Back to School ~ Desk Bag

on August 2 | in Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 73 Comments

Desk bags are a new must-have on many Back to School supply lists these days. They’re also handy at home when you need a little organization help, whether you homeschool or want to prepare a special place for homework. Sandra created this desk bag for her daughter, and shows you how to make one too in today’s tutorial. Learn more about Sandra in her introduction, and visit Sugar Cubes and Spice Cake for more sewing fun.

Materials Needed:

  • ½ yard heavy-weight fabric, such as duck cloth or denim (Note: Fabric width should be 57″ or wider; measure your chair first to be certain you get enough fabric. ½ yard heavy-weight fabric will work well on most kid-sized chairs.)
  • ¼ yard accent fabric
  • ½ yard pom-pom trim
  • ½ yard jumbo ric-rac
  • ½ yard 3/8-inch elastic
  • Package 1/2-inch bias tape
  • Thread
  • Fabric marker or chalk

1. Square main fabric, trimming to 18-inches X entire width (from selvedge to selvedge) of fabric.
2. Mark one of the short ends as the top. Don’t cut off the selvedge; you will use it instead of finishing this edge. From the top edge, measure and mark lines at the following intervals:

      a. 8 inches from top


      b. 23 inches from top/15 inches from first line


      c. 33 inches from top/10 inches from second line


      d. 43 inches from top/10 inches from third line


      e. 50 inches from top/7 inches from fourth line


    f. 57 inches from top/7 inches from fifth line

3. Start folding at first line from the top (wrong sides together) and fold the rest of the lines like an accordion (alternating right sides together and wrong sides together). Press a crease at each fold line.

In the picture below, the top is on the right, and the bottom of each pocket is on the left, indicated by the arrow.

4. Turn bag over so the back is on top and trim the extra fabric from the bottom, being careful not to cut the bottom of the pockets.

5. Unfold bag from the second crease. Measure in ½-inch from the sides at the first crease and mark.

6. Using a ruler, draw a straight line from the mark to the corner at the top edge. Using a ruler draw a second straight line from the same mark to the edge of the second crease line.

7. Repeat on other side of bag.
8. Trim along lines, cutting out a long, skinny triangle from each side.

9. Now, you will prepare your accent fabric. Cut accent fabric to 18 inches X 8 inches. Finish the top 18-inch-edge using your preferred method (serge, pink, zig-zag, etc.)

10. Fold finished edge ½ inch to wrong side and press.

11. Position folded edge over top folded edge of bottom pocket with the finished edge to the inside.

12. Top-stitch ¼ inch from the folded edge, securing the accent fabric in place.

13. Unfold the top pocket of the bag to get it out of the way and mark the center of the bottom pocket using your preferred method. (I use masking tape.) Top-stitch along the marked line, creating a divider between the two bottom pockets. Make sure you keep the bag unfolded, so you are only sewing through the front and back of the bottom pocket.

14. Pin the jumbo ric-rac along the top edge of the top pocket and stitch in place.

15. Place your pom-pom trim with the pom-poms toward the top of the pocket and the seam allowance along the bottom edge. Sew it in place through the accent fabric and the bottom pocket fabric only. Do not sew through the bottom folded edge of the top pocket.

16. Flip the bottom edge of the top pocket under so the seam allowance of the pom-pom trim is between the bottom edge of the bottom pocket and the bottom folded edge of the top pocket. Press. Top-stitch in place through all thicknesses and trim the excess off each side.

17. Fold under 1/2 –inch of the selvedge edge on the top flap. Stitch close to the edge to form a casing for your elastic.

18. Insert elastic into casing, pulling up to form a slight gather on the flap and sew across the ends to secure elastic in place. Trim excess elastic.

19. Line up right side of the bag so that all edges of the front pockets are even with the back. (Don’t trim the edges of the fabric to make them line up; just move the edges over until they line up.) Baste in place. Repeat for other side. (If you don’t trim, you will end up with more room in your bag.)

20. Do the same with the back flap, stretching the elastic, so you can baste the edges in place even with the sides of the bag.

21. Your bag will look like this.

22. Cut a piece of bias tape slightly longer than your side edge and apply using your preferred method, enclosing the entire raw edge.

