The bucket bag was the first “big bag” of its time with its roomy interior and stylish good looks and judging from recent designer collections, that utilitarian element still lives on today. I always suggest a light-coloured lining in bags that are this deep, as one could lose something quite easily at the bottom and never see it again.

CONSTRUCTION METHOD: Turned finish – this method may be recognized by noting the lack of machine-stitching that is visible at points of assembly on the exterior side of the bag.  This is possible by placing the material, or parts, face to face, machining and turning right-side out. It is the most commonly used assembly process.

DIMENSIONS: 12” H x 15” W x 8” D with a 46” long adjustable inch-wide shoulder strap. (note: base = 10″ +  2 gussets = 5″ for a total of 15″ for the bag width)

MATERIALS USED FOR SAMPLE: 100% cotton upholstery fabric; poly-urethane faux leather for trim and strapping; and 100% cotton percale for lining


  • 1/2 yard (0.5 m) upholstery-weight fashion fabric (54” wide) [138 cm]
  • 1/3 yard (0.3 m) compatible contrast fabric for trim (54” wide) [138 cm]
  • 1/3 yard (0.3 m) poly-urethane fabric for strapping (54” wide) [138 cm]
  • 1/2 yard (0.5 m) pocketing material for the lining (54” wide) [138 cm]
  • 12 x 9-inch (30 x 23 cm) piece of heavyweight interfacing
  • 1 yard (1 m) knit-fuse interfacing (60” wide) [153 cm]
  • 1 yard (0.9 m) filler for piping, (1/4” wide) [6 mm]
  • 2 yards (1.8 m) ban-roll® buckram, (1” wide) [25 mm]
  • 1 magnetic snap set
  • 1 slide buckle, 1-inch [25 mm] diameter
  • 2 D-rings, 1-inch [25 mm] diameter
  • 1 swivel latch, 1-inch [25 mm] diameter
  • 1 sheet of card stock (11” x 8½”) [28 x 21.5 cm]
  • double-sided basting tape, (3/8” wide) [10mm]
  • coordinating colour thread


The size of your bucket bag is based on the circumference of a circle or ellipse. The larger the circle, the larger the bag. Look for a circular object to use as a template or use a compass. (I drew 2 circles with a 5-inch diameter side-by-side and connected them with  straight lines). This will be the base section.

base 1_Fotor

Next, measure the circumference of the base pattern using the edge of the tape measure. This amount is X and is the width of the rectangle that forms the tubular shape of the “bucket”.

Eg:  two 5” diameter circles joined together forming an oval shape has a circumference of 30” [78 cm]

The length of the rectangle is Y and is equal to the width of the base or you may choose your own finished bag height.


For the top and bottom trim sections, draw 2 rectangles. The first one equals  X by 2” [5 cm] and the second is X by 4” [10 cm]

trim today_Fotor


1.  Add seam allowances to all pattern pieces.

2. Cut out fashion fabric pieces as indicated on the pattern. Transfer placement lines to fabric.

3.  Cut out lining pieces.

4.  Cut out interfacing pieces.

5.  Cut a length of faux leather equal to desired strap length and twice as wide as ban-roll.

6.  Cut 2 lengths of faux leather 12” [ cm} long and twice as wide as ban-roll.

7.  Cut faux leather trim strip as indicated on pattern.

8.  Cut a strip of faux leather for piping.

9. Cut desired length of ban-roll® buckram for shoulder-strap and two 12-inch lengths for side strapping. (I made mine 46″ + 2″= 48″ long)

bucket 2_Fotor



Iron on Knit-fuse® interfacing to backs of all cloth pieces following manufacturer’s directions. DO NOT press faux leather with iron. It will melt.


1 Wrap faux leather strips around short buckram strips. Turn under edges of fabric along the two long edges of the buckram strips, and adhere down using the basting tape.  Set aside.


2 Score along down center of back of faux leather strip for strap. Put basting tape on either side of buckram for strap and adhere it left of center on the back of the faux leather. Add more basting tape to top of buckram and turn under the exposed fabric edge over the buckram; finger press down. Turn under the seam allowance on the opposite edge of the leather and adhere down with basting tape. Fold the leather over the buckram to encase it and topstitch close to each long edge on the face side of the faux leather. Repeat with the folded side of the strap.


