/ / Strappy Bag with Pockets – Easy DIY Sewing Tutorial!

Strappy Bag with Pockets – Easy DIY Sewing Tutorial!

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I’m so excited to share this new bag pattern with you! It’s been a while since my last tote bag sewing tutorial and I really need a new bag, lol.

This blog post has been converted to an optional PDF that’s optimized for printing. Find it here. The blog post below includes everything you need including a free template in the materials list and is totally free to read, print, and sew! Just hit CTRL +P on your computer to print. The Optimized for Printing PDF download for $2 is totally optional.


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I sewed up this strappy tote in two different fabric styles to show you how different it can look, just by changing the fabric. 

The bag on the left was made with understated cream colored home decor fabric, with blue chambray for the exterior pockets and quilting cotton for the lining.

The bag on the right is all quilting cotton – in bright modern prints.

Which is your favorite?

As a bonus, this bag is so fast and easy to sew, that I’m adding it to my list of Free Tote Bag Patterns You Can Sew in an Afternoon.


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Don’t be intimidated by the leather straps – they were easy to attach with a leather needle. I bought one 1 1/2” x 42” leather strip (in the 12.99 package from Joanns above) and it was enough for both bags.

If you don’t want to make your own leather straps you could sew pretty fabric straps or use thrifted handles instead.


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This tote has a nice boxy shape and can even stand up on it’s own because I used ByAnnies flexible foam interfacing as a stabilizer. 

You could substitute fusible fleece interfacing for a softer look.

I put exterior pockets on both sides, plus interior pockets on both sides. You get to choose how many pockets you want!


Let’s make it!

Strappy Bag with Pockets – Free Sewing Pattern

Finished dimensions: 10 1/2” tall x 13 1/2” wide x 4 1/2” deep.

You will need:

  • 1/2 yd exterior fabric

  • 1/2 yd lining fabric

  • 1/2 yd exterior pocket fabric

  • 1/2 yd interior pocket fabric

  • 1/2 yd flexible foam stabilizer (such as ByAnnie’s soft and stable) – 58” wide

  • 1/2 yd medium weight fusible interfacing (such as Pellon SF101)

  • magnetic snap

  • leather pieces or strips to make 2 straps 3/4” x 21”*

  • a fabric marking pen

  • a leather needle for your sewing machine

*see other options above if you don’t want to sew leather straps.


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Cutting:

From your exterior fabric, cut:

  • 2 rectangles 11 1/2” x 14 1/2” (bag front and back)

  • 2 rectangles 11 1/2” x 5 1/2” (bag sides)

  • 1 rectangle 5 1/2” x 14 1/2” (bag bottom) I used my pocket fabric for the bag bottom.

From your pocket fabric, cut:

  • 2 rectangles 14” x 14 1/2” (for the exterior pockets – front and back)

  • 2 rectangles 14” x 14 1/2” (for interior pockets on both sides of the bag)

From your lining fabric, cut:

  • 2 rectangles 11 1/2” x 14 1/2” (lining front and back)

  • 2 rectangles 11 1/2” x 5 1/2” (lining sides)

  • 1 rectangle 5 1/2” x 14 1/2” (lining bottom)

From the flexible foam interfacing, cut:

  • 2 rectangles 11 1/2” x 14 1/2” (bag front and back)

  • 2 rectangles 11 1/2” x 5 1/2” (bag sides)

  • 1 rectangle 5 1/2” x 14 1/2” (bag bottom)

From the medium weight interfacing, cut:

  • 2 rectangles 7” x 14 1/2” (for the exterior pockets only, cut 2 more pieces if you want stabilizer on your interior pockets)


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From leather, cut:

  • 2 strips 3/4” x 21”


Make the pockets:

1. For the 2 exterior pockets, fuse a 7” x 14 1/2” piece of medium weight interfacing to the lower half of a 14” x 14 1/2” pocket piece (wrong side).


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2. Fold the pocket piece in half, wrong sides together, sandwiching the interfacing on the inside and press to make a 7” x 14 1/2” pocket. Topstitch along the fold for the pocket top edge.


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3. The interior pockets do not have interfacing. Fold and press the 14” x 14 1/2” interior pocket pieces in half (wrong sides together) to make 2 pieces, each 7” x 14 1/2”. Topstitch along the fold for the pocket top edge.

