Easy Fat Quarter Bag Tutorial

Today I am going to share a tutorial for a couple of versions of a quick and easy bag made from Fat Quarters as part of Elizabeth’s Christmas in July series – to help all of us get started on those handmade gifts early so we’re not sewing zombies on December 24th.
This tutorial is inspired by some purses I made for my daughter’s friends for Christmas a couple of years ago.  They were so quick and so cute and I’ve been meaning to write a tutorial for them ever since. I’m grateful to Elizabeth for this opportunity to finally get my rear in gear and share how I did it.  They were inspired during a Christmas when funds were a little tight and I needed to use resources already on hand (i.e. a giant fabric stash) to create Christmas gifts.  
Each bag uses the equivalent of one Fat Quarter + 1/8th of a yard (or scraps) for the handle. (You could also use sturdy ribbon as handles.)  
Step 1: Cut your Fat Quarter (hereafter FQ) in half to create two 11″ (roughly-might be slightly narrower depending on the width of the FQ) x 18″ pieces. You can use the second piece as the lining of your bag or cut a coordinating piece the same size for a contrasting lining and save the second piece for a second bag.
For this bag we are going to make two short handles.  Cut two 4″ x 18″ pieces of fabric. These can come from a 1/8th yard piece of fabric, you could cut them from one of your FQ’s or you could find them in your scrap bin like I did.

Step 2 – Create the handles. Fold both handles in half lengthwise and press. Open up the handle and press both sides in, meeting at the half-way crease.  Press and fold in half. You should have a handle, 4-fabrics-thick about 1″ wide. Top stitch down both sides of the handle piece right at the edge to make it sturdy and to give it a nice finished edge.

Step 3- Pin both handles to the short sides of the lining piece of fabric. Measure in about 2.5″ from each corner and pin the handles to the the fabric.

Step 4- Place the outside fabric right sides together on top of the lining piece and handles. Pin short sides and sew 1/4″ seam allowance down both sides, over the edges of the handle straps, careful not to catch any other part of the handles in your seams.

 Step 5- Press seams open and bring seams together, matching them up at the center. The bag’s outside fabric and lining fabric should be folded on top of itself, right sides together. Now pin the long, open sides together.  Sew a 1/4″ seam along both sides, leaving a 3″ opening in the lining to turn the bag right-sides out.

 Step 6 – Pull the bag right sides out through the 3″ opening and top-stitch the opening closed. (This doesn’t have to look pretty because it will be inside the bag.)

Step 7- Tuck the lining inside the bag and press the bag carefully, paying extra attention to the seam around the top of the bag. Make it look nice and crisp. 
Step 8- Top-stitch around the top edge of the bag.  This will help secure the handles’ attachment and give the bag a finished look.  I did it twice. 

Step 9- Now to give the bag a nice boxy bottom, we are going to add something called a gusset.  Don’t stress, it’s much easier than it looks. Turn the bag inside-out and line up the side seams perpendicular to the bottom edge, creating two triangles at either end of the bag.

 Step 10- Measure down 1″ from the point and draw a line perpendicular to the side seam.

Step 11- Sew directly on the line, back stitching at both ends.  Repeat the same process with the bottom corner on the other side of the bag.  You could hand-tack down the gusset flaps if you’re picky, but don’t have to worry if you’re not as they will be hidden in the bag.

And there you have a quick finished bag!  Once you have made one, it’s very quick and easy to mass-produce a lot of them.

 Now here is a slight variation to create a bag with a longer strap and a little more of a ‘purse’ shape.

Repeat Steps 4-8 above to create the body of the bag, leaving out the handles.

To add a decorative ribbon or trim I measured down 2.5″ from the top and drew a line with an erasable fabric pen.

Line up the trim along the drawn line and pin in place.
Topstitch trim to the bag.
Repeat Steps 9-11 to add the gussets to the bottom of the of the bag.
For the handle of this purse, use a 4″ x 42″ piece of fabric.  Use the same method as above to create one long purse strap. (Fold in half and press, open up and fold edges toward center, press, fold in half again and topstitch both sides.)
Trim the strap to the desired finished length. I think I trimmed mine down to 38″ for a tween-y girls purse. Tuck bottom raw edges inside the purse strap. 

Pin the end of the strap about an inch down and directly next to one of the side seams on the outside of the bag.

