Hard sided Pannier handbags are basically soft-sided cloth baskets with a molded liner which acts as a framework. Plastic and metal liners are often super tough, roto-molded construction. Sides are curved to fit your bag and allows for a lower slide clearance. It makes for a neat, clean interior.

Dimensions: approximately 6.5″ high / 8.5″ wide / 5.5″ deep with a 18″ [45 cm] carrying strap. [16.5 cm X 21.5 cm X 14 cm]

Construction Method: Combination Faced-edge & Turned Finish –  this construction has 2 turned-over edges placed together and then machine-stitched through. Often seam edges are piped or encased with  bound trims at visible points of assembly on the exterior side of the bag while providing clean, neat interiors.

Material Used: 100% polyester outdoor canvas, 54″ wide; basket liner – 3L molded plastic storage container.

You will need:

  • 3L molded plastic storage container
  • 1 heavy-duty closed zipper
  • 2 D-rings, 1 ½” dia. [38 mm]
  • Approx. 1/2 yard [0.5 m] of canvas/upholstery weight fabric, 54″ wide [137 cm]
  • Approx 1/2 yard [0.5 m] of fusible interfacing, 45” wide [114 cm]
  • 1 pkg. of single fold bias tape, ½ ” wide [12 mm]
  • 1 pkg. of piping cord, ¼ ” dia. [6 mm]
  • ½ yd [0.5] of belting, 1 1/4” wide [30 mm]
  • grid paper

Design Tip: Match the colour and metal finish of your hardware to your zipper.


The size of your pannier handbag is based on the dimensions of your liner. (height x width x depth)

For instance, the prototype has a plastic bucket container for the liner: 6.5″ high / 8.5″ wide / 5.5″ deep.

Begin by tracing out the bottom of the container onto grid paper. This will be the base pattern piece.

Add seam allowance.

Plot out a rectangle shape onto grid paper equal to the height (H) and the width (W) of the top edge (open lip edge) of the container. From the center of the rectangle, plot out half of the bottom width (½W) measurement on either side of center on the lower part of the rectangle. Join the top corner to the plotted lower location with a straight line on both sides of the rectangle. This will be the side pattern piece.

Next, repeat the step above for the depth. Draw a rectangle shape equal to the height (H) and depth (D) of the top edge (open lip edge) of the container. From the center of the rectangle, plot out half of the bottom depth (½D) measurement on either side of center of this rectangle. Join the top corner to the plotted lower location with a straight line on both sides of the rectangle. This will be the gusset pattern piece.

Make the bag body pattern seamless. Cut the gusset pattern through its center along the height (vertical cut). Align and match the gusset pattern pieces to the height of the side pattern piece and trace out the half-gusset portions. At the chevron points, blend smoothly with a curved line.

Create the zipper closure for the bag. Extend the sides of the body pattern with tangent lines equal to half of the top depth (½D) measurement. Join these two points with a parallel line drawn across the top.

Measure the distance across the container diagonally from opposite corners and round up to the next inch. This is the length of zipper required. Plot the zipper opening equal on either side of center across the top of the pattern piece. This final draft is the body side pattern piece.

Add seam allowance.

For the pannier bag handle, draw an oblong equal to twice the belting width  X desired length (18″ [45 cm]). Add seam allowance.


Body Sides – cut 2X self

Base – cut 1X self;  1X fusible

Cut 2 bias strips (length equal to H + 1/2D + 2″ [5 cm] extra) for banding. (see bias cutting)

Cut 18-inch strip for bag handle (width equal to 2 times belting width)


  1. Iron fusible interfacing to the fabric base, following manufacturer’s directions.
  2. Apply piping cord to the perimeter of the base. (see bias piping) Set aside.
  3. Create the bag handle by sewing the fabric strip into a tube. Turn tube right-side-out and insert belting. Trim the belting by1.5″ [37 mm] at each open end of the fabric tube. Topstitch along the long edges of the bag handle to secure the belting in place. Set aside.
  4. Center and insert zipper to top edge of fabric body pieces. Topstitch in place.
  5. With wrong sides together, align and match side seams of bag. Pin/baste and sew sideseams. Press seams open.
  6. Turn under long edges of the bias banding strips and press flat (make banding as wide as finished bag handles).  Align and center each banding strip over the seam allowance at the side seams, with the excess length extending beyond the top edge of the bag. Topstitch each banding strip in place.
  7. Attach base to bottom edge of bag. Pin/baste and sew base. To neaten raw seam, bind edge with bias fold tape. Keep zipper edge open to facilitate turning out the body of the bag.
  8. Thread D-ring hardware onto each banding extension. Fold fabric over and secure in place.
  9. Thread D-ring hardware to the ends of the bag handle. Fold fabric over and secure in place.
  10. Insert plastic liner bucket into pannier bag.


Filed under Design Ideas

15 responses to “PANNIER TOTE

  1. Karen

    As usual, this is another gorgeous bag and a beautifully written tutorial. Thanks so much for taking us on this sewing adventure!

  2. Jo Ann

    What an attractive way to show up with a dish to pass! This would also be such a thoughtful gift. We have had to bring a dish to pass almost every weekend, so this is a very timely project for me. Thank you, Don!

  3. Handbags are a fantastic way to use some of those tiny, leftover bits of fabric that really are not large enough for much else. On the other hand, you will be more inclined to pay more for a tiny amount of high-end fabric to make a small bag from than a large amount to make an outfit. Either way, it’s a great way to dress up an outfit.

  4. Jaggs

    Don I am truly loving this bag. I am thinking using the plastic canvas used for rug making cut to whatever shape and sewn together would work for the inside frame…what are your thoughts Don?


    • Don

      Thxs Jaggs…..your framing idea should work well. I often use plastic canvas for reinforcing the bottom of my bags. The only concern may be the sharp-angled corners. This only means that you will have to be a bit more precise with your sewing when it come to making the seams.

  5. Pingback: Henkel-Taschen – Linkliste |

  6. Laura

    What a great idea, I have been looking for a bag for a friend who cycles and this is an excellent idea, it would also be good for lunch bags in a smaller size

  7. Pingback: Pannier Handbag Sewing Tutorial

  8. hi can i use this pattern and make this and sell the bag

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s