Free bag pattern – Turning Japanese Bag

Free bag pattern. The handles make this bag really easy to make, but it looks fab! I want one!

Never sewn a bag before or just looking for a quick and easy project? The use of metal handles in this bag means there is no need for fiddly zippers or closures, but the bag still looks super cute and just like something you could have bought in a nice store.

Feedback to the site, comments on Facebook and emails I've received show that you all love to sew bags!  You asked for more quick and simple projects, more bags, more for new and beginner sewists and more projects that can be made with small pieces of fabric, or short periods of time.  I think this bag fulfills all of those.

My First Bag Series – In fact, I've decided that over the next 12 months I'll try to bring out several new bags that could all be sewn by beginners and would be perfect if you've never sewn a bag before.  They'll all be simple to sew, have simple patterns and each will come with instructions even a beginner can follow – it's the ‘My First Bag Series'.

Free bag pattern. The handles make this bag really easy to make, but it looks fab! I want one!

Sew the Turning Japanese Free Bag Pattern

  • Finished bag approx 11 inches tall by 10.5 inches wide

Firstly, download and print the pattern and read through the written instructions.  You will need the following materials

  • Outer fabric – 14 x 30 inches
  • Lining fabric – same
  • Metal handles
  • Matching thread
  • Interfacing/fusible fleece
Opt In Image
Download the Turning Japanese Bag Pattern

You can download the pattern and instructions for the Turning Japanese Bag from my design account at Payhip.  It's a PDF file containing both instructions and pattern all in the same file.  Enjoy!  Trouble downloading the pattern? Check out this article - How to Download and Print PDF Sewing Patterns.

You can also watch this tutorial video.  See how easy it is!

Subscribe to the YouTube channel:

You can do it !  You can sew a bag to be proud of and that others won't believe you made yourself.  Give it a try.  I'm always here to answer your questions if you read through the instructions and watch the video and are still stuck.

Free bag pattern. The handles make this bag really easy to make, but it looks fab! I want one!

And watch out in the future for simple variations you can add to this bag too.  Once you have the pattern and know how to sew it, making your own changes to the pattern isn't too difficult.  I'll show in a future tutorial how to add some piping and make it in two different fabrics. Even how to add a shoulder chain and some bag feet too so you can really Wow your friends!

Opt In Image
Download the Turning Japanese Bag Pattern

You can download the pattern and instructions for the Turning Japanese Bag from my design account at Payhip.  It's a PDF file containing both instructions and pattern all in the same file.  Enjoy!  Trouble downloading the pattern? Check out this article - How to Download and Print PDF Sewing Patterns.

  * * * * * *

Why the Turning Japanese Bag?  When I saw this lovely fabric (and the lining fabric) it reminded me of a popular song from the 80's – Turning Japanese…

Opt In Image
Want more free sewing patterns?
Join the So Sew Easy weekly newsletter

If you love to sew, or are learning to sew, and love free patterns, then you'll love being on the mailing list at So Sew Easy. Join me and never miss another fab free pattern or tutorial!  No spam promise.

Bookmark the permalink.

65 Responses to Free bag pattern – Turning Japanese Bag

  1. Heather Winslade says:

    Love this bag, Have made 3. Need to fathom out how to put a zip across. unless anyone can help.

  2. Grace Compton says:

    Wow this is so pretty!

  3. Mary Miller says:

    where do you find the oval ring for the handles?

  4. Robin says:

    Thank you, Deby! I have printed this pattern and plan to make it. And good to hear your voice again!!!

  5. Sherrill says:

    Hi. Nice to see Deby. Precious purse. The link to the fabric does not work. Do you mind checking this? Thanks. I always look forward to Sunday and your column.

  6. Pingback: Chinese New Year Sewing Projects & Patterns - So Sew Easy

  7. Pamela says:

    Thank you so much for the delightful pattern! I finished my purse today, and I’m so pleased with the results. I would not have been brave enough to attempt this style of handles without your tutorial.

  8. Ruth says:

    Hello, Thank you so much for this wonderful pattern. The video tutorial does not seem to be working at the moment. Any idea when it will be back up?


