Tutorial: Box the Bottom Corners of a Bag

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Lazies, I’ve put together a picture tutorial on how to easily and accurately box the bottom of a bag. A box bottom means the bag has a flat bottom, making it easier to hold wide things or rest comfortably when you set it down. This is an easy technique which you can use on lots of designs.

Lazy Girl Designs ‘With Love Tote’ with a 4″ deep boxed bottom.

Last week I announced our Make2/Give2 event for September which features our With Love Tote bag. You can print the pattern from last week’s post. The pattern has been updated to include directions to make a flat bottom bag by ‘boxing’ the bottom corners.

Click the picture to enlarge. This is a view of the bottom of the bag.
The side seam (left) and bottom seam (right) meet and a seam is stitched across these seams to give the bag dimension.

– Cut a square from each bottom corner.
This is a 2″ square which will result in a 4″ deep boxed bottom.
The size of the cut square will determine the depth of the bag when boxed.

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– Separate the layers of the bag at the cut corner.
– Pull the side seam and the bottom seam together, matching the seams, as shown here.
– Stitch closed.
– For extra strength, reinforce by stitching again.

The bottom of the bag takes shape as two corners are boxed.

Lay bag flat

Things to keep in mind
Cutting the corners will affect the width and height of the bag. The result will be a bag that is narrower across the bottom, and shorter top to bottom.
– Width of the bag across the bottom: 19″ minus 4″ (2″ for each corner), leaves the width at 15″ wide.
– Height of the bag at the side: 16″ minus 2″, leaves a height of 14″.

If you take too big of a cut at the corner, your bag might have odd finished dimensions. The larger the corner cut, the narrower and shallower the finished bag will be.

Some examples of corner cut sizes and finished bag sizes for this project
1″ corner cuts = 17″ wide x 15″ high x 2″ deep (wide, tall and skinny depth)
3″ corner cuts = 13″ wide x 13″ high x 6″ deep (square and deep)
4″ corner cuts = 11″ wide x 12″ high x 8″ deep (taller than wide and too deep)

You can see from the math that small changes in the size of the cuts make a big difference in the finished size of the project. If you are unsure of how big to cut a corner to box the bottom and give your bag depth, start with a smaller cut, sew, then see what you think. You can always cut more off and stitch again.

Remember to box the cover and the lining so everything matches nicely. Refer to the With Love Tote pattern to see where and when in the project to do this.


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Leave a Lazy Comment

55 Responses to “Tutorial: Box the Bottom Corners of a Bag”

  1. Christie Staton — August 25, 2008 @ 7:24 am

    I also think I want to try to make it in a tiny size for gift card for Christmas time for the Grandkids. Should challenge the “boxing” skills some…we’ll see what happens to that bright idea. Visions of using up small pieces of novelty prints are darting through my head…see what you start! Keep it up please. Christie

  2. Penny — August 25, 2008 @ 8:53 am

    Oh Joan thanks for the math, it will be a great help to me. Of course I am a picture person to so the tutorial is wonderful. Must get busy!

    Penny D in Chesapeake, VA

  3. Teresa Qualls — August 25, 2008 @ 8:59 am

    DO you have a tutorial for the Miranda Bag???? I just purchased the pattern and can’t wait to make it.

  4. Sue Baker — August 25, 2008 @ 9:01 am

    Your bag pattern last week inspired me. I have some prequilted fabrics, mostly in holiday patterns, that were given to me. Your pattern gave me the idea to make some modifications, & construct holiday totes as well as smaller gift bags that will go into my quilt guild’s fall auction. By not having to line the prequilted fabrics, I made a band to finish off the top edge. Sue Baker, VA

  5. Kathy — August 25, 2008 @ 10:19 am

    Thanks so much for taking the time to do these little hints…some of us that have been sewing for a short period of time…these kind of things help…Those of us that have been sewing for a lonnnnnnnng period of time need to be reminded…..thanks again for all the valuable information that you send out to us…for me it is greatly appreciated.
    I belong to the latter……lonnnnnnnnng time sewer..kd

  6. Suzanne — August 25, 2008 @ 10:22 am

    I make the Love Tote all the time with boxed bottoms….but I simply turn inside out, match the side seams, mark and pin the depth of the “box” I want. Sew, trim and turn.

