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HOW TO Make BAGS - Tote | Messenger | Laptop - Craft Tutorials & Sewing How-Tos

Updated on February 18, 2016

Learn How to Sew Your Own Bags

I have collected together all of the best and all of my favourite bag tutorials on this page, with brilliant step-by-step instructions for each.

There are all sorts of different bags you can make including the classic tote bags, messenger bags and laptop bags - but there are so many different variations of possible bag designs, that your can really let your imagination go wild!

There are also ideas on how to decorate or revamp your plain or shop-bought bags at the bottom of the page.

I hope this page gives you lots of inspiration....Have fun!

Canvas Bike Bag

I love the Hudson Bay style stripes on this bag, and it's stylish for either guys or gals.
I love the Hudson Bay style stripes on this bag, and it's stylish for either guys or gals. | Source

Top-Rated Bag Making Products

There are many varieties of bag fastenings, handles and other helpful gadgets available to help you add a professional finish to your creations, and here are just a couple:

Bag Making Introduction

Bag making is a great area to hone your sewing skills because there are so many techniques you can incorporate into a bag if you want, and you can be very creative with the design. There are quite a few different styles of bag, with the tote bag being the simplest (and best for beginners to start with), and handbags or messenger bags with many compartments usually being the most complicated.

- Fabrics used for bags usually have to be durable and the most popular choices seem to be quilting weight cotton (which is available in many different patterns and colors), and home décor/upholstery fabrics. For wipe clean bags, vinyl and leather are good choices. Other durable options are denim, canvas and some wool fabrics. If you want a bag which is not going to need to be durable and won't need to carry anything heavy like books, then you can choose lighter weight fabrics like linen or even silk. Just don't choose anything with stretch.

- Linings: Bags are usually lined, especially if the main material is on the thin side, or if interfacing or batting (see below) is used. Where a lining isn't necessary is where simple bags like tote bags are made with a sturdy enough main fabric like upholstery material. Linings are often labelled as lining materials when you buy them, however you can use most materials as linings to be honest. Just bear in mind what wear your lining will have to stand up to, and also use a lining material which is a lighter weight than the main material of your bag. Cottons and polycottons are good particularly if you want the inside of your bag to be patterned, and polyesters/satins/silks are smooth and often shiny.

- Fastenings and closures: Many to choose from but the main ones are zips, button flaps, magnetic snaps and Velcro. You'll often find bags that are simply open and don't have a closure, or just have a flap over the opening without a fastening.

- Interfacing (aka interlining or stabilizer): This is a white material used to add structure to your bag. For instance, if you make a bag in lightweight or medium weight fabric and put it down on a table it will most likely crumple up and lie almost flat. However if you insert interfacing into the walls of your bag, you will stiffen it up so it will stand much more upright when placed onto a surface because it will maintain its structure much better. If you want to make a bag that you want to roll up into a ball when not in use then obviously interfacing would not be used in that case. Interfacing allows the fabric to move in the way it normally would too, so it doesn't take away flexibility even though it adds support.

It can be a bit daunting to know what interfacing is, which type you should use and how to use it, but really all you need to know is that it adds substance, structure and strength and is available in different 'weights' where the heavier the weight, the more structured/stiff it will make your bag. Interfacing is either fusible (irons directly onto the inside of your outer fabric), or sew-in (is sewn onto the inside of your outer fabric). The sew-in kind can be a heavier weight than your outer fabric, however the fusible kind can't, therefore you may see fusible and sew-in types combined together in the same project. You may also see a few different types of interfacing (sometimes 4 or more!) used at once so don't let this alarm you! Once you get to know the different types you will see how they can be combined to get exactly the effect you want.

Click here, here and here for very useful interfacing guides.

- Wadding/batting: A padding material used to make your bag cushioned, and a vital part of quilted bags. Available as fusible or sew-in, batting is used in a similar way to interfacing - in fact think of it as the filling of a sandwich! Batting is ideal for any slouchy style bags you don't want to be too flimsy, and also is great for protecting electronics a little inside messenger bags for instance.

- Straps: You can make very simple straps like on a tote bag, you can pad straps or quilt them with batting/wadding, or you can have adjustable or detachable/removable straps. If you are not making the straps yourself, then you can buying webbing.

Embellishing Plain Bags

If you want to have a fresh looking bag but don't want to sew one from scratch, why not just decorate a plain one?
If you want to have a fresh looking bag but don't want to sew one from scratch, why not just decorate a plain one? | Source

Denim & Leather Bag


Canvas Trousers >>> Saddlebag

This utility saddlebag was created using some old canvas trousers, so you can feel good about recycling with this project too!
This utility saddlebag was created using some old canvas trousers, so you can feel good about recycling with this project too! | Source

Fun Monster Bag


How to Sew a Drawstring Bag


What You Will Need

* Fabric; the size of fabric you need depends on how big you would like the finished bag to be, but for my example I will use a 16" x 12" piece of medium-weight cotton.