23. Enjoy the big grin you get as payment for the cutest desk bag in the class!

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73 Responses to Back to School ~ Desk Bag

  1. Anna M. says:

    So cool. I definitely need to make one for my chair for my sewing desk.

  2. e-ticaret says:

    If you’re still on the fence: grab your favorite earphones, head down to a Best Buy and ask to plug them into a Zune then an iPod and see which one sounds better to you, and which interface makes you smile more. Then you’ll know which is right for you.

  3. Cat says:

    fun project

  4. Gina F says:

    Fabulous idea! I just may have a DD in need of this in a few weeks when school starts! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Naomi says:

    Awesome idea. Going to have to whip a few of these up as prizes for all the students in my class. Thank you 😀

  6. Karen says:

    Looks like Grandma needs to get sewing! This is neat! Thanks!

  7. Melanie says:

    What a great idea! thanks for sharing!

  8. Henria O. says:

    Very cool!

  9. Erin says:

    These are great! I should make one for my mom, who is a teacher!

  10. Ng Lay Yen says:

    Thank you for this great idea ! I love the pom pom trimings and the rick rac too.

  11. Beth says:

    I think that would be great in the car too – keep the back seat drivers happy!

  12. Rebecca says:

    Fun! Love the addition of the trims!

  13. Ramona says:

    I think I will make one of these for home for the computer chair. Anything to help me be more organized.

  14. Julia says:

    I’m thinking this would be a great addition to my craft/sewing chair!

  15. Kathleen says:

    What a great tutorial. I’m going to make some for our house for homework!

  16. julie says:

    I love this. I going to make two right away!!Thanks

  17. Terry Endicott says:

    These are 2 cute and practical! What a great idea! Thanks for sharing!

  18. Mama Lusco says:

    Great idea! Thanks for the tutorial.

  19. Caren Smith says:

    Being an organizing junkie, this looks like it would be perfect for my daughter’s craft room chair AND maybe even a car seat organizer…. Hmmm, the juices are flowing now! 🙂

    P.S. Love the fabric you chose – my purse is made out of the same floral material.

    ~ Caren Smith of

  20. Eileen says:

    Sooooo cute! My husband was just saying he needed something like this for the kids in his second grade class, not that I’d want to sign myself up for making 25 of them! Thank you, though, for the tutorial and the chance to win!

  21. Jen B says:

    Really cute project! I’ll definitely keep this in mind for when kiddo is a little older!

  22. Ginger says:

    Never heard of a desk bag, but these look very practical.

  23. Sue D says:

    Clever way to keep organized–love the pom poms.

  24. kathyh says:

    This looks fun.

  25. Marcia W. says:

    This would be useful for an elementary school kid who will be in the same room most of the day!

  26. vickie smith says:

    love it. Making it for my daughter who is a teacher. she needs 20 :). I love to sew as well.

  27. Beth T says:

    How fun! I could have used one of these at work. 😉 And I’m thinking they’d be great for the little kids in Sunday School. Distracting things on the back of their chairs is so much better than tempting things kept in their laps.

  28. This is so cool. My granddaughter is starting kindergarten in a few weeks and I’m excited about back-to-school projects for her. Thanks!

  29. amorette says:

    very clever! this is a great idea, and it can be taken off to store in a cubby before vacations or the weekend.

  30. Rachael says:

    This is a great idea! I just might make one for myself. I tend to work a lot at the dining room table, not at my desk, and it would be nice to have a place to put a few supplies.


  31. Jessica says:

    This is such a great idea, and it can be used for so many things. And what isn’t cuter with some ric rac? 🙂

  32. Penny says:

    Wow! This is a great idea! Wonder if I can sneak into the school and measure a chair, they got new equipment at the kids school this year and I am not sure what to expect but I love these!

  33. Lisa says:

    I sooooo needed this. What a great idea!!! I am making thaws for each of my children! I homeschoolers and my children will love these!! Thanks so much for sharing your idea.

  34. Susan says:

    I think I’ll make two of these for the chairs in my studio… they’d be great for holding bits and pieces of projects in process (and my daughter’s supplies, who shares the space).

  35. Caren says:

    wow – this is a really cute desk bag!

