How to Make Cotton Handbags

By Karen Ellis ; Updated September 15, 2017

Anyone with basic sewing skills can make a simple cotton handbag. These days we are all trying to economize. Purchased handbags are expensive, yet making your own will cost you a pittance of those you see in the stores. An additional benefit of making your own handbags is the opportunity to produce color coordinating cotton handbags that match your outfits.

Make your own pattern. Start by marking off a rectangular shape, approximately 12 inches wide and 18 inches long on a sheet of newspaper. Use your creativity to decide on a shape for your cotton handbag. You can leave it rectangular, but you also may round it at the bottom, narrow the top or both. When you’ve decided on the shape, draw it on one-half of the rectangle. Cut out the rectangle shape. Fold it in half and cut the shape you drew so that both sides of the pattern will be the same.

Purchase 1/2 yard of decorative cotton fabric. Purchase the same amount, in an additional alternate color cotton fabric, for the handbag lining. You will also need matching thread and cording or flat trim for the handle.

Pin your pattern to the decorative cotton fabric, folded once so that you are cutting two pieces. Repeat the process for the lining fabric. Remove the pins and pattern.

Place the two decorative cotton pieces together with the right sides facing. Pin around all the sides, except the top of the handbag. Sew around all three sides with a 1/2-inch seam. Remove the pins. Repeat the same procedure for the lining fabric.

Place the lining inside of the cotton handbag. The right side of both pieces should be facing. You will see only the wrong side of the handbag and the wrong side of the lining as it is placed. Pin the top of the handbag, all the way around, catching the lining and the outside fabric. Be sure to match up the side seams on both fabric pieces.

Sew all the way around the top of the handbag with a 1/2-inch seam, leaving a 3-inch opening. Turn the outside and lining right sides out through the opening. Push the lining to the inside of the handbag. Hand sew the opening closed.

Cut cording or flat trim the length you prefer for the handle, plus 2 inches. Pin one end of the cording inside the bag at the seam, down 1 inch from the top. Repeat with the other end of the cording. Sew across the cording and the handbag at the top opening. Sew back and forth several times for strength. You have completed your first cotton handbag.


Attach a heavy-duty snap at the inside of the top opening if you prefer.

About the Author

Karen Ellis has been a full-time writer since 2006. She is an expert crafter, with more than 30 years of experience in knitting, chrocheting, quilting, sewing, scrapbooking and other arts. She is an expert gardener, with lifelong experience. Ellis has taken many classes in these subjects and taught classes, as well.