Make it Local :: Origami Market Bag

by Jules on 18/06/2013

in Community + Creativity, Fashion, Guest Blogger, Guest Editors 2013, Whip Up Tutorials, Whip-Up

During most of 2013, will hosting a monthly mini-series, each month edited by different crafters and designers. Enjoy!

The theme for this month is Make It Local :: with Alexandra Smith of Lola Nova.


Inspired by my last post about the Farmer’s Market, I decided to whip up a simple tutorial for a handmade market bag called “The Origami Market Bag”. The name is taken from its unique folding technique. It makes up in a flash and is nice and roomy for all of your market treasure.

You will need fabric, thread, scissors and a sewing machine.

For the fabric, I suggest something a little heavier such as: canvas, linen, denim, or home décor type weight.

We start off with a piece of fabric whose length is 3 times the width. I found using a piece that is 17” X 51” (43cm X 130cm) makes a good size bag; you can play around with sizes if you like.

Once you have cut your piece of fabric to size, hem all of the raw edges.

(In the following photos I’ve used a smaller piece of unfinished fabric just to show the folding technique)

Start by laying your fabric with your hems facing away from you and follow the folding technique as shown below.




Now pin and stitch as shown for both sides of the bag. I used about a 1cm seam allowance.



It is ok if your bag is a little off center, this may happen if your hems are not perfectly even to one another.

Now that you have sewn your 2 seams, you can leave the bag as is for a nice triangle shape, or you can create some shape by sewing boxed corners, or simple angled corners. Now turn your bag right side out and press if needed.



The next step is to create the handle for your bag. I used some coordinating fabric for a handle.

Cut a piece of fabric that is 3.5” X 6.5” (aprox. 9cm X 16.5cm) turn under and hem the 2 short sides of this piece. Fold the piece in half length-wise with right sides together and stitch raw edges with a ¼” (just under 1cm) seam allowance and turn right side out creating a tube.




Take one of the long top triangles of your bag and thread it through the tube of fabric as shown. Overlap the other top piece with the bit you have threaded through the tube and pin. Now stitch in place. Slide the tube over the stitched overlapped section and center it.





Ta Da! You now have your very own Origami Market Bag!


Go ahead and make a few more, you know you want to!



Please note, this tutorial is intended for personal use only. Therefore, do not reproduce, sell or commercialize in any form. Thanks for understanding!

Edited to add: My version of this bag was originally based on a bag I received many, many years ago that was handmade by a family friend from the Philippines. That first bag was made from old cotton rice sacks (similar to vintage flour sacks) and the handles tied in a knot. Not long after receiving it, I made my own bag using a couple of bandannas sewn together. In the years since, I have seen many versions of this very simple bag. Many variations of it have shown up as craft trends come and go, then come around again. I have seen similar patterns in vintage craft books, Japanese craft pattern books and high end leather bags on the runway. I have even seen some in macramé!

I make no claim to have “invented” this style of bag; its origins are ageless and elusive. I did sort out just how to make it on my own and put my own spin on it. The only bags I have sold from this tutorial were the prototypes pictured here, after materials cost, 100% of the profit from them goes directly to the fund for the Shugg children. I have no intention to sell any more of these bags.

Thank you,

Alexandra Smith

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{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Colleen June 18, 2013 at 9:17 am

Wow! I love these. I can’t wait to make some!


2 Julie ♥ Adore (@julie_adore) June 18, 2013 at 9:48 am

hey, i posted today a bag furoshiki on my blog
it’s very simple to make witout stiching :))


3 Deanna June 18, 2013 at 10:13 am

That is very clever. Thank you for sharing!


4 Sarah June 18, 2013 at 11:52 am

This is brilliant! I’ve been looking for all kinds of different bag patterns since I discovered I have hardly enough to pick up CSA produce. I’m definitely going to make one or two of these! So cute!


5 Danae June 18, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Can’t wait to make one of these. Very interesting technique.


