How to Sew a Market Bag

Harvest season will be upon us before we know it. Many pounds of tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, herbs, sweet corn, beans, and more will make their way from the garden and into the farmhouse. Sometimes I like to utilize an old basket for carrying all the produce inside, but this year I decided I wanted to try another method too: a large, sturdy, canvas Market Bag.

I love the look of drop cloth for many different projects like seat cushions, table runners, banners, curtains, aprons, pillows, and more. It is sturdy, versatile, and adds a lovely texture to the home or attire. Plus it is inexpensive and easy to work with as well.

I think drop cloth is the perfect material for this project because it is so durable. Any garden or market bag should be plenty strong for the tasks at hand!

I also enjoy the pocket located on the front of the bag. It holds items like my phone, house keys, clippers, gloves, or twine (things that I usually lose in the bottom of a large bag!)

I can’t wait to bring in this year’s harvest in my Market Bag!

Join me as I share the process for making this simple looking, yet durable bag for a very low expense. The step-by-step instructions are just below, so be sure to read carefully in order to achieve the design! Before we get started, I have a few notes about this tutorial and maybe even some tips to keep in mind along the way. Stay all the way to the end if you’re interested in learning a bit more about drop cloth. Oh, and more DIY project ideas are at the end of this post as well. Enjoy!

Sewing Terminology

  • Right Side: The side that you want showing on the bag (also called the front side).
  • Wring Side: The side of the fabric that you don’t want showing on the bag (also called the backside).
  • Seam: A line of junction formed by sewing together two pieces of material along their margins.
  • Topstitch: To make a line of stitching on the outside of (a garment) close to a seam.

How to sew a Market Bag

What You’ll Need

  • 1 yard of canvas drop cloth
  • Sewing machine
  • Pins
  • Iron
  • Scissors
  • Coordinating thread

Keep in Mind

  • Drop cloth is my preferred fabric for this project, but you could easily use others such as linen or cotton. Just know that those other fabrics may not be as durable as drop cloth.
  • The pocket is not a necessity to this project. You can completely skip the pocket and the bag will still function well and look charming!
  • Sometimes the concept of sewing an item seems a bit backwards. I often find it helpful to imagine that I am creating a project, this bag for example, from the inside out. So we will make the main bag piece from the inside and then flip it inside out. We will also do the same for the straps. I hope this imagery helps you better understand this process!
  • I have included some sewing terminology below and will be using it throughout the instructions. I know these terms can be a bit confusing to the new sewer, so I’ll also refer to the right side as the front and the wrong side as the back. My hope is that using both of the terms will familiarize you with some sewing jargon.


1. Begin by ironing the fabric.

Wrinkles can create troubles in measuring correctly.

2. Cut the pieces according to these measurements:

  • 2 panels at 18″ x 20″
  • 2 straps at 4″ x 28″
  • 1 pocket at 14″ x 12″

3. Prepare the straps:

  • Fold one of the strap pieces in half down the longest side (right/front sides together).
  • Sew a 1/4″ seam along the long side, but leave both ends of the strap open.
  • Use a safety pin to turn the strap right side out. Here’s a tutorial for this method.
  • Iron the strap until it is very flat.
  • Sew a topstitch on the two long sides. Keep these seams extremely narrow (almost as close along the edge as possible).
  • Repeat these steps with the second strap.
Here are the two straps. Note how close to the edge the topstitches are.

4. Create and attach the pocket:

  • Line the pocket up in the middle of one of the main panel pieces. I placed mine 4 inches from the top, 4 inches from the bottom, and two inches from each side (make sure the wrong/back side of the pocket is laying on the right/front side of the main panel).
  • Pin the pocket into place.
  • Sew around both sides and bottom of the pocket. Be sure to leave the top open.
Here is the pocket attached to the bag.

5. Create the main bag:

  • Lay the two 18″ x 20″ pieces on top of one another with the right/front sides together. Be sure to line them up well.
  • Sew along both sides and bottom of the panels. Leave the top open. Remember to leave the same side open that your pocket is open on!
  • Turn the bag inside out so that the right/front sides are facing out.
  • Fold the top of the bag, towards the inside, 1 inch.
  • Fold the edge over once more so that all of the raw edges are inside and clean.
Be sure to line the two panels up perfectly.

6. Sew the straps to the bag.

  • Tuck one strap under the top fold. I placed my straps 3.5 inches from the side seam. The space between the straps is about 7 inches.
  • Pin the strap into place.
  • Repeat with the remaining 3 straps.
  • Sew the top hem of the bag, making sure to secure the straps as you go.
  • Pull the straps up and topstitch around the very edge of the top of the bag. Be sure to sew the straps so they are even and straight.
This is the fold that we just created at the top of the bag. Here is the strap tucked into it.
And here is the strap after it has been sewn to the bag.

If you make this project and love how it turned out, feel free to come back and comment about your experience. I’d love to see your creation and how you used it!

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