    • So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Ruth, thanks for letting me know. No idea what happened but that video was suddenly made “private” so no one could see it. I’ve now fixed. Sometimes these sorts of strange things happen on Youtube, unfortunately. Kind regards and happy sewing!

  9. The music video from The Vapors, is no longer available to Americans either here, or at YouTube. They pulled it due to copyright violations.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Sweet Sandals, have substituted the video for another version that appears to still be available.

  10. Emilia says:

    I cannot find the pattern to download… Can you help me? I would LOVE to make this clutch for my daughter; I know she will love it.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Emilia, there are two yellow boxes, one towards the top of the post and one towards the bottom. Inside the yellow boxes are buttons saying “Pattern download”. Please click there. Let me know if you’re still having issues. Kind regards and happy sewing!

      • Emilia says:

        Marya, when I clicked on “Pattern Download” I got to this page that has no pattern link: The other “clickable” link you have in the yellow boxes is to download PDF to your computer. I am not sure what I am doing wrong…

        • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

          Hi Emilia, how strange. That is indeed the correct link. Both yellow box buttons point to the same page on Craftsy. You do need to sign up to Craftsy to download the pattern. Perhaps that’s the issue? With Craftsy, you can store access to this and any other patterns you want to use as well as classes. Let me know how you go.

          • Emilia says:

            Yes, that was the problem! I just joined and was able to open the document. Sorry for all the trouble. (And thanks for sharing this lovely project.)

          • Emilia says:

            Marya, I downloaded the pattern and there is a discrepancy. There are two parts to this pattern: top and bottom. The top seems correct, but I cannot be sure, since there are no measurements to compare. When I tried to put the two together—bottom and top—the bottom was wider. Both have writings and I was able to compare them; the writing on the bottom part is larger. There is nothing about the size of the handles, co I couldn’t be sure if the top part of the pattern is really correct. The opening in the drawing I printed is 2 3/8” (outside, doted line); does this sound correct?

            The bottom measurement of the top pattern is 7 ½” wide. Yet the upper part of the bottom pattern (that attaches to the bottom of the top pattern) is almost 10”. So, they do not match. I wonder if the fact that the top pattern was saved as Portrait and the bottom as Landscape altered the size? Can you help me? If you need I can forward the PDF I downloaded. Thank you and so sorry for all the trouble.

          • Emilia says:

            OK, you’ll probably block me from posting here again… I just tried to print in a different printer and it worked… I think my printer was adjusted for something else and I didn’t realize. It seems the center “cut” of the bag is 13″ and the bottom 7″ at the widest and 5 1/2″ at the narrower. I am SO sorry for taking your time. Take care.

  11. Claire says:

    Hi Deby, where can you buy the material?

  12. Delscey says:

    Hi Debby I see you are talking about printing the pattern off -I know this is a stupid question but where do I find the actual pattern.I have downloaded the PDF file

    • The pattern is within the PDF file you downloaded. Instructions are first and then the pattern pieces are at the end. Please scroll right to the end to look for it. Let me know if you aren’t sure what to do.

  13. Joan Keetch says:

    I can’t figure out how to access the tutorial?????? Please help! Thank you

    • Click in the big orange box just above the video which says Pattern Download. Then add the free pattern to your account on Craftsy, no address/payment etc required. Then you can download the file from your pattern library to your computer at any time. You might find this article helpful too –
      If you are still stuck, please send me details in an email of where you can’t follow or what error you are getting

  14. Jackie says:

    Thanks so much for the the free pattern & video tutorial on the Japanese Bag. You make it look so easy. I love how you explain every detail. I am going to enjoy making this bag for friend.

  15. Nidia says:

    Thanks so much for this pattern and directions on the handles. This was my first time adding handles to anything and while I did start sweating putting them on, I enjoyed the finished product. ☺️

  16. Nidia says:

    I found your blog and love all the patterns! This is the first pattern of your I have tried and made this purse with an Elvis fabric but have yet to attach the handles. I have reviewed the YouTube video several times but I’m still confused on how to attach them. Where the screws go there should be no fabric covering the hole? It looks like it’s cut and pushed out of the way. Would like some clarification before I take that last step. Thanks!

