Turning Japanese Bag – some variations

Japanese BagHave you tried the Turning Japanese Bag pattern yet? You should give it a try – it's really easy! Part of the ‘My First Bag series' it's a single pattern piece, no fancy zippers or closures, the handles are ready-made and it's perfect to showcase a really nice fabric or a large scale print.

Free bag pattern – Turning Japanese Bag

However, just because it's simple, there's no need to stop there. A simple pattern is often an ideal base to start from if you want to add a few additions of your own.

Japanese Bag

In this example:

  • I add a hard bottom and some shiny bag feet
  • It has a couple of small d-rings on the side where you can add a removable shoulder chain
  • I split the pattern to use two different fabrics instead of just one. You can split it in any direction, sew a curved seam, diagonal, or even patchwork.
  • I add a simple slip pocket
  • I also (very badly) add on the bias trim handles instead of the ready-made grommet handles.

Here is the original bag.

Japanese Bag

You can watch me make a few simple changes to the pattern and hardware to create something a little different.

Links you'll need:

Japanese Bag

Making changes and additions to the Turning Japanese Bag pattern


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So, to summarize, make a better job than me with the bias tape handles or treat yourself and create a much better bag with the metal ones!  (I'll be getting myself another set of those handles and replacing my terrible sewn ones!  Ashamed…)  Otherwise, the additions of the bag feet and the strap are really nice, and I'll use this version of the bag a lot. I like having a light shoulder strap so I can keep my hands free while shopping and then just slip the chain back inside when I'm not using it.  More versatile than a heavier weight long strap I think.

Japanese Bag

Having the option to change up the look with the different fabrics is an easy way to change the pattern and I think I might make another with a diagonal fabric change, perhaps in a really bold combination, or even with faux leather!  If you know me, don't look – you'll probably be getting one of these bags for Christmas!

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9 Responses to Turning Japanese Bag – some variations

  1. etaoinnalochgara says:

    Very cute bag–and, the secret with bias tape is to preshape it with your iron. I’ve done some crazy bias stuff over the years, and easing the side that needs to be smaller and stretching the side to be larger makes a big difference. I think I will do a bag with the metal handles…too hot here for that much iron work!

  2. Marie says:

    Love these open-handle bags – and I’ve made a dozen of them. I use them like a briefcase but have a separate one for each of my many projects and businesses. One thing I do is sew around the open handle opening with the outer and lining right sides together, then pull through and I have a beautiful finished handle without bias tape or a metal handle. I sew the outer and lining sides and bottom with right sides together and pull through the top. Then I finish the top with bias tape. I’d share pics if I knew how.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      wow! never thought about that, what a great idea. Thanks for sharing, if you have Instagram could you do a #soseweasy so I can see. You will have a new follower.

  3. Marilyn Monroiog says:

    Beautiful! Thank you for the pattern, and the videos.

  4. Jenne says:

    Beautiful bag. I was also looking at that bias. Really have problem with curves.

    • Me too. I’m afraid of it, that’s the problem, I lack confidence so I’m never sure if I should be leaving it loose, pulling it fairly taught, somewhere in between or what? I think I need more practice on projects that don’t really matter. Maybe I’ll try some round potholders for a bit of practice and it won’t matter if they are perfect. But inside curves, yuck, I need a LOT more practice!

  5. Gorgeous fabrics, Deby!!! It’s not easy to add bias on such a tight curve.

  6. Monique U says:

    Divine looking bag and interesting adaptations, Deby 🙂 I wish I could remember where I read instructions on how to “steam-fit” binding prior to sewing it on… possibly Threads magazine. I know it was a brilliant trick!

    I have marked your video to enjoy later tonight. Thanks for posting it!

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