Roomy Shopping Bag or Purse Pattern with cute rope handles


Sew a roomy shopping bag with exterior and interior pockets! This free sewing pattern for a beautiful bag can also make a lovely purse or diaper bag.

I’m adding this shopping bag pattern to my Ultimate List of Free Bag Patterns and 14+ Tote Bag Patterns You Can Sew in an Afternoon. It’s perfect for both lists!

This blog post has been converted to an optional PDF that’s optimized for printing. Find it here. The free Roomy Shopping Bag Pattern is included in the blog post below and is free to read, print, and sew! Just hit CTRL +P on your computer to print. The Optimized for Printing PDF download for $3 is optional. Did you know you can get ALL the Optimized for Printing PDF files organized in a library to access anytime you want? 

That's my other shopping bag tied up on the right. :)

That’s my other shopping bag tied up on the right. To keep things simple, the bag design is the same inside and out. That means it’s reversible too!

Another great feature – those big wrap-around pockets are awesome on the bag exterior. They don’t gape at all and they are great for holding receipts, my phone, keys, and other stuff I need to keep handy.


I sewed a dividing line on the interior pockets only. This makes the bag’s inside pockets great for holding smaller items.


The pleats at the top give this bag a cute shape, and I am in LOVE with the rope handles.

I hope you love the rope handles too, (just like on my other rope handled tote pattern), but if you don’t, you have options: check out my Japanese-style fabric bag handles tutorial, clip on bag handles tutorial, and Sarah’s perfect purse handle tutorial for ideas.

Free Roomy Shopping Bag or Purse Pattern

You will need:

  • 1 yard of fabric for the bag exterior

  • 1 yard of fabric for the bag interior (or 1/2 yard for the pockets and 1/2 yard for the lining)

  • 1/2 yard of canvas fabric for the interlining (or 1 yard of your preferred interfacing)

  • 1 yard of lightweight fusible interfacing for the pockets

  • 64” of pretty cotton rope for the handles (I found mine at Joann’s in the trim and embellishment aisle)

  • 4 extra large eyelets – they are easy to install – I promise!

  • fabric marking pen and/or chalk


From the exterior fabric, cut:

  • 2 rectangles 18” x 21”

  • 2 pocket pieces 16” x 13”

  • 1 binding strip 2” x 40” (or the width of the fabric)

For the lining and interior pockets, cut:

  • 2 rectangles 18” x 21”

  • 2 pocket pieces 16” x 13”


Interfacing and Stabilizer:

Instead of interfacing, I stabilized my shopping bags with printed cotton canvas (home decor fabric) that I had too much of. I used 505 Basting Spray to adhere it to the back of my exterior bag pieces. I am really happy with the smooth yet sturdy feel of these bags – they are like home decor weight fabric bags with cotton interfacing, instead of cotton fabric bags with home decor weight interfacing, lol!

Cut the following interfacing pieces:

  • 2 rectangles 18” x 21” of canvas or other interfacing to stabilize the bag body

  • 4 rectangles 8” x 13” of lightweight fusible interfacing to stabilize the pockets (Pellon SF101 or similar fusible lightweight interfacing)

Go ahead and fuse, spray baste, or machine baste the large rectangles of canvas or interfacing to the back of the large fabric pieces for the bag exterior before getting started.

Then fuse the 8” x 13” rectangles of lightweight fusible interfacing to the bottom half of the 16” x 13” pocket pieces, as shown above. Do the same for the bag interior pockets too.

Sew the Bag Pockets:

1. Fold the pocket rectangles in half, right sides together, with the 13” edges lined up. Pin.

2. Stitch around the 3 sides with a 1/2” seam allowance. Leave a 4-5” opening for turning the pocket right side out. Clip the corners.

Turn the pockets right side out and press them flat.


3. Choose which side of the pockets will be the right side. Topstitch 3/4” from the folded edge to make the top of the pocket. Repeat for the other exterior pocket and the two interior pockets. 

Set the pockets aside for now.


Sewing the Bag Body:

1/2” seam allowance allowed.

1. Stack up the four 18” x21” rectangles (including the two with stabilizer attached) and cut 3” squares out of the bottom corners. Take care if you are using directional fabrics like I am!


2. Pin the two bag exterior pieces right sides together along one side and sew with a 1/2” seam allowance. Press the seam open.

It was hard to see the pocket in pictures, so I made a diagram.

It was hard to see the pocket in pictures, so I made a diagram.

3. Center one of the pockets over the seam on the outside of the bag, 1/2” above the corner cut-out. Pin the pocket in place.


