Documenting a Process: How to Hand Sew a Bag in Under 2 Hours

Linen Pants Bag

Hand sewing is slow, or is it? Here was the assignment: Could I make a useful item in under 2 hours, without much planning, and a few basic sewing supplies. This is what I came up with. A lined bag you can make in an hour or so using a big old pair of linen pants:

- pair of old linen pants
- fabric for lining
- scissors
- tailors chalk
- button hole thread, needles
- vintage leather belt (Salvation Army has plenty of those)

Tutorial 1: Linen Pants Bag

(First thing you’ll notice is that I didn’t waste any time ironing…)
The idea was to make it easy by cutting out the front and bag piece as one unit. As this pair of pants had some pleats in the front, it makes for a more triangular shape. You can also just cut out square pieces using only the back part of the pants (or the front for that matter). The beauty of taking pants, is that the pockets are already made and I love to know at least where my keys, my purse and my cell phone are.

Turn the fabric to the wrong side, pin it together and stitch with a running stitch. The belt area will be harder to stitch, because usually it’s re-enforced with some stabilizer, but it’s not too bad either.

Tutorial 2: Linen Pants Bag

Cut out the lining. Just place the bag on the lining fabric and trace with some tailors chalk. Cut out.
Turn the fabric inside out, pin together and stitch the lining all the way around leaving the top part open. My lining was an old bed sheet and I incorporated a finished seam part, which saved me a bit of ironing and folding the seam over when you stitch it together with the outer part.

Tutorial 3: Linen Pants Bag

Leave the lining inside out and place it into the bag (like in the picture above). Use a neat slip stitch to sew the lining to the outer bag. Almost done.

One more thing — a strap. You can use a variety of things (you can make your own fabric strap, or use old chair webbing, but who has that really lying around?). How about using a vintage belt. Cut the edge of the belt with the hardware like you see in the picture. Punch 4 (or 6, but I was lazy) holes into the belt. If you don’t have a hole puncher, use a hammer and a small nail. Put if on a safe surface, so you don’t drive a nail into the dining room table.

Tutorial 4: Linen Pants Bag
Sew the 2 belt pieces on and you are ready to go.
Linen Pants Bag

Needless to say, you can use any fabric for the concept.

Here’s what I learned:
1. Don’t take pictures when it rains.
2. Love the leather belt strap. Makes it easily adjustable and looks good. Will use this again.
3. Like the shape of the bag, but would also explore square shapes and using different parts of vintage clothes.
4. All in all an hour well spent, triggering lots more ideas for exploration.

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22 Responses to “Documenting a Process: How to Hand Sew a Bag in Under 2 Hours”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Pascale says:

    Thinking along the same lines… I'm working on a hand-sewn linen bag and have been looking to use a belt as well for another project (didn't find the belt yet, though…).

    Great project! Thanks for sharing!

  2. scrappedout says:

    I really like this idea! And I really love that you didn't use a machine, I have one but we are not on very good terms and may never be. A needle and thread, now that I can do!

  3. Sharon says:

    love this idea! thanks for sharing…and by the way, the boots and that fun red/white skirt are really good…did you make the skirt?

  4. wendy says:

    Great project! I love the belt strap idea- clever…
    (wendy from the 'burg)

  5. MissKoolAid says:

    I'm really enjoying your tutorials. And you are inspiring me to try sewing clothes by hand. Besides the running stitch and the slip stitch, what other stitches do you use for your clothes and accessories?

  6. Jennifer S. says:

    I'm happy to see this! I bought a dress awhile back at a second hand store that I intend to turn into a bag, but have yet to find the time. I kept thinking maybe I need to make some real changes to it, but I think you've got the right idea here, just keeping the clothing as is and sewing key parts… too bad I found this late Sunday night, now I'm inspired and headed to sleep.

  7. Slipstitches says:

    Wow this is awesome, I just bought a men leather belt and was wondering how it would do and then saw this tutorial. Thanks so much.

  8. sabine says:

    Was für eine witzige, lustige und kreative Idee!
    Herzliche Grüße von Sabine

  9. sk says:

    Awesome post! Very inspiring, thanks!!

  10. annekata says:

    @Sharon: Nope, didn't make the skirt. It was bought second-hand and (lucky me) the boots were on sale.

    @Sophie: I mainly use a running and a back stitch for my clothes and accessories. Chain stitch works really well for decorative details (and it stretches). More about hand sewing techniques will come shortly.

  11. Fort & Field says:

    You have such inspiring projects! I don't know where you come up with all this wonderfulness! Thanks for sharing! I just created a post with a link back to some of your projects.

  12. Fort & Field says:

    You have such inspiring projects! I don't know where you come up with all this wonderfulness! Thanks for sharing! I just created a post with a link back to some of your projects.

  13. Fort & Field says:

    You have such inspiring projects! I don't know where you come up with all this wonderfulness! Thanks for sharing! I just created a post with a link back to some of your projects.

  14. Stephanie says:

    What a cool use of old pants – just love it!

  15. goodworks1 says:

    Wouldn't it be fun to incorporate the buckle in the strap (front) so the strap would be adjustable without resewing?

  16. annekata says:

    @Goodworks1: The buckle is actually part of the strap. You can see that in the top picture. My instructions to attach the buckle aren't very clear I'm afraid, so the buckle got lost in the last images.

  17. Jennifer S. says:

    Alright, I've made my old dress upcycled purse and linked back to your post. You can see my post here! Thanks for lighting the fire under me.

  18. Amoronia says:


  19. g.aruljothiKarikalan says:

    ha.. ha… i liked the bag very much yaar. i too stitched a small bag from my hubby's thorn pant.. i'll post it to my blog.. check it out but dont laugh at that.

  20. A Mom's Choice says:

    So Glad to see a hand sewing blog. Did you use a running stitch or a back stitch?

  21. Raq says:

    What is the strongest hand stitch I can use for sewing straps like these? Should I get special thread/needles?

  22. best video says:

    Hey there! Quick question that’s completely off
    topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly?
    My blog looks weird when browsing from my iphone 4. I’m trying to find a template or plugin that might be able to correct this problem.
    If you have any suggestions, please share. Thank you!

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