Bucket Bag Pattern for Fabric or Leather: Part One

bucket bag pattern

This bucket bag pattern is the ideal project for those of you who would like to experiment with different materials.  A couple of weeks ago I showed you a round bag made with cord.  This time I am using upholstery fabric which is a very short pile velour to see how hard it is to work with to make bags.  I think it came out pretty well!

The bucket bag can be carried as a cross body, or as a pail (which means by hand).  Bear in mind, the definition of bucket applies here and if you want to carry the bag on one shoulder, then perhaps you need to make the straps a little longer.

bucket bag pattern

This type of bag is not new at all.  It first came to fashion in the 1900's, from a pouch with a string and a hardened bottom.  However, this bag style is still largely accredited to Coach, who first launched a collection of bucket bags in 1963.  These bags became popular because of the easy-going nature of the bag.  You can just throw things in and go. By 1967 all the major accessory houses had versions of the bucket bag.

bucket bag pattern

What made me think of this bag? Well, I was watching the Bucket List with Morgan Freeman, my favorite actor.  The first time I made a bucket list, I was seven years old, then again at nine, and 15, 19, 21, well, you get the picture.  I have plenty of lists, but no bucket.  So here is mine!

As you make it, just keep in mind, that as I predicted when I was designing the bag, the combination of velour and the lining made it a little difficult to sew.  Using lots of clips (many) or pins (even more) is highly recommended.  The dimensions of the bag are 15 inches wide and 11 inches tall.  There are seven pockets inside.  We will finish the last pocket in the second and final part of this tutorial next week.

bucket bag pattern


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Pattern Download

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Download the Free Pattern

You can download the pattern for this Bucket Bag from our account at Payhip.

For help downloading and printing PDF patterns, please CLICK HERE.

Layout for the bucket bag pattern

Bucket bag patternHow to use and cut your bucket bag pattern:

Print the pattern using Adobe Reader.  This is the only program you need to download and print the pattern.

Print using Actual Size and Landscape Mode.  There are additional instructions for printing on the pattern.

Cut the fabric on a straight grain.  The following instructions are for making a bag in fabric. For leather, the instructions differ a little and will not be covered in this tutorial.  Seam allowances vary.  Please check the tutorial below.

This project is for intermediate sewers that have experience with sewing zippers, applying bias tape, sewing curves and who have made handbags and handled thick fabric before. 

Step One: Fusing the lining

Apply the fusible interfacing to the lining and to the outside fabric.  The type of interfacing you need is one that is not so stiff.  This is a soft bucket bag and it is not meant to be a rigid design.  Check your pattern and you will see the interfacing is 2″ shorter than the outside of the bag.  This is to avoid making the rim too thick when you fold the top in and when you apply the grommets.

Step Two: Making the pockets

I am using one side of the pocket in the fashion fabric and the other side in the lining fabric. bucket bag patternYou can use both lining or both fashion fabric depending on the thickness of the fabric and the capabilities of your sewing machine.

Place the lining and the fabric right sides together. bucket bag patternSew the bottom which is one of the long edges at 3/8″ and iron the seam allowance open.
bucket bag pattern

Repeat the above steps with the other pocket.

Bring these two pockets right sides together and sew at 5/8″ along the narrow edge making a long rectangle.  bucket bag patternbucket bag pattern Iron all the seams open.  You will have the lining on one side and the fashion fabric on the other.bucket bag patternbucket bag pattern

Apply bias tape to the raw side of the pockets.  Starting on the right side of the fabric, place the right side of the tape and sew on the crease.  At this point, you need to change the thread to match the bias tape.bucket bag pattern Trim the fashion fabric 1/8″ being careful not to cut the bias tape. Fold the tape over to the lining side and topstitch very close to the edge on the right side of the fashion fabric.bucket bag pattern

bucket bag pattern

bucket bag pattern

Step Three: Sewing the lining, lining the pockets and bottom

Place the right sides of the lining together and sew at 5/8″ only one side.  Iron the seams open.  (No pictures of this step.)

Place the lining right side up, and pin the pockets following the pattern.  This will be 1/2″ from the bottom. bucket bag patternAlign the seam of the pocket with the seam of the lining and sew the pocket down to the lining. bucket bag pattern

Make two stitching lines from the top of each side of pockets, five inches apart from each other to make three pockets.  You will be sewing four lines total and this will divide the pockets into a total of six.

Sew the bottom of the pockets 1/8″ from the edge making sure the bottom of the pockets is at 1/2″ from the bottom of the lining.bucket bag pattern

At this point, you can add an internal pocket with a zipper if you like.  This is optional.  Here's how:

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Step Four: Sewing the bottom

These instructions apply to both the lining and the outside of the bag.  They are basically copies of each other that we will fit together in Part Two of this tutorial.

