Foldaway Shopping Bag Instructions

Download your free sewing pattern for the Foldaway shopping bag here.



  • Fabric:  2 pieces of fabric that are 45cm (17 3/4") square for each side of the bag
  • Handles:
    Webbed strapping 2-3cm wide by 2 x 40cm long or;
    fabric to make them (2 strips of fabric 6cm wide x 40 cm long)
  • Elastic: between 5mm and 10mm wide x 20cm long
  • A strong sewing machine needle (either one for leather or jeans).

Foldaway Shopping bag free sewing tutorial


Before you begin:

Note there are 2 ways to sew the seams:

A. Standard seam (easiest and recommended for beginners):
a)  With right sides together and raw edges aligned, pin and sew the side seams with a 1cm seam allowance.
b)  Overlock or zig-zag the raw edge to tidy and strengthen.

B. Sew a French Seam (more professional and stronger)
a) With WRONG sides together, fold the bag in half at the bottom, aligning the side edges.
b) Pin and sew the 2 sides together using a 1cm seam allowance.
c) Trim away one side of the seam allowance to 5mm
d) Fold the second side of the seam over the top of the trimmed side and pin in place (to completely encompass the seam).
e) Sew the folded edge down.
f) Trim any loose threads that may be trying to "escape" outside the enclosed seam.

A. Cutting out the bag:

1. Make sure the pattern piece is placed on the grain line (parallel to the threads running down the fabric).

2. Lay your pattern piece on top of your fabric. You might like to consider placement of the pattern to highlight images or prints on your fabric (for example you may wish to place a flower in the centre if you are using floral fabric).

3. You will need to cut 2 strips of fabric 


B. Constructing the bag:

1. Sew the bottom and the sides of the bag together

A.  Using standard seams:
i)  With RIGHT sides together, align the raw edges and then pin and sew your bag together at the bottom and at the sides using a 1cm seam allowance.

ii) Overlock (serge) or zig-zag the seam to finish and strengthen it.

B.  Using French seams:
i)  With WRONG sides together, align the raw edges and then pin and sew your bag together at the bottom and at the sides using a 1cm seam allowance.

ii) Trim away the seam allowance to 5mm

iii) Turn the bag inside out (so the rights sides are together) and press the seams.

iv) Sew a line of stitching 1cm in from the pressed edges to encompass the raw edges of the previous seam.

v) Trim any loose threads that may be trying to "escape" outside the enclosed seam.

Sewing your bag using french seams:

How to sew a french seam

2. Sew the bottom corners of the bag
i) With right sides together, pin the bottom corners of the bag together. Align the side seam to the centre of the bottom edge.

ii) Sew in place

iii) Trim the seam

iv) Overlock or zig-zag the raw edges.

How to sew the bottom corners of the bag

3. Attach the bag handles
i) If you are making your own handles instead of using a woven strap, then do this now. 
          * Cut each strip of fabric 6cm wide x 40 cm long.
          * Fold each strip in half lengthway to mark the centre
          * Fold each long raw edge 1cm inwards toward the centre fold line (both sides)
          *Stitch the folded edges of each strap together as close to the edge as practical.

ii) Fold under 1cm from the top raw edge of the bag and then another 4 cm. Press.

On the inside of the bag, tuck the raw ends of the handles under the newly folded edge at the notches (12.5cm in from each side seam). The handles should be on the inside pointing down to the bottom of the bag.

iii) Fold the handles upward and pin in place.

iv) Sew the top edge of the bag down. Sew through all layers of fabric slowing down when you get to sewing through the handles.
You may need to hand wind your machine as you do this.

Attach the handles to your shopping bag

4. Attach the elastic band.

i)   Fold the bag up (see video at the start of this tutorial) and measure the circumference of the folded bag.  Cut your elastic to the same length.

ii)  Fold the elastic in half lengthway to form a loop, aligning the raw ends.
Overlap and pin the ends on the RIGHT SIDE of the fabric at the notch as shown

iii) Sew in place with a zig zag stitch.

Adding an elastic band to the Foldaway bag

C.  How to fold away your bag:

You might like to view the video at the top of this tutorial for a quick demonstration.
A. Lay the bag on its side and fold the bottom upwards to half way.
B. Fold the top edge down to half way with the handles pointing downwards
C. Fold again into half inthe same direction.
D. Roll your bag from the non-elastic end towards the elastic.
E. Pull the elastic loop over the roll to secure in place.

 Foldaway shopping bag - folded up

Close (esc)


Use this popup to embed a mailing list sign up form. Alternatively use it as a simple call to action with a link to a product or a page.

Age verification

By clicking enter you are verifying that you are old enough to consume alcohol.


Main menu (Delete)

Added to cart