Wednesday, April 04, 2012

How to Sew a Box-Bottom Bag

No one asked, but today I am going to attempt to show you how to make a lined, box-bottom bag. These are super fun to make, don't use a whole lot of fabric, and once you figure out the basic method, are easy to size up! The size I am showing today is perfect for a play grocery sac! (Seen here & here.)

Materials & Supplies

You probably have everything you need for this project already on hand! 
 - fabric (2 fat quarters is all you need!)
 - thread

You also need the basic sewing tools:
 - sewing machine, iron, scissors, pencil, straight edge

1. Cut out fabric

Bag Exterior - Cut 2 rectangles 11" wide x 9 1/2" high
Bag Lining - Cut 2 rectangles 11" wide x 9 1/2" high
Handles - Cut 2 rectangles 4" x 12"

From the (4) 11" x 9 1/2" rectangles, cut away a 2.5" square in each bottom corner, like this: 

2. Handles

This is the best way to make handles for any bag project, and requires no turning!

Fold fabric in half lengthwise and press. 
Unfold, and fold in long raw edges to the line you just pressed.
Fold fabric again on original pressing line.
Clear as mud? Here's a photo!

Fold long raw edges to center press line. Fold again at center press line. 

Edge stitch both handles on each long side.

Now you should have this: (2 finished handles, 2 cut lining pieces, 2 cut bag exterior pieces)

3. Sewing the Bag

Align bag lining pieces with right sides together. Sew a 1/2" seam on two sides & the bottom edge, back stitching at each end. Press seam allowances open.

Now is the tricky part. You are going to use the cut away part in the lower corners to make the "box-bottom". Does this picture help? 

Opening up the bag slightly, line up the bottom side raw edge with the side bottom raw edge. (This is why it's important to cut away a square at the start!). Line up the side & bottom seam and pin together. Sew together with 1/2" seam allowance. Repeat with the other corner. Turn lining right side out and press the seam allowance in one direction. The bag should loosely hold it's shape now. Hopefully! 

Seams all lined up!

Repeat step 3 with the bag exterior.

Aligning the seams and with right sides together, put the lining piece into the exterior piece.

Now you'll need to figure out where your handles go. I usually go in about 3" from each side seam, but you can play around with what works best for the length of your handle. Mark the placement of the handles on both side of the bag. Pin them between the exterior & lining pieces, lining up with the marks you made. Also, (and this is important!!) make sure they aren't twisted!

Mark handle location and pin handle between lining & exterior.

Pin around the top of the bag. Sew through all layers with 1/2" seam, leaving an opening for turning.

Pull the bag through the opening, tucking the lining back into the bag exterior. Press around the top edge, and any seam you can to get the bag square and sharp looking.

Edgestich around the top edge, sewing shut the opening. Backstitch at each end.

Ta-da!! You are done! Fill with whatever you want, and enjoy! 

Or make several more! Or a bigger one! I hope the instructions all made sense. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments, or to email me. Have fun!

I made these 4 for my little people as [early] Easter baskets, and then filled them with some little things. Superstore t-shirts, sock monkey's for the little boys, a rhino for Johnny, and a tutu for Helen. (More to come on the tutu!!)


  1. You are the best Auntie ever! I love the bags used as Easter baskets. Your littles will love them.

  2. Malorie8:00 PM

    You are the best auntie...puts my little treat bags to shame.

  3. Hillary9:47 AM

    I hope when I have kids you will still have time to be auntie to them and make them awesome stuff!
    Do you think you could make this bag larger and stiffer, to be used as a sort of basket??

    1. Of course I will Auntie your kids!! I'll just have to really be on top of things and think ahead of time so I can send things in the mail. You could definitely make the bag bigger & stiffer, just use some stiff interfacing on the lining or exterior. I made a stiff bag like this at Christmas at mom's one time - do you remember that? It was very ugly, but the same basic pattern. It stands on it's own. You could also skip the handles if you wanted.

  4. Anonymous11:56 AM

    Erica, I love your blog! You're great too!!
    auntie Rose

  5. Anonymous10:32 AM


    I've been wanting to learn to sew for at least 10 years now. So I found this online the other day and decided this will be my first project. I've got everything cut out. Now to figure out this wild sewing machine. I'll let you know how it turns out. Love your blog.


  6. What measurements do you recommend for a bigger bag?

    1. Hi Christina!
      It really depends on how big you want your bag. If you look at the picture with some measurements on it, you can probably figure out how to increase for the size you want. Clear as mud?
      I hope you can figure it out!

  7. Amanda H.6:56 PM

    Thank you so much for this tutorial. I found it on Pinterest the other day and have made 3 already.

    1. That's awesome Amanda! I'm thrilled to have been found on Pinterest!
      Happy Sewing!

  8. Anonymous4:54 PM

    hi Erica, I just used your tutorial to make a little diaper bag for Codie (so she can help her mom!) Just room enough for a new outfit for her dolly, an extra diaper and a container of fabric wipes!(made from fleece)
    Thanks for your help
    auntie Rose

  9. What a fun bag.... Such great fabrics and colors as well!!!
    hugs x, Crystelle
    Crystelle Boutique

  10. v. good. give more collections.

  11. Anonymous6:35 PM

    If you increase the size of your bag do you ever change the size of the corner cut out.