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

  1. Tina says:

    very nice for the polite/lightweight thieves. In the countries where the thieves go around, sometimes on motorbikes with knives/cutters (in case of chain straps) to relieve you of your goods, or else drag you down the street until you let go…….. one of my sewing friends made a travelers vest with the important stuff in inside pockets – though I really wouldn’t want my phone up against my chest until I’ve done more research about the dangers….

  2. Donna Adams says:

    Where do I download? I went through all pages. Teally like the looks of this!

  3. JMSI says:

    The bag is beautiful and doesn’t look like it would be pick-pocket proof.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Really? why do you think so? It has worked for me, but perhaps you have a better idea. Do share…

    • Debra Wright says:

      I am planning on making this bag for a future trip. JMSI.. why do you feel it would not be pick-pocket proof. Is there anything you can suggest to make it better?

  4. Joi says:

    I have admired this bag pattern for awhile now…thank you for a great design!

  5. bettyeking says:

    Mayra, I love this bag! Your tutorial and written instructions are clear and easy to follow. I’m now making a list of the items I need to purchase to make my own bag. Thank you for all your great ideas, patterns, and tutorials.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      It is my pleasure, if you have any questions the best way is to send me a message through Instagram ATSOSEWEASY you can always send me an email. I will be able to see your bag if you use #soseweasy, I would really love to see what fabric your choose. Kind Regards,

      • Lorna Solberg says:

        I love the looks of your bag and I just love the strap, I made a reversible market bag and told myself it needs pockers on inside and out, so this is awesome, nevermind what the person said about not looking like it was pick-pocket proof, I think she either got her words mixed, or meant that you cannot tell or doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Thank you for sharing

  6. Tina Ann Gallagher says:

    I gotta make this!

  7. Paulette McPherson says:

    Adding to the “security” of the bag is the shortened handles and wearing it as it is shown on the mannequin. Your arm is automatically over top the opening, clamping it shut and blocking some access as well

  8. Mary says:

    Use quilting washaway sticky tape available on both US and UK Amazon and probably world wide, to position the zip perfectly. (‘Double Sided Adhesive Wash Away Quilters Tape’ in search box).

  9. Joan Zamojcin says:

    Your instructions and video are excellent. Thank you.

  10. sarah battyll says:

    Great explanations and photos for a newbie to bag making and some reminders for us experienced sewers, thank you

  11. cynthia gerstl says:

    thanks for responding to Michelle. I now have a downloaded copy.

  12. cynthia gerstl says:

    For whatever reason, I cannot copy/paste. Is there a download button.

  13. Rosemary says:

    That’s a lovely bag –great fabric!– and worth making but a word of caution: To be truly theft-proof a bag needs a more narrow opening, locking zippers (the pull clips onto a ring so the zipper can’t be eased open by a thief in passing), a slash-proof fabric and an RDIF lining to prevent your credit cards from being “read” electronically. Thieves sometimes use box cutters to slash the bottom of a purse and make off with the contents, in which case quilting fabric will not be sufficient protection, even if padded and you fortify the handles with chains. When my daughter, granddaughter and I went to Europe last year, we first purchased anti-theft bags online (there are a variety available) and left our other purses (including the ones I had made myself) at home. When I make this bag, it will be for local use.

  14. Marilyn Hersey says:

    Hi Mayra,
    This is the first pattern I have tried to print. When I open the file either in downloads or documents I do not get my usual print dialogue choices. The only choice I get is “Allow the app to change my printing preferences”. Whether I allow this or do not allow, my test box is only 1.5 inches. I am running windows 10, if that matters. How do I get my regular print dialogue ? I made one of your , well actually I made 2, purses & love it. However I did not have to download a pattern, just use measurements. Thank you for your assistance.

  15. Amanda Botha says:

    Thank you so much for the pattern Mayra, one can’t let crime win!! Greetings from a struggling (against crime) South Africa

  16. Diana Scanlan says:

    For the handles, you could also insert the small cable in the tube when making them if you didn’t want it to show.

  17. Michelle says:

    Hi! Gorgeous pattern! One thing that I did with a bag that I made a few years ago to make it even more difficult for the pickpockets who have a sharp knife and slash the handles and take the whole bag: when braiding the handles, braid a chain in with the fabric so that there is muchas less of a chance of the pickpocket bring able to complete the job! Thanks for all your efforts!

  18. Barbara Bailey says:

    This is wonderful. Can’t wait to make this. Thanks so much!

  19. Doro says:

    I don’t see any pictures of the inside of this bag, so I don’t know if I want to make it. Help.

  20. Beth Peterson says:

    Help Please! I cannot find the “second page” on which this pattern is on! Thanks!

  21. Joanne says:

    Mayra, thank you so much for the pattern and directions. Shopping tomorrow for the “perfect” fabric.

  22. Elizabeth B says:

    I’m having great difficulty finding the correct type of grommets. supplier you link to does not sell outside USA. Can’t find them anywhere else. Wish I’d looked before making bag. So I have a lovely finished bag except it has holes where grommets should go!
    Is it possible for me to buy them from you? I will send a photo of the bag once it’s finishedif I get it finished!

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Elizabeth, Where in the world are you? Perhaps I can find a supplier closer to your town.

      • EB says:

        I’m in New Zealand. I’ve looked all over the internet and most have the screw in grommets. I’ve bought some from China but they are not as nice on both sides. The back I saw not the same as the front.

        • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

          Hi EB, try Spotlight stores, in the handbag/millinery section.

          • EB says:

            I have,oozed there. They do not have them I have had to use the metal ones from China! I’ve finished it and will send a photo later.
            Must say it’s very good bag and I’m very pleased with it after all my struggles. Thank you!

          • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

            I am so happy you managed to find some grommets and after all the struggles you are happy with the results, congratulations on your perseverance. Looking forward to the picture.

          • EB says:

            Mayra I have put the photo on the “So Sew Easy” Facebook page.

          • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

            Thank you EB will look for it!

    • Jenny Weber says:


      I use Dritz curtain grommets for my purses. They work great! They snap together so it makes it easy, and you can pull them apart if you need to.

      Jenny W

    • Cheryl says:

      Joanne fabrics carries them. You could go to thrift store and recycle a. Hand bag that has the same hardware

  23. EB says:

    Please help! I’m halfway through but I don’t understand the part above where you pin the facing but it looks like the lining in colour. You don’t show attaching the curved parts to the curved parts of the lining once the zip is in. Really want to complete it as have got this far so would be very grateful if you could help. Is the picture above showing facing or lining? If facing is it sewn in? I only able to get fusible facing here.

  24. Linda Sessoms says:

    Mayra, this is a beautiful handbag and the videos are very well done! Just one thing I thought you and others would like to know is that RFID fabric is no longer needed…

  25. Liz says:

    Please could you give metric measurements as well with your patterns? It’s very time consuming to have to convert everything!

  26. Liz says:

    Gorgeous! Thank you I am waiting for my fabric to arrive so that I can make this. Perfect for my holiday to Vietnam.

  27. Linda says:

    I am new to your free patterns. I cannot figure out how to print the patterns. I see lots of ads for pdf readers but I don’t want to download these to my computer. Is there another way to print them?

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Linda those are just ads, I do not ask you to download anything, all you need is adobe reader to be able to print the pattern in a PDF format.

  28. Judy says:

    I have been trying to download the antipickpocket bag for days. I sent it to the cart and then returned to look at something else and now I can’t get back to the cart. At this point I would pay someone to download this for me and mail it, I`m so frustrated

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Judy if you downloaded the pattern you will find it in your pattern library. If you can not get to your cart log out and sign back in.

      • Judy says:

        I tried to just start over and put it in my cart, but it said you already had this in my cart and wouldn’t let me go any further. Quite frankly ‘m so frustrated with the whole thing I’m ready to just cancel out. I also can`t enter the free giveaways.

        • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

          If it says it is in your cart then it should be there. If you do not see it, there is a glitch and perhaps you need to log out. Go to History in your browser and empty your cookies, clean your history. Then log back in. That should fix it. Regarding the giveaway, read the instructions carefully, if you already follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest all you have to do is add a comment on what you would do with a fabric or better load a picture of a project you have done using our patterns. Good Luck!

  29. Catherine Clark says:

    I would love a pdf of this, that I could access. I don’t have access in my sewing room to a computer, so cannot watch these. As I am on public transportation, a pdf of this so I could sew it would be awesome! I love it!

    • So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Catherine, the instructions are all on our the website. However, if you want to print, you can use the sharing buttons on the left, choose the three dots to see more options, choose “printfriendly” and you’ll get a printable .pdf if that’s what you need. Hope that helps and happy sewing. Mayra

  30. Anne Evans says:

    Great bag, thank you.

  31. Shilpa says:

    Hi Mayra,
    I’m a relatively new sewer so it’s taken me a while to get this bag done. I ended up making it bigger than the original pattern so it’s more useful for me.
    I LOVE the pattern on yours, but now that mine is finished I really don’t like the pattern any more! Are there any easy ways to change some of the look (for example I’m going to redo the handles with a slightly darker colour) without undoing everything?
    Sorry for the strange question and thanks for the lovely pattern

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      HI Shilpa, a picture, in this case, would help me a lot. You can load one with your phone. You can do any changes, but You need to keep the proportions in mind. Let me see yours and see what we can do with it. Kind Regards,

  32. Pauline says:

    I am confused about the lining. The pattern shows that the lining includes the rounded top of the back, but in looking at the photographs in the tutorial, it looks like the lining is just a rectangle. If so what are the dimensions of the rectangle?

  33. Charlene says:

    Thank you so much for this beautiful bag. When we were in Rome several years ago, the pick-pockets were terrible. We are planning a trip to Ireland and Scotland so this bag is perfect and perfect timing. Thank you again, I’m excited to try sewing it.

  34. Jonikka Raines says:

    Hi, Mayra , what is the name of the grey fabric you have on the table?

  35. Michelle C Faustermann says:

    I can’t find the link to the pattern.

  36. Sandra or Lynette says:

    Thank you so much for beautiful bag. I cant wait to give it a try.

  37. Mary Young says:

    it will not let me go to second page

  38. Diann says:

    I don’t see a link for the pattern. The “gallery for more fabrics” I don’t see also.
    Where can I download the pattern?

  39. Suzy Nash says:

    I like the look of this bag so I have just downloaded it. My favourite bag has started to look quite worn and shabby and I have been looking for something to take its place. This looks like it. Thank you very much for your generosity. Suzy.

  40. Evelyne says:

    Hi Mayra
    what is the fabric for this bag?
    Many thanks

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hello Evelyne, the fabric suggestions I give are cotton quilting or canvas, under the fourth picture there is a gallery for more fabrics.

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