How to make a Sashiko Denim Tote Bag

September 18, 2016

Learn how to make your own sashiko denim tote bag using odds and ends of denim left from previous projects, plus the odd decorative fabric scrap.

This denim tote bag making is all about fun, playing with fabric and appreciating slow stitching, slow making – it is about the process as much as about the end result. It has to be, the amount of time it takes!!

I love working with denim, it is so versatile, readily available – just ask friends for their old worn out jeans. I often have donations of jeans but otherwise, you can easily find them at thrift stores, yard sale, or if you are in the UK like me ask for some from your local charity shops rag bag or visit a car boot sale.


If you love bag patterns check out all my free bag patterns and tutorials. 

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Are looking for further ideas for what to do with your old jeans? Check out my 25+ craft ideas for old jeans

Sashiko Denim Tote Bag


  • Variety of denim
    Embroidery Thread
    Cotton Scraps
    Cotton fabric for lining
    Annies Soft and Stable, two pieces 42 by 46 cm
    Heavyweight Interfacing, two pieces 42 by 46 cm
    Leather hole punch
    Double cap rivets

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. Hold in place with pins.

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

Repeat for the second side of the bag. Be confident, you can change your mind about thread colour choice or direction of stitching.

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. Trim your denim pieces to the edges of Annies Soft and Stable.

Place the two sides right sides together. Stitch around 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.

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.

Trim the seam allowance. This is the main body of the bag complete.

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.

Pin centrally on your lining approximately 7-8 cm down from the top of the bag, then stitch.

Insert a magnetic snap, centrally from the top.


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.

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.

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. Find a detailed tutorial for inerting cap rivets here.


I hope you love your bag as I much as I love mine!


If you fancy a smaller Sashiko project check out my zip cosmetic bag. If you would like hints and tips for persuading your sewing machine to sew through denim and Annies Soft and Stable I have produced a handy cheat sheet. Both can be found on my resource page, available to newsletter subscribers.











3 comments so far.

3 responses to “How to make a Sashiko Denim Tote Bag”

  1. Linda says:

    Thank you for your very clear instructions, I’m off to experiment. A couple of years ago I lost 70lbs but couldn’t part with some of my clothes (loved the fabric) now I know how I’m going to repurpose them. Guess what my friends & family are having for Christmas.

    • Vicky says:

      Have lots of fun repurposing, personally repurposing allows me to be more creative, as I am not chopping up expensive fabric.

  2. Evelyn says:

    what a beautiful piece of art! I love it!

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A passion for sewing, upcycling and caring for the environment - the perfect excuse to haunt charity shops for bargains!

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