Tutorial for a simple Kantha shoulder bag

Now that it has gotten colder outside, it might just be the time to activate your sewing machine and skills and produce your own Kantha shoulder bag. I have made quite a few of these - each one different thanks to the unlimited variety of Kantha quilts!

List of supplies and tools you need:

  • Vintage Kantha quilt
  • Lining fabric, such as old linen
  • Matching thread
  • Used leather belt
  • 2 o rings
  • Zipper, about 7 inches long
  • Magnetic snap
  • 2 rivets
  • Hole-puncher
  • Rivet setting tool
  • Hammer
  • Serger (optional)
  • Sewing machine


Construct a simple pattern, consisting of the following four pieces: 

  • Main body - about 18 inches wide at widest point, 13 inches wide at the top and about 11 inches high, with rounded bottom corners, where you also have to mark darts (about 3 inches in depth and 2 inches in width), and a slightly concave top edge.
  • Reinforcement panel - construct it by copying the top 2 inches of the main body.
  • Rectangle for pockets, measuring about 7 x 6.5 inches
  • Ring holder rectangle of about 5.5 x 2.5 inches.

Cut these pieces from your Kantha and lining fabrics as follows:

  • Main body: two pieces from Kantha fabric (1) and two pieces from your lining fabric (2). Mark darts on both.
  • Reinforcement panel: two pieces from Kantha fabric(3).
  • Pocket rectangle: one piece from Kantha fabric and two pieces from lining fabric (4).
  • Ring holder: two pieces from Kantha fabric (5).
kantha bag pieces

In order to construct the outer layer of the bag, sew up the darts on the main body Kantha pieces. This will give the bag some depth and shape. Place the pieces on each other right sides facing with darts and upper edges lined up. Pin into place and sew around the sides and bottom of the main body. Turn it inside out.

Serge the edges of the following pieces with a fairly short stitch length: reinforcement panel - serge the lower (longer) edge; ring holders: serge both longer edges on each piece; Kantha pocket rectangle - serge all edges. If you don't have a serger, just use a zigzag stitch on your sewing machine.

Now you are ready to construct the inside of your bag. Onto each piece of your main body lining, place a serged reinforcement panel, top edges lined up. Stitch the pieces onto each other by sewing along the lower edge of each reinforcement panel. Place the Kantha pocket rectangle in the middle of one of your lining pieces, slightly below the reinforcement panel, sew it into place. On the second lining piece, sew your zippered pocket into place. Place the lining pieces on top of each other, right sides facing, lining up darts and reinforcement panels, and stitch around the sides and rounded bottom corners of the lining. Leave an opening of about 6 inches in the bottom. 

Mark the middle of the reinforcement panels on each side, fix magnetic snaps into place in those spots.

Place outer shell and lining into each other, right sides facing, lining up the top edges of the bag’s outer shell and lining, as well as the side seems of both pieces. Put the ring holder rectangles through the o rings and fold them in half, pin them together. Insert the ring holders upside down between lining fabric and outer shell, with their midpoint lined up with the side seems of outer shell and lining. Pin them into place. Now you are ready to stitch around the top edge of the bag. 

Turn the bag inside out through the opening you left at the bottom of the lining fabric. Make sure the ring holders are in the right place - just above the side seems of the bag. You can now stitch the hole in the bottom closed. 

Cut your leather belt in the desired length. If it is long enough and you’d rather have an adjustable strap, leave the buckle somewhere in the middle of the belt, otherwise cut it off. Punch two holes into each end of the belt, so that you will be able to fit rivets through them once you have wrapped the belt’s ends round the o rings. Punch rivets into place using a rivet setting tool and hammer.

Optionally, decorate your bag with a lovely tassel or dangle!

Here's your end product!

And the inside view:

kantha bag inside


For instructions on how to set rivets, check out


If you need a little help with sewing a zippered pocket, have a look at