How to Make Sewing Patterns for Bags: A Step-By-Step Guide

Patternmaking is an essential step in the process for bring all your bag design to life, whether you want to make backpack, gear bag, carrying case, or holster.
Making a sewing pattern from scratch can seem daunting, when you have never done it before. That’s why we created this guide that outlines the basic steps you should follow when designing a new bag for manufacturing.
As you get comfortable in your patternmaking process, you can use these steps to develop more elaborate bags. Each pattern you make, brings you one step closer to turning your bag vision into reality. So, let’s begin!

  1. Plan Your Design
    Every sewing pattern starts with an idea of what you want your bag to look like. Start your design process by sketching out different bag designs with a pen and paper. You can also use drawing apps and software like Adobe Illustrator.
    If you’re new to sewing bags, you can draw inspiration from magazines and online sources, including fashion websites and product catalogs. You can even find ready-made sewing patterns that you can tweak and adjust to your liking or simply use as a guide.
    Some important things to consider for your bag design include:
    Intended use of the bag
    Target market or customers
    Bag shape and features
    Latest design trends
    Consider specific design elements, like the number of bag pockets, the shape of connectors, the kind of straps, and other details. There are no strict rules during this step, as long as your design is practical and appealing to your customers.
  2. Decide on Your Measurements
    Once you’ve sketched a design for your bag, the next step would be to determine its exact size. The three most common measurements for bags are length, height, and depth.
    You’ll also need to set the handle drop for your bag. This refers to the distance between the top edge of your bag and the center of the bag strap. It determines whether your bag can be carried over the wrist, through your lower arm, over your shoulder, or across your torso.
    For this step, you can use a tailor’s measuring tape to help you decide on the right bag size. Make your measurements as specific as possible to create the most accurate sewing pattern for your bag.
  3. Divide Your Bag Design Into Basic Parts
    Now that you have your precise bag design ready, it’s time to break it down into smaller parts that will ultimately make up your finished sewing pattern.
    All patterns begin in the form of simple geometric shapes, such as rectangles, squares, and circles. Using different combinations of these shapes, you can draft a variety of patterns for your custom bag designs. You can also manipulate the shapes to form more complex designs.
    The most common bag sewing patterns have six parts, which consist of the bag’s top, base, front, back, and two gussets, with one gusset for each side of the bag. All you have to do is draft these basic parts using your preferred shapes.
    Using Basic Bag Templates
    To help you visualize your sewing pattern and provide a framework for your bag design, take a look at these basic bag templates. You can use them to make cross-shaped, I-shaped, and T-shaped bag designs. When folded, all these patterns create the same size and style of bag.
    Feel free to modify these templates by changing their shapes and edges or by adding or removing surface area. You can also add elements like flaps, front pockets, or side pockets.
    When drafting your bag parts, remember the rule of thirds, which indicates that adding bag details in odd numbers creates more attractive, memorable, and functional designs.
  4. Finalize and Draw Your Bag Sewing Pattern
    The next step is to draw a complete sewing pattern out of the finalized bag parts from the previous step. You can do this using an online sewing pattern designer or a large roll of paper, such as brown craft paper, parchment tracing paper, or manila pattern paper.
    If you chose the paper route, you’ll also need a pencil, eraser, ruler, drafting triangle, and a French curve to draw smooth, curved edges.
    Lay your sheet of paper on a flat work surface and start drawing the top, back, base, front, and gussets of your bag. Use a ruler to ensure that your lines are straight, and create accurate angles using the drafting triangle.
    Periodically check your work to ensure symmetrical lines, the right pocket placement, and pleasing proportions.
  5. Cut Out and Label Your Sewing Pattern
    Don’t forget to add labels and pattern instructions so you can easily identify and keep track of your bag sewing pattern.
    On one area of your pattern, include the following information:
    Name of the pattern
    Size of the bag
    Instructions for cutting
    Number of bag parts
    Date of creation
    When it’s time to cut your pattern, a sharp pair of scissors is the best tool to use. Dull and rusty blades can damage the pattern or make it less accurate by several millimeters.
    If you’re dealing with a crumpled or folded sheet, you might want to press it first using an iron on low heat. Another alternative is to flatten your pattern under a heavy book.
    After labeling and carefully cutting out your drawing, you’ll have a finished bag sewing pattern. Mission accomplished!
    Fulfill Your Custom Sewing Needs With Fieldtex
    Whether it’s backpacks, carrying cases, or strapping and belting, custom manufacturing is made easier with Fieldtex. We are a 200-person contract sewing manufacturer based in Rochester, New York, with decades of experience in the bag manufacturing industry.
    We’ve been providing custom sewing services, from prototype to production, since 1973. Our services range from military and medical sewing to textile innovations, wearables, and more.
    Let us handle your custom sewing and manufacturing needs! For more information, feel free to visit our official website and get started on your product by requesting a quote today.