Fold the side of the bag on the opposite side of the seam on top of the purse strap.  Seam should be on the inside edge of the strap with equal parts of the bag holding the strap end in place. 
Sew a square holding two sides of the bag with strap end in between in place. Repeat the same steps on the other side of the bag, with the other end of the strap.

When the bag is done, you can always add a cute embellishment of some kind to ‘bling-it-up’ if you want.

And that’s it!  Again, once you’ve made one, you can whip out a bunch more in no time.  They’re great gifts to have on hand for all those little-girl Christmas or birthday gifts. (Or you could make a ‘satchel‘ version for boys too!)

Be sure to visit the other guest-bloggers for Christmas in July to see the awesome ideas and tutorials they have for you!
Monday 7/16 – Don’t Call Me Betsy
Tuesday 7/17 – Sew Crafty Jess
Wednesday 7/18 – Pink Penguin
Thursday 7/19 – Freshly Pieced
Friday 7/20 – Sew Sweetness
Monday 7/23 – Happy Quilting
Tuesday 7/24 – Comfort Stitching
Wednesday 7/25 – Diary of a Quilter (here!)
Thursday 7/26 – Felicity Quilts

And finally, as part of this series, Elizabeth has arranged a fabulous giveaway for you of a $20 Gift Certificate from the online fabric retailer, Pink Chalk Studio! Lucky you! Pink Chalk has so many pretty choices.

To enter, leave a comment on this post. One entry per person.  If you want to, tell me something handmade you’d like to make this Christmas, but it’s not required.  Giveaway open until Saturday, July 28 at midnight MST.  Please be sure that I have a way to contact you if you win!


WINNER: Heidi StaplesJuly 25, 2012 11:54 AM

I’ve got a lot of things in mind to make for Christmas, but nothing definite yet. Darling tutorial! Thanks for the giveaway!


  1. says

    Thanks so much for the tutorial! They look so cute, and I bet they will sew up in no time. What a great idea! Hmmm… I think I have some fat quarters in my stash calling my name 😉

  2. says

    I really enjoy making bags. Thanks for the great tutorial on a cute little bag! I think I'm going to be doing kitchen things for C gifts this year :)

  3. says

    I am working on lap quilts for Christmas gifts and yesterday made a bunch of potholders as little extras. Now that I've seen your bag tutorial I think I'll make some of those too! Thanks for sharing!

  4. says

    Hi Amy. :o) What a cute idea!<br />I am making pincushions for some of my Christmas presents. :o)<br />I actually posted one yesterday (for my etsy shop).<br />Have a wonderful week. Trish xo

  5. says

    Cute bags. I like that polka dot one you made and love the flowers you added to each one. Very cute. Thank you for the tutorial. <br /><br />I&#39;m hoping to get Christmas stocking done for a number of family members this year. There are a few other things on my list but we&#39;ll see how far I can get on my list of things I want to make as gifts.

  6. says

    Great tutorial! Cute bags. As for Christmas gifts, I&#39;ve tried for several years to get enough Christmas fabric coasters made for friends, but never finished. Now I think I&#39;ll change to the slightly larger &quot;mug rugs&quot; I&#39;ve been seeing on blogs. Thanks!

  7. says

    I&#39;d love to make a Christmas quilt this year to bring out at Christmas and to decorate with. I have the fabric–just have to find the time to do something for ME instead of someone else!

  8. says

    What a great bag ~ the tutorial is well done and so easy ~ thanks so much for sharing!<br />I&#39;m going to be making a few things as gifts for Christmas. I always make a few bags and will be doing this one for sure!

  9. says

    I really appreciate the fabric — the dots are very cheery. I started making a couple of table runners for Chrismass gifts for family and friends.

  10. says

    Cute and simple bags! Thanks for the tutorial. I am not sure what I want to sew for Christmas yet. I&#39;m in a charm swap, so I&#39;ll have a bunch of 5&quot; squares of Christmas fabric. Hopefully that&#39;ll inspire me.

  11. says

    I love fat quarter bags, and this is one of the cutest I&#39;ve seen. The way you attached the longer strap is so clever! I will definitely be trying this out. Thanks for sharing!

  12. says

    Thank you for this!!! I&#39;ve been wanting to make a library tote for my kiddo but couldn&#39;t wrap my head around it! Thx!!! And thank you for the giveaway!

