed the pattern I have had difficulty positioning pieces on 1/2 yard of fabric bought 45inch quilting fabric no pattern layout for this project tried all different ways disappointed that I will have to buy more fabric?

  23. Cathy Carpenter says:

    Can you suggest a place to buy the 1.5″ grommets? The largest I can find are 1″, even on Amazon.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Cathy, thank you for taking the time to ask, the post should say 1″hole diameter grommet, I will amend the post now. Thank you for catching the error! Kind Regards!

    • Ellen says:

      the grommets don’t have to be metal (addds weightl). Plastic grommets cone in many sizes. Just use the template in the package to trace the circle, cut it out and place the 2 pieces together & snap them together.

  24. Barb Destin says:

    If you wanted to make it even more secure you could take a couple of ideas from the commercial bags.

    Handles. The twisted handles will be harder to slice through than most bag handles but the straps on commercial bags include a metal component. You could make yours more secure by adding some bicycle cable wire inside the straps.

    Slash proof construction. Bag slashing is the #1 method that thieves use to rob unsuspecting travelelrs. Though you may be hard pressed to reproduce the stainless steel mesh liners in the commercial bags you can get a bit more protection by using something like plastic canvas between the outer bag and lining.

    RFID protection. You can easily buy the RFID fabric by the yard and use it to line the interior pocket where you keep your passport and cards that have RFID chips.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Barb, those are all great ideas and we’re planning to include those and others in a future design. Thanks for your contribution and kind regards.

  25. lebonvallet marie line ou marilascrapouil says:

    bonjour, vous pourriez refaire le meme et me le vendre et si oui à quel prix svp ?? merci à vous

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Merci pour votre réponse. Malheureusement nous ne vendons pas les produits finis, seulement les patron de couture.

  26. Kim says:

    I will be trying this, but may I add a suggestion? Maybe lining it with RFID blocking fabric, too? I was in Germany last year and got several fraud alerts from my credit card company! Thanks for the free pattern.

  27. Sarah says:

    Thank you for this pattern. I too have been pickpocketed while traveling. This looks like a good solution.
    Where did you get your fabric? I love it!!

  28. Kathy says:

    You’re right, Mayra, your fabric is fabulous. Is that butterfly part of the print or an applique? I’m hoping you’ll have more photos in your Craftsy PDF. I can’t quite picture how that zipper goes in! Patiently (well, impatiently) waiting. Good work!

  29. So sorry your daughter’s phone got stolen! That’s no fun. I’ve got a Craft Gossip post scheduled for tomorrow evening that features your free bag pattern: –Anne

  30. Gina Burgess says:

    I got the pattern but no instructions. Did I miss something?

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Gina, the instructions will be added to the pattern in the coming days. We usually don’t have time to make up the PDF before publishing. Craftsy should notify you of an update when it is published.

  31. Jayne says:

    I would absolutely recommend a cross body bag for Paris & Italy. I had several attempted snatches in busy markets, that became ‘apologies’ when the couldn’t make off with my bag. I have travelled a lot in Europe, by myself, & have never had anything stolen on me. Bags with flaps over the main body are great.
    Howeve the best thing I ever did was attach a strong cord to my wallet with a little swivel bolt at either end, that you clip to a zip or d-ring in/on your bag.
    I still have one & I have never lost or left my wallet any where in 5 years, because it is firmly attached.

  32. Sharon G says:

    I am intrigued! Very professional. Thanks

  33. Leonora Bentley says:

    Absolutely beautiful! I love everything about this bag and will be making one for each of my two daughters when I visit England next month and, of course for myself. I can’t wait to start but first got to finish the ‘new’ baby quilt today.

    Thank you so very much for your generosity and really interesting articles.

  34. Debbie Hansen says:

    How do I get to the tutorial and pattern? I downloaded the pdf program and still can’t get to it. Thanks for any help. Debbie

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Debbie, please just follow along on the website for now. We will issue the tutorial in the PDF on Craftsy in the near future, but it usually takes us a week or so after we publish on the website to do this. Good luck with your project and kind regards.

  35. bcwestblog says:

    The beauty of the bag is what I like the most. It’s a nice shape and the twisted handles and grommets make it look so professional. Bonus it has a built in safe design. I especially like your choice of fabric. The blue and white give it a nautical yet tourism feel.And the butterfly is placed just right.5 stars!

  36. Beal says:

    Thank you for the pattern! Do you have any photos of the top of the bag, looking down? I’m interested in seeing the main zipper in the completed bag.

  37. Laurie says:

    Thanks for sharing. My husband and I are planning a trip to Italy next month, and I was planning on making a new, cross body bag anyway; this will be perfect! Thanks to everyone for the added ideas! (will your story about the fabric shop in Florence come out before the middle of next month? I’d love to add it to the itinerary!

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Laurie, yes, the article will be out in the coming two weeks at the latest. Just trying to get caught up. You must visit this shop if you are in Florence. I’ll pass along the name of the manager in the article. Hopefully you can give him my regards when you visit. You’ll be amazed.

      • Penny says:

        Hi Mayra, sorry to be a pain. Could you please tell me the name of the fabric shop in Florence. I can’t wait the 2 weeks as I’m about to visit Italy. Thanks and regards Penny

        • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

          Hi Penny, I’m going to be publishing the article about this next week but given you’re traveling soon, I’ll send you an email directly. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the visit.

  38. Candy Berg says:

    Your kindness and generosity in sharing this amazing bag are great. We would all hug you but it would cause suspicion that we might be attempting to get close enough to try to slice the bottom of your bags….lol… Anyway, I am quite certain that as we speak there multitudes of sewing machines quite busy sewing away like busy little elves in preparation for trips. Good traveling and safe trips.

  39. Ame says:

    This remark is a little off-target but I haven’t seen anything from Deby lately. Is her health jeopardized further or was your addition aimed at your taking over the SoSewEasy column? Hope she is well.


  40. Annette Macher says:

    This is a beautiful bag. I’ve been reading all of the posts and plan on making this using some of the additional ideas. Fabulous work Mayra!

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