    Never thought about cutting a square first. I’ll have to try it.

    I also make the Love Tote with a half yard of fabric and sew a tall tote instead of a wide tote. They make great wine bottle gift bags.

  7. Carol Britt — August 25, 2008 @ 10:34 am

    way to go Joan! This will be very helpful!
    Carol at Batiks Etc and Sew What Fabrics, Wytheville, VA

  8. Peggy — August 25, 2008 @ 11:27 am

    I finish off the boxed corners seam by zig zagging across the seam for extra protetion, too. They’re easy to do.

    I also made up cardboard squares starting at 2 inches, 2 1/2″, 3″, etc. for squaring off bags and totes and just draw them onto the wrong side of the fabric and cut them out, 123……

  9. Margaret B. Veonmveon@suddenlink.net — August 25, 2008 @ 11:39 am

    Joan, Thanks for the new tutorial on the boxed bag bottoms had trouble with my 1st one then went to the Towne bag instructions and did ok. I have made at least 5 Towne bags and need a new one for me. Your instructions are the best! Margie

  10. Sandy — August 25, 2008 @ 12:11 pm

    Joan, It makes great sense this week. Do you box the lining separately from the cover or do you box them as one? Love your blog each week.

  11. Deborah Harper — August 25, 2008 @ 3:03 pm

    I am looking for a pattern for a “caddy” to hang on a hospital bed or walker.

  12. Daphne — August 25, 2008 @ 9:51 pm

    I am looking for a pattern of a purse I saw made out of chenille fabric. It was about 12″ long and 18″ wide with a flap to close and two purse handles. Can’t find a pattern of anything similar, any ideas?

  13. melissa — August 26, 2008 @ 10:36 pm

    Love your blog AND your attitude. Hope you don’t mind I’ve posted a link to you from my blog, and borrowed a picture from this post.

  14. Regina — August 28, 2008 @ 4:21 pm

    I love this boxing technique -my triangles would always go wonky when I would try to do it that way, and with this method I then have some little squares already cut out that can quickly be whipped up into four patches! (after a teeny tiny bit of ripping) – I am well on my way to a “cutting the corners” scrap quilt!!!

  15. Rachel — August 31, 2008 @ 4:17 pm

    This is fantastic! I’m so linking to this!

  16. Sheryl — September 1, 2008 @ 1:04 pm

    Thanks so much for going into more detail on the corners. I had trouble understanding their construction in the main pattern and appreciate the great tutorial! Also, thanks for all of your tips on making sewing easier. I’ve used other patterns and changed them so I could use your easier (and faster) construction methods.

    I’m eager to make this tote bag – it’s a much better pattern than the one I did recently! Thank you!

  17. eleanor — September 7, 2008 @ 3:29 am

    I also added a pocket on the inside and a slightly larger pocket (to cover the sewing lines on the outside. I quilted the pockets for extra stability, they look really cute.

  18. Robin Harris Pagels — September 18, 2009 @ 10:37 pm

    I’ve made many bags over the years using different methods to finish this kind of bottom……over a year ago I came across this method…….I love it ,I get a nice bottom that matches on both sides.

  19. Janaina — October 10, 2009 @ 6:54 am

    I’m willing to try this on a linned bag… I wonder how should I proceed:
    1) add the linning and THEN try you square method, cutting them from both pieces together.

    2) do the square method both on outer side AND linning and then sew the 2 parts together.
    Sorry, I’m just starting and will surely make LOTS of dumb questions till i get the hang of it! LOL.
    Hugs from sunny Brazil.

    • Joan Hawley replied: — October 11th, 2009 @ 8:33 am

      Hi Janaina, Do the second option – square all four corners by themselves, lining and outside. Joan

  20. Marilyn — August 3, 2010 @ 4:22 pm

    thank, joan, for your question…i had the same one, and now have my answer !


  21. abercrombie — January 15, 2011 @ 4:44 am

    Too simple! Nice way! Nice share!

