How to Make a Hemp Bag: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Crafting an Eco-Friendly Tote


This article provides an in-depth, step-by-step guide on how to craft your own hemp bag. Covering everything from material selection to sewing techniques, this tutorial is perfect for both beginners and seasoned crafters looking for an eco-friendly project.


As concerns about the environment and sustainability continue to grow, making eco-friendly choices has never been more crucial. Hemp bags are a fantastic way to incorporate sustainability into your everyday life. Not only are they sturdy and biodegradable, but they also offer a stylish alternative to synthetic bags.

Making your own hemp bag not only contributes to sustainability but also gives you a sense of accomplishment. Plus, they make for excellent gifts that carry a message of eco-consciousness. In line with this spirit, we at Natural Nook are pleased to offer you this comprehensive guide to crafting your own hemp bag. 

Materials You Will Need

  1. Hemp Fabric (at least 1 yard)
  2. Measuring Tape
  3. Scissors
  4. Sewing Machine
  5. Thread (preferably made from hemp or organic cotton)
  6. Pins
  7. Chalk or Fabric Marker
  8. Iron
  9. Optional: Zipper or Buttons for Closure

Step 1: Cut Your Fabric - A Detailed Guide to Getting It Right

Cutting the fabric is a crucial first step in making your hemp bag. It lays the groundwork for the entire project, determining the size and shape of your bag. Here, we'll delve into the details of cutting your fabric, ensuring you have all the information you need to get it right the first time.

Sub-Step 1: Prepare Your Workspace and Tools

  1. Workspace: Choose a flat surface that's big enough to spread out your hemp fabric. This could be a large table or even a clean floor. Make sure the space is free from distractions and obstacles.

  2. Tools: Gather your tools—measuring tape, chalk or fabric marker, and scissors. For a cleaner cut, ensure your scissors are sharp and specifically designed for cutting fabric.

Sub-Step 2: Unroll and Flatten Your Hemp Fabric

  1. Unroll the Fabric: Unroll your hemp fabric onto your prepared surface, making sure it lies as flat as possible.

  2. Smooth Out: Use your hands to smooth out any wrinkles or folds in the fabric. For particularly stubborn wrinkles, a quick pass with an iron on a low setting can make the fabric easier to work with.

Sub-Step 3: Measure and Mark Dimensions

  1. Determine Dimensions: Before you start measuring, decide on the dimensions of your bag. A standard tote is about 16 inches wide and 14 inches high, but you can adjust these measurements based on your needs.

  2. Start Measuring: Using a measuring tape, carefully measure out the width and height of what will become one side of your bag. It's a good idea to measure twice to confirm your dimensions.

  3. Mark the Fabric: With a piece of chalk or a fabric marker, lightly make your markings. Create a rectangular outline, clearly marking each corner. If you're not confident in your freehand skills, use a ruler or straight edge to guide your markings.

Sub-Step 4: Cut the Fabric

  1. Double-Check: Before you start cutting, double-check your markings to make sure they are accurate. Remember, it’s always better to measure twice and cut once!

  2. Cut Along the Lines: With your scissors, carefully begin to cut along the markings you've made. Try to maintain a steady hand, ensuring the edges are as straight as possible. If your scissors have a longer blade, that can help achieve a straighter line.

  3. Cut Second Piece: Once the first piece is cut, you can either measure and mark the second piece the same way, or use the first piece as a template. To use it as a template, lay it flat on the remaining fabric, trace around it, and then cut out the second piece.

  4. Final Check: Place the two pieces on top of each other to make sure they align perfectly. Make any necessary trimming but be careful not to deviate from the original dimensions significantly.

And there you have it! You’ve successfully cut your hemp fabric, and you're now ready for the next steps in crafting your eco-friendly bag. This may seem like a simple task, but getting it right is crucial for a well-crafted end product. Take your time, double-check your measurements, and happy crafting!

Step 2: Sew the Sides - Your Comprehensive Guide to Crafting a Sturdy Hemp Bag

Once your hemp fabric is accurately cut, the next vital step in making your sustainable hemp bag is sewing the sides together. Achieving a neat and strong stitch is crucial for the bag's durability and aesthetics. Below is an exhaustive guide to walk you through every nuance of this process.