    • Deby Coles says:

      Yes, I made a little snip where the screw holes are, and just pushed the fabric either side to give me room to screw without the fabric getting in the way. You could also cut a small notch, or if you have something suitable, just make a hole in the right place for the screw to go through the fabric and into the plate. It’s certainly tricky but be careful, snip a little at a time so you don’t cut too much and it’ll be a good finish in the end.

  17. Chris Young-Pour says:

    Wow! I love this bag! I waited until my handles finally came from Shanghai to try your Turning Japanese Bag. It was so easy to make and your instructions were great. I am going to make several more to wear with different outfits. Thanks for sharing your talent!

    Chris from St Louis, Missouri, USA

  18. a. turner says:

    if the bag measures 11 x 10.5 why do I need a 14 X 30 fabric ?

    • Deby Coles says:

      Because the bag has two sides, plus a bottom and dimension so you need to cut your pattern piece twice including seam allowances. If you only had a piece of fabric 11 x 10.5 then it would only make half the bag.

  19. Victoria says:

    I must have heard that sond a hundred times and sung it a few….. but I’ve never seen the video. THANKS>

    Also, really great bag, where do I get the hardware?

    • Deby Coles says:

      Hi Victoria – under the materials section in the blog post, the oval bag handles are a link through to the store where you can buy them. You can get them in gold or silver and the Etsy seller sends worldwide – shipping is very reasonable. Also in the pattern download, there is a link through to the store as well. Take a look at 3d Hardware – excellent range of bag hardware.

  20. Pat says:

    Thank you so much for the pattern and the video! You did a terrific job with the instructions. I too have seen many tutorials that do not give complete instructions, and it just leaves you stuck, with no way to know how to complete a particular section. The material you used really caught my attention, but the simplicity of your design is wonderful!

  21. Aless says:

    Thanks for this wonderful pattern,Deby. I have quite a few fabrics in the “bag stash” (as opposed to the clothes stash!! 🙂 ) that are calling out for a bag just like this to showcase them to their best. So glad I found this one.

  22. Donna Baker says:

    this is a super fun bag!!! love the print too – visiting from Threading My Way and would love a visit back!

  23. Mrs Susanne Mcvay says:

    I am a machine embroidery person, but want to make this bag with embroidery on the front. for my niece with frozen on. I have tried to buy the metal handles, but no one seams to supply them. can you use the plastic rings and how would I do this if so? Your Susanne Mcvay

    • Deby Coles says:

      Hi Susanne. If you click the links in the article or in the pattern download, it takes you to an online Etsy store where you can buy these exact handles in gold or silver – the seller sends them worldwide. You could try using a bias tape to bind the edges, but with a small tight inside curve like this, it is hard to get a nice smooth finish. Otherwise you could see what other large grommets you could find locally, you might be lucky. Or how about leave off the handles and add a shoulder strap instead?

  24. is the bag double face?? because the fabric inside is so amazing as the outside fabric 🙂 I loved it!

    • Deby Coles says:

      In theory the bag could be completely reversible, however the handles are not so the wrong side would show. If you finished the handles edges with a bias tape, then Yes, I think you could use the bag either way. Neat idea.

  25. I’ve featured your fab bag today, Deby…

  26. What a gorgeous little bag, Deby!!! The fabric just makes it and I do like the handle. Great job!!!

  27. Januk says:

    Thank you so much for this lovely pattern

  28. Julie says:

    What beauty Deby! Love that fabric too. Thanks again, another great pattern.

    • Deby Coles says:

      The fabric is great isn’t it! I love that oriental scene and this plain bag was perfect to showcase that print. It’s only from JoAnn so it wasn’t expensive, but it has nice gold accents too. I’ve got so many compliments when I take this bag out, and so many people wanting to place orders. But I really am only interested in sewing for me – isn’t that terrible!

  29. Risa says:

    This is a really cute bag! I cannot sew but I’d love to learn more.

