Market Bag Tutorial

I have tried several Market Bag instructions and finally found one that, with a few modifications, I like.  It’s roomy, has comfortable handles, and is easy to make.  The original pattern is from The Creative Thimble at  She offers a few free patterns along with patterns she sells and classes in the Raleigh area.  If you would like to follow her very good directions, here are the changes I made.  I shortened the depth of the bag by 2 inches. (16″ x 18″).  I added ties.  I sew the handles to within 1 ” of the top of the bag, not 2 “.  In order to make the box bottom, I measure and draw the sewing line instead of using a template.

Fabric Requirements

Cut 2 – 16″ (height of bag) x 18″ (width of bag) of outside fabric

Cut 2 – 16″ X 18″ of lining fabric

Cut 2 strips of handle fabric 4 1/2″ by width of fabric

Cut 2 strips of tie fabric 1 1/2″ x 12″

Here’s my outside fabric and handle fabric.



Press handle piece in half along long edges, wrong sides together.  Unfold.  Then fold the outer raw edges to the center fold and re-press.


Fold in center and press. (Like double fold bias tape.)

Top Stitch along both side edges about 1/8 inch in from edge.


Attaching Handles To Outside Bag

Draw a temporary line (use chalk or water soluble fabric marker) 5 inches from both side edges on the front and back outside fabric pieces.  

On the front piece, place the handle along the inside edge of your line and stitch both sides of the handle to the bag. Start at the bottom edge and stitch up the side, ending 1 inch from the top edge of the outside fabric, and then stitching across the top edge of the handle and back down the other side.  Take the other end of the handle and place it along the inside edge of the other chalk line.  Make sure your handle is not twisted.  Stitch in place the same as the 1st side of the handle.


Repeat on back of outside fabric to attach back handle.


Make the 2 ties following the same method as for the handles.


On bag front, fold down the handles so they are out of the way and place raw edge of tie on top raw edge at center.  Stitch within seam allowance.  Repeat with bag back.


Place lining fabric right sides together with bag front being careful to keep handle and tie folded down out of the way.  Stitch across top edge only and press to one side or open.  Repeat for back lining piece and back outside piece.

Joining Lining and Outside Fabric

Open bag pieces out flat as shown below.


Place them right sides together with handles on top of each other and matching lining seams.  Stitch down each long side seam.  Press seams open or to one side.

The bag now looks like a large tube that is open at both ends.  Fold the lining (side with no handles) of the tube back over the main sections of the bag making a shorter tube.  Press the top of the bag along the seam line.  Line up all of the raw edges at the bottom edge and trim bottom edge even.

MarketBagTrim Bottom3

Sew through all four layers to create a bottom seam.  I also overstitched the edge to prevent unraveling.

Box Corner

Pinch together the bottom seam and the side seam.  Look inside the bag and make sure that the 2 seams are matching.  Place ruler on fabric corner measuring 3 inches from the point.  Draw a line with chalk.


Stitch on drawn line.  Repeat for other corner.  Fold fabric triangles to bottom and tac or cut them off and overstitch the raw edge.

Turn bag right side out and top stitch around the top edge of the bag about 1/4′ from the folded seam edge.


You’re done.

I roll all except one of my bags up and tie them with the ties.  I put the rolled ones inside the other bag.  That way, I always have all my bags with me but don’t have all those handles to pick up.


I’ve discovered that grocery store baggers don’t always know how to deal with my market bags, so I’ve learned to just hang them on the handles of the “thing” that holds the plastic bags and start bagging my own groceries.  I get alot more in these bags than the plastic bags, the handles don’t hurt my husband’s hands, and I can tie them shut so the contents don’t spill all over the car.  I plan on making one with thermal lining for my refrigerator/freezer items.

If you have any questions, just ask.  It’s much more difficult to explain how to do something in print that what it seems.  I wish I had taken more pictures of some of the steps.  I’ll be glad to answer any questions.  Just post a comment.

Thanks for stopping by.