Rad Fashion Fridays: Cinch Bag with a French Twist

All right folks, we've got summer coming up soon. Here in Jersey, it's already been feeling like it; I've already been to the beach this month. Not to swim, just to bike around and get some crab cakes.


This cinch bag is perfect for days like that, where you want to bring the water bottle and the wallet, maybe a sweater if it gets chilly. I made this one from canvas, which I don't feel play in the cinch bag world; it's always nylon or thinner cotton. I like a thicker material for sturdiness and lasting factor, but you can use any 1/2 yard scraps you have around.


We'll also be doing a French seam, which is mainly used for chiffon, taffeta, light and dressy materials. I'm gonna be a rebel and use it on this normal workin-man's fabric because I'd like to prove that you don't always have to have lining/a surger/a merrow/binding/pinking shears.



Project Time:

      30-40 mins

Items Needed:

      - 1/2 yard scrap of fabric

      - about 3 yards of cording/thin rope


Step 1) Getting Started

  • Fold your 1/2 yard in...well, half. With the selvage together at the bottoms. (My fabric doesn't have a selvage, yours might not too. That's ok, just make sure the pattern it lined up).
  • Draw out an 18 inch x 17 inch rectangle in any direction. I wanted my arrows up and down, you might want yours side to side.


  • Cut on your lines. You'll end up with two 18 x 17 inch pieces like this:


  • Cut two pieces of cording/rope that are 50 inches long each.


Step 2) Preparing the Rope Holes

  • Take your two pieces two the ironing board and figure out which end is the top.
  • Fold the top side 1/2 inch in and about 2 inches down, like this:

         Do this to both sides, and on both pieces. This area will be where the rope enters and exits, so that fold is going to turn into a loop-like hole.

  • Sew it down about 2 inches. There's no real seam allowance requirement here, just make sure the flap is secure.

  •  Take the pieces back to the ironing board and fold the top down 1/4 inch. Iron it flat, and fold it another inch, like so:


  • Make sure you've ironed it all nice and flat. Go back to the machine and sew it down.

Now you've completed the top part of the bag where the cording/rope goes through.


Step 3) Threading the Cording/Rope

This part was difficult for me at first til I figured out how to thread the ropes correctly, I'll try to be as descriptive as possible without over complicating it.


  • Lay your pieces one on top of the other, doesn't matter if its face to face or back to back.
  • Take one rope and loop it through a paperclip. Make sure the pointy part is facing down, makes it a lot easier to thread the rope.


  • Now, put the rope through one end of one piece using the paperclip like a needle. It'll take a little patience and wiggling to get it through there. Continue into the other piece and through to the other side. It'll look like this:

See how both ends are together, you'll want to pin these guys in place so you can thread the other rope in an opposite fashion.


  • Take the other rope and thread it into the opposite side, in one end, out the other, and into the 2nd piece of fabric. The end result will look like this:

On the left is the ends of one rope, on the right are both ends of the other rope. You can take out the pins now.

  • Pull the rope to adjust it so that the ends are even. Scrunch up the fabric around the ropes (essentially cinching it) so that most of the ropes are showing. You'll need the ropes to reach the bottom corners of the bag for the next step.


Step 4) This is where we get French

  • Are you ready for it? Prepare by putting your two pieces of fabric BACKSIDE TO BACKSIDE. That's right, make sure that print is facing out!

  • Pin down the ends of the ropes to the bottom corners.
  • Sew a 1/4 inch seam allowance down the sides and bottom. Start up as high and as close to the rope sleeve as you can.
  • Go and cut off 1/8 inch of the sides and bottom. This will decrease the excess fabric for the next stitch we're about to do.


  • Flip your bag inside out now. Iron the edges down nice and crisp. The corners are going to be rounded, nothing much can be done about that. The rope makes it a little bulky.


  • Start as close to the rope sleeves as you can and sew another 1/4 inch seam allowance down the sides and bottom.


Step 5) Trimming the Strays


  • Flip your bag right side out
  • With a french seam, you may have some fabric threads poking out of the seam. Check around the edges and trim the stragglers.


You're all finished! Pack your new bag and go have some adventures!








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