  36. Kristin H says:

    I think I’m going to have to make one of these to put on the chair in my sewing room to hold all the notions that always seem to get lost!

  37. Bonnie says:

    These are great! My friend asked me to see if I can come up with something like this last year for her kindergarten class. So, I did. I made 30 of these. I made mine with the back side longer to reach the edge of the chair. I made a divider on one panel to hold small items and left a big pouch for books on the first row. I came down 9 inches from the top to fold over though. All the kids loved them and in return, I got their pictures with their stuff inside their new back chair covers. Otherwise, her kids would have books and supplies all over the floor. Other teachers are jealous. Thanks for sharing your idea though.

  38. Samina says:

    This is brilliant & adorable! I expect that I’ll be called up to make one or more soon enough.

  39. Heather says:

    What a great idea!!! Thanks!!

  40. Leah says:

    Ahhh, I just made some pants out of that same flower material!!! Love the desk bag…I see one of those in my girl’s future!

  41. Amy G. says:

    I’ve been wanting to make these for my students! Thanks for the tutorial!!!

  42. Michelle says:

    This would even work well in my sewing room.

  43. Rebecca says:

    adorable! This is actually just what I was needing for our home office/workroom!

  44. KarenH says:

    That would make a great bag for the back of my sewing chair, thank you for sharing your tutorial!

  45. Christina says:

    I love this! I’m thinking I need one of them for ME in my dining room to hide my newspaper I don’t quite finish reading and the mail I haven’t quite gotten to, but can’t spare to put away.

  46. Honestly, the trim is a little gaudy, but the bag is great. Thanks for this!

  47. Sue Lavell says:

    OOO I may have to have some for home! As a teacher no longer teaching…I wish I had these when I was teaching….may have eliminated Messy Desk Syndrome!

  48. I love this idea. How fun. I think I would have to do Thomas fabric for my son. Thanks for the tutorial!

  49. Sarah K says:

    How cute is that!?! Could this even be modified for the car to use on road trips?

  50. Love this!!

  51. Basteta says:

    What an awesome idea!

  52. Celeste says:


  53. Jessi says:

    What a cute project.

    I’m intrigued that these are on supply lists as I’ve never seen them commercially. Do your kids go to really crafty schools?

  54. angelina says:

    this is great, i love it !

  55. Deanna says:

    Nice idea! I will be trying one of these. Very handy, even for older children. I might put straps on mine.

  56. rachel says:

    great idea and super cute too!!

  57. Great tutorial!

  58. Kate says:

    These are perfect for those of us who homeschool our kids! Thanks for the tutorial!

  59. Emilie says:

    what a great idea! I might use it for my sewing chair since I have very limited space!

  60. Kim says:

    Great idea- keep items handy without cluttering the desk!

  61. Jacque says:

    This is a fantastic idea! I can see other uses for this cute project, too!

  62. Lori says:

    I’ve never heard of a desk-bag, but I like the concept!

  63. Christina Miller says:

    This is such a cool idea! Thanks!

  64. Beth says:

    I love this idea! I wish I had thought of it myself. I will definitely need to make some of these for my classroom.

  65. amy says:

    What a great idea! I’d have to boy it up without the pom-poms and rickrack though. Denim would be perfect!

  66. Sonja says:

    Great idea. When my mom was a teacher she made a similar “desk bag” for each of her students every year. It was amazing just how organized her little third grade kiddos learned to be!

  67. Maya says:

    That is a really good idea. Simple yet fun!

  68. cool idea. It’s also great to hang over the dining room chairs. we always have a newspaper or a magazine lying around!

  69. Jess says:

    That’s a really neat idea, I love it! I’m always trying to find ways to make things a little more orderly around here. 🙂


  70. Meg says:

    What a great idea! I can’t wait to whip one up!

  71. Sarah J says:

    oh my this is gorgeous…. i am definately going to make one for my husband who is a teacher… i may even adapt the pattern to make one for my daughters high chair to keep her wipes etc in… thank you.

  72. Kris says:

    That’s cool- I may need to make one for myself!

  73. Misty says:

    I am going to make a couple of these for my 2 older girls!! Looks cool!!

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