How to make a Sashiko Denim Bag

Do you follow Makery? Are you aware of Portia’s fabulous refashioning competition she hosts each August/September? This year the theme is refashioning denim trousers.  It is all about having fun, trying something new, having a go. I don’t think for a minute I will win but I will have lots of fun trying. I have made a sashiko denim bag.

Last year the theme was shirts, I made my niece an upcycled shirts dress.

Upcycled Toddler Shirt Dress

The standard was extremely high with some amazing transformations – see the pinterest board. It is truly amazing what can be made from shirts.

I have a hunch that a tailored fitted garment will win this year. But I have to play to my strengths – upcycled bags. For a while, I have thought about creating a sashiko denim bag. I have lots of denim trouser off cuts in my stash left over from making this denim quilt.

DIY Denim Rag Quilt

The summer holidays are great but they do limit sewing time, not ideal for sewing never mind lots of hand stitching. Normally I pack knitting when away as it is super easy to fit in my bag. This year we went camping, I took my bag of denim scraps, a pile of embroidery floss from a charity shop and offcuts from the Tilda fabric projects.

I enjoyed being creative in our tent – I’m not sure the kids appreciated the camping table being covered in fabric.

Do you love hand sewing? Then this sashiko denim tote bag is for you. Use your old jeans to create a slow stitched embroidered tote bag #totebag #sashiko #slowstitch #denimbag

Do you love hand sewing? Then this sashiko denim tote bag is for you. Use your old jeans to create a slow stitched embroidered tote bag #totebag #sashiko #slowstitch #denimbag

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Sashiko Denim Bag Tutorial

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Sashiko Denim Bag supplies

To make:

Lay out pieces of denim and cotton patched in a design pleasing to the eye. Ensure your patchwork design is slightly bigger than 42 by 46 cm.

Lay out denim in patchwork design

Hand stitch with running stitch. Be creative. Think about the direction of your stitches. The majority of my stitching runs horizontally, however, I have emphasised the cotton patches with circular stitching or vertical stitching.

Handstitch pieces together, sashiko bag

Repeat for the second side of the bag.

Sahiko Denim bag in progress, full tutorial on the bog

Don’t be afraid to change your mind about thread colour choice or direction of stitching. If you follow me on Instagram you will see that I changed the colour of the top right hand section.

Sashiko Denim Bag - two sides hand stitched ready to create bag

Once you have completed your two sides use some craft glue spray to adhere the Annies Soft and Stable to the wrong side of each piece.

Adhere Annies Soft and Stable with spray adhesive

Stitch round the sides and the base. Ensure your seam is a centimetre in from the edge of your Soft and Stable to fully secure it in place.

Sticth seam of bag

Box the corners. To do this pull the bottom seam to meet the side seam and pin to hold. Using a quilting ruler mark a stitch line at right angles to your base. I created the base of the bag as 18cm wide, 9 cm either side of the bottom seam.

box corners of bag

Trim this seam.

Trim box corners

This is the main body of the bag finished.

Next, you are going to make the lining. Iron the heavyweight interfacing to the back of the lining fabric. Prep two slip pockets, 17 by 16cm. Cut fabric. Turn over twice the top of the pocket and stitch. Fold and press twice the sides and bottom.

Slip pocket

Pin centrally on your lining approximately 8cm down from the top of the bag, then stitch.

Insert a magnetic snap, centrally 6cm from the top.

Insert magnetic snap

Follow steps as for main bag – Stitch the side seams and along the bottom. Ensure you leave a gap for turning out along the bottom seam (I forgot and had to unpick!). Box the corners.

Place the lining inside the denim outer bag so the right sides are together. Pin into place and then stitch along the top.

Insert lining, oin along top and then stitch

Turn through. Slip stitch the opening in the base seam of the lining.

Top stitch the top of the bag, this will secure the lining and main bag together and strengthen the opening of the bag.

Cut out leather straps measuring 79 cm by 2.5cm.

Cut leather straps

Place on the bag and hold in place with clover clips. Punch two holes per strap with a hole punch and secure the straps in place with cap rivets.

sashiko denim bag tutorial - leather bag handles secured with cap rivets

For a tutorial on using cap rivets visit U-Handbag here.


I LOVE my new bag, there is one for sale in my Etsy shop.



Try this crossbody sashiko bag too! Or how about this super cute sashiko coin purse, you easily make one to match your new tote.

Don’t forget to sign up to my resource library, through the newsletter. There are several free PDF bag patterns for you to enjoy.





This post is linked up here:

DIY Crush Craft Party


  1. Elizabeth
    September 18, 2016 / 5:30 pm

    GORGEOUS BAG Vicky xx

    • Vicky
      September 24, 2016 / 12:21 pm

      You should give it a go Pam, I really enjoyed the proves of stitching the running stitches, really relaxing::)

    September 19, 2016 / 7:47 am

    Great Bag Vicky. I love bags made of fabrics. I may use your idea instead of denim (I don’t have denim scraps), with other fabrics.

    • Vicky
      September 24, 2016 / 12:20 pm

      Ooh that sounds lovely too:)

  3. September 19, 2016 / 3:57 pm

    Love it! (You probably knew I would ) If I update my sashiko tutorial page, I’ll add this!

    • Vicky
      September 24, 2016 / 12:19 pm

      always happy for any promotion, Thanks Sara:)

  4. September 20, 2016 / 5:58 pm

    I just love Sashiko. I really have to make time during my day to practise.

    • Vicky
      September 24, 2016 / 12:21 pm

      I like the idea of stitching daily:) Something to aspire to:)

  5. September 23, 2016 / 5:18 pm

    So lovely as always Vicky!