  22. Ashley — January 25, 2011 @ 8:08 pm

    Thank you thank you so much! I was kinda dreading this part, thinking it was going to look a mess but with your very easy directions, my bag looks great!

  23. Hayley — February 1, 2011 @ 6:17 pm

    This is by the far the easiest explanation I have seen of how to box corners. Thankyou so much for sharing this.

  24. Karie — March 4, 2011 @ 5:54 pm

    I was so happy to find your blog with the Box Bottom Tote Bag. I have several horse feed bags I’ve been saving for just the right pattern and now I’ve found it! Thanks so much!

  25. Alma — March 25, 2011 @ 1:38 pm

    Love directions on square bottom. However, to keep shape what type
    of solid material do you cover and lay flat in bottom. Cardboard could bend.
    so what do you recommend?

  26. judi — April 26, 2011 @ 12:20 am

    Thank you for the boxed corner directions…much appreciated!!!

  27. Manu — June 10, 2011 @ 4:54 am

    Thank you! I just got into sewing, I’m a real rookie and I find this tutorial extremely helpful! <3

  28. Melissa — January 31, 2012 @ 9:42 pm

    Thank you Joan! I had instructions in a book and could not make heads or tails of them (something about an apex – what??!!). One look at your pictures and I got it straight away – YOU ROCK! :)

  29. PJ — June 23, 2012 @ 8:20 pm

    Thank you very much for the information, I just needed a little shove in the right direction. Am making gift bags and wanted a flat bottom and voila I have flat bottoms now.

  30. Joanna — July 19, 2012 @ 12:03 pm

    I am an avid crafter but sewing is about my least favorite task and the handicraft I am probably least adept at (especially with the machine). This was especially helpful; thank you for sharing. God bless.

  31. Linda — October 26, 2012 @ 4:46 pm

    OH … THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! I absolutely could NOT figure this out in my mind. It’s been holding me up for a month in making my mom a special bag! SO THANKFUL to you sharing your simple directions!!!

  32. Nena — June 16, 2014 @ 9:00 am

    How do you get the bag to go on an angle like that (wider on top and narrower on at the bottom) when the pattern calls for straight edge rectangles?

  33. Laurie — November 4, 2014 @ 9:19 pm

    Wow- this info about the cut corners of a tote bag were EXACTLY what I needed! Thank you! I hate pinching the corners of bags and trying to figure it all out- hoping the seams will match.

  34. Joanne Riccoboni — January 17, 2015 @ 7:56 pm

    Thank you so much!!! I finally understand!

  35. Thuy — February 15, 2015 @ 9:38 pm

    How do cut the fabric so that the width of the bag is the same from top to bottom after I make the boxed bottom. I understand that you lose 4 inches with a 2in cutout at the bottom. Any helpful suggestions would be great.

  36. susan — February 24, 2015 @ 6:53 am

    I loved your pattern directions. I’ve looked all over and yours is the best by far. I also want to thank you for the examples of sizes and what cutting out the bottom square would do to the size of the bag. Thank you, my bag turned out great.

  37. Francine — February 27, 2015 @ 11:05 am

    I am a fan of your site and enjoy receiving your newsletter.
    I am wondering if I’m doing it wrong but when I measure my corner square for the boxy look I start at the sewing line, not a the bottom of the fabric because it will be less than 2″.
    Could you clarify this for me.

  38. Debbie — April 17, 2015 @ 2:19 pm

    I’ve been wondering about leaving the triangle of the corner and folding it so that it actually SHOWS on the outside of the bag.. Wd you know how to pull that off?

  39. benta — May 27, 2015 @ 5:50 am

    Thanks for this, hope it’s ok to link to rather than reinventing the how to for a bag post I’m writing

  40. Stacia Blau — August 3, 2015 @ 10:49 pm

    How do I finish off a large oval hole with another material? Want to use a different fabric and it seams to pucker and be weak at the oval edge.. Oval hole is about 6 inches.

  41. Vanessa Towns — October 19, 2015 @ 11:35 am

    Are there any tutorial for any of your bags.. with pictures?

    • Joan Hawley replied: — October 19th, 2015 @ 11:43 am

      Hi Vanessa, All of the designs are available as patterns with complete step-by-step instructions and photos!


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