Innovative Bags & Totes by Nancy Zieman

What’s the difference between a handbag and a tote? Namely, space! The featured Innovative Bags & Totes technique that I’d like to share with you is the Drawcord-Top Bag. It’s this week’s Sewing With Nancy streaming video feature and the second program of my 2-part series.

Sewing With Nancy watch online at

Start with a very basic handbag pattern or template. I used the Trace ‘n Create Bag Template—City Bag Collection.

Trace 'n Create Bag Template—City Bag Collection by Nancy Zieman

Here’s one of the City Bag versions without the drawcord-top conversion. Handbag size, not tote size! Adding the drawcord top is like adding a second story to a house.

Trace 'n Create Bag Template–City Bag Collection Nancy Zieman

The Extras:

You’ll need extra fabric and supplies. Find specific details in the book that accompanies this series. Here’s a quick review:

  • Two packages of 1″ Create-a-Strap
  • 1/2 to 3/4 yards of additional fabric (Yardage will vary depending upon size of bag or tote.)
  • Two yards of drawcord

Innovative changes

When you watch the streaming video, DVD, or TV show on PBS, you’ll learn exactly how to make the updates to a basic handbag pattern. Here’s an overview!

  •  Instead of adding straps at the top of bag as indicated on pattern/template, add the straps to the body of the bag.

  • Create a drawcord closure. Measure the top width of front bag. Example 16″. Cut two rectangles the width (16″) x the length measurement + 2″  (18″).
  • Create the tote part of the bag with upper casing as detailed in the streaming video and Innovative Bags & Totes book.

  • Stitch the drawcord section to the lining.


It took me three tries to get the right dimensions! (Anybody need a drawcord bag that’s not quite right?)

What’s your favorite technique?

Nancy's Giveaway

For a chance to win a copy of the Innovative Bags & Totes book, let me know which bag or tote option is your favorite. (Watch the show online or on PBS in order to vote!) Leave a comment below and we’ll choose a random winner on August 23.

Innovative Bags & Totes

Bye for now,

Nancy Zieman The Blog

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