    • Vicky
      September 24, 2016 / 12:21 pm

      Thanks Daniela:)

  6. September 24, 2016 / 9:50 am

    Just love this bag, and I have the scraps ready and waiting. I have just read through the instructions but I can’t see where you use the heavyweight interfacing. Do you sew it it to the back of the lining, or do you sew it to the back of the denim before the ‘soft & stable is stuck on?

    • Vicky
      September 24, 2016 / 12:18 pm

      Hi Joan, it goes on the bag lining. It’s hard to spot errors when typing up a tutorial, I will amend it now:) Vicky

  7. September 25, 2016 / 8:44 pm

    Hi there
    Just stopped by to let you know that I featured this on my Round Tuit post this week!
    Round Tuit
    Thanks again for linking up to A Round Tuit Hope you have a great week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  8. October 3, 2016 / 1:31 am

    Wow, this bag look lovely. The stitching must have taken a long time, but the outcome has made it worth it.
    I can Imagine doing sashimi on denim would be hard on the fingers.

  9. October 19, 2016 / 6:28 am

    This blog is really cool. I have bookmarked it. Do you allow
    guest post on your site ? I can provide high quality articles for you.
    Let me know.
    Tyrone recently posted…TyroneMy Profile

  10. mamoucou
    January 20, 2017 / 8:08 am

    bonjour Joan ,

    ton sac est superbe et j’adore la technique de recyclage
    ├ža fait partie de mes projets …bonne continuation

  11. Marilyn
    February 5, 2017 / 9:39 pm

    Amazing! I think I will combine this and your laptop bag. I had a chuckle when I saw your denim quilt as I made a huge bag of denim jean scrap top and some denim fabric bottom cedar bag for my big dog a few years ago but I would rather have made a quilt for us from the scraps. I lacked the confidence at that time for making a quilt. I got the laptop as a Christmas present from DH and was going to take it back as it’s really hard to carry around. THIS is the Perfect solution for me to keep it! DH will be pleased. I have just spent the last hour and a half perusing your wonderful site and I’m hooked. I found you on Hometalk with the tiny bathroom post. I live near the shore of a bay in the US and your Holy Rocks and sea-glass & shell display drew me in. I have old fishing net for valances with items picked up from the shore intertwined in them. Now, to bring that into the tiny bath… You’ve inspired me! Thank you for sharing and taking all the time to share your many creative ideas!

    • Vicky
      February 7, 2017 / 11:55 am

      So pleased you find the blog inspiring:) Enjoy making your bag, send me a pic, I would to see it when finished, Vicky

  12. March 24, 2017 / 3:48 am

    Thanks Vicky, interesting article.

  13. Jane Palik
    May 14, 2017 / 6:02 pm

    Thank you, Vicky, for the Denim Sashiko tutorial.
    I have enough denim for a small clutch or bag. Great idea.

    Using dark gold thread for the Sashiko embroidery on muslin fabric, I made a panel for a square pillow cover.
    So glad you found your place in the creative world AND that you share this with us.
    Easy to negotiate your website. I will be back soon,

    • Vicky
      May 18, 2017 / 7:32 am

      Hi Jane, I can visualize the gold thread, sounds lovely. Thanks for your kind words about the blog.

  14. Rita
    June 8, 2017 / 3:59 pm

    How are the denim pieces joined together?

    • Vicky
      June 8, 2017 / 9:14 pm

      Initially the denim pieces are held together with pieces. As the stitching overlaps each seam slightly this holds the denim together.

  15. Gill Baxter
    November 11, 2017 / 3:17 pm

    Hi can I ask what size Cap rivets you used? Love your bag, I am in the process of making one.

  16. popy
    July 5, 2018 / 7:26 pm

    Thank you for this generous sharing. This bag is magnificent and I begin it tomorrow.
    Please where I may find the pdf?
    I joined the newsletter to follow your magnificent work
    I like!!

    • Vicky
      July 5, 2018 / 8:33 pm

      The welcome emails should send you a link and password to the resource library – the PDF is downloadable from the resource library. I would love to see a picture of your finished bag, Vicky

  17. popy
    August 15, 2018 / 2:45 pm

    Hi Vicky,
    I soon ended second quoted of the bag I reread the tuto,
    but I Don’t see at which distance of the side sewings and at which distance down from the bag I have to position the handles of the bag
    Can you give me these indications?
    Thank you very much

    I shall send you a photo as soon as I ended

  18. Maryanne
    August 16, 2018 / 7:53 am

    Love love love your bag, I must make one too. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Joelle Prichard
    November 11, 2018 / 1:07 pm

    This is stunning! I have always admired this technique ­čÖé I do have denim scraps as well as fabric scraps, and I shall try it for myself. Thank you for a wonderful tutorial!

  20. Donna Cerny
    December 14, 2018 / 12:24 am

    Hello, Vicky~
    I’m a bag lover and interested in Sashiko so your bag really caught my eye. i’ve made many bags of different types in the past so the basic construction I understand. The only questions I have is when you’re constructing the front and back sides. Is there any base under them or are you stitching the pieces of denim just to the other pieces? It seems that could be awkward but would certainly make for fewer layers to stitch through.
    Thanks for all the good things you post,

    • Vicky
      December 14, 2018 / 6:07 am

      Hi Donna, the pieces of denim are overlapped and held with pins until stitched – I haven’t used a base layer – as you say this would add thickness to the process. Lovely to hear the bag caught your eye, Vicky

  21. Donna Cerny
    December 15, 2018 / 3:30 am

    Thanks, Vicky — that’s the answer I was hoping for. I put a boro style patch on my jeans and found stitching through 2 layers of denim, even though both were pretty threadbare, was hard on the hands. Now I just need to collect more denim and I’m going to give it a whirl!

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