How to Make a Zippered Boxy Bag, Great Gift for Women or Men!

I have made quite a few of these in the past for my Etsy shop, so I thought I would share some of my tips for making this Zippered Boxy Bag with Cork, Vinyl and Cotton Fabric.

This is a bag that can be used for so many different applications. My husband uses it for his GoPro equipment, I have used it as a cosmetic bag and a craft bag. My Dad uses it as a travel bag. It can be made in several different sizes, but the construction is exactly the same for each size.

I will demonstrate how to make this with Cork, but if you make it with Vinyl the construction exactly the same way. Cork and Vinyl don’t need to have interfacing to help with the structure of the bag either, they are stiff enough to give the bag the structure it needs. If you make this with Cotton fabric, Fleece interfacing will help give this a little more structure, but will also be a little more flexible.

I have three different sizes in my Zippered Boxy Bag Dimensions file, you can download that file in the Library Access Page below to be ready for putting this together. We have other great patterns available for free that you can get access to!

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    Let’s get started making the Bag!

    Assemble your Fabric and Notions.

    First thing to do is to choose what size you are going to want to make and choose your fabrics. In my example, I have chosen some Cork fabric from Sallie Tomato and the lining is Cotton fabric (Wilderberry from the Ghastlie Line at Alexander Henry).

    Keep in mind if you use a cotton exterior to use a fleece interfacing for the exterior fabric. I am using Castine SewFuse interfacing for my lining fabrics which is similar to Pellon SF101 interfacing. SewFuse interfacing doesn’t need steam to adhere to the fabric like the Pellon interfacing and it comes in a 44″ width rather than a 20″ width.

    You have your choice of zipper also, I am using Zipper tape, but you can use a zipper that is ready to go, just make sure that it is at least 2 inches longer than your bag.

    I have also appliqued some cork onto my bag which is optional. If you would like to see how I cut the cork applique on my Cricut you can watch that video here –

    Here is the list of items I used to put this bag together:

    Cut your fabrics per the Pattern that we have in our Resource Library. To get all the dimensions follow this link:

    Below is all my materials assembled for the Medium Zippered Boxy Bag.

    Materials for the Zippered Boxy Bag

    Optional Applique Step

    At this point if you choose to applique onto your bag this is when you want to do it. Lay out your outer pieces and find the center of the piece, this is where you want to put your applique. Remember that this will be boxed, so the center will be boxed in and you will need to figure out how big an applique will fit.

    Tips for appliqueing cork.

    I cut the cork appliques on my Cricut Maker (blog post on how to do this here – How to Cut Cork Fabric on a Cricut Maker), and I then sprayed the back of the applique with Quilt Basting spray to make it sticky and stay in place a the machine. For machine applique, I used a 100/16 needle because of the thickness of these materials. I used a Rayon Topstitch thread for the applique in my Top thread and bobbin thread.

    Sew Exterior and Lining Pieces to the Zipper

    At the bottom of this post I have put up a video tutorial of assembling this bag, or you can find it on YouTube.

    First thing you will do is lay one of your exterior pieces face up and then lay your zipper face down along the top long edge of the exterior piece. Clip the zipper to the exterior piece.

    Now take one of your lining pieces and place it face down so that the right side of your lining is on the wrong side of the zipper. Line up the lining edges with the exterior edges and clip at the top with the clips that are already in place.

    Assemble the Exterior Zipper and Lining Piece

    Next up before we go to the machine is to mark on the Lining 1/2″ in from each side of the zipper. These marks will be where we start and stop sewing. We are doing this so that we can sew the lining on without having and exposed edges on the interior of the bag.

    We will now take this over the our machine and sew this sandwich together. This is where we will use our Superior Threads Sew Fine Thread, 100/16 needle because we are using cork and a zipper foot. We will sew a 1/4″ seam starting with the mark we made, backstitch, and stop and backstitch at the other mark.

    Once you have this sew on then turn your fabrics with right sides up and finger press against the zipper. You cannot iron cork or vinyl so you will need to finger press. If you use all cotton fabrics, then you can iron your seams flat.

    The next thing we do is to add the other exterior and lining to the other side of the zipper exactly the same way we did the first side. Line up the fabrics with the fabrics that are already sewn on and mark the 1/2″ marks on the lining on this side also. Sew in place just like we did the first pieces. Turn the fabrics right side up and finger press in place.

    You are now ready to topstitch your fabrics down next to the zipper. Load your machine with your topstitch thread and in my case it is the Guterman Tera 40 Topstitch Thread. You can leave the 100/16 needle in for this also. Set your stitch width to 3.5 for a more professional look. I am also using my Walking Foot so that it doesn’t stick to the cork and it will give a much more even stitch.

    Now we will fold over the cork where the stitching ends and a small mark that you won’t see when it’s done, but that you can see to topstitch. We will topstitch between this marks on each side of the zipper.

    Make the Handle

    Since we have our topstitch thread in we are going to make the handle at this time.

