Handmade Cloth Bag Designs - Includes Instructions

Cloth bag making ideas

The fabulous DIY clutch below is the only one of its kind. If you’re interested, you can create your own version; using the same method applied to make an average pencil case.

Whatever your sewing skill level, you can make a stylish bag you’ll be proud of. All you need is a small amount of fabric you absolutely love. That will start the motivation process and in some cases, you won’t even need a template. I didn’t use patterns to make any of the bags on this page; except, the very last one at bottom right.

Make a DIY Clutch that’s lovely for less

There’s no need to invest in pricey fabrics or lots of time. Choose low-cost remnants or repurposed material as I did. Each bag in the collection is made or trimmed with repurposed fabric from a black and gold thrifted dress that cost all of $4.95 CDN. The faux fur trim was a remnant strip from a fur stole project.

I’m aware that some images are less than optimal and I thought of not using them. But my desire to provide inspiration prevailed. May you find inspiration and build on your best handbag design ideas.


Fur Trimmed Clutch

Make your statement one-of-a-kind easy clutch


Fur Trimmed diy fabric clutch assembly overview

When I make bags with larger prints, I typically cut around the design motifs. That way, I get the most out of the materials. It also means frequently, the heights and depths of the fabric’s emblems dictate the bags’ dimensions.

With some exceptions, you can make the above purse using the instructions given in Sew an Easy Handmade Clutch. It demonstrates how to sew a clutch purse with a zipper

Steps 2, 3, 6 and 8 are irrelevant as the zip in the bag above is exposed. Too, exterior panels and linings are cut the same size.

Finished size: 10” X 7”

Materials used

Exterior - Recycled black and gold fabric - 2 Pieces

Accent - Black faux fur scraps - 2 Pieces

Lining - Polyester - 2 Pieces - Extra if adding inside pockets

Closure - 10” gold tone metal zipper

Interfacing - Lightweight - 2 Pieces

Medium to heavyweight decorator fabric or quilted metallics are good choices for this bag. Because of its size, if using a sturdy fabric, you can skip the interfacing.

All of the bags were made using a sewing machine and use 1/2” seam allowance. Other general supplies used include: Iron and ironing board or flat padded surface; dressmaker’s pencil or marker; thread, scissors and a seam ripper in the event of mistakes. Turning tools, pointers and creasers are also helpful when sewing bags; especially for turning handles inside out. Look for them online or at your local fabric store.

Now, here’s your opportunity to create a unique DIY handbag. If you sew and you’ve never made your own, I urge you to experience the feeling of stepping out with a self-made statement that says you.

Tip Use a purchased placemat as an easy clutch purse pattern. The dimensions are perfect. Remember to add 1/2” seam allowance all round.


Envelope Style

The finished size of the handbag at right is 12 inches high and 15 inches wide, with 16” long handles. It’s the perfect size for keeping papers wrinkle free while you’re on the go.


Based on sew easy an handmade clutch tutorial

The envelope handbag above was made using steps equivalent to those specified in the sew an easy handmade clutch tutorial. It contains a separate zippered pocket that works as a partition on the inside. Handles were positioned with right sides together, at the top edge of the bag. The lining was placed over it and stitched in place.

The 3 1/2” black and gold border accent lends distinctive oomph to the flocked upholstery fabric.

Materials used

Exterior - Flocked upholstery fabric

Accent - Black and gold recycled fabric

Handles - Upholstery weight fabric

Lining - Polyester

Closure - Metal zipper

Interfacing - Craft weight

Note: Generally, handles are attached to bags after exterior panels are fused or interfaced.


Style and function to Go

Place what you need inside and carry it all with unmistakable panache


First of the lot

The eye-catching bag above was the first handbag I made from the repurposed fabric. It is the only one structured with a separate base. Its slight trapeze shape stems from front and back panels that are cut narrower at the top edges. The wider bottom edge that’s sewn around the oval base creates a side gusset and makes for a roomier bag. Finishing touches include a shoulder strap cut from the fabric’s border; O-rings and a gold tone metal zipper.

Materials used

Exterior front and pack panels - Black and gold recycled fabric

Bag base - Black and gold recycled fabric

Strap - Black & gold recycled fabric

Tabs - Black & gold recycled fabric

Lining - Polyester - Front & back panels, base and pockets

Interfacing - Medium weight fusible - Front & back panels, base, strap and tabs

Hardware - O-rings

Closure - Black gold tone metal zipper

Black cord and ribbon trim


Aside from shapes and sizes, the handbags on this page follow a general construction method:

Start with cutting front and back panels; the base, strap and the tabs.

Fuse interfacing to wrong side of all pieces and prepare to sew; make handle and tabs

Attach handles; insert zipper; stitch bag exterior along the sides

Make and attach lining to complete


Cylindrical Tote

Carrying is part of life; do it in style


Tote it in any shape

The good thing about totes is you can take them everywhere. They also lend themselves to easy design manipulations. The one above left was fashioned with remnants of a fit and flare top I made seen here.

How I made it

As usual, when working with leftovers, they dictate the project’s form and dimensions. The bag obtains its shape from circular side panels.

Materials used

Exterior - Front, back and side panels - Remnant knit fabric

Strap - Remnant knit fabric

Tabs - Black scrap fabric

Top gusset - Black scrap fabric

Flap - Black & gold repurposed fabric

Lining and pockets - Black scrap fabric

Interfacing - Medium weight - Front, back, side-panels, tabs, strap and flap

2 1/2” Decorative O-rings

9” Gold tone metal zipper

Black cord and ribbon trim

Construction challenges

The intention was to make a duffel-type tote bag but the fabric was insufficient. I was also working with a knit and a woven fabric; that combination always require added attention. Too, had I had to use 3 separate fabrics to complete the bag.

Working within scrap fabric confines

The challenge presented itself when the front and back panels were not long enough to go around the circle side-panels.

To combat that, I cut a piece off each panel; they were still short of a length. So, I decided to make 2 small inverted pleats at the cut-off edges. That made the tops smaller and reduced the size. It also altered the panels shape but not enough to affect the bag’s overall cylindrical outline.

Even so, the front and back panels were never long enough to go around. I thought a good solution would be to inserted a gusset at the top. But I already used up the main fabric.

I had more of the black and gold fabric but I didn’t want to cut it. Another scrap of fabric would have to do. I found a piece wide enough to make the gusset but it was about 6” shorter than the width of the front and back panels. I used it anyway and decided to cover it with the gold and black flap. It was my best design decision on that bag.

Approximate Dimensions

Front and back panels - Approximately 18” wide and 10’ high

Circle side-panels - 6 1/2” in diameter

Straps - 30” X 2 1/4”

Gusset - 13” X 3”

Flap - 14” X 9”

Finished size - 18” wide X 10” high

For me, the challenge was worth it.


Chic anyday and saturday night

The above bag is a simple design. It can be changed into whatever shape you like. Whether using casual or formal fabrics, it is quick and easy to sew. The flap boasts black & gold recycled fabric; and for the exterior, I used scraps from another handbag project featured here.

Materials used

Exterior - Front and back panels - Decorator fabric

Flap - Black & gold repurposed fabric

Lining - Polyester lining

Handle - Decorator fabric

Interfacing - Medium weight fusible

Magnetic snap


This cut is similar to a hobo bag with two main pieces - back and front and it uses basic construction techniques.

The handle is soft and is made by threading a wider, longer tube through a shorter, narrower one.

Cut flap, fuse and fix one half of magnetic snap to the underside; sew; turn over and press

Fuse front and back panels and fix other half of the magnetic snap to right side front panel

Pin or baste, then sew flap to the top edge of the back panel

Pin or baste, then sew front and back exterior panels together; make 2 inverted pleats at top edges of side seams. Repeat steps with front and back linings -leave a 6” gap open

Attached handle to top edge of exterior bag panel

With right sides together, sew exterior and lining sections together at top edge; ensure handle doesn’t get caught in stitches.

Turn over, stitch open gap closed in lining and press.


This one’s a pattern hack

This is the only bag on the page that was made using a pattern.

By now, you are familiar with the black and gold fabric and its origins. Here I used a McCalls pattern and created a longer more tote-like version using view A on the pattern envelope. I made it for myself but I gifted it to a deserving young lady. That’s okay; I have one last piece of that black and gold fabric left. I might be able to get two gorgeous fabric clutch bags; if not, I’ll settle for one.

See details of the pattern hack and the bag’s original design here.

I hope you are inspired to make a cloth bag of your own design. Whether you’re making it for work, evening, or grocery shopping, give yourself the benefit of making your statement .

Thank you for stopping by.

If the LORD will, see you next time.