Bags for All

2 Feb

In our closet at home, we have a big box filled with all of our bags/luggage. I can’t stand having to get a bag out. As I pull more and more bags out looking for the one I want, the closet starts feeling hotter and the walls start closing in. And, lately, it’s gotten worse since we somehow keep getting more and more bags… So what’s one more?


This bag is simple to make and great to fit all your junk. I made one for myself and two as presents (one for my aunt, who I previously made this zippered tote bag for, and one for my sister-in-law).

The bags have a large main compartment, two outer velcro pockets and one large zippered inner pocket.


Let’s make one together!

Here’s what you need:

2 pieces main bag outer fabric – follow downloadable pattern
2 pieces main bag liner fabric – follow downloadable pattern
2 pieces outer pocket outer fabric – 7″ x 10.5″
2 pieces outer pocket liner fabric – 7″ x 10.5″
1 piece inner pocket any fabric – 11″ x 13″
1 zipper – 13″ or longer
2 pieces of velcro – 1.5″
magnetic snaps

1. Cut your pattern pieces.

Here’s the downloadable pattern (eight pages): BagPageAll. Pattern pages were created assuming a 1/2 inch margin around each page (to account for printers). And should fit together according to the following image. (The circles within the bag outline are there just to help guide how the pages fit together.)

Bag pattern

2. Make the outer pockets.

For each pocket, place one outer pocket outer fabric and one outer pocket liner fabric piece fronts together. Sew along two short and one long edges. Turn inside out, push out corners, iron. For the remaining open long edge, fold in and iron. Top stitch along that edge. This will be the open edge of the pocket.

Bag outer pocket

Take one piece of your velcro and sew in place on the pocket. Lay out your main bag piece (outer fabric), line up the pocket in the center and sew into place using a double overcast stitch. (See stitch guide if needed.) With your pocket firmly sewed onto the outer fabric piece, mark the spot for the other side of the velcro on your outer fabric piece and sew it into place.

Outer Pocket

Repeat process for other outer pocket.

3. Make the inner zipper pocket.

I recommend looking at a different tutorial on how to make an inner zipper pocket because they will explain it much better than me. (Here’s a good one from Sew, Mama, Sew!) But the basic idea is to make a cut into the main bag (liner fabric) piece, like this: The main, long cut should measure 12″ and be situated where you want the opening of your inner pocket to be (near the top of the bag).

Bag inner zipper cut pattern

Iron the flaps back so the hole is open.

Hole to fit in the zipper for inner pocket

If your zipper is too long, sew perpendicular across the zipper several times to make it shorter.

Sewing the zipper shorter for inner pocket

Fit the zipper into the hole you cut. Sew the zipper into place.

Lay the liner piece with the zipper front side down (so back of zipper is facing up), and place you inner pocket piece (any fabric) so it is situated over the zipper and in the place where you want the pocket. Sew into place.

Since I made a fairly large pocket, I sewed a vertical line in the middle of the pocket so the pocket is somewhat divided to hold your stuff easier. Here’s how the back will look:

Zipper inner pocket back fabric

Here’s how the front will look: (from a different bag I was making)

Bag inner zipper pocket

4. Sew your darts.

On the pdf pattern, the bottom of the bag has two diagonal lines, these are the darts. Mark the darts on the back of your fabrics. From the bottom of the dart (edge of the bag), measure out 3/4 inch on each side, and connect that mark with the top of the dart (towards the middle of the bag). You should now have a triangle shape (the short side is the edge of your bag). You will create a fold with this triangle as a guide — fold the middle up and sew along the edges of the triangle.

Bag dart

Repeat for the back sides of each of the other three main bag pieces (outer and liner fabrics).

These darts will help give the bag some shape instead of just a flat bag.

5. Sew the top halves.

Take one main bag piece (outer fabric) and one main bag piece (liner fabric). Lay them on top of each other, front sides facing each other. Pin into place. Sew along the edges of the top half of the bag — this includes the middle edge (the inner “U”) and the two edges along the handle, which stop when they reach the sharp turns, which start the main compartment of the bag. At the ends of the handles, do not go to the very end, stop sewing about 2 inches away from the ends – this will make it easier to fit the handles together later. Once  you are finished, turn it right side out, and iron.

Top half of bag sewn together

Repeat for the other two main bag pieces (one outer, one liner).

6. Sew the bottom halves.

You now have two pieces of your bag. From those two pieces, the bottom halves should be free. Line up the bottom halves of the outer fabrics so their fronts are facing each other. Pin. Sew along the entire edge of the bottom half.

Outer fabric sewn together

Readjust your bag so the two main bag liner pieces are lined up together, fronts facing each other. Pin. Sew along the entire edge, leaving a 4-5 inch gap along the bottom of the bag.

Liner and outer pieces sewn together

Using this gap/hole, turn your bag right side out so it is in its proper position.

Bag turned right side out

7. Attach your magnetic clasp for the bag’s opening closure according to the directions on your packaging. I used these magnetic snaps.

8. Connect the edge of the bag handles together.

I did this by top stitching along the edges of one end of the handle, tapering it towards the end, so the very end of the handle is skinnier than the regular width.

Bag handle tapered

Then, I inserted this tapered edge between fabric of the connecting end. I folded in the rough edges, and sewed a few lines to keep it in place.

Bag handles sewn together

Repeat with other handle.

9. Hand sew the gap/hole closed that was left in the liner.

10. To polish it off, top stitch along the top half of the bag (similar to step #5, the top half includes the middle edge (the inner “U”) and the two edges along the handle, which stops when it reaches the sharp turn, which starts the main compartment of the bag).

Top stitching the top half of the bag

11. Done!

Completed bag

Finished bag

Finished bag - inside

Finished bag - outside bottom


One Response to “Bags for All”


  1. Toted, Tried, and True | Nothing But Time - December 10, 2013

    […] So I’m thankfully that two years ago, my aunt flat out told me she wanted a handmade tote bag. And for the past two years, I’ve made her bags: 2011 and 2012. […]

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