    Take your handle piece and fold it in half with long sides together and press with wrong sides together. Now unfold it and fold the long edges into the fold mark we just made. Fold these in half and press.

    We can now topstitch this handle at 1/8″ or 1/4″ from the edge, whichever one you prefer using the 3.5 stitch length.

    Our handle is now ready for when we need it when we box in the bag.

    At this point if you have a pull tab, you can topstitch the pull tab also. The pull tab can be cut from the cork 1″ x 3″ and just fold in half and topstitch.

    Sew the Bag Together!

    The bag is now going to get sewn together!

    Put your exterior pieces right sides together and pin along the bottom only. Do the same thing for the lining pieces, but mark a 4 to 5 inch opening on the lining. We will only sew from the ends to the marks on the lining and leave the middle open to turn the bag at the end.

    We will now switch back to the Superior Threads Sew Fine thread for construction and keep in the 100/16 needle in place. At this time you can keep your walking foot on or switch over to the standard foot. I have switched to the standard foot. When we are working on the back side of the cork, it is like moving over fabric.

    Now stitch along the exterior piece where it is clipped at a 1/2″ seam and then stitch from the ends to the marks on the lining at a 1/2″ seam leaving an opening in the middle to turn the bag.

    Do not iron the cork seam open, just finger press open. The lining pieces can have the seam ironed open, which will give good crease for sewing the opening shut at the end.

    Sew side seams!

    Now is a good time to open your zipper about 3/4 of the way open inside the bag. If you are putting a pull tab on, you will want to baste that on.

    Put the pull tab on the end of the bag with the end of the zipper and base in place on the exterior fabric only, do not sew the lining with it.

    pull tab placement

    The exterior and lining pieces now need to be sewn on the edges.

    Line up the bottom seam with the center of the zipper and pin the exterior pieces in place, but do not pin the lining with it.

    Exterior pieces pinned with the lining pulled out of the way.

    Repeat for the other exterior side. So we have both exterior sides pinned in place ready to sew.

    At this point I have switched back to my zipper foot because I will be able to sew a 1/2″ seam and get as close to the lining without catching the lining in the sewn seam. While you are sewing your seam, you will need to hold the lining out of the way and only sew the exterior pieces. Also, double stitch over the zipper to help keep it in place.

    Hold lining away while sewing seam
    Double stitch over the zipper.

    We will now do the same thing with the lining pieces. Pin in place with the bottom seam lined up with the center of the zipper.

    To sew this on we will still use the zipper foot to get as close to the other seam as we can. You will need to hold the cork seam you just sewed out of the way and sew OVER the zipper so that it is attached to the lining and we don’t have any raw edges on the inside of the bag when it is complete.

    Let’s Box this bag in!

    Now is the time will will box the bag in.

    First – cut the extra length on your zippers so that it is even with the side material. Use old scissors for this, not your good fabric scissors.

    cut zippers to side seams

    With your bag laid out with the lining side up, we will draw our boxes on according to the box size for the size of the bag we are making. We will use the seam and the fold to measure the box side. Mark all four boxes on the lining side of the bag, and then cut through both the lining and exterior at the box marks.

    At this point we will add our handle. Add your handle to the side of the bag where the zipper pull will be when it is closed. We will pinch our exterior fabric box marks together and add our handle centered with the seam as shown below.

    After the handle is pinned and center, continue pinning this side of the exterior box shut. Next go to the other side and pin the other side of the handle exactly the same way on the other side.

    Opposite side handle pinned in place

    This is what your bag will look like when it is ready to sew. We will sew and 1/4″ to 3/8″ seam on our boxes. This is up to you which seam allowance you want to use. Below is what your bag will look like when it is ready to sew.

    Don’t forget to switch back from your zipper foot to your standard foot or walking foot.

    Once your the boxes with your handles are sewn, continue sewing up all the box cuts the same way. You will have 8 box cuts to sew in all. Once all your box cuts are sewn together, this is what it looks like. It starts to get a little tight when sewing all these together!

    Birth your Boxy Bag!

    We will now turn our bag out through the lining hole we made earlier. Carefully start pulling your bag through the hole until you have it all turned. You can now use your finger to push the boxed points out on the exterior fabric.

    Now we will sew shut the hole in the lining that we had to pull the bag through. Pin it in place and it should be creased from ironing the seam open. Sew an 1/8″ seam along the end of the opening. Once it is sewn, push the lining back inside the bag and push the box points open on the inside.

    Your Bag is Now Done!

    Sit back and admire your hard work putting this very versatile yet beautiful bag together! As I mentioned, the exterior can be made with Cork like I showed you above or with Vinyl. Both fabrics are constructed the same way.

    I would love to see what fabrics you use for your bag and I would love for you to leave pictures on our Facebook Page .

    If you would like to watch the video of where I put together the bag, please see below.

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    Zippered Boxy Bag Tutorial

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