* String/cord

* Sewing machine

* Sewing pins

* Iron & ironing board

* Safety pin

* Ruler

* Rotary cutter and cutting mat OR scissors

* Disappearing/washable fabric marker pen

- Cut out the 16" x 12" piece of fabric; a rotary cutter is the best tool for this job.

- Fold the two short-side edges over by 3/8" and press the folds into place with the iron.

- Pin the folds and sew them with a straight sewing stitch 1/4" in from the outer edge.

- Fold over one of the long edges by 3/8" and press into place with the iron.

- Don't sew, but instead fold this edge over again, but this time by 1 1/4", and press with the iron.

- Pin this fold in place and sew with a straight stitch, 1" from the outside edge.

- Fold the whole piece of fabric in half, with right sides together, as shown in the diagram.

- Pin the bottom edge (1) and the open side (2) so that both layers line up perfectly.

- Sew along the bottom edge, 1/4" from the edge, with a straight stitch.

- Sew along the pinned side, from the bottom to the top, stopping when you get to where the fabric has been folded over. If you sew over the fold, you won't be able to add the drawstring part :) Make sure this line of stitches is sewn further away from the edge than the previous line of stitches here.

- To reinforce and protect the seams, you can then add zig-zag stitches along the outside edge of the bottom (1) and side seam (2) if you wish.

- Turn the bag the right way out.

- To thread the drawstring through the channel at the top of the bag, attach a safety pin to one end and follow this method.

- Judge how long you want the surplus drawstring to be, cut it to the right length, and knot the ends.

- Done!

Drawstring Lunch Tote

A neat bucket lunch bag with a drawstring close top and a waterproof laminated cotton lining.

Photo and bag by Gina Pina - Click here to see the tutorial used to make it.

Halloween Treat Bag

Halloween trick or treat bags are an easy temporary bag to make as a starter project as you can get away with making the whole thing out of felt!
Halloween trick or treat bags are an easy temporary bag to make as a starter project as you can get away with making the whole thing out of felt! | Source

Paperbag-Style Tote Bags


Handwoven Ikat Fabric Bag


Bag Making Videos

Carrier Bag Holder


Buttercup Bag


Vintage Pillowcase Bags


Other Useful How-Tos

Handy techniques and tricks for use in bag making:

:P Emoticon Bag

This bag was made by recycling an old t-shirt, and then a face made of felt was sewn on.
This bag was made by recycling an old t-shirt, and then a face made of felt was sewn on. | Source

How to Decorate Bags

Decorate pre-made and plain bags with everything from applique to paint:

Handcrafting Quality Bags

Best Bag-Making Books

There is a huge number of tutorials available on the internet, but if you want everything you need in one place - including beginner's information, expert advice and tips, free patterns, and sometimes even full-size templates - then books are the best way of getting this.

Also, the books are really pretty too!

Do you ever make your own bags?

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Please Comment On My Lens!

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    • livlola profile image

      Liv 20 months ago

      Really cool stuff! Love it!

    • williamslaw profile image

      williamslaw 3 years ago

      This is a lens after my heart! I love bags and I have tons and tons of them but I still want more! This lens gives me the perfect excuse to make some! Thank you so much.

    • profile image

      RicardoBeverlyHills 3 years ago

      Very elaborated and well explained. I will really love to see how much it can help carrying a laptop. Still many people prefer branded laptop carriers rather than hand made ones. Someone if ever used kindly share their experience.

    • profile image

      moonlitta 4 years ago

      Such fun projects:) Bags are definitely inspiring creativity.

    • profile image

      ShelbyLinMarie 4 years ago

      Love this lens! I especially like the pillow case bags. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      its nice

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      all in it nice and great as visit

    • profile image

      RANADEEP 4 years ago

      Great ideas and very good lense,thanks for sharing friend!!

    • profile image

      belinhafernandes 4 years ago

      Awesome ideas! I wish I could try some of it. But it takes time and patience. And talent!

    • profile image

      DecoratingMom411 5 years ago

      Very cute and creative ideas! :) Would love to make one soon. Great lens!

    • profile image

      HopeLabel 5 years ago

      Some amazing ideas here! Well done.

    • profile image

      LoveToClean 5 years ago

      The Denim and Leather bag is AMAZING!! Tres Chic! :))

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Beautiful and creative lens!

    • profile image

      Laychee 5 years ago

      This is amazing, my absolutely favorite lens :D:D:D I'm gonna do some of them :D

    • Jan 1980 profile image

      Jan 1980 5 years ago

      Wonderful lens,very creative and good work.With yours ideas we can decorate our bags very good.

    • profile image

      kmyangel 5 years ago

      Wooow Great Lens Great Ideas ! Thanks for sharing this with all of us ! Kisses

    • profile image

      hometex 5 years ago

      we do ,many of these for our charity drives, i love your ideas

    • JoyfulReviewer profile image

      JoyfulReviewer 5 years ago

      I like your selection of bags you've showcased ... especially the Poochie Bag and Mini Messenger Bag. Thanks for hunting down all these great resources to make our own bags. Blessed!

    • profile image

      Neysha 5 years ago

      I super duper love the first pink floral bag I will totally see my self using it at the grocery store =) also really really like the large weekend bag⥠;) real nice and well done lens

    • Deadicated LM profile image

      Deadicated LM 5 years ago


    • Coreena Jolene profile image

      Coreena Jolene 6 years ago

      What a great collection of bags to make. I am bookmarking this for future sewing projects. Thanks for shariing.

    • teristazko profile image

      teristazko 6 years ago

      Love the bags and tote. Great colors and ideas.

    • Zodiacimmortal profile image

      Kim 6 years ago from Yonkers, NY

      Ah finally someone that knows my love of bags! lol GREAT way to be able to keep a favorite shirt Pillowcase etc. (as long as its not worn out)

      Happy Random acts of Kindness day! I've added this (& a few otehrs) to my Favorite Lenses Lens

    • profile image

      kcoti15 6 years ago

      are so beautiful ¡ i want a bag ¡

    • heehaw lm profile image

      heehaw lm 6 years ago

      wonderful bags, they are all colorful.

    • profile image

      jimmyworldstar 6 years ago

      Custom bags are nice, I can see the utility for one on a bike frame so you don't have to holster it too.

    • LynetteBell profile image

      LynetteBell 6 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      Lots of ideas for bags here!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I liked the little tote bag on the bike, I bet my 11 yr old daughter would like something like this.

    • profile image

      howtosewadress 6 years ago

      The key to learning how to sew is practice. Practice makes perfect. Start with small projects like pillow cases, bed sheets and other items that need simple sewing. Little did you know, these items need pattern making and measurements too. These will serve as your training ground on how to sew. It is a stepping stone that you must take in order to be successful in learning How to Sew properly.

    • profile image

      zoikka 6 years ago

      Love the Messanger bag! Great Xmas gift ideas - there was even few for starters like me ;D

    • Leilani-m profile image

      Leilani-m 6 years ago

      Great lens! you gathered a ton of useful resource :)

    • profile image

      seosmm 6 years ago

      Cool stuff. Very nice lens!

    • ananimoss2 profile image

      ananimoss2 6 years ago

      My daughter made a bag out of duct tapes.. Duct tapes now come in dot designs and different colors! The only materials she used? 2 duct tape rolls, copy papers and scissors!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Ohmigod serious projects to do!!!! Love the bags!

    • hlkljgk profile image

      hlkljgk 6 years ago from Western Mass

      cool designs. Congratulations on being featured on the 50 Crafts I Want To Try MonsterBoard!

    • lucybrz1 profile image

      lucybrz1 6 years ago

      So many bags and patterns. Hard to decide which one to make. I want so many lol.

    • profile image

      letsflycheaper 6 years ago

      i like the monster tote bag.. its so cute :)

    • profile image

      VoodooRULEs 6 years ago

      I don't think I'm a bag kind of guy, but I really loved the denim and leather one! WOW!

    • Shanir LM profile image

      Shanir LM 6 years ago

      I must make the monster tote! It's so cute!

    • Angelina Gherna profile image

      Angelina 6 years ago from California

      great designs!

    • Philippians468 profile image

      Philippians468 6 years ago

      thank you for sharing this lovely lens! these tote bags are beautiful! cheers

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Great idea! i love the last one. Soooo cute!!

    • Lemming13 profile image

      Lemming13 7 years ago

      Excellent lens with terrific ideas; but the wasp tote put me off, I hate wasps! ;)

    • KokoTravel profile image

      KokoTravel 7 years ago

      Cute bags amd creative ideas!

    • Joy Neasley profile image

      Joy Neasley 7 years ago from Nashville, TN

      great ideas,,,, I maybe using some of them.

    • noobeegin profile image

      noobeegin 7 years ago

      As a bag collector myself, I really enjoyed this lens. The poochie bags are my favorite. I downloaded the pattern to use for upcoming gifts. Thank you so much!

    • lasertek lm profile image

      lasertek lm 7 years ago

      Interesting! My wife will definitely benefit from this lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Wow! These bags are awesome! great lens!

    • profile image

      pomme99 7 years ago

      Lots of good information and links, thanks

    • shush lm profile image

      shush lm 7 years ago

      What a great lens! i really liked it! Please visit mine on must have sewing tool here

    • ElizabethSheppard profile image

      Elizabeth Sheppard 7 years ago from Bowling Green, Kentucky

      There are SO many bags featured here. I have made a few bags, and still have them. My favorite one of your bags is the grey messenger bag. Thanks for the instruction links!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      wow thanks for the lens! very informative and creative

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Absolutely lovely! Great summer projects