  13. says

    Hooray! Thanks for the tutorial and giveaway. I&#39;d really like to make a dress for my daughter for Christmas this year, but I&#39;m not sure it will happen. We&#39;ll see.

  14. says

    I really really needed this tutorial, I make totes for WOCS World of Cross Stitching charities and they never come out the way I wanted. I made your tote this morning and it works great. I have to do 3 more.

  15. says

    Thank you so much for this. I really needed this. I had no clue what i was going to give as gifts. I so want to learn to quilt like you but my problem is i need someone here to show me then I can take off on my own:( I love your blog and I am going to keep reading and learning. Thanks again..

  16. says

    I love your bag tutorial. Good pictures and easy to understand instructions. I can see my granddaughters making this one. Thank you.<br />I usually make pot holders, hot pads and pillowcases for Christmas presents. So I&#39;m always looking for new gift ideas.

  17. says

    I love the bag and your tutorial. I have only made one bag before and it was totally wonky…I think I could actually follow your directions and make a pretty good bag. You&#39;ve inspired me to put it on the to-do list. Thanks!

  18. says

    Thanks for the tutorial! I will make pouches for gifts because they are small n quite simple to make:)<br />andri_chama(at)yahoo(dot)com

  19. says

    Love the tutorial. I will have to make a few of these. I have a niece who loves purses and bags. I am going to be making dish towels and wash cloths sets for christmas this year. I will probably be making a few clothes for my nephew and niece too.

  20. says

    I&#39;ve made two of these bags from your tutorial last summer. My kids really liked them. For Christmas I would like to make some clothes for my kids or maybe a quilt. Haven&#39;t thought that far ahead yet.

  21. says

    Great tutorial! I will have to whip a few of these up for my nieces :) I&#39;m hoping to finish a quilt for my sister for Christmas. Thanks for the giveaway!

  22. says

    Nice tutuorial! Thanks. I&#39;m hoping to make quilted table runners for the family for Christmas this year…I think? Thanks for the giveaway.

  23. says

    LOVE your tutorial– those totes are so nice! I need to make a few=== they&#39;d make wonderful little gifts!! For Christmas this year, I hope to find time to make a potholder set for all the cooks in my family.. and I&#39;d love to make a stack-n-whack quilt for my Mom– as she so loves that pattern! Thank you so much for the chance to win this wonderful giveaway!! Gift certificates are the

  24. says

    I love these bags! Thanks for the tutorial! I&#39;d love to make some for my 4 daughters for Christmas! Maybe I could use them as gift bags! Hmmmm!

  25. says

    Money is super tight for us this year so I&#39;d like to make everything handmade!!! Every year I do a little more and this year these bags are going on the list. Hooray!<br /><br />Shawn Marie<br />www.rickrackkitty.com

  26. says

    Love these bags, might have to make some for Christmas. I don&#39;t have any plans right now, hopefully I&#39;ll find something fun before then.

  27. says

    I would like to make my daughter a messenger bag for Christmas. She loves dragons so I would like to use my embroidery machine to place a dragon on the flap.

  28. says

    Thank you for the tutorial. I am lucky to have 3 daughters and 1 daughter in-law. They do love bags. This will make a wonderful gift bag full of goodies. Judith, Texas

  29. says

    Thanks for the tutorial — like the boxy bottom instructions. For the first time ever, my brother told me that he liked the color of a fat quarter I had and wanted me to make something out of the fq for him. So, for Christmas thought could make a pillow that says &quot;Papa&quot; — to go in his chair.

  30. says

    Thanks for the tutorials! I want to finish the two quilts I have, a mother and daughter quilt, for Christmas. They&#39;ve been hanging around my sewing room for a year now. Might just have to whip up a bag or two with the scraps to go with. Thanks again!

  31. says

    They are a wonderful idea for Christmas. I am hoping to finish a Christmas quilt I am making in a QAL. It should happen! Thanks.

  32. says

    Thanks for the great tutorial. I may make a few of those forChristmas. I have lots of fat quarters for sure.<br /><br />Vail in tn

  33. says

    My daughter in law has been after me to make some small bags for ballet shoes for a long time. My granddaughter has danced for 5 years and I have yet to make her a bag let alone the other girls that attend this dance studio. And what about other goodies for girls like doll brushes and doll clothes or whatever. You are so sweet to share this idea and I thank you more than you know!

  34. says

    What a nice tutorial! I&#39;ve always been a little intimidated by those &quot;box&quot; bottoms that people do on their bags, never understood exactly how to do it. You showed it very well though. I like the fact that this tutorial uses a fat quarter and you get a cute bag out of it! Thank you. :)

  35. says

    What a cute bag!! Thanks for the tutorial!! :) I would love to make a quilt for a gift, but that might be stretching it… so I&#39;m aiming more for table runners and bags. Thanks for a chance to win! :)

  36. says

    thank you for the easy-to-follow FQ bag tutorial. i&#39;ve been wanting to make one but too scare to try. now i&#39;ve read and looked closely at the pictures, i think i have the confidence to start my first bag. thanks again….<br />ivyworis(at)yahoo(dot)com

  37. says

    This is a great idea – thanks for posting the tutorial. Right now I&#39;m working on my first Christmas tree skirt. If I like how it looks I&#39;ll be making one for my mom as a gift.

  38. says

    What a cute bag! Thanks for a great tutorial and this one is going on the to-do list for sure. I have a tablerunner and some zippered bags I want to make this year. <br /><br />Thank you and Pink Chalk Fabrics for a super giveaway and a chance to win.<br /><br />usairdoll(at)gmail(dot)com

  39. says

    Thanks for the cute bag tutorial! I don&#39;t know if I&#39;ll make them for gifts, but I think I might need one…<br /><br />For Christmas I want to cross stitch stockings for my sons. I know I won&#39;t have them finished in time for this Christmas, but I have started to work on them. Maybe next year?<br /><br />Thanks again!

  40. says

    What a clever idea for a fat quarter. Thanks for the tutorial. I would like to make a quilt for our bed for Christmas. I have made them for both of my boys but every year, our bed goes undecorated..maybe this year is the year!

  41. says

    I love these bags. I will be whipping up some of these for the holiday season! I also plan to make everyone on my list a christmas ornament.<br />samkaydesigns(at)gmail(dot)com

  42. says

    LOVE the bags! This would make a great lunch bag for the girls! :) I&#39;ll be making quilts for Christmas … 3 of them. (I&#39;ll be starting rather soon on these as well! ick!)

  43. says

    Wow, look at all these comments! That is a great/quick/nice idea for a Christmas gift – it would make a great church bag to carry scriptures to church!!

  44. says

    Hi, thanks for the fq bag tut. I made one last night, I plan to make the variation style today. I am new to sewing &amp; for Christmas I want to make at least one small quilt and some small accessories.<br />Teachme2sew(at)gmail(dot)com

  45. says

    Thanks for the chance to win. I am hoping to make some cute Christmas outfits for my two grandkids for their Christmas card photos this year. It will be my first time sewing for a little boy.

  46. says

    Even I think I can make that bag after following your tutorial. Thank you for the clear instructions and the fantastic give away from the wonderful Pink Chalk fabrics…just love their fabrics.

  47. says

    I&#39;m planning on making an apron for my grown daughter. It&#39;s to go with a hand-written cookbook of all the favorite recipes she grew up with. She&#39;s been trying to cook on her own now, and struggling a bit, so this may help!

  48. says

    great gift idea. I have made some bags for gifts too but I like how quick your idea is. thanks for sharing.<br />I am working on a table runner for my DIL for Christmas.

  49. says

    I was in the middle of a comment when the power went out! But during that time I remembered that I have actually started a christmas present for my BF. I&#39;m making her a bunch of Renaissance hats for her grand kids. They love being knights and having wonderful hats with feathers a la 3 Musketeers. I hope I remember them long enough to get them done! Thanks. THe bags are great.

  50. says

    I would love to make a quilt for my brother made from my late father&#39;s shirts, another way to keep the memories fresh….awolk at rogers dot com

  51. says

    A girl can never have too many bags, and these are adorable! Every Christmas I tell myself that the price of gift bags is outrageous and I should really make my own. This pattern is perfect for me to do just that! So many possibilities. Can&#39;t wait to try out the tut! karla356 at yahoo dot com

  52. says

    I&#39;ve made a Christmas cushion cover, but now it&#39;s going as a thank you gift, so I still haven&#39;t made a Christmas gift! I&#39;m going to make a baby quilt and hang on to it until Christmas!

  53. says

    I&#39;ve made a Christmas cushion cover, but now it&#39;s going as a thank you gift, so I still haven&#39;t made a Christmas gift! I&#39;m going to make a baby quilt and hang on to it until Christmas!