Sub-Step 1: Prep Your Sewing Station

  1. Clean and Organize: Make sure your sewing station is clean and well-organized. Have all tools and supplies within arm’s reach to ensure a smooth sewing process.

  2. Thread the Machine: Use a thread that matches the color of your hemp fabric or opt for a contrasting thread for aesthetic effect. Make sure your sewing machine is threaded correctly according to its manual.

  3. Check the Needle: For hemp fabric, a denim needle (size 14 to 18) is ideal due to the fabric's thickness. Ensure the needle is securely attached to your sewing machine.

Sub-Step 2: Align the Fabric Pieces

  1. Right Sides Together: Lay one piece of fabric on a flat surface with the right side facing up. Place the second piece on top, with the right side facing down. Essentially, the 'right' sides of both fabric pieces should be facing each other.

  2. Smooth the Fabric: Make sure both pieces are aligned perfectly and are free of wrinkles. Use your hands to smooth out the fabric.

Sub-Step 3: Pin the Edges

  1. Start Pinning: With both pieces aligned, take sewing pins and start pinning along the two longer sides and the bottom edge. Place pins approximately 1-2 inches apart, and about half an inch from the edge.

  2. Corner Pins: Add extra pins at the corners for added stability. This helps in maintaining the fabric’s shape and makes turning corners easier when sewing.

  3. Verify Alignment: Before proceeding, double-check to ensure that the fabric edges are still aligned correctly. Readjust pins as necessary.

Sub-Step 4: Sewing

  1. Stitch Settings: On your sewing machine, select a straight stitch setting and adjust the stitch length to about 2.5-3.0, which is usually the default for most machines.

  2. Test Stitch: It's a good idea to do a test stitch on a scrap piece of hemp fabric to make sure the tension settings on your machine are suitable for your fabric.

  3. Begin Sewing: Place the pinned fabric under the sewing machine’s presser foot, starting at one top corner of one of the sides. Lower the presser foot.

  4. Backstitch: Start by sewing forward a few stitches, and then backstitch to the starting point to secure the thread. This will add extra durability to your bag.

  5. Straight Stitch: Sew along the pinned line, removing pins as you go. Maintain a slow to moderate speed to ensure you're stitching as straight as possible.

  6. Corners: As you approach a corner, stop about half an inch before the edge, with the needle down in the fabric. Lift the presser foot, pivot the fabric 90 degrees, lower the presser foot, and continue sewing. This will give you a neat corner.

  7. End with a Backstitch: Once you reach the end, make sure to backstitch again to lock the stitches in place.

  8. Trim Threads: Use a pair of scissors to trim any loose or excess threads close to the stitches.

Sub-Step 5: Examine Your Work

  1. Quality Check: After sewing, open up the fabric to inspect your stitches. Make sure they are straight and secure. If you find any inconsistencies, you may need to use a seam ripper to remove the problematic stitches and redo that section.

By now, you should have a securely sewn hemp bag with sides that are ready to take on the next steps of your project, whether that's adding a pocket, straps, or any other personal touches. This step is foundational and getting it right will set the tone for the quality of your final product. Happy sewing!

For more eco-conscious crafting and sustainable living tips, visit Natural Nook.

Step 3: Add a Base for Extra Sturdiness (Optional)

Creating a base for your hemp bag will give it a more structured look and make it easier to carry items without the bag sagging. This step may seem complex, but with some patience and attention to detail, you'll add a professional touch to your homemade bag.

Creating the Base Corners

  1. Turn the Bag Inside Out: After sewing the sides in Step 2, turn your bag inside out so that the seams are exposed.

  2. Locate the Corners: Identify the bottom corners of the bag where you'll be creating the base. Each corner will become a triangle when folded, which we'll sew across to create a flat base.

  3. Fold into Triangles: To create each triangle, pull apart the two layers of fabric at the corner, and then align the side seam with the bottom seam. When these seams are aligned, a triangle of fabric will form at the corner.

  4. Flatten the Triangle: Use your hand or a flat surface to flatten the triangle. The more precise you are in aligning the seams, the neater the base will look.

Measuring and Marking

  1. Decide on the Base Depth: The size of the triangle will determine the depth of your bag’s base. A good starting point is to measure 2-3 inches from the tip of the triangle towards the base.

  2. Mark the Stitch Line: Using a ruler and your chalk or fabric marker, draw a line perpendicular to the side seam, across the triangle, where you measured 2-3 inches. This line is where you will sew.

