Portsmith Online Workshop

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In this class, you’ll learn to create the Portsmith Tote with Ellie Lum, the founder and pattern designer at Klum House. The Portsmith is a minimal, workhorse of a tote that will quickly become your everyday go-to. With sturdy leather straps, metal rivets, and a reinforced base, the Portsmith is definitely a cut above your average tote bag. It's also a perfect project for beginners looking to dive into bag making for the first time.

This class will help you build a solid foundation of bag-making skills. You’ll learn to work with heavy-duty materials like waxed canvas, leather, and metal hardware to make a professional-quality bag—all on your home sewing machine! If you have some basic sewing experience under your belt and are looking to try bag making, this class is for you. Build new skills, get lost in the flow of making, and create a shop-worthy finished product with “I made this!” bragging rights.

Your Instructor

Ellie Lum
Ellie Lum

Hi! I’m Ellie.

I've been designing and making bags professionally for over twenty years. In 1998, I co-founded a custom messenger bag company called R.E. Load bags. After years of training stitchers to manufacture bags, I realized that my true passion lies in teaching. I started Klum House, my current business, as a way to invite more folks to work with their hands, make high-quality finished goods, and gain confidence through making.

Klum House bag patterns are informed by my roots in the industrial sewing industry, but I’ve designed them all to be created on a home sewing machine with just a few extra tools for installing hardware. I love teaching makers to harness the full power of their home sewing machine to achieve professional results without industrial equipment. Klum House classes will teach you to work with natural, heritage materials like waxed canvas, leather, and metal.

Sometimes makers take one look at a heavy-duty bag and think, “I could never make that.” But I promise you, YOU CAN! Just because a finished bag looks impressive doesn’t mean it’s hard to make. I’ll break it all down and guide you every step of the way. You’ll be amazed at what you’re capable of!


Skills Learned

  • Sewing multiple layers of heavy duty fabric
  • Attaching leather straps
  • Creating a tote hem
  • Constructing an envelope fold base
  • Various ways to set rivets properly
  • Conceptual elements of bag making

Bonus Videos

  • How to add a zipper expansion (zipper expansion pattern required)
  • How to add a lining (lining expansion pattern required)

Digital Pattern + Resources Included with Class

  • Fully-illustrated, step-by-step instructions booklet
  • Tiled PDF pattern (for home printing)
  • Large format PDF pattern (for professional printing)
  • Complete list of necessary materials + tools
  • Pattern drafting instructions
  • Leather + Rivets Guide


"110% recommend this class. Ellie is an excellent teacher!"

- Michelle V.

"Ellie is a fabulous instructor. She gives just enough information with concise direction. I love her style & would love to take her classes in person at her workshop. Great job."

- Felicia G.

"Ellie is such an encouraging teacher and clear as a bell in her instruction. She broke complex information down into understandable bits, and explained the why's as much as the how's."

- Katelyn M.


When does the course start and finish?

The course starts now and never ends! It is a completely self-paced, online course, so you decide when you start and finish.

How long do I have access to the course?
For life! After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like, across any and all devices you own.

What if I am unhappy with the course?
We would never want you to be unhappy. If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact us in the first 30 days and we will give you a full refund.

What materials and tools do I need for this class?
Check out our "Meet the Portsmith" preview in the Course Curriculum section above. You'll find everything you need to gather before you begin the class.

How long does it take to complete the course?
The time it takes to complete the course will vary depending on your sewing skill level, so this is entirely up to you. The total video time is 50 minutes, so you can either watch the whole class in one go, or take your time and make the bag over a few days. You can return to the course as many times as you like, so there's no rush to complete.

How do I get the pattern?
The pattern is included as a PDF download once you purchase the course. You will find it in the first section, titled "Meet the Portsmith."

What if I want a printed copy of the pattern?
If you'd like to follow along with a paper pattern, you can purchase one from our Online Shop

Do I need an industrial sewing machine to make this bag?

No! All Klum House bags can be completed on a home sewing machine, no industrial sewing machine required. At the Klum House teaching studio, we teach all of our classes on Singer Heavy Duty 4423 sewing machines that generally retail for $130-150. That is to say, you don’t need a fancy, expensive sewing machine to make our bags. If you have doubts about the power of your home sewing machine, test it out! Try sewing through multiple layers of heavy-duty canvas. Sometimes when a project gets especially bulky, we have to use the handwheel to manually sew a few stitches. If your sewing machine breaks a needle, skips stitches, or refuses to feed the fabric, it might not be up for the challenge. But we see lots of different home sewing machines come through our teaching studio that do just fine!

What skill level is this class?

This class is suitable for beginner bag makers--no previous experience required. It's also great for folks who have experience with different types of sewing, like quilting or garments, and would like to learn more about working with heavy-duty materials, like waxed canvas, leather, and metal hardware. If you have a very basic familiarity with a sewing machine and like to work with your hands, this project is for you. Get ready to seriously impress your friends.

Get started now!