DIY Japanese Bags

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A Japanese bag, also known as a knot bag, is a great sewing project for the beginner and the experienced seamstress alike. The bag is made with two handles, one twice the length of the other. To close and carry the bag, the long handle is slipped inside the loop of the short handle, and then knotted into place. Simple floral designs, such as those of cherry blossoms, make great patterns for Japanese knot bags.

Things You'll Need

  • Card stock
  • Patterned fabric
  • Solid-colored fabric
  • Pins
  • Needle and thread
  • Design a template for your bag on a piece of card stock. Draw the bag's body shape to about 5 inches high and 6 inches wide, creating a square shape with rounded corners. Give the bag a curve by making each side of the bag slightly concave, similar to the shape of a guitar or violin.

  • Draw two straps at the top of the bag, extending upwards, that are each 1 1/2 inches wide and 3/4 inches inward from each side; leave about 1 1/2 inches of space between them. Make the first strap 4 inches long and the second strap 2 inches long.

  • Cut out the template and trace it onto two pieces of patterned fabric and two pieces of solid fabric.

  • Cut out the template shapes from the pieces of fabric.

  • Pin the two solid pieces right sides together. When sewn, these pieces will be the inside of the bag.

  • Pin the two patterned pieces together. These will be the outside of the bag.

  • For each strap, sew the two pinned pieces of fabric together at the top edge only. This will make the strap become a loop.

  • Sew the bottoms of the two solid pieces together 1/4-inch from the edge of the fabric. Then sew the bottoms of the patterned fabric together the same way. These will be the bottoms of your bag.

  • Remove the pins from the patterned piece and put it inside of the solid piece. The bag will be inside-out until the sewing is finished.

  • Line up the edges of the inside and outside pieces and pin them together.

  • Sew the sides of the bag together with a 1/4-inch seam.

  • Sew the lining to the patterned pieces along the top of the bag, being careful not to sew the bag shut, and the sides of the handles 1/8 inch from the edges.

  • Turn the bag right side out.

Tips & Warnings

  • To close the bag, slide the long handle through the loop in the short handle once or twice.

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