How to Sew a Bag for Mothers Day




About: I'm just a lady who likes making stuff. I got my degree in engineering but also enjoy cooking, sewing, knitting, gardening and backpacking, among other things.

My mom got this really cool fabric a few years ago to make a bag and never got around to it. This year, I decided to finish it for her for mothers day and enter it in the mothers day sewing contest. My mom likes to carry everything and the kitchen sink with her in her purse so I knew it had to be big, but you can make this bag any size. It would also be a great book bag or overnight bag and looks awesome with a really bold print because of its simple design.

*Note: When I refer to the "right" side the fabric, that is the side that will be visible when you have completed your project. The "wrong" side is the side that will not be seen.

This is my first instructable so any feedback would be greatly appreciated! Also, feel free to contact me with any questions about this project :)

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Step 1: Gather Your Materials

You will need enough fabric for the size of bag you want to make. The bag I made was about 13" by 18" by 9" but this is a great project to use up that really cool fabric that looks awesome but you really don't know what to do with. You will need:

Enough fabric for the bag
The same amount of a different fabric for the liner
webbing or ribbon for the handles
measuring device
pen or pencil
sewing machine (you could also do this with a needle and thread if you wanted but it would take longer)
an iron
Optional-buttons or snaps if you want to add them.

Step 2: Wash and Iron Your Fabric

I know it can be a pain, but if your fabric will shrink, wash it before you start sewing. It will make your final product much easier to wash since you will be able to just throw it in the wash.

Of course, if the fabric you are using is not washable or iron-able, then don't wash or iron it!

Step 3: Cut Out Your Pieces

Decide how large you want your bag to be. I lucked out because my fabric has a very handy square pattern on it. I decided I wanted my bag to be 13 inches tall, 18 inches wide and 9 inches deep because that size worked well with my pattern, however you can really make your bag any size you want.
Measure out one large rectangle that will have a length equal to twice the height of your bag plus the depth and a width that is equal to the width of your bag. This piece will wrap around to become the two large sides of your bag and the bottom.

If that is confusing think of it this way: My final bag will be 13 inches tall and 9 inches deep so this rectangle will be 35 inches long and 18 inches wide. 13inches+13inches+9inches=35 inches

Then cut out the smaller rectangles for the smaller sides. These rectangles will have the width of the height of the bag and the length of the depth of you bag. For example, my side pieces will be 13 inches by 9 inches.

You can then use these piece to cut out the same pieces of the lining fabric so you don't have to measure the liner all over again.

Also, if you want a pocket on the outside, cut it out but cut it about an inch bigger than you want it to be so you can fold the edges under.

Step 4: Make the Pocket and Mark Where the Straps Go

If you want a pocket on the outside decide where you want it and make a small mark at each corner where you want it to go. Take the rectangle you cut out for the pocket, fold all the edges under iron them so they stay, then stitch them down. Mark where you want your button or snap and attach it as the instructions on the snap packet say or how you would normally put on a button. Pin down the pocket and stitch around three edges, leaving the top edge open for the top of your pocket.

Also, decide where you want your straps and make a mark on the WRONG side of your fabric. This is the side that will not be seen.

Step 5: Sew the Bag Together

Pin the long side of the big rectangle around three sides of the smaller rectangle with the RIGHT sides together. The right side is the side of the fabric that will be visible when you are done. Pin the lining together in the same way and sew where you have pinned. You should now have what looks like 2 inside out bags, one made out of the liner material and one made out of the outside.

Once you have these sewn together, turn the outside RIGHT side out and place it INSIDE the liner so the right sides are together. This step is kind of confusing and I mess it up all the time. Basically, you should see the inside of both fabrics, not the side of the fabrics that are going to show. Also, the picture should give you some idea.

You should be able to see where you marked the spots where you want the straps to go. Cut the webbing or ribbon to the length you want plus an inch or two on either side to attach them to the bag. The looped park of the strap (the part that you hold onto) should be IN BETWEEN the layer of the liner and the bag with about an inch sticking out the top seam and lined up with the marks you made earlier. You wont be able to see most of the straps and that is ok! Trust me on this...

Sew around the top to connect the two layers but leave a 4 or 5 inch hole on one side but make sure you have stitched over the straps so they are attached securely.

Step 6: Finish Your Bag

You should have a hole in the seam you just sewed to attach the the lining. Through this hole, turn the entire bag inside out. Yes, this sounds very strange and it will look weird at first but keep going. When it is completely turned inside out you should be able to see all of the right side of the lining, all of the right side of the purse fabric and all of the straps. Put the lining inside the purse fabric which should make it look more like a purse (see pictures).

Find the hole, pin it closed and pin the lining and the outer purse fabric together and stitch around the top. This will close the hole in the seam, make the lining stay inside the bag better and secure the straps more to your bag.

And there you go! You have a great bag that is a perfect gift for mothers day!

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    18 Discussions


    5 years ago

    This is 2014 and I'm finding this idea really useful for this upcoming Mother's Day! Thank You!!!

    1 reply

    5 years ago

    Great Mother's Day gift


    5 years ago

    Nice Mother's Day present


    7 years ago on Step 5

    I'm having a hard time with this - I've gotten as far as all my pieces cut out & ready to pin & sew (I'm a newbie). When I try to pin the fabric, I seem to have a hard time with the corners of the side panels. Is there some trick to this??
    I really appreciate any help - and this instructable!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Nice looking bag! The one change I would make would be to make one pocket each  on the narrow side panels (Good for cell/wallet) and get rid of the one on the side.

    1 reply

    That would be really useful!  I just added the one pocket on the outside that fits a cell phone for to make it simple and easy.  More pockets of different sizes could easily be added using the same technique :)
    I'm planning some more intructables soon, so if people want, maybe I'll post a bag with more pockets or something :)
    Thanks for the feedback!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    How sweet of you to do your mom's project - life gets in the way of too many things we want to do, especially for ourselves! And it looks really great, too. But I gotta tell you, when my kids were little (I have three boys!) I had one of these everything-fits bags. My night-school classmates had a lot of fun trying to come up with stuff that WASN'T in my bag, and we all cracked up when someone asked for the kitchen sink - I pulled out a mini wet-wipes box! LOL Seriously, what a lovely Mother's Day gift to give!

    Thank you! It was a home decor remnant and I have tons of it left, so stay tuned for many more projects featuring the same fabric, haha