Pin the bottom of the bag on both sides seams first, then pin from the side where you topstitched the pocket to the lining in Step Three and work your way to the other side.

Work from the seam to right and then again from the seam to the left.  Sew at 1/4″ first. Then sew at 3/8″.  Use your zipper foot to be able to navigate better around the rounded corners. Trim the seam allowance to reduce the bulk. bucket bag patternTopstitch on the side to keep the seam allowance open.  Trim the upholstery fabric to reduce the bulk.bucket bag pattern

Step Five: Sewing the outside

Place the ride sides together and sew at 5/8″.bucket bag pattern

Apply the bias tape to the top as you did with the pocket in the lining.

Attach the bottom to the bucket.  Pin at the seam first then work your way to the right and to the left as you did when attaching the bottom to the lining.  bucket bag patternbucket bag patternSew at 3/8″ then reduce the seam allowance to 1/4″ and turn the bag right side out. bucket bag patternApply the bias tape to the top as you did with the pocket in the lining.

bucket bag pattern


Next week I will show you how to join the lining and the outside, add the pockets to the bag and make the zipper pouch.  I'll also give you some pointers on how to make a leather version of the bag.

Until Next time!

Proceed to Part Two HERE

bucket bag pattern

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59 Responses to Bucket Bag Pattern for Fabric or Leather: Part One

  1. Wilma Barousse says:

    Thanks for the Bucket Bag Pattern. I must have the old version because the pocket pattern does not show how many to cut & I am not able to read what is written on it. Please me know clear instructions. Thank you!

    • Mayra Cecilia says:

      You could read the ones above. It took me more than three days to write them. They are quiet detailed but if they are not do let me know please.

  2. Dianne Rooney says:

    Do you have instructions for the leather version, please? Good pattern. I would like to try in leather.

  3. Jane Matthews says:

    I love this bag. Been wanting to make bags for so long, and the instructions look really clear. With regard to fabric choice, I’m in the UK, and your recommendations are US only. I can really tell from the Amazon listings what type of fabric they are. Are they waterproof canvas?

    • Mayra Cecilia says:

      Amazon sells everywhere, there is a UK site where you can buy from companies within your country. you can use canvas, oilcloth, upholstery fabric such as the one I used, faux leather, leather or vinyl.

  4. Palma says:

    I am so happy with this free pattern because now I can make the one of the picture I saved long time ago. This one is without grommets so I have to change the pattern. Thank you!!! 🙂

    • So Sew Easy says:

      This looks fantastic! Thanks so much for sharing the pic. Glad it worked well without the grommets. Would make the project simpler especially if someone doesn’t have a grommet machine.

    • Ruth riches says:

      Nice work and easy to follow tutorial. Thanks

  5. Kathy says:

    I would like to make this bag in leather….you mentioned the tutorial is not for leather. Can you tell me what needs to change to make a leather bag?

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Depends on the type of leather and if you are going to lined it or not. Just cut a facing whre the grommets are to you can attach a lining. It will be a very beautiful bag.

  6. Debra De Shazor says:

    I love the pattern. Where can I find the fabric. Been looking in the US can’t find it. Been looking all day.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Debra, I bought the fabric in a store called Spotlight.com.au in Australia, not sure if they still have it, all I know is made in India, I did put somewhere the name of the fabric. and it isment to be used in upholstery. Hope that helps.

      • Debra De Shazor says:

        Thank you. I found it in four colors. It says 145cm I think that is 57″ & not sure how many yards?

        Can’t wait to try it out!!!

      • Debra De Shazor says:

        Hi Debra,

        Thank you for your email. We appreciate the time you have taken to contact us.
        Further to your email, please be advised that Spotlight is unable to ship internationally at this time, however orders can be placed from overseas for delivery to an Australian address.

        I trust this information has been of assistance to you. Should you require further assistance please do not hesitate to contact Spotlight’s Customer Care team via email at service@spotlight.com.au or telephone on 1300 305 405.
        Kind regards,
        Sam Rasau
        Spotlight Pty Ltd
        Level 6, 111 Cecil Street, South Melbourne, VIC, 3205
        Australia: 1300 305 405 Web: http://www.spotlight.com.au
        Hello. Is there any way to send you the money to purchase it and send it to me in the US?

  7. Lisa Miller-Mecham says:

    Wow! This tutorial is awesome. I love how detailed your instructions are and the pdf pattern! Thank you so much for going through so much effort to make this! I’m so excited to try this out.