  3. Pin in Place: Once the line is drawn, use pins to keep the fabric in place. Make sure that the pins are parallel to the marked line to ensure a straight stitch.

Sewing the Base

  1. Prepare Your Sewing Machine: Thread your machine with the thread you've chosen, which is preferably hemp or organic cotton to keep the bag 100% sustainable.

  2. Stitch Along the Line: Slowly and carefully sew a straight stitch along the line you've marked on both corners. For added durability, backstitch at the beginning and end of the line.

  3. Test the Fit: Before cutting the excess fabric, it may be helpful to turn the bag right side out to ensure you are happy with the depth of the base. Make any necessary adjustments before proceeding.

  4. Trim the Excess: Once you're satisfied with the size of your base, trim the excess triangle fabric, leaving about a half-inch seam allowance. This will reduce bulk without risking the stitches coming undone.

  5. Finish the Edges: For a polished look, you can use a zigzag stitch to finish the raw edges of the cut triangles, preventing them from fraying over time.

And there you have it, a sturdy base for your hemp bag. This optional step enhances the functionality and durability of your bag, making it perfect for grocery shopping, carrying books, or any other purpose that requires a sturdy hold.

Pro Tips:

  • Alignment Is Key: Take your time to align the seams precisely. The more aligned the seams, the more symmetrical and professional-looking your bag's base will be.

  • Quality Over Speed: Especially if you're a beginner, don't rush through this step. A few extra minutes of care can make a significant difference in the finished product.

Remember, crafting isn't just about the end product; it's about the joy and learning that comes from the process. By adding a base to your hemp bag, you're not only improving its utility but also elevating your crafting skills.

In line with our mission at Natural Nook, each item you create reduces waste and makes a positive impact on the environment. And remember, each purchase from our store contributes to planting 10 trees, making your crafting journey even more fulfilling.

We hope this detailed step enriches your crafting experience. Happy crafting from all of us at Natural Nook!

Step 4: Craft and Attach the Handles

Handles are the lifeline of any bag. They need to be not only aesthetically pleasing but also strong enough to hold the weight of whatever you carry. Crafting your own handles gives you the flexibility to customize them in terms of length, width, and style. In this step, we’ll go through a detailed guide to ensure your handles are both functional and stylish.

Crafting the Handles

  1. Determine Length and Width: First, decide how long and how wide you want your handles to be. A standard tote bag handle is often around 24 inches long and 2-3 inches wide, but you're free to customize based on your comfort and needs.

  2. Cut Strips for Handles: Based on your measurements, cut two strips of hemp fabric. Always double-check your measurements before cutting to ensure both handles are identical.

  3. Fold the Fabric: Fold each strip of fabric lengthwise, right sides facing out. The fold will help guide you for the next steps.

  4. Press with Iron: Iron the folded fabric strips to create a strong crease down the middle. This crease serves as a guide for folding the edges and ensures a symmetrical final product.

Preparing for Sewing

  1. Fold the Edges Inward: Unfold the strips and then fold the long edges inward so they meet at the central crease. This double fold adds extra strength to the handles.

  2. Iron Again for Stability: Run the iron over the new folds to keep them in place. This will make the sewing process more manageable and help ensure a straight stitch.

  3. Pin the Fold: To secure the fold until you sew it, use pins along the length of the strip, spacing them evenly to maintain alignment.

  4. Set up Your Sewing Machine: Thread your sewing machine with your chosen thread, again, ideally made from hemp or organic cotton to maintain the bag’s sustainability.

Sewing the Handles

  1. Stitch the Edges: Sew along both long edges of each handle strip. Keep the stitch as straight as possible for both aesthetics and durability. A straight stitch will suffice, but you can also opt for a more decorative stitch if you're feeling adventurous.

  2. Backstitch at the Ends: When you start and end your stitch, make sure to backstitch for added strength. Handles undergo a lot of stress, and this extra reinforcement will extend their lifespan.

Attaching the Handles to the Bag

  1. Measure Handle Placement: Hold your bag up and decide where you'd like the handles to be positioned. Accurate measuring is essential here. Use your measuring tape and chalk or fabric marker to mark the points where the handles will attach to the bag. Make sure the distance between the handles is equal on both sides.