6 Penny June 18, 2013 at 2:50 pm

These are amazing, I definitely plan to make some for pressies x Thanks for sharing


7 Sherri B. June 18, 2013 at 4:21 pm

These look so easy, thanks for making the tutorial so simple to follow. xo


8 Satomi June 19, 2013 at 12:27 am

I saw a lady selling this bag for $40!!! Thanks for sharing


9 mariong June 19, 2013 at 3:35 am

Thank you for sharing, it’s so amazing!
Do you think, we could use the legs of old jeans to make this?


10 Lola Nova June 19, 2013 at 11:30 am

Sure, I don’t see why not! What a great idea!


11 Sarah June 19, 2013 at 11:23 am

That is so excellent! I can’t wait to try it!


12 Flaming Nora June 19, 2013 at 4:54 pm

fantastic. Thats the christmas presents sorted then! Love them.


13 karin June 20, 2013 at 3:58 pm

my first try with the pattern didn´t work out well, i had 3 inch too much on the short side.
my trick is to hem three sides and leave one short side without hemming.
then i do the folds and see immediately if the last side fits well.
a wonderful pattern!
greetings from germany


14 KateG June 20, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Thanks for sharing your tips. I love hearing about tweaks and hints to make it easy for others, they save me a lot of unpicking!


15 Claudia June 24, 2013 at 1:07 am

thanks for sharing your solution; I had the same problem with my first try. It’s slightly warped now but I like it just the same, and I will definitely sew this again.
Such a cute & easy pattern!


16 Lola Nova June 24, 2013 at 1:58 pm

That is a great tip! Thanks


17 Jewel June 30, 2013 at 1:50 pm

I have the same problem! Tried two different times and both times have had approx 3 inches too much.


18 Tanja July 5, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Thank you for sharing your tips!
I had the same problem and now it worked out well.



19 Jamie August 7, 2013 at 4:11 pm

I had the same problem with the extra fabric. I made it anyway and it is a big lopsided. I do like it and will make more with adjustments. Just wondering if the pattern is wrong. The tutorial looks like a perfect square in the middle but 17×51 definitely makes an rectangle in the middle after you make the folds on the ends.


20 Melinda C June 21, 2013 at 12:56 am

What a simple and wonderful project. Love it! Can’t wait to make a few ;)


21 verov94 June 21, 2013 at 7:54 am

Merci pour ce tuto, très simple à faire. Bonne journée


22 Patty Virginia June 21, 2013 at 9:10 am

Now, this is my kind of bag. Love the simplicity. Looks pretty easy to make, too. Thanks for sharing your great creation. Pinned.


23 Nancy Z June 21, 2013 at 11:02 am

Very nice project. Thank you for sharing and for great instructions.


24 wendy June 21, 2013 at 2:21 pm

what a great tutorial and a funky bag, thank you.


25 Nan June 21, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Very Nice. I particularly like the handle.


26 Sissy June 23, 2013 at 12:16 am

Can you wear it over your shoulder?


27 Lola Nova June 24, 2013 at 1:58 pm

Yes you can!


28 mily June 23, 2013 at 5:09 am



29 Abbington June 23, 2013 at 6:56 am

Thank you so much for this! I have a Japanese sewing book that has a pattern just like this ( but smaller, for lunches, and tied in a knot at the top) and I was totally unable to work out from the pictures how it came together! (As I don’t speak Japanese).


30 Cindi June 23, 2013 at 11:52 pm

Wonderful bag! I have a piece of vintage floral printed linen I wanted to make a bag out of, but the pattern is large. This pattern is perfect for the fabric. The bag looks wonderful, and I can’t wait to carry it tomorrow. Thank you!


31 Barbara R Carter June 24, 2013 at 11:26 am

I love the look of these bags and cannot wait to make one for myself. The tube that covers the handle area seems to me to make it more comfortable to carry than some bags I have seen!!


32 2paw June 25, 2013 at 5:05 am

Thanks for the tutorial for the lovely bag!! I’ve made one for me and one for a blog friend!!


33 Gypsy Wools June 26, 2013 at 5:29 pm

Amazing tutorial and cute bag! Can’t wait to make one, Thanks for sharing!