  54. says

    Love these bags! Just two nights ago I was thinking about trying my hand at making some bags to put little gifts in for co- workers ,etc, and then found your blog! Perfect.

  55. says

    wow, you got a lot of posts here!<br />I hope you have the opportunity to read this one too. I just wanted to thank you for doing this tutorial. So many times I have wanted to put lining in a bag, but in many tutorials I get lost because they don&#39;t show step by step pictures. I now know how it works because of your generosity and patience. You are a blessing to all us visual learners out

  56. says

    Thanks so much for this tutorial. The bags are so cute and look easy enough to try (I&#39;m a beginner)! I would like to make rag quilts for my niece and nephew for Christmas.

  57. says

    Lovely tutorial. I&#39;m not sure what I&#39;ll make for my in laws this Christmas…Maybe one of these bags for my mother in law?? Last year I made a patchwork, quilted Scottie dog cushion for my aunt in law who loves Scotties so I&#39;ll have to top that this year!

  58. says

    Cute bags! Could see making those for my nieces this Xmas. I need to make the tree skirt that never made it to the cutting table last year before Xmas arrives this year:). Thanks fr a giveaway!

  59. says

    I love these bags! They&#39;re adorable. For Christmas, I have a ton of easy quilts waiting for me to finish and also, a couple of stuffed animal blankets (a plush toy split in half with a small blanket in between). Sounds terrible cutting up a stuffed animal, but they&#39;re just so cute! :)

  60. says

    Love the bags! Definitely going to be trying one! For Christmas, I&#39;m making stockings for my little family, and hoping to make a quilted table runner to layer over my tartan Christmas tablecloth!!! :)

  61. says

    Cute bags….I&#39;m a fan of place mats for Christmas gifts. They&#39;re quick and easy and who can&#39;t use some pretty holiday place mats?<br /><br />shel704 at aol dot com

  62. says

    Hey there,<br /><br />Just absolutely love your blog. Your tutorials are really good. It is my first time making a quilt and I made one with your tutorial. I would like to try the tote bag but it seems quite small, if I want to make a slightly bigger version, would you happen to have the measurement ?<br /><br />Thank you and keep up the wonderful work. God Bless…

  63. says

    This is so cute and looks quick and simple. It would also make a cute little bag for a toddler. Just big enough for a toy and a snack. Thanks for the opportunity to win some fabric.

  64. says

    Found your tutorial on pinterest. Tried this one tonight and I actually made a bag! I&#39;m so excited, lol. Not sure I&#39;m ready to crank em&#39; out but I feel confident that I can make more of these. Thanks so much for such an easy to follow tutorial.

  65. says

    Thank you so much for this tutorial! I had bought the fabric knowing I wanted to make a few small totes to use as gift bags, but had no idea where to begin. I was able to make the two bags I needed this evening in less than 40 minutes. THANK YOU!

  66. says

    HI Amy, I love this bag pattern, I have made several of these with added special touches. I made one with special water proof lining for a little boy to carry his grapes in, ( his favorite food). Thank you so much for sharing. Fun, fast and easy. Happy Creating.<br />

  67. says

    Thank you for the detailed step by step instructions. I just made my first bag and it is adorable. I&#39;ll be making more for my Operations Christmas Child shoeboxes. Blessings!

  68. Judy Lewis says

    LOVE how easy this little tote bag is to make. I am making up a bunch for the Chemo Patients at our local Cancer Center with snacks, puzzle books, candy, etc. in them.

  69. Stephanie says

    Finally got a sewing machine and wanted a relatively easy project to use up a couplw of fat quarters I’d had for a year. Made two of these bags last night and they turned out great! Bless the lady at the sewing store who cut us some muslin to practice with….didn’t have to measure and cut the handles. Just ripped it right down! Of course there are a couple crooked places but I feel like a couple more and my technique will be much better. I was so excited I made something I went running around the living room with them:) What I love about sewing is that it doesn’t matter if this is from 3 years ago. You can use a tutorial or pattern from 10 years ago and it doesn’t matter! It’s not like it can get outdated or obsolete. Thanks for making my first big sewing project a success!

  70. Michelle says

    A great tutorial, I have just finished making a bag to use for taking lunch to work. Its very cute. Thank you for the inspiration.


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