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DIY Bento Bag | Origami Bag Pattern and Tutorial

This tutorial will show you how to sew an origami tote bag with lining and boxed corners, in easy to follow steps. I love these bags because they are just so easy, look so smart and are pretty tough – sturdy enough to deal with shopping expeditions, trips to the beach, the park or wherever you need a tote. They are called origami bags because of the folding that gives them their shape. Personally, I would like to work the Japanese origami side by using dramatic contrasts between lining and outer color, plain colors, or large geometric prints – but it’s totally up to you. They look good in paisley and large florals too, and stripes could be fun.

bento bag

So, let’s dive right into making these awesome bags – learn how to make a BENTO BAG or an ORIGAMI BAG in a flash.

Below you will find my step by step bento bag written tutorial with VIDEO instructions for all the visual learners. You can even stitch a small origami bag for your kid – to hold their favorite plushie

origami bag with plush toy inside

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How to make an Origami Bag

Supplies and tools

supplies for sewing origami bag or bento bag

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How To Sew a Bento Bag or Origami Bag

Watch the diy bento bag or diy origami bag video first and then follow the written step by step instructions below.
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To sew the origami market bag follow all steps in the tutorial. To make the bento bag, finish at Step 11

STEP 1: Cut the fabric for the origami bento bag

The instructions below cover the four sizes of the bag. Cut two pieces of fabric to the bag size required – one for the outer and one for the lining.

  • Small (kid)     10.5 x 30.5 inches
  • Medium          14.5 x 42.5 inches
  • Large              18.5 x 54.5 inches
  • Extra Large     22.5 x 66.5 inches

The finished size is hard to give exact measurements for but the large size is roughly 25 inches high and 19 inches wide when it is hanging.

cut fabrics needed to make origami bag or bento bag

STEP 2: Layer and pin

Lay the two pieces of fabric with right sides facing each other, and pin into place.

STEP 3: Stitch around

Run a seam around all four sides of the rectangle, leaving a gap of around four inches on one of the short sides. Use a 1/4″ seam allowance.
stitching around the bento bag fabrics

STEP 4: Turn around

Trim across the ends of the four corners, so you don’t have extra bulk– but be careful not to cut too close to the stitching.
Pull the bag through the opening so you have the right sides outwards. Make sure to press out the corners using a chop stick or similar blunt tool – never be tempted to use scissors or you risk making a hole in the fabric.

STEP 5: Press

Lay the tuned fabric out then press flat with your iron, making sure the raw edges of the 4-inch gap you turned the bag through are turned inwards.

STEP 6: Topstitch

Top stitch around the entire rectangle approximately 1/8 of an inch (3mm) from the edge. This will hold the shape and not allow the seams to move.
topstitching the origami bag

STEP 7: Fold the sides

Lay the rectangle out flat on a table with the right side upwards and the lining facing the table. Taking the left side of the fabric by the lowest corner fold it upwards to the top to form a triangle.
Taking the top right corner of the rectangle fold it downward to meet the bottom seam and form a triangle.
folding the sides of the origami bento bag

STEP 8: Fold across the diagonal

You will now have a parallelogram with a square in the middle with the right side of the fabric showing, while the two triangles show the lining. Now down that middle square imagine that there is a diagonal line running the right corner to the left corner.
Working from the left, fold that entire piece downward across the imaginary diagonal line.
origami bag folded across the diagonal

STEP 9:  Pin the diagonals

Where the piece lies against the triangle from the right that was folded upward in Step 8 pin the two edges together carefully.
pinned diagonals of the origami and bento bags

ORIGAMI BAG – front side (left) and back side (right)

STEP 10: Stitch

Sew using a ¼ inch (6mm) seam allowance, making sure you remove pins as you progress down the seam – no one wants to have to change a broken needle at this stage. Turn and repeat with the other side.

STEP 11: (Optional) Box the corners

Creating a boxed corner is the next step if you want to do so – otherwise you can skip this. To create the boxed corner, place the bag with the long seam towards you and the pointy bits like a crown, facing away. Measure up from the base, and inwards from the side as follows:

  • Small bag 2 inches
  • Medium bag 3 inches
  • Large bag 4 inches
  • Extra-large bag 5 inches

Draw a line using dressmaker’s chalk across the corner – forming a small triangle – this will be the sewing line.

stitching lines for the boxed corners of the origami market tote

Sew along the chalk line, then trim off the excess fabric to leave a ¼ inch seam allowance. You can run another line of stitching across the seam allowance to ensure it doesn’t fray if you haven’t used pinking shears, or you can overlock if you have an overlocker, use a zig zag stitch or simply leave as is.

cut corners of the origami bag

STEP 12: Make the handle cover

Take the contrasting 7 x 4-inch piece of fabric which will form the handle and fold the ends in a ¼ inch on the short sides, then run a line of stitching along each fold so the rough edges don’t poke out later.

