Pick a great base fabric, such as this black-and-white print. Have fun with ribbons and other trims to make your bag unique.
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Designer and project maker: M'Liss Rae Hawley


  • 1/2 yard black-and-white print (bag foundation, handle tabs)
  • 5/8 yard complementary print (lining, handle)
  • 12 to 20-27"-long pieces of ribbon and trim (1/2" to 1-1/2" wide)
  • 27x14-1/2" piece of heavyweight fusible interfacing, such as Décor bond
  • 4--1/2x7" piece of heavy interfacing, such as Timtex (bag bottom)
  • 4--1/2x7" piece fusible web
  • Water-soluble marker
  • 12"-long zipper
  • 2--1-1/4" D-rings

Finished bag: 12x10x4-1/2"

Quantities are for 44/45"-wide, 100% cotton fabrics. Measurements include 1/4" seam allowances. Sew with right sides together unless otherwise stated.

Cut Fabrics

Cut pieces in the following order.

From black-and-white print, cut:

  • 1--27x14-1/2" rectangle
  • 1--2x7" strip for handle tabs

From complementary print, cut:

  • 2--13x14-1/2" lining rectangles
  • 1--4-1/2x41-1/2" strip for handle

Embellish Bag Panels

1. Place black-and-white print 27x14-1/2" rectangle wrong side up. Following manufacturer's instructions, press 27x14-1/2" fusible interfacing rectangle onto wrong side of black-and-white print rectangle to make bag foundation.

2. Use a water-soluble marker to draw a line 1-1/2" from top edge and one 1/2" from bottom edge on right side of bag foundation to outline embellishment area. Draw additional sewing guidelines 1-1/2–2" apart within the embellishment area (Diagram 1).


3. Working with bag foundation and one ribbon or trim piece at a time, topstitch trims to right side of bag foundation within embellishment area (Diagram 2). Use drawn guidelines to keep trims straight as you stitch them onto bag foundation. Allow foundation fabric to show between rows of trim as desired.


4. Cut embellished foundation piece into two 13x14-1/2" bag panels (Diagram 3). Stay-stitch 1/4" from outer edges of each bag panel.


Assemble and Add Handle Tabs

1. With right side inside, fold and press black-and-white print 2x7" strip in half lengthwise. Sew together along long edges. Turn right side out and press with seam along one long edge to make a fabric tube. From fabric tube cut two 3"-long tab pieces.

2. Turn one end of each tab piece under 1/2" and thread tabs through a D-ring (Diagram 4). Insert raw ends of tabs in folded ends (Diagram 5).


3. Position one tab on each bag panel 2-1/4" from left edge (Diagram 6). Secure ends and stitch tabs in place.


Assemble Handle

1. With wrong side inside, fold 4-1/2x41-1/2" handle strip in half lengthwise; press.

2. Open strip and press long edges to center. Refold in half to make a 1-1/8x41-1/2" strip. Topstitch 1/4" from both long edges to make handle.

Assemble Bag Body

1. Join bag panels along top edges with a 1/2" seam allowance, machine-stitching with a regular-length stitch (10–12 stitches per inch) for 1/2" at the beginning and end of the seam and machine-basting in between (Diagram 7).


2. Place joined bag panels right side down on a terry cloth towel (to protect dimensional trims) and press seam open.

3. From bag panels' wrong side, center and align zipper facedown on pressed seam allowance. Using a zipper or cording foot, sew zipper to joined bag panels through all thicknesses. Remove basting stitches. From right side, open zipper.

4. Join bag panels along side edges with 1/4" seam; sew bottom edge with 1/2" seam to make bag body. Press seams open.

5. To shape flat bottom for bag, at one corner match bottom seam line to side seam line, creating a flattened triangle (Diagram 8). Measuring 2-1/4" from point of triangle, draw a 4-1/2"-long line across triangle. Sew on drawn line. Trim excess fabric, leaving 1/4" seam allowance. Repeat with remaining corner.


6. Following manufacturer's instructions, press 4-1/2"x7" piece of fusible web onto 4-1/2"x7" piece of heavy interfacing. Peel off paper backing. Align interfacing, fusible side down, with flat bag bottom; fuse. Allow to cool. Turn bag body right side out and press.

7. Turn one end of handle under 1/2" and thread an additional 1" through a D-ring. Stitch folded edge to handle. Repeat with the other handle end and D-ring on opposite side of bag.

Finish Bag

1. Using complementary print lining rectangles, repeat Assemble Bag Body, steps 4 and 5, to make bag lining. Do not turn lining right side out

2. Insert lining into bag body, matching side seams. Turn top edge of lining under 1/2" to align with edge of zipper tape; finger press.

3. Allowing enough room for zipper to open and close with ease, hand-stitch lining in place along machine-stitching lines to complete bag.