  8. Beginner says:

    I’m just doing a read through at the moment. Can you please confirm step 5 – is the bias tape added at the start or at the end of this step (and does it really make a difference?) The instruction appears in both places, but I suspect it’s just an extra cut and paste

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      The bias tape is there to join the lining layer and Peltex layer together, without it you will have a raw edge which will make your lining ravel and look unfinished.

  9. Sebestyen Maria says:

    The free download link doesn’t work for me 🙁

  10. Marilyn Krzus says:

    I’m almost done with this wonderful bag–having a lot of fun making it. It really is pretty! But I do have a question about putting it together. I’m finished with Step Six of Part II, where one adds snaps. But I don’t see any instruction on sewing down the folded-in, bias bound top of the bag. Am I missing something? Somehow you must need to sew in the zippered pocket, which I made, and then sew down the folded down bag top. But when? There’s a photo in Step Six where the top of the bag has clips holding the top folded edge in, then the zippered pocket gets pinned in underneath the folded section…the next photo no longer shows the top with the clips on it. The instructions DO say to sew the zippered pocket in, but they never tell you to sew the entire folded edge down. Thank you. Marilyn

  11. Leslie Dorfman says:

    Thanks for a terrific pattern. While going through the instructions I saw the line where you state that “seam allowances vary”. Am I correct in saying that all the pattern pieces include the seam allowance?
    Thank you.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Yes, Leslie, they are included. I normally do not add seam allowances to patterns that need to be altered to your own measurements such as tops, dresses, and pants.

  12. MDC says:

    Thank you for providing your pattern and thorough tutorial free of charge! Your efforts are clearly unappreciated by some readers-unfortunate that they did not read what was clearly stated about how to print the pattern and when part 2 of the tutorial would be published! You did a beautiful job and I do appreciate all your efforts and generosity!

  13. Darcie Pemberton says:

    I want that bird fabric…. the exact one in your sample. Where do I get it &/or who is the manufacturer? Thanks.

  14. Happy says:

    Instructions are not completely clear as expected. Some details are not clear. Had to figure out myself. Overall nice.

  15. Chris R says:

    What is a kam tool? Does that have to do with the grommets? The ones you have linked need a setting tool and I could not find one for a 17mm grommet. Would a 1/2 inch grommet do as well?

  16. Susan says:

    Love your site! I look forward to your emails. Keep them coming and your project ideas.

  17. Diana says:

    Love your projects but can’t download patterns because you have ads on them and my firewall blocks them

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      HI, Diana, I do have ads on the site, that is how I can make the patterns free. The ads do not interfere with the pattern download.

  18. gloria laiklam says:

    i will let you know when i finish it

  19. Annette Secoy says:

    Love this pattern! Is my que til I find the perfect material! Thank you for publishing!

  20. preston fouts-paul says:

    how do i get to part two?


    preston paul

  21. Sharon says:

    So pretty! Thank you for sharing the tut and pattern!

  22. Donatella says:

    I love the fabric as well, and I definitely have to sew this kind of bag, it would be a perfect birthday present for my sister.
    thank you!

  23. Patricia Barrilleaux says:

    This is a great pattern. Your tutorial is very well thought out. I will be making this bag soon.

  24. Ethel says:

    Love to try this bag pattern

  25. Ana says:

    How can I find part 2?

  26. Barb says:

    What a lovely bag. Could you let us know who manufactured the fabric? I am a huge fan of everything Asian (especially koi) and would love to duplicate the bucket in this fabric.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Barb, I will put t a link to the store I got it from and the name of the fabric very soon. Check back in a few hours. Thanks!

  27. Roary says:

    This is just gorgeous and I love, love, love the fabric. Thank you for sharing this!

  28. Linda says:

    I love that fabric.. I hope I can find something similar.

  29. justanthropology says:

    Beautiful – Although, not having the full pattern is a little frustrating. I’ll just have to figure it out on my own which won’t be the first time.

  30. Marilyn Krzus says:

    I love it! I am not crazy about bucket bags (we used them in college a good 45 years ago) because of the open (more or less) top, but I never thought of using home dec fabric! You make it sound very easy, so I am going to give it a try. Your explanations are thorough–I need that. ?

  31. Nancy Corbin says:

    Absolutely love it, I am a collector of bags.

  32. Yvette Lawrence says:

    OMG! What perfect timing for this bag pattern! The bucket bag with the draw string was my favorite bag when I was a teenager in the late 1960s. I am going on a cruise next month and this will be perfect. Thank you so much for providing my most favorite of all handbag patterns.

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