Today I am going to share a tutorial for a quick and easy lined bag. This is a great beginning sewing project. Each fat quarter bag uses the equivalent of one Fat Quarter + material for the handle(s). I’ve also got a few different modifications you can make to give your bag personality and added style including embellishments, appliques, or a crossbody strap.
I love using Fat Quarters because they’re precut and easily available at sewing or craft stores. If you’re wondering “What is a Fat Quarter?” this post will answer your question. 🙂 This project can make use of a whole fat quarter with no waste!
This project is sponsored by Baby Lock sewing machines. Making these bags I used a Baby Lock Accomplish machine, which is basically a high-speed, straight-stitch industrial machine. It’s great for sewing through multiple layers like you get when making bags. There are so many sewing machines on the market – it’s easy to find the right one for your needs or skill level. I have more information about sewing machine options here.
Bag: One bag can be made with with the equivalent of 1 Fat Quarter.
Handles: 1/8 yard of fabric or sturdy ribbon, webbed handle material, etc. Or you can cut two 18″ straps from unused portion of Fat Quarter if making a version with contrasting lining.
(To make the bags above I used two different fat quarters for outside and lining fabric and one set of bag handles.)
How to Make a Fat Quarter Bag – a Step by Step Tutorial:
Step 1: Cut your Fat Quarter (hereafter FQ) in half to create two 11″ x 18″ pieces. (Roughly-might be slightly narrower depending on the width of the FQ – it doesn’t matter if it’s exact, as long as your two pieces are the same size.)
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 fat quarter 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 fat quarter 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 your fat quarter bag is done, you can always add a cute embellishment of some kind to ‘bling-it-up’ if you want.
Or you could add simple fabric appliques like I did in these Valentine bags. (This appliques are stitched on with raw edges showing.)
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!)
This fat quarter bag sewing tutorial is inspired by some purses I made for my daughter’s friends for Christmas a few years back. They were so quick and so cute. They were inspired during a Christmas when funds were a little tight from buying a new house that year, and I needed to use resources already on hand (i.e. a giant fabric stash) to create Christmas gifts.
I’ve got another variation on a simple drawstring fat quarter bag. Tutorial here.
If you’re looking for other good beginning sewing projects (especially ones that are great for teaching kids how to sew), check out this post here.
If you’re looking for an entry-level sewing machine, I recommend the Jubilant. You can read more about my recommendations for how to choose a sewing machine here.