4. Sew the pocket to the bag by stitching around the sides and bottom 1/8” from the edge.

That was the easy pocket. The next one is a little bit tricky – but you can handle it!


5. Fold the bag right sides together and sew the remaining side seam. Don’t sew the bottom edge yet.

Then turn the bag right side out and center the other exterior pocket over the side seam that you just stitched.

Pin the second pocket in place, being careful to pin through the top layers only (not the other side of the bag).

6. Sew the second pocket in place the same way, again being careful not to sew through to the other side of the bag. If your sewing machine has a free-arm feature, this would be a great time to use it!


7. After the pockets are sewn on, turn the bag wrong side out again. Pin and stitch the bottom edge. Press the seam open.

8. Flatten the corners by matching the side and bottom seams. Stitch.


Repeat steps 2-8 above to make the shopping bag lining. In addition, use the fabric pen or marking chalk to draw a line down the center of each pocket before you sew it to the bag. Stitch along the line to divide the pocket right after you have attached it.

Sew the Shopping Bag Together:


1. Mark the Pleats: Lay the bag exterior flat with the seams at the sides. Measure at the top and make 2 marks that are 2” and 3 1/2” from the side.


2. Then place the bag lining inside the bag exterior, right sides together. Line up the side seams and pin the top edges together at the sides and the center front and back.


3. At each side, bring the pleat markings together and fold the pleat toward the center of the bag. Note that the pleat is folded through all layers – the exterior and lining together. Pin the pleat to hold it in place.

Repeat to make 3 more pleats, 2 on each side of the bag.


4. Sewing-machine baste around the top edge of the bag to secure the layers together and hold the pleats. Sew 1/4” away from the edge.

Binding the top edge of the bag:

3/8” seam allowance allowed.


1. Press one edge of the binding strip over by 3/8”. You could fold and press the strip bias-tape style but I’m saving you time here by just pressing one edge. Who couldn’t use a little more time???

2. Turn the bag inside out (see my cute lining?) so you can sew the binding to the top inside edge first. Lay the bag flat and place the binding strip on top, with about 3-4” of extra binding strip on the left side. Pin the binding to the edge over the first pleat (nearest the left corner).

The right side of the binding strip should be against the bag lining, with the un-pressed edge along the top.


3. Bring the bag to your sewing machine and start sewing at the first pleat where you placed a pin. Sew the binding around the top edge with a 3/8” seam allowance.

Continue sewing until you reach the 4th pleat (a couple inches away from the side edge of the bag where you started).


4. Bring the binding ends together to meet at the corner of the bag. Pin the binding together just past the edge of the bag.


5. Move to your sewing machine and sew the binding together at the spot marked with the pin.

Trim away the extra binding 1/4” past the seam. Finger-press the seam open. Finish sewing the binding to the inside of the bag.


6. Turn the bag right side out. Fold the binding around the top edge, tucking under the pressed edge. Clip or pin in place all the way around the top of the bag.

Sew the binding down from the outside of the bag – sewing close to the folded edge.

Now you are ready for handles! Keep reading for my rope and grommet handles – or sew on any type of handles you like. Check out the links above for other handle options that I like.

Attaching Grommets and Rope Handles:


1. Mark the grommet (eyelet) location. Each one should be 1 1/2” below the top edge of the bag and 1 1/2” away from a pleat mark (toward the center, not the side seam).

Use one of the grommet pieces to trace a circle around the mark. Then use sharp scissors to cut the circle out. Cut through all of the layers. Don’t worry – the grommet will completely cover the raw edges.


2. Place the larger piece of the grommet through the front of the bag and then rest it against the little round tool that looks like a donut (I love donuts!).

3. Place the smaller ring of the grommet around the first piece from the inside of the bag.

4. Place the stamper tool over the little ring and with all of the pieces stacked on top of the little donut-looking tool. Then whack hard on the stamper tool with a hammer 2 or 3 times.

Tip: I have to move my bag and tools to a tile or concrete floor to set the grommets. Hammering them with a counter or wood floor underneath doesn’t provide enough pressure for the tools to squeeze the metal pieces shut around the hole. Plus I am likely to damage my counter or wood floor that way!


5. Cut the 64” of cotton rope in half to make two 32” pieces. Thread each end through one of the grommets and tie a knot to secure it.

Now go shopping with your beautiful bag!

14 tote bags to sew in an afternoon.jpg


Check out this blog post for more free bag patterns that are really fast to sew!



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