Christmas Handibag - a tutorial

It's almost Christmas - and you've still got some gifts to get!  You'd best be prepared when you're out - you never know when you might see something good!

I'm going to show you how you can make this nifty Christmas Handibag:
Basically a simple tote bag - that folds into it's own pocket so you can slip it in your handbag and you're prepared for any unexpected Christmas shopping!!

Small enough to fit in your palm...

Big enough to carry plenty of gifts!!

You could always make one of these as a stocking filler too!  You could choose any colour and any design for the front - not just Christmassy!  Perhaps even someone's initial to make it personalised!

So here's how:

(note about your fabric choice!  I'm all for make things with whatever fabric you choose - but just be aware if you choose thick or heavy fabric for this bag - you will need to make the pocket size bigger to be able to stuff it all in! for this bag I used shiny material - kind of like what you'd find in a skirt lining!)

First you need your fabric:
1 piece for main bag 90 x 43cm (35.5 x 17")
2 straps - 60 x 10cm cm (23.5 x 4")
2 pieces for pocket - 24 x 16cm (9.5 x 6.5")
Alternate scrap colour for tree - around A4 paper size!
Using these templates cut out your two trees.

First you need to stitch your trees onto the bag and the pocket.
Fold one pocket piece in half and place the small tree centrally on one side.
Pin through just one layer of fabric to hold in place, and open out the fabric:

Then stitch around the edges of the tree -either using a tight zig-zag stitch, or the applique setting on your machine if you have one!

Repeat this for the large tree on the main bag piece:

Place your 2 pocket pieces right sides together. Pin and stitch around the edges leaving a small gap to turn out when you're done:

Turn the pocket out, using your scissors to carefully poke the corners out ,

Then topstitch around all four edges:

Then set your pocket aside, and turn to the main bag:

Fold the main bag in half, right sides together.  Then put your hands into the bottom corners of the bag at the fold:
...and kind of flatten the bottom like this:

Then fold the bottom so it looks like this from the side:

This fold means the bottom of the bag opens out when you put things in.
You could also ignore this hole folding step and just leave it flat as a basic tote!

Pin and stitch down the two sides of the bag:

Then overlock / serge the edges to prevent fraying.  If you don't have an overlocker (serger) then you can just do a zig zag stitch along the edge of the seam.

Now to the straps.

Iron the straps in half lengthways:
Then open out and iron the edges into the centre fold:
Then fold in half and iron again to enclose all raw edges:

Topstitch down both edges of both straps:

Now you can put the whole bag together:

Take the straps and pin to either side of the bag matching the raw edges - and around 10cm (4" )in from the side seams:

Stitch the straps to the bag to secure in place:

Now double turn the whole of the top edge of the bag to hide all the raw edges, and pin into place:

Run two rows of topstitching around the bag - and small crosses on the handles for extra strength:

Almost done! You just have to add the pocket now!

Fold the pocket piece you made in half with the tree on the inside - and place on the top center back of your bag, with the open end facing to the bottom of the bag:

Make sure you have the top flap slightly overlapping the bottom part with the tree on - you must NOT stitch the top edge with the tree on to the bag :

Pin then stitch around three edges of the pocket, as close to the edge as you can:

That's it! DONE!

your finished bag should look like this:

To stuff it into the pocket - open the pocket at the top of the bag like this:

Then push the bag into the pocket from the BOTTOM upwards!

It will be a tight fit - push it all in,including the straps, then flip over the flap of the pocket which has the tree on and smooth the edges!

Now you're all ready for some more Christmas shopping!

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

(this is a Christmas version of my pillowcase handibag tutorial)

If you like this tutorial, there are well over 100 Free Sewing Tutorials for all levels of sewing ability.
To browse through them, please visit 
My Free Tutorials Page.

And for plenty more sewing ideas for Christmas - take a trip over to the fabulous AllFreeSewing site and check out all the 
Free Christmas Sewing Tutorials they have there! So many ideas for hand-making your Christmas merry and bright!


  1. Wow, so elegantly done! Great resource, Jill - thanks for another fabulous tute!

  2. You make it looks so easy... now you are so sew to success too!


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