3 Loop one end of the shoulder strap through the slide buckle and secure in place. Set aside.


4 Prepare the base by machine-basting the fabric piece to the interfacing around the perimeter. Set aside.

5 Align and match contrasting trim section to top of main body with face sides together. Pin/baste then stitch the seam. Press seam open.

6 Align and match faux leather trim strip to bottom of main body following placement line. Tape upside-down with face sides together using basting tape. Sew a narrow seam along leather edge then fold leather face side up onto fabric. Finger press down and topstitch parallel to the seam.

7 At the seamline of the top trim, place one short covered buckram strip face side down to the seamline and stitch across the short end. Set this up on the placement line as indicated on the pattern. Loop free end through a D-ring and fold leather strip down flat to bottom edge. Topstitch trim edges to secure in place, including the bottom trim.

8 Fold the bag body section with face sides together and raw edges even. Align and match both trim seams and pin/baste. Stitch along the open side of the rectangle, and press the seam open.

9 Center the remaining leather side trim over the side seam and apply it as directed in Step 7. Remember to add the hardware (D-ring) before stitching down. Set aside.


10 Place basting tape down center of back of leather strip and place scrim (filler) on tape to prevent twisting. Add another row of basting tape to one side of leather edge. Fold one of the short ends to neaten and then wrap the opposite side of the leather over the scrim and secure tightly. Finger press edges yet leave the neatened short end “open”, about an inch or two. To aid in sewing the piping to the round base, clip shallow notches into the piping’s edge.

11 With alligator clips, align and match piping seam allowance to edge of base piece. Tuck in unfinished short end of piping into open neaten end. Using a zipper foot attachment and selecting a long stitch length, sew the piping to the bag base face side up.


12  Pin the piped base to the bottom edge of the bag, with right sides together and raw edges even, matching the dots and seams. Stitch and press seam toward the tote bottom. 


13 Trim 1/4 inch (6 mm) from all edges of the facing and interfacing pieces. Center interfacing on the wrong side of the facing pieces. Fuse in place following manufacturer’s directions.

14  Attach the female side of the magnetic snap to the face side of top facing piece at placement mark. On the back of the fabric, slip the backing plate onto the prongs and fold the prongs back onto themselves using pinch-nose pliers. Repeat with the male side of snap on opposite side of facing piece.


15 Fold lining piece in half with right sides together and align side seams. Pin/baste raw edges and sew. Press seam open.

OPTIONAL: Insert any pockets in lining now while lining is open and flat before sewing side seam.

16 Pin facing with face sides together along the top edge of the lining. Stitch then press toward the lining. Edge-stitch lining close to the seam.


17 Turn bag right-side-out through lining.

18 Pin lining base with wrong side to right side together and stitch along the bottom edges.

19 Drop the lining into the bag cavity and fold the facing in half, aligning outside and inside seams together. Pin/baste along the seam and topstitch through both layers to close top of bucket bag. Press fold flat along the top of the bag. Edge-stitch along the fold on the face side of the bag, through all layers. Set aside.

20 Cover the card cut-out for the base with lining fabric. Insert the card into the body cavity to neaten the bottom of the lining and to hide the exposed seam allowance.

21 Loop the open end of the shoulder strap through one of the D-rings (2). Then thread it through the slide bucket, from the bottom, over the top, and back down into the buckle (3). On the open end slip on the swivel latch and fold the short end of the strap back over the hardware to encase it (4). Secure the hardware by stitching through all the layers with an X-stitch. Hook latch into the other D-ring.




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7 responses to “THE BUCKET BAG

  1. summit17

    This is gorgeous! I’ll post mine once made!

  2. Julia Hatlen

    Thank you for this. I was given several large boxes of upholstery fabric samples and as I don’t want to make pillows – that leaves bags! But with none of them large enough for cutting straps from – I’ve been experimenting making the straps from faux leather and then trying to integrate additional elements of faux leather into the design. This looks really nice and intentional. I’ve struggled with getting the straps the way I’d like – so I’ll try the ban roll out as well.

  3. Sylvie

    Thank you so much for the tutorial!

  4. Colin Berry

    Hi Don, Do you sell PDF patterns for leather men’s bags ?

  5. Jacqueline

    What a beautiful bag! – and perfect for either a daytime workhorse, or more ‘special’ piece. Thank you so much for your generosity in posting the detailed instructions. I am looking forward to trying a bucket bag very soon (exciting) !

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