34 karen June 27, 2013 at 3:53 am

what a fantastic bag! thanks for sharing and can’t wait to make one…or 2..or…;-)


35 Anco den Dekker June 28, 2013 at 11:35 am

Love the bag, made a little one last spring following this tutorial
Coincidence ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!


36 KateG June 30, 2013 at 9:29 pm

These gorgeous bags seem to be all over the place just now, thanks so much for sharing your tutuorial.


37 Carole July 4, 2013 at 9:04 pm

I just bought a piece of silver calfskin leather, I’m going to try this bag with it.


38 Jewel July 5, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Thanks for putting this tutorial out there. I am really enjoying making these.


39 Marguerite Storm July 7, 2013 at 10:33 am

This is a great pattern. However, you must have copied it from a design by Akiyo Kajiwara (the book is in French and called ‘Sacs et rangements a la japonaise’). Your Origami bag is identical to her “Azuma bukuro” on page 44.
I think you should have added the credentials..


40 KateG July 8, 2013 at 9:04 pm

Hi Marguerite, thanks for your comment, and thanks for bringing this to our attention. At WhipUp we are committed to respecting copyright and to acknowledge authors of original ideas, texts and images. We have updated the post above to include Alexandra’s explanation of the origins of her bag tutorial.


41 Lola Nova July 8, 2013 at 9:06 pm

Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I had never heard of the author/designer, nor her book until I read your comment. I will be sure to look her up! This style of bag has been around for many years, across many cultures. My tutorial was inspired by a bag made for me over 25 years ago!
However, I could have been more clear about my inspiration for the bag, so I have added an edit to the original post. Please read my piece at the end of the tutorial and I hope this clears ups any confusion.
Thanks again,


42 Sue July 25, 2013 at 6:04 pm

I love this! This I can make from my choice of fabrics and would make wonderful family gifts.


43 gaby July 26, 2013 at 9:12 pm

I just made one, and it takes me 5 minutes, this is awesome, thanks for share, this bag will be a great gift for family and friends.

I leave you another great easy tutorial, you can create a bag from a tshirt in 5 minutes, I made a lot of this with my old shirt’s
the video is in portuguese, but you can understand very well.

see you


44 KateG July 28, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Hi Gaby, thanks for sharing this link, I love it! I have a secret love of using gaffer/duct tape in crafting, and this bag tutorial is perfect. Kate


45 Francis Create August 2, 2013 at 5:49 pm

I love your tutorial. I made a German version of it (my own pictures where I had trouble following yours but I linked back to your tutorial)- hope that is OK by you. If not, please email me. :-)


46 Barb August 11, 2013 at 7:32 pm

No matter how I tried, I could not get this to work! After I hemmed it, the sections were no longer square! I tried with just a single quarter inch hem and a double fold 1/4″ hem but neither worked.. I’m sure it’s user error but I really love this bag and would like to make a few. Maybe some help?


47 Terry September 9, 2013 at 7:45 am

I just made one of these last night. It turned out just like the picture! My fabric was heavy, a upholstery fabric, I believe. (I picked it up for $.50 from a yard sale!) I’ll probably use a little lighter weight fabric next time, but I still love it. Thanks for the free tutorial.


48 nicole September 17, 2013 at 12:35 pm

nice easy project to work on loved your sight


49 Nicole September 23, 2013 at 8:50 am

WOW, I love this pattern! :o) I whipped 5 of these suckers up yesterday morning from fabric I had in my stash & yowza, 5 Christmas gifts ready to wrap! I’m pretty sure I’ll be making at least 5 more between now and the big day. Thanks so much for the great pattern…(inhaling deeply as I dive back into the stash…)


50 Vivien November 27, 2014 at 7:48 am

Love this bag, It worked perfectly!


51 Jo June 5, 2015 at 7:57 am

Am I the only person who can not figure where fold C is? no matter what I try, I have a huge gap. Thank you


52 betty hicks June 23, 2015 at 3:48 am

I have been wanting to make one of these for a while. I had directions but were so complicated, particularly that last seam… your directions are clear and well explained. THANK YOU. Will be making LOTS… as soon as the 6 granddaughters see them. I can count on them NEEDING a multitudeof colors and sizes!


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