Make a beach bag for your seaside holiday that will get you lots of amiring glances

How to make a boat inspired beach bag


  • 70cm of 140cm-wide navy cotton ticking fabric
  • Tracing paper and pencil
  • 15cm square of bonding web
  • 15 x 5cm rectangle of red striped cotton fabric
  • 15cm square of red floral cotton fabric
  • 5cm square of plain red cotton fabric
  • Masking tape
  • 13cm of 4mm-wide red ribbon
  • Matching sewing threads
  • Pinking shears (optional)
  • Bodkin

Finished size: 37 x 35cm, excluding handles

Making the beach bag paper pattern

On a photocopier, enlarge the fabric boat template so that the bottom line of the boat hull measures 8cm. Trace the boat template on to tracing paper. Mark the arrows.

Boat picture paper patternCutting out

1. Cut two 43 x 38cm rectangles from the navy ticking fabric for the front and back of the bag and two 67 x 9cm rectangles for the handles, cutting the long edges parallel with the stripes.

2. Turn the tracing of the boat the wrong side up and trace the hull, sails and flag on to the paper backing of the bonding web. Roughly cut the pieces, leaving a margin around the outer edges.

Appliquéing the beach bag

1. Press the bonding-web hull to the wrong side of the red striped fabric, placing the arrow parallel with the stripes.

Press the bonding web sails to the wrong side of the floral fabric and the bonding web flag to the wrong side of the plain red fabric, matching the arrow to the fabric grain. Cut out the pieces and peel off the backing papers.

2. Place the fabric boat tracing centrally on the right side of the front piece of the bag with the lower edge of the boat 10.5cm above the short lower edge of the bag.

Using the masking tape, tape the top edge of the tracing to the fabric and use the tracing as a guide for positioning the pieces. Press under 6mm at one end of the ribbon, then pin and tack the ribbon to the front piece of the bag with the pressed end at the top.

Slip the fabric pieces under the tracing, with the hull covering the raw end of the ribbon. Lift the tracing and pin the fabric pieces to the bag pieces. Remove the tracing. Press the fabric pieces in place.

3. Thread a sewing machine with red thread. Stitch along the centre of the ribbon with a straight stitch, then remove the tacking. Set the sewing machine to a zigzag stitch about 2mm wide. Zigzag stitch the hull, sails and flag in place.

How to make a beach bag

Note: Use a 1.5cm seam allowance. Join pieces with right sides together and edges level.

1. Neaten the long side edges and short lower edge of the bag pieces with a zigzag stitch or pinking shears.

Pin the front and back bag pieces together. Stitch the long side and short lower edges. Press the seams open.

To stitch a gusset, match the seams at one corner. Draw a line at right angles across the seam 2.5cm from the corner. The line will be 5cm long. Stitch along the line. Repeat at the other corner.

2. Press under 1cm then 3cm at the upper edge of the bag. On the right side, stitch 2.5cm below the upper edge, using red thread to hem the bag.

3. Fold the handles right sides together lengthways in half and stitch the long edges. Press the seams open. Turn the handles the right side out with a bodkin. Press the handles with the seams centred. Press under 1cm at both ends of the handles.

4. With the right sides facing up, pin the ends of one handle to the front of the bag 6.5cm in from the side seams and 6.5cm below the upper edges.

Using red thread, stitch close to the edges at the handle ends and across the handle, forming a square, then stitch a cross in the centre of the square. Repeat on the back of the bag.