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Lara Neel | The Journal Gazette
The bag has a heavy outer fabric and lighter fabric for the lining.

Cross-body bag totes your goods

Lara Neel | The Journal Gazette
Emma Downs wears the bag.

As a crafter, I’ve noticed that there is no end to ideas if you’re willing to listen to other people.

For example, a co-worker came to me at the beginning of the summer and said she was in need of a cross-body bag. In fact, the email conversation made me smile, and I wish I had kept it to quote it.

Her pitch was that with gas prices so high and the weather being nice, she’d be spending more time riding her bicycle to farmers’ markets and the library and would love to have a bag she could wear cross-body to put her library books and market purchases in.

Needless to say, this co-worker got my creative juices flowing, and I (eventually) set out to make the bag she envisioned.

I think I was pretty successful. She loved it but hasn’t yet used it the way it was intended.

This isn’t a pattern so much as a tutorial on making a cross-body bag.

What you’ll need:

•A heavy fabric for outside of bag (twill, denim)

•A lighter fabric for lining (cotton or blend)


•Straight pins

•Sewing machine

•Matching thread

•Iron and ironing board

What you do:

1. The first thing I did for this one, to make sure I had a long enough handle, was to cut along the longest edge of the outer and lining fabrics anywhere from 36 to 48 inches. These two pieces will be stitched together later to be added as a handle.

2. Fold your heavier fabric in half and cut out the body of your bag at a size you’d prefer (cutting the fabric doubled will give you the front and back of the bag).

For this bag, I was going for something that would be wide enough and long enough to hold books and market purchases. It ended up to be about 14 inches wide by 13 inches long. I always cut out the bags keeping in mind that I want a 1/2 inch seam allowance.

3. Line one of the outside pieces up on your lining fabric (which is doubled), and cut out the lining.

4. Put the right sides of your outer fabric together and stitch up three sides. Next, put the right sides of your lining fabric together and stitch up both sides and along the bottom, leaving a 6-inch gap for turning the bag once you put the two pieces together.

5. Line up the side seam with the bottom seam on each side of each stitched-together piece so that you form a triangle, and about an inch and a half or two inches from the “top” of the triangle, stitch across. Then, measure about a half-inch from that seam and cut the extra fabric.

6. Take the two long pieces of outer and lining fabric to your ironing board and iron a 1/4 inch or so crease along both long sides of each piece of fabric (do this with the right sides of the fabric down on the ironing board). When I do this, I make sure the creases are done so both pieces of fabric are equal width when placed together.

7. Place these two long pieces of fabric together so creases are lined up (this is basically wrong sides together). These should be pinned together.

8. Stitch down both long sides of the handle (and across the shorter edges if you wish).

Next, we’ll put the pieces together:

1. Turn the outer part of the bag so right sides are out.

2. Stand up the lining of the bag (wrong sides out) and insert the outer portion of the bag into the lining so that the two pieces are right sides together.

3. You’ll want to insert the handle between the outer fabric and lining at this point. Place one end where the seams meet on one side of the bag and then, being careful to keep the handle from twisting, loop it under the external fabric, keeping it between the inner and outer layers. Then match up the other edge with the seam on the other side of the bag. Be sure to pin things into place so nothing moves as you’re stitching.

4. Stitch around the opening of the bag to join everything together, making sure to reinforce the stitching on each end where the handle is attached.

5. Turn lining, and as you do, pull the outer body of the bag through the 6-inch gap you left in the bottom of the lining. Your bag should come out so that the handle is not twisted and safely stitched into the sides of the bag.

6. At this point, you can stitch up the 6-inch gap in the lining either by hand or with the machine.

7. Either hand-stitch or machine-stitch around the top of the bag again (this time so the stitching shows).

To block the bag, you can either iron out the corners by putting an iron inside the bag, or you can block it on a cereal box and give as a gift or enjoy yourself.

Joyce McCartney is not a craft expert. She is, however, interested in crafting of all types. She shares her experiences and those of area crafters. To reach her, call 461-8364 or email Also, visit her blog at There, you will also find the weekly knitting podcast Math4Knitters.