Sew Your Own Cute Compact Carry Bag

Don't get caught without a bag!

Mar 2024

Sew a stash busting tote, that's foldable, reversible & giftable from just 1 yd of fabric

Introduction - Never be caught without a bag again!

I’m so excited to share this tutorial with you!

I love a stash busting project that also ticks a lot of other boxes. When you can sew something fast that’s immensely practical and looks so good as well, you feel on top of the world!

One thing that will never go away is the need for a bag to carry your shopping. It’s pretty standard when you’re out shopping to bring your own bags along – but there are times when you’re caught short and didn’t plan it, and you end up with a handful of items tucked under your arm while still trying to access your phone, purse and keys. When this happens, a bag that folds up small is great as you can keep it in your handbag for those ‘shopping’ emergencies. Now, you can sew a bunch of these and never be caught short without a bag again!

Never be caught short without a bag again!

There are many fold up bags on the market, and many tutorials out there to make your own as well.

But I wanted to design something really simple, with no extra little pouch to lose, or fiddly bag on the side to try and finagle everything back into.

Welcome the Compact Carry Bag into your life.

It's fully lined and reversible, folds up easily, and is held shut with a loop of elastic.

There are no extra bits to sew or little bags to lose. It’s compact, with room for just a few important items, and once you get the hang of the construction on your first bag, you can make a bunch in an hour. The perfect gift for that hard to sew for people!

I’m delighted to feature some new fabric from Lysa Flower at Paint Brush Studios, called ‘Le Mini Golf’. This bold and vibrant collection is just so fun!

Lysa has combined those iconic French monuments with the fun game of mini golf and includes some lovely eye catching geometric prints too.

These fabrics were perfect to turn into an eco-friendly shopping bag – because why should carry bags be boring??

I’ve paired these fabrics with some others from my stash fora really eye-catching colour range.

I’ve included a cute tag on the handle of each bag – which really takes this to the next level. The fun thing about this is you don’t need anything extra to make one of these if you don’t want. I’ve used the selvedge from the material, cutting out the part I wanted, and added it into the seam allowance.

You can also use a ribbon or actual tag if you wish – this is the perfect place to add your own branding if you have it.

So now on to how to make one of these for yourself!

The following tutorial takes you right through how to sew the Compact Carry Bag, including how to fold it up at the end.

If you’d like the full printable pattern for this project, including a template to work from, you can grab that here.

Whilst this is a quick make, there are a couple of tricky seams to wrap your brain around. If you’ve made a few bags before, this won’t be a problem, but if bag construction is newer to you, I suggest you watch the video tutorial as well.

If you'd like to follow along below let’s get started!

How to make the Compact Carry Bag

Finished size: 13 ½”H x 10 ½” H x 2” D

Gather your supplies:

Also required: Fabric marker


Read right through pattern before beginning

Seam allowance is ⅜” (1 cm) throughout

Basting stitches are ¼”

Back stitch beginning & end of all seams

RST = right sides together

WS = wrong side

RSO = right side out         WSO = wrong side out

RSU = right side up          WSU = wrong side up

CF = centre front

Step 1 Drawing up the Bag Shape & Cut out

Cut each width of fabric into [2] 15” widths, so you have[2] Exteriors and [2] Lining pieces each measuring 15” x 18”. Square up fabric ends, and trim down length slightly to 17½”.

If you have ½ metres of fabric instead of half yards, you can add up to 2" (5 cm) into this length, making this approx 19½”.

Follow the measurements above to mark this shape onto the fabric. Use a spool of thread to round the internal corners of the neck of the bag.

Mark 7½” down from the top handle edge on both side seams. Mark 1¼” up from the neck edge seam if you wish to add a tag here. Mark Centre Fronts on all pieces.

Cut out your fabric along the lines you’ve marked.

Step 2 Adding Elastic & Tag

Fold elastic in half, and baste the ends to the CF of one exterior piece, RST.

Add your ribbon or tag if you’re using one to the internal edge of one handle 1 ¼” up from the top edge. Baste in place, RST.

Step 3 Joining the Handles

Open out each piece of fabric, and place Exterior pieces RST, aligning handle top edges. Stitch across top seams.

Repeat for Lining pieces. Press seams open.

Lay Lining RSU, then place Exterior on top, WSU, matching side seam marks. Pin between marks on each side. Stitch, beginning and ending at each mark. Clip into seam allowance at each mark, but do not cut stitches.

Turn RSO and press the seams you’ve just sewn, pulling the seam allowance to the outside at the snipped sections.

Step 4 Joining Side Seams

Lift up one Exterior section and place RST with the second Exterior section. Match side seams, aligning bottom corners and top clipped marks. Pin together. Stitch from each bottom corner to the clipped mark. Repeat for second Exterior side seam.

Now lift one Lining section and place RST with the second Lining section. Match side seams, aligning bottom corners and top clipped marks. Pin together. Stitch from each bottom corner to the clipped mark. Repeat for second Lining side seam. Press side seams open.

Step 5 Sewing the Neck Seam

We will sew the neck seam in two halves.

Reach inside the layers and grab the CF neck edge of both the exterior and lining. Match the right side of one side of the CF Exterior top edge with the right side of the CF Lining top edge. This will be a bit tricky and require some manipulation to get them to come together.

Hold CF’s together with a pin, then work outwards from CF, continuing to align and pin raw edges, until you come to the top handle seam.

Align this seam junction and pin together. Then go back to CF and work along the other side of the neck edge until you come to the other top handle seams.

Pin these together.

Making sure the inner fabric layers are not caught in the seam allowance, begin stitching just before the first top handle seam, then around the neck edge, past the CF, then back up the second handle, stopping just past the second top handle seam. Clip into the seam allowance at both inner curves without cutting stitches. Pull everything back out and smooth out the layers again.

Now head around to the other side of the CF neck edges, and repeat this process, beginning stitching where you left off on the other side. Clip curved corners & turn RSO. Press the seam for a nice crisp edge.

Step 6 Sewing the Bottom Seams & Boxing Corners

Turn bag WSO again.

Align bottom exterior edges and sew bottom seam. Align bottom lining edges together and sew bottom seam, leaving a 4 ½”opening in the centre of the seam for turning through.

On exterior fabric, pull on the corners of the side seams and bottom seam & open them up so they meet. Match each side seam together with opposing bottom seam and clip together, making a straight seam. Stitch to form a boxed corner. Repeat for second corner, then repeat for both lining seams.

Turn bag RSO through the opening in the Lining. Stitch or blindstitch the opening closed. Push Lining down inside the Exterior and push the corners right down into the bottom corners.

Step 7 Folding Under the Handles

On each outer handle edge, measure and fold under a 1” wide section to the Lining side.Hold in this fold in place with a few machine stitches in the ditch of the existing top handle seam.

Then press a 1” wide crease down the length of each side seam, to make this form an internal pleat.

Step 8. How to Fold

A. Fold down handles level with the top edge of the neck
B. Fold in one side by ⅓
C. Fold in the other side by ½
D. Starting at the base, fold up ⅓
E. Fold remaining bag in ½
F. Wrap elastic loop around the folded bag to secure.

Step 9 Share Your Creation

Congratulations on completing your Compact Carry Bag!

Now you can make several and pop them in your bag to take shopping. These are also perfect gifts for those hard to sew for people!

If you've enjoyed making this pattern, I'd love to know!

Share your creation to socials using #CompactCarryBag and tag me so we can all enjoy your creation.

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