Fold the 7-inch sides together to form a skinny rectangle and stitch along the edge leaving a ¼ inch seam allowance. Turn the tube the right way out

stitching the handle cover for the origami market tote

STEP 13: Finish the handle

Slide the handle cover onto one of the pointy bits of the handles of the bag, and push as far as it will allow.

Taking the two pointy bits overlap them to create a little square and stitch around the four sides and diagonally across from corner to corner to create an X stitch line in the middle.

stitching the handles of the origami bag

Nearly done – all you do now is slide down the tube of fabric to cover where you have joined the two handle parts together and make sure the cover seam is facing the underside of the handle. You can hand stitch the gathered handle in place if you want to but this shouldn’t be necessary

overlapping the handles of the origami bag

That’s it your origami tote bag is ready!


Do I have to use a contrasting piece for the handle cover?

No, you don’t. You can use a piece of the same fabric as the outer of your bag – in fact it will give it a unified look. However, if you are using a fabric with stripes a plain color for the handle cover might be less busy. Bear in mind that the handle gets plenty of wear and tear, so a dark color won’t show up grime as quickly as a light color would.

Can the bag be washed and tumble dried?

There is no cardboard stiffener so they can easily be tossed in the washer and even in the tumble dryer if you have used fabrics that can stand up to tumble drying. Check the labels on fabric used before tumble drying.

diy origami bento bag

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DIY origami or bento bag

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Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 20 comments
Michelle - March 20, 2021

This is such a cute bag! And your tutorial is so easy to follow!

    Helen - March 21, 2021

    Thank you so much! I’m thrilled to hear you love it as much as I do

Michele Morin - March 21, 2021

Very cute but practical!

    Helen - March 21, 2021

    Thank you, Michele. Origami is such a great bag

Kimberly - March 24, 2021

Thank you for sharing this on Traffic Jam Weekend! It has been chosen as a fave feature for this week’s party that goes live on Thursday at 5:00 pm CST.

Stephanie 139a - April 8, 2021

Such a clever design and so versatile, thanks for sharing with #PoColo

    Helen - April 10, 2021

    You are welcome! Glad you liked it

BERNARDINE POYTON - April 10, 2021

Hello Helen,

Another wonderful,useful project.Thank you for your lovely projects.

Kind regards


Brisbane, Australia

    Helen - January 11, 2022

    Aww so sweet of you! Thank you, Bernardine!

Kathy Rader - April 30, 2021

Fantastic idea, tutorial and instruction. I’ve made two of these bags…a large one and a medium one, in colors/patterns that match outfits I like to wear. I’ve gotten a number of compliments. I’ll be making lots more of these!!

Yolonda - July 23, 2021

how could you make the straps longer I got to make 8 of these

Emma - October 1, 2021

This looks lovely. What size bag did you make in the video please?

Cheryl - December 5, 2021

Hi, I’m in the process of making the medium Bento bag [cut fabric 14.5″ x 42.5″] & have discovered that when I get to the parallelogram my square in the middle is 13.5″ x 15.5″ so it doesn’t go together like it should. What have I done wrong? I guess the only way to fix it is to take 2″ off the end? Any thoughts?

    Helen - December 5, 2021

    Hi Cheryl,
    Off the top of my head you either didn’t use 1/4″ seam allowance all around or you didn’t cut your fabric correctly (no judgement – been there, done that).
    You are supposed to have a rectangle 14 x 42 after you turn it around as 14 * 3 is exactly 42 so you middle square should be 14 x 14.
    To fix it I would cut off the excess but be careful to account for the 1/4 ” new seam allowance. Hope that helps

Nicole - April 27, 2022

This was so fun!! And cute!!
Sweet little Mother’s Day gift bag perhaps??

Thanks for the great patterns.

Susie in the country - July 5, 2022

Love your Amazon link to the scissors you recommend. Budget friendly! To get scissors sharpened is quite expensive. I will buy these in the near future. I am going to give your Bento bag a go! Again easy project for me to try out on my family and firends. lol Thanks again for the recommendation of the scissors.

Jane Burke - August 31, 2022

How can I print the instructions for the bento bag?

    Helen - September 3, 2022

    copy and paste the in word and print from there

Aj - September 6, 2022

Nowhere in your supplies list do you mention “contrasting 7 x 4-inch piece of fabric.”

debbie - September 30, 2023

A few months ago you sent out a bag that didn’t look anything like a bag to start with and you turned it inside out and like magic it was a bag using cotton fabric. I would love to have that video sent to me again because I can’t find it!


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