material · photography · repurpose · sewing

Handbag/gift bag tutorial 

I’ve had this fancy pattern material lying around, looking all pitiful, wondering when it was going to find a new home, a new use, a wonderful new life…

So I found some matching remnants and decided to make some small handbags. I’m using these as part of holiday gifts this year. Check it out:

Find yourself some material you like – any size, doesn’t matter – some complementary fabric in the same size for the lining, and a complementary small swatch for the inside pocket. Also find some webbing or cording or something you can use for handles. For my bag, I used a 14″ W x 25″ L piece for the bag and lining, and a 6″ x 5″ for inside pocket. I cut two straps, each 20.5″ long.

Before you forget, the first thing you want to do is sew the inside pocket to the lining. Position it where ever you like, and stitch into place.

Next you’re going to sew the right sides together of both the bag and the lining, but not to each other, separately. (above)


I wanted my bags to have some depth to them, so at the bottom of the bag, I put together the side seam and bottom seam (or where there would be a bottom seam if you are using one whole piece), so now I have a corner (left photo). From that corner I measured 1.5″ and marked a line for sewing. Keep in mind that whatever you measure at this corner will make the depth of the bag twice what you measured. That’s just mathematics folks.

Sew across at the line you just measured and cut off the excess. This is the base of your bag. I like bags with some depth and base because it gives you some room to move around. Straight, flat sewn bags with no depth just aren’t my thing. I need to be able to reach my hand in there without having to fight with the material.

Also, if you notice in the photos, I use a complementary thread to the material, and my top thread and bobbin thread don’t always match. I really don’t care as 1.) I make sure my thread(s) always match the material I’m using, and 2.) I am using what is available to me so I’m not wasteful. In looking through all my thread and other notions, I’m finding that I have lots of nicely colored thread that I normally don’t use. So I’m using up that stuff. It still works and I don’t have to leave my house to get more (you know how introverts are about shopping in stores.)

Position the raw edges of your handles centered on your bag with the raw edges of your material. Put the right sides of the bag and lining together with the straps in between those 2 pieces of material.

Leave an opening so you can turn the bag inside out once you’re done sewing the bag and lining together.

Once you’ve sewn the bag and lining together, turn the bag right side out through the opening.

Once right side out, pin the lining and bag together around the top edge and sew together. You can use an iron to flatten out the material before pinning and sewing, that helps to keep it in place.

And VOILA! your finished bag!

Inside pocket view

What’s great about this pattern is you can use any piece of material, and make the bag any size that you want that fits your needs. This is an excellent way to use up pieces of material that you just don’t want to get rid of, but that you still want to find a use for; you know I’m all about the recycling and repurposing.

I think I’ll make one for myself. (It’s not like I don’t have enough bags, but I’m just saying…these turned out great! and I love the colors.)  Handy, cute little bags. and with a pocket! Who doesn’t love pockets?

Now your turn! Enjoy!

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