  30. Linda King says:

    I’ve always wanted to make a bag, you have made it look so simple, but I didn’t see the size of the handles, I am guessing 3.5″, is this correct, they also look oval. Please let me know so I can order them.
    Linda King

    • Deby Coles says:

      Yes, I used the 3.5 inch oval handles. Looks like they are presently sold out in the gold, but still in stock in the silver. I’m sure they’ll be back in stock soon if you can wait – looks like they suddenly had a bit of a rush because of the pattern.

  31. This bag is sooo cute! I’m not a great sewer but I might tackle this one anyway:)

  32. Linda says:

    I like your little bag. I do have a question. What are the finished measurements and when you do a PDF are the seam allowances included in them or do you have to add them around the pattern???

    • Deby Coles says:

      Oops I forgot to include this – Finished bag approx 11 inches tall by 10.5 inches wide. Yes the seam allowances are already included in all my patterns so you can print, cut and sew.

  33. Carmen says:

    Thank you so much! I love that you can use a scenery type of fabric for this bag and have it look so nice! 🙂

  34. Michelle says:


    I’ve been following your blog for some months now and I just want to say thank you for all of the great free tutorials you’ve provided. I’m a beginner sewer and it gets frustrating sometimes to spend so much money on tutorials that don’t teach me what I need to know. It can get discouraging. However, I found your blog and can’t say enough how much I enjoy all of the informative tidbits you share. I’ll be following you for some time. Thank You!

    • Deby Coles says:

      I understand your frustration Michelle. I have a lot of feedback both ways. Some people want a pattern to be just a pattern, with directions for what to do in what order to complete the project and not too much other blah-blah chatter. Other people want the pattern to be a full tutorial also which includes details on how to sew as well. So for examples if I was offering a dress pattern with an invisible zipper, 50% of people would be happiest if I just said, ‘insert invisible zipper to center back’, and 50% would want the pattern to include full details on how to sew an invisible zipper. Its tough to make both sides happy! But in this case its designed to be a beginner pattern so I do include full instructions.

  35. Janet Evans says:

    Deby, what an excellent job you did on this tutorial. I have been sewing for 55 years and I’ve done a little bit of everything during that time. I love to explore the web and review tutorials for any new tips or techniques, as the sewing world is always evolving and new materials and tools are constantly being created. One of my pet peeves is tutorials that are unclear or not basic enough for a beginner. I can see that you understand that not everyone knows what you know, Your instructions are clear and concise, without a lot of unnecessary chatter, Congratulations on a job well done, and also on being selected to sell your patterns on Indiesew. I do intend to make this bag this week and to follow along with your bag tutorials as the evolve. Thank you for the time and effort you have put forth to train the next generation of sewers. Also, in reference to your fear of quilting, you use the same sewing skills you use now. I found the major difference between garment sewing and quilting is the way we look at fabric.. Accurate cutting and stitching is necessary for all types of sewing. But in quilting, we combine fabrics in a much different way than we do in garments, If you ever decide to give it a try, you will do well.

    • Deby Coles says:

      Thanks so much for your words of encouragement on the quilting. And for the kind comments about the tutorial. I’m still new enough to sewing that I remember the complete confusion from when I was first starting out. I think many projects are achievable by people new to sewing, so long as there is sufficient explanation and small steps to accomplish along the way.

  36. cdahlgren2013 says:

    I’m super excited about this topic. I would love to make a couple of purses, but the patterns out there are just too scary. This is just what I need to get better at sewing and gain confidence in my purse making skills. I don’t know why I’m so scared of sewing patterns like this, I have no problem trying all kinds of difficult things when quilting, I don’t fear failure. CDahlgren at live dot com

    • Deby Coles says:

      Good gracious, we have something in common – but opposite. Quilting scares me! So much accuracy required, I’m not sure my sewing skills are good enough, or that I have the patience. If you can make a good quilt, I know you can do this! Do you have any examples of the sort of thing you’d like to tackle? I’m always willing to try to do requests where I can, make something that you are looking for, and a tutorial video if that would help. I’m always looking for inspiration, so send me some links to look at if you like.

  37. The Pattern Tester says:

    LOL! at the video. That’s a really cute bag, Deby.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *