Upcycled Denim Triangle Shoulder Bag - a tutorial

Here's how to make a bag similar to this. This is a very 'flexible' tutorial in that I didn't make it to measure - I used the materials I had and made the bag around the sizes of those. I also added a zip pocket on the inside.

You will need - denim scraps of various shades, lining fabric, a couple of zips and the waistband from a pair of jeans!
Cut two outer and two inner panels the same size. Then 2 smaller rectangles of the inner fabric and a zip for the inner pocket, and scraps the length of your top bag zip in both inner and outer fabric.

Outer bag panels

I don't have paper piecing instructions for the impossible triangle - but you can see pictures of how I made it here. You can use any outer panels you like - made from scraps, or just whole pieces of fabric.
For the other outside panel, I cut several equilateral triangles from various denim scraps. I made my triangle template using these instructions folding a rectangle of paper! 

Then I pieced and stitched them together randomly in rows, 

and separated each row with a strip of black denim.

 This hides the fact that the triangles don't all quite match up!

Then I cut the whole thing into a rectangle the same size as my impossible triangle panel to give me my two outer bag pieces.

You can make this bag whatever size you want. I made my impossible triangle panel first before I decided to make it into a bag - so I just worked with the size of that, which was about 28 x 30 cm (11 x 11.75"). 

So now to constructing the bag.

The inner zipped pocket.

Take one of your inner bag panels and the smaller inner fabric rectangles with the small zip.

Place the smaller rectangle face down where you would like your pocket to sit on your inner bag panel as above.
Then using a ruler and pencil, draw a thin rectangle that is the size of your zip teeth.

Stitch around this line (through both layers of fabric)

Then cut through both pieces of fabric in the middle of this line.

Snip right up to the corners like this.

Then push your front pocket piece through the hole.

Now you need to press your zip opening flat, and pin your zip behind this hole with the zip teeth showing through.

Then stitch around to hold the zip in place.

Now turn over your panel and pin the other pocket piece face down onto your first one.

Pin then stitch around all four edges to enclose your pocket.

That's your inner zipped pocket finished!

Putting your bag together

Take your two outer panels and two inner panels and lay them right sides facing together like this.

Pin then stitch around the side and bottoms of the inner and outer bags. Leave a gap in one side of your inner bag part so you can turn it all right sides out when you're done.

Box out the corners

To make your bag have a 'boxy' bottom, push your hand up inside one of your bag pieces - this shows the inner piece.

Now pinch the corner so the side and bottom seams are in line with each other.

Pin across this 'triangle' you have created, around 2.5cm (1") from the point.

Repeat with the other bottom corner.

Then stitch a straight line across where you pinned.

And snip off the corner past your stitching.

So the base of your inner bag should look like this now.

Repeat with your outer bag so both have boxy bases.

The main zip

Take your main zip and the scraps of fabric for the sides.
Lay your zip face up on your inner fabric with a strip of your outer fabric face down on top. The edges of the fabrics and zip should be lined up as in the photo.

 Pin then stitch using your zipper foot.

Then pull both fabrics back from the zip and topstitch to prevent the fabrics catching in the zip when you open and close it.

Repeat this with the other side of the zip, then with more scraps of fabric at either end of the zip.

You can place these scraps where you like to shorten the zip to the width of your bag.

Then trim all the way around your zip to create a rectangle like this.

The strap

I find waistbands of jeans to be great used as bag straps. They are sturdy and just the right width.  Of course it depends on the size of the jeans as to the length of your waistband. I have a lot in my stash to choose from!

You could unpick the belt loops, but I choose to leave mine on and just stitch along the cut edge to secure them and the waistband.

Then it's a simple matter of placing the strap on either side of the bag, pinning then stitching securely in place.

Putting it all together.
Now you just have to join the zip part to the top of the bag and stitch it all together!
First take your zip section and pin to the top of the outside of your bag - right sides together.  Since I didn't take measurements, my zip section was larger than the bag so it kind of sits down into the bag a little. I also rounded the edges and trimmed after stitching.

Next, turn the outer bag right sides out and push inside the inner bag so that the right sides of both fabrics are facing each other.

Pin then stitch the top of the inner bag to the outer bag and zip edges where you just stitched.

Turn your bag right sides out through the gap you left in the stitching of your inner bag.

Stitch the gap closed - either by hand or machine.

And your bag is finished!

Fill it up, use it and admire!

For the free downloadable PDF version of this tutorial, click here

If you like this tutorial, then please take a look at my other free tutorials. There are well over 100 to choose from for all levels of sewing ability and for making all kinds of things!

100+ Free Sewing Tutorials


  1. Love your bag, Jill, and a great way to reuse small pieces of denim.

  2. As usual Jill you have created an awesome bag!
    Thanks for sharing this tutorial with us at Cooking and Crafting with J & J.
    Enjoy the week.
    Julie xo

  3. This turned out great!

    I would love for you to share this with my AMAZING Facebook Group with over 300 Members to share easy craft projects and recipes: https://www.facebook.com/groups/pluckyrecipescraftstips

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!

    1. Thanks Jessica - and for the invite, I shall pop over and link it up!

  4. Great looking bag! Denim is useful material and it is always nice to see projects where it is turned something different like you did here with the triangles. Also great idea to use the black stripe between the pieces! My patience isn't good enough for quilt work because the corners rarely match but with that trick even I could do it. :D Also great idea to use the waistband!

    1. Thank you!! And yes, the black stripe helps lots - I don't have the patience either to match up all those tiny corners!!

  5. This is one amazing looking bag!! LOVE the design! Pinned!

  6. This is such an awesome bag! I love the idea of mixing the different denim-- this definitely turned out cool.

  7. I lovely the way your tutorial pictures build to the finished bag. You are so resourceful and clever with your sewing, a real inspiration right down to the waistband of jeans turning into the shoulder strap.

    Thank you for sharing at #Trash2Treasure

  8. That's a very handsome bag, Jill! It is a good size and the tutorial looks easy to follow. Thanks!

  9. This bag is AWESOME!! I love the look of different denim colors together and the geometric designs. Plus being totally upcycled, including the strap! Such a great project, and such a detailed tutorial! :) Lisa

    1. Thanks so much Lisa! It's now my favourite everyday bag!!

  10. This is an absolutely gorgeous bag! The idea of the triangles is amazing... The instructions are very well written and the photographs are very helpful. Thank you so much for sharing!

  11. Very very talented....love your stuff...Well Done Jill!!!


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