make your own: canvas satchel.

November 24, 2020

Lucky for me, I’m not alone in my pursuit of tidy or the particular form of stress relief found in corralling and organizing inanimate objects. When talking about my hope that uniform pouches would solve my linen storage conundrum, Rose told me she’d sewn up simple canvas satchels to organize miscellany rolling around in the trunk of her car over the summer. (We’re a match made in heaven, I know. ) And so, we present these multi-purpose canvas satchels, or envelopes, or pouches, or truly whatever name your more inspired brain might be able to come up with.

Because she’s an actual angel in addition to being a kindred spirit, Rose gave the pads of my fingers a break, pulled down her sewing machine, and hand-delivered a stack of finished satchels to my door one day when I wasn’t even home. Even without having an angel for a friend, don’t be afraid of this project. These are quick to sew up and can be made from any kind of fabric you might have hanging around. We used canvas drop cloth here, which is helpful because it’s inexpensive , can be found at any local hardware store, and typically has at least two hemmed edges you can put to use without needing to sew them. Still, an old bed sheet, or tablecloth would work equally as well.

I wrote yesterday about about using these sacks for linen storage but don’t let that stop you from imagining a hundred other things that might benefit from being parceled up in cloth. Move over wrapping paper, et cetera!

I’ll let Rose cover the how-to (pun, if it is one, intended):


+ Canvas drop cloth

+ Scissors

+ Thread and needle (a sewing machine will make this a much quicker project)

+ String or cord

+ Ruler (optional


+ Determine the length and width you want your finished pouch to be. (I have left out the dimensions for this pouch intentionally so you can modify it to make the size you’d like.)

+ Cut a long rectangle that is 2 ½ times the desired length (b) and 2” wider than the desired width (a). If possible, incorporate the hemmed edge of the drop cloth along one of the width edges to save time with sewing.

+ With the right sides facing in, fold up the the bottom (*hemmed) width edge up towards the top, double over the length proportion and leave ½ length remaining.

*If you do not have a pre-hemmed edge you can quickly make one by folding over the fabric and sewing a straight stitch across.

+ Zig-zag stitch the entire length of each long side of the bag. Be sure to sew the two sides together and continue to the single raw-edge layer. You can reinforce this stitch by stitching over a second time. Cut any loose threads.

+ With a sharp scissor cut away any remaining fabric right up to the zigzag stitch. This should create a clean edge with little fiber threads.

+ Reverse the pouch inside out with the seam connecting the two sides and concealed on the inside.

+ For the top raw hem of the bag, you can either hem underneath to create a neat fold or simply fray the threads evenly to create a raw hemmed edge.

+ Cut a piece of string that is roughly 3 times the length of the sewn pouch.

+ Fold the string in half to create a small ¾” loop and secure where the loop meets the middle edge of the flap. (If using a sewing machine, go over the string a few times using a zig-zag stitch).

Thanks to Rose Pearlman for developing this project, writing the instructions, and capturing the step-by-step instruction imagery. Rose is an artist, teacher, and textile designer. With a background in fine arts and a love of well designed functional objects, her creations blur the lines between art and craft and pushes the boundaries with non-traditional techniques and materials. Rose teaches monthly rug hooking workshops in and around her home in NYC, and also welcomes commissions for one of a kind constructions in decor and home furnishings. Her work has been featured in fiber magazines, galleries, and numerous online design sites. Her book Modern Rug Hooking is available wherever books are sold. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her family.

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  • Reply becca b November 24, 2020 at 10:57 am

    Oh! this will be a wonderful use for the white tablecloth that has seen a few too many drippy egg yolks and burst pomegranate seeds. Thank you for this project, Rose and Erin!

  • Reply Anna November 24, 2020 at 2:46 pm

    I’ve often used this kind of satchel for organizing clothes in suitcases, too — keeping socks separate from shirts separate from laundry, etc. Always so satisfying to know exactly where things are!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 24, 2020 at 2:55 pm

      Yes! Totally! And frankly…I’ve extended that same system to my drawers, especially for slippery things like bathing suits or bras that aren’t easily kept tidy!

    • Reply Jo November 4, 2023 at 12:34 pm

      Love it!
      I’m going make a few today
      Thx uuuu

  • Reply Jenna November 24, 2020 at 5:31 pm

    Such a cute little satchel! I would love to try to DIY this 🙂
    Jenna ♥

  • Reply Cathy November 25, 2020 at 2:47 pm

    Love this! Thank you for the idea! Wondering if you have a good source to get the canvas drop cloth from? (also, to my sewing-novice eyes, it looks like you may have used linen here, no?). xx

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 25, 2020 at 4:54 pm

      We just get it from the hardware store! This is cotton dropcloth, not linen!

  • Reply Leslie December 10, 2020 at 4:03 pm

    String should be cut six times the finished length of the satchel (not three).

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE December 11, 2020 at 9:07 am

      Very flexible! Rose cut 3x and it worked out just right, but if 6x works for you, go for it!

  • Reply Leslie December 11, 2020 at 10:50 am

    Sorry, I should have explained more clearly. 3x actually won’t work at all since the string is folded in half, making it 1.5 x the length of the satchel. This means it can’t wrap down to the bottom (1/2 x length) + around the back ( 1x length) + down to the loop (1/2 length). Rose likely forgot that the string was folded in half.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE December 11, 2020 at 12:41 pm

      got it!


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