You should have 4 pocket pieces total (2 exterior and 2 interior).

Tip: Fold each pocket piece in half and press a vertical line down the middle of the pocket piece.


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Attach the Exterior Pockets:

1. Baste the exterior fabric pieces (front, back, sides, and bottom) to the flexible foam interfacing pieces of the same size. Sew all the way around each piece 1/8” – 1/4” from the edge using a long stitch.


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2. Pin the exterior pockets to the bag front and back pieces as seen above.


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3. Baste the pocket edges to the front and back pieces, 1/4” from the edge.

4. Mark a vertical line down the center of the pocket (you won’t have to do this if you followed the tip above). Then sew along the line to divide the pocket into two compartments.

Repeat to attach and divide both exterior pockets.


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Assemble the Bag Exterior:

1/2” seam allowances allowed.

1. On the wrong side of the bag bottom piece, mark 4 dots in the corners, 1/2” away from the edges.


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2. Pin and stitch the bag bottom to the bottom edge of the front or back piece, right sides together.

Sew from dot to dot only – not all the way across.


How the bag exterior looks from the wrong side.

How the bag exterior looks from the wrong side.

3. Repeat to sew the other side of the bag bottom to the remaining front or back piece. Press the seams open.


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4. Mark dots 1/2” away from the lower corners only of the side pieces.

5. Sew the side pieces to the bag front, sewing from the top edge to the dot. Press the seams open.


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6. Fold the bag over and pin the sides to the back of the bag. Once again, sew from the top edge to the dot. Repeat on the other side and press the seams open.



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7. To finish the bottom side edges, fold the bag flat with the bottom piece against one of the sides and the edges aligned. Sew the 4 1/2” seam from dot to dot.

Repeat on the other side.

Trim away the extra fabric and stabilizer at the corners to reduce bulk.


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Turn your beautiful bag right side out and press gently.


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Make the Bag Lining:

1/2” seam allowances allowed.

1. Attach the interior pockets to the interior front and back pieces in the same manner that you made the exterior pockets.

Note: My bag interior and interior pockets do not have interfacing. Feel free to add light weight or medium weight fusible interfacing, if you prefer.

2. Attach the magnetic snap pieces to the top of the front and back lining pieces, centered and 1 1/2” below the top edge.  


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3. Mark dots 1/2” away from the corner edges on the lining bottom piece (the same as the exterior bottom).

4. Sew the bottom piece to a front or back piece in the same manner as the exterior, except leave a 6” opening for turning the back right side out.

5. Finish sewing the lining together the same way as the bag exterior.

Press the lining, but do not turn it right side out.


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Sew the Lining to the Exterior:

1. Place the bag exterior (right side out) inside the lining with the right sides together. Pin all the way around the top edge.


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2. Sew all the way around the top edge with a 1/2” seam allowance.


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3. Turn the bag right side out through the opening in the lining. Press the raw edges at the opening to the inside and hand or machine-sew the opening closed.

4. Press the top edge of the bag and topstitch 1/4” from the edge all the way around.


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Attach the Bag Handles:

If you are using 3/4” x 21” leather strips for handles like I did, take care not to pin – which would make extra holes in the leather.

1. Use a fabric pen to mark the location of the strap on the bag front. The side of the strap should be 3 1/2” away from the side seam on the bag. The bottom edge of the strap should be 1 1/2” below the top edge.


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2. Install the leather needle on your sewing machine. Carefully hold the leather strap in the marked location on the bag until you can sew a square to secure it using matching thread.

I sewed around the square twice to make it extra secure.


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3. Attach the other side of the handle strap in the same way and then repeat to sew the second handle on the back of the bag.

All done! Make sure you post pictures of your Basic Bags with Pockets to Instagram and tag me @sewcanshe so I can see! Don’t forget to check my List of 14+ Free Bag Patterns You Can Make in an Afternoon too.

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Disclosure: some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting SewCanShe when you shop! All of the opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. 🙂

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4 Comments

  1. Teddi Shelton says:

    how did you cut your leather strips? from 1 1/2 to 3/4. did you use scissors? any tips for making straight cuts?

  2. how did you cut your leather strips? did you use scissors?

  3. Love your tutorial. Being a visual learner, your text and pictures really help me! Thanks, Dona

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