  2. Pin Handles in Place: Align the ends of your handles with the marks you've made on the bag. The handles should loop upwards, with the ends pinned to the top edge of the bag. Make sure they aren't twisted.

  3. Double-Check Alignment: Before sewing, it’s a good idea to double-check that the handles are evenly placed and that you’re happy with their length and position.

  4. Sew Handles Onto Bag: Carefully sew the handles to the bag where they are pinned. For extra strength, you can sew a square or an “X” shape at each handle end. Don’t forget to backstitch at the beginning and end of your sewing.

Final Touches

  1. Inspect Your Work: After sewing, inspect the handles to make sure they are securely attached and that the stitches look even.

  2. Iron Once More: For a neat, professional finish, iron the handles and the areas where they attach to the bag. This will smooth out any wrinkles caused by sewing and handling.

Congratulations, you've just added a set of sturdy, customized handles to your hemp tote bag! Crafting your own handles can seem like a daunting task, but the personal touch and customizability make it well worth the effort.

Remember, with every eco-friendly item you create, you're taking a step towards a more sustainable future. When you need more materials for your sustainable crafting endeavors, Natural Nook is your go-to resource. Each purchase not only provides you with high-quality, sustainable materials but also contributes to the planting of 10 trees.

We hope you found this step of your crafting journey enriching and educational. Happy crafting from the Natural Nook team!

Step 5: Attach Handles to Bag

  1. Measure and Pin: Decide where you want to place the handles and pin them to the top edge of your bag.
  2. Sew: Sew the handles in place, making sure to backstitch for added strength.

Step 6: Add a Custom Closure to Your Hemp Bag for Security and Style

The final, optional step in crafting your hemp bag is adding a closure. A closure not only offers added security but also can be a stylish accent that personalizes your bag. In this detailed guide, we'll cover how to add both zipper and button closures, so you can choose the one that best suits your design and functionality needs.

Before You Start

Gather Your Supplies:

  • Zipper or buttons (depending on your choice of closure)
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread (hemp or organic cotton)
  • Measuring tape
  • Chalk or fabric marker
  • Pins
  • Seam ripper
  • Scissors

Adding a Zipper Closure

  1. Measure Zipper Length: Measure the length of the zipper against the opening of your bag. If the zipper is slightly longer, you can shorten it later.

  2. Mark Zipper Placement: With your chalk or fabric marker, mark the start and end points for your zipper on both sides of the bag opening. Make sure these marks align symmetrically on each side.

  3. Pin Zipper: Open the zipper and place it face down on the right side of one side of the bag opening, aligning it with your marks. Pin in place. Repeat on the other side of the bag.

  4. Sew Zipper: Using a zipper foot on your sewing machine, sew the zipper in place. Start at the bottom, sew up one side, across the top, and down the other side. Remember to backstitch at the beginning and end.

  5. Test Zipper: Before moving on, zip and unzip to ensure that it opens smoothly and is securely attached.

  6. Shorten Zipper (If Necessary): If your zipper is too long, unzip it a few inches, sew a new zipper stop by stitching back and forth a few times, and then trim off the excess.

Adding Button Closure

  1. Select Button Position: Decide where you want the buttons to be. Usually, two to three buttons are enough for a tote bag.

  2. Mark for Buttonholes: Use chalk or a fabric marker to mark where the buttonholes will go, ensuring they are equidistant from each other and centered on the bag.

  3. Create Buttonholes: Use your sewing machine’s buttonhole setting to create the buttonholes at the marks you've made. If you’re unsure how to make a buttonhole, consult your sewing machine’s manual for guidance.

  4. Open Buttonholes: Carefully use a seam ripper to open the buttonholes, being cautious not to rip through the stitching.

  5. Attach Buttons: On the opposite side of the bag from the buttonholes, mark where the buttons will go. Sew the buttons in place, making sure they align with the buttonholes.

  6. Test Buttons: Button and unbutton a few times to ensure the closure is secure and functional.


And there you have it—a hemp bag made by you, for you. These bags are not only eco-friendly but also highly customizable and durable. Plus, when you craft one yourself, you are adding a personal touch that no mass-produced bag can match.

Don't forget, when you need more sustainable crafting materials, you can always turn to Natural Nook. Each purchase contributes to the planting of 10 trees, furthering your commitment to a more sustainable lifestyle. Happy crafting!

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