DIY Bags & Totes — Lined Lopsided Satchel

Big picture

Young designers will understand 2D to 3D pattern shapes and learn construction skills.

What’s the goal?

Young designers will practice using a sewing machine, understand layout diagrams, and interpret pattern markings. They will stitch straight lines with backstitching and ¼“ seam allowance, and pivot with needles in down position to make square corners.


Each designer will complete an individual project, but will work in pairs to help each other. Pair more skilled young designers with those that may need help.


  1. Prepare the patterns (make multiple out of regular  paper).
    1. Print one of each pattern piece for each stdent. Cut along the joining lines.
    2. Match pattern pieces at dots and tape pieces together to make the complete pattern set.


  1. Finished bag is 12.5” wide x 17” tall.
  2. Use denim, tapestry, canvas, upholstery, or other heavyweight fabric for the outside fabric and a slightly lighter fabric for the lining.
  3. A size 16 needle or one labeled “for denim” works well on heavyweight fabrics
  4. Heavyweight fabric may be difficult for young people to cut. Provide extra sharp shears or pre-cut the fabric.
  5. If using a quilt-weight cotton or other lightweight fabric, insert thin quilt batting or craft fleece between the lining and outer layer.
  6. You can save time by cutting the front and back bag pieces together. Fold the fabric (wrong sides together), pin the pattern to the fabric, and cut through both fabric layers.

What to cut

  1. Outside fabric – Cut 2
    • 1 each of bag pattern, and bag pattern reversed
  2. Lining fabric – Cut 2
    • 1 each of bag pattern, and bag pattern reversed

Let's get started!

In this activity, we’re going to learn how to make a funky handbag to understand how flat pieces of fabric can be sewn together to make a fashion accessory with a lining.


Lining: a fabric layer sewn inside a garment or accessory to provide a clean look and to extend the life of the design.

Prepare Bag Pieces:

  1. Print pattern pieces and tape together according to the image below.
    1. Cut fabric:
      • Outside fabric – cut 2 (1 each of bag pattern and bag pattern reversed)
      • Lining fabric – cut 2 (1 each of bag pattern and bag pattern reversed)
    2. Transfer clip marks and dotssatchel1

Assemble Bag:

  1. Make the outside:
    1. With right sides together, sew the front to the back bottom of the bag, beginning and ending on the clip marks. Backstitch at the beginning and ending of the seam.satchel2

      Right side of fabric: the side of the fabric that you want the world to see (outside of your tote). Sew with right sides together so the stitching will be on the inside of the finished project.

      Wrong side of fabric: the side of the fabric that you do not want seen (inside of your tote). The wrong side of the fabric may have a different appearance than the right side.

      Backstitching/backtack: stitch in reverse for a few stitches at the beginning and end of the seam.

    2. Grade and clip the seam allowance by removing triangles along the curviest part of the seam.satchel3
    3. Turn the bag so it is right side out.

      Seam allowance: the distance between the edge of your fabric and the seam line where the pieces are stitched.

      Grade seam allowance: trim seam allowance to reduce bulk and allow seams to lie flat and smooth.

  2. Make Lining:
    1. With right sides together, sew the front to the back, between the clip lines BUT leave the space between the dots at the bottom open.  Backstitch at the beginning and ending of the seams.
    2. Do NOT turn right side out.satchel4
  3. Join Lining and Outside
    1. Insert outside bag INTO lining (they will be right sides together). Sew the lining and outside of the bag together along the inside and outside edges, leaving the top 2” of the straps unsewn. You will start and stop your stitching lines 2” down from the top edges. Remember to backstitch. Clip the curved edges.satchel5
    2. Pull the bag and lining through the opening in the lining bottom. Fold the raw edges of the lining under and edge stitch the opening closed.satchel8
  4. Finish the bag:
    1. To finish the long handle, pull the lining out of the way and match the edges (Right sides together. Sew ½” seam allowance. Repeat for the short handle.)satchel6
    2. Repeat step 4a with the lining fabric. Be sure that nothing is twisted and turn right side out. Iron seams open.
    3. Turn in the raw edges of the handles, outside bag, and lining bag (the lining handles and outside fabric handles should line up); iron and pin in place and edgestitch around all the edges to finish the handle edges.

      Edgestitch: stitching near the edge of a sewn item, normally 1/8″ or less.

      Seam/seam line: a line of stitching that joins two or more layers of fabric.

  5. Press:
    1. Iron all the seamssatchel7
  6. Admire your new bag!

Wrap it up

  1. Describe the fabric you chose and explain why that fabric is a good choice for this bag.
  2. Explain one advantage of a bag lining.

* This bag was inspired by the project entitled Grab Bags by Meredith Corporation and posted on


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