How to Make In-the-Hoop Snap Bags

How to Make In-the-Hoop Snap Bags

After I posted the Snappy Glasses Cases, I was bombarded with requests for a version that would fit in a 5x7” hoop so here’s a new bevy of bags. Although they may look different, they’re all done from just one design!

Obviously you can change them up by using different fabrics, but a savvy embroiderer can skip color changes or repeat color changes to achieve a different effect.

After I posted the Snappy Glasses Cases, I was bombarded with requests for a version that would fit in a 5x7” hoop so here’s a new bevy of bags. Although they may look different, they’re all done from just one design!

Obviously you can change them up by using different fabrics, but a savvy embroiderer can skip color changes or repeat color changes to achieve a different effect.

And with editing or customizing software, you can do even more! You can include batting or leave it out and interface your fabric pieces instead. You can have longer handles for a wristlet of make short loops with swivel hooks to attach to other bags.

This pattern is very similar to the glasses case but has been resized and the lining/casing process has been streamlined somewhat.

To keep the price lower, I’ve also minimized the instructions, the number of designs, and eliminated pattern pieces, and instead just listed dimensions for the pieces. You can't get all the bells and whistles and still have a rock bottom price!

About In-The-Hoop Projects

I truly think some projects are better off doing the “normal” way at the sewing machine rather than in-the-hoop and if you’re looking for a basic snap bag, that’s definitely the way to go.

You can find plenty of tutorials on that and some are better than others. A simple bag with a casing requires so few sewing steps that it’s truly overkill to do it in the hoop “just because you can.”

However, if you want something more involved with perfect piecing and quilting, then in-the-hoop versions can be the way to go. Personally, I’m not a big fan of most in-the-hoop projects I’ve seen because many of them are finished with a satin stitch edge that gets ratty with just a minimal amount of use.

Also, many of them don’t have any structural support and therefore look amateurish. Lack of proper pressing contributes to that effect. Some ITH projects are so simple—think of all those tissue covers—that it seems a waste of stabilizer to make them in the hoop.

Yes, it’s really cool when you can do one or two hoopings and take your project out and it’s done as soon as you turn it right side out but that may not result in the best finish, especially if you’re not using an appropriate thread for construction. The In-the-Hoop Sewing Organizer, shown below, is done in two hoopings.

The version on the left is a full ITH project, meaning once it's removed from the hoop and turned right side out, it's done. The one on the left was enhanced with a bound edges, button, and button loop that were done at the sewing machine.

This project offers the embroiderer two ways to complete the project by stopping the embroidery earlier and finishing it with more of a designer touch.

For these snappy cases, I’ve taken advantage of the precision I can get with machine embroidery for embellishing the outer panels and used the sewing machine for the final assembly where I could use construction thread with more balanced tensions.

It takes careful sewing to get a perfectly pieced narrow band or perfectly curved and spaced quilting; the latter of which I’m especially not that good at. It’s a piece of cake with an embroidery design!

On the other hand, lining up two finished pieces for attaching while matching seams and other landmarks for stitching in the hoop can be a real bear. Why not take advantage of the best features of each method of construction for a better, more professional finish?

About This Project

About This Project

This version of the bag features a much bigger opening than my first projects in the Snappy Glasses Case, and that alone makes the bag way easier to turn. Turning the glasses case right side out was the hardest part of that project!

Had I been willing to have exposed seams on the inside or done the casing manually, it would have been easier. That project started out as just something I wanted for myself but once people saw it, well, that was that.

This project has a similar design to that original one. One person did write and complain about the complexity of the glasses case and that there were “too many pieces and steps.” Well, if you’re making something interesting with a variety of fabrics, that will happen!

That’s the advantage of using the embroidery machine to make the project—you can have narrow bands of fabric and they’ll be perfectly straight and even! This one, too, may seem like it has a lot of steps; I listed everything out so that even the most novice sewist can do it.

I’ve streamlined this one just a bit so there’s one less piece for each panel since the lining is now just an extension of the casing.

The advantage is less bulk at the top of the bag but the trade off is that you can’t have a contrasting lining and if your lining fabric is directional, it will either be upside down on the casing or upside down on the inside.

My first test sews on this 5x7" version of the bag used a separately attached lining the way the Snappy Glasses Case did but the final version does not. The more times you stitch something, the more ways you can think of to do it differently!

Another advantage of having the lining as an extension to the casing is the bag body can be slightly taller—a whopping 1/4"! If you look closely, you'll see the pink and purple bag has one less row of quilting than the yellow and purple bag.

Variations on Theme

Variations on Theme

Believe it or not, these bags can all made from the same single embroidery design! I made mine so they are identical front and back but they don’t have to be.

All the bags are lined; some with no exposed seams while others have exposed seams that are overcast with a narrow zigzag. You can finish your bag either way you choose.

On two of the bags, I boxed the corners, on two bags I did some jockeying around at the machine to eliminate the quilting and decorative band and inserted bits of lace instead.

One bag has a longer loop handle, while the other bags have short loops with a ring or hook. Some bags have batting and are quilted while others use a fusible interfacing.

This is a design you can play with and have fun! I used prairie points on all of the bags for pull tabs because I like the designer touch they provide. However, you can substitute other pulls or omit them altogether; the bag can be “pinched” open as well.

Having a longer loop handle and some fun, happy fabrics would make this little project the perfect size for a little girl!

Another easy customization is to skip the quilting step and when the bag is finished, select another design to add to the front panel before removing from the hoop. Use the guidelines from color #3 for help in centering the design.

A monogram would be a perfect way to customize the design and many machines come loaded with ready-made alphabets to use for just such a purpose.

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All of these modifications can be done at the machine. Typically I do them in customizing software like Embrilliance Essentials. That way I don’t have to remember what I need to do at the machine plus I have a saved version for when I want to do it again.

I do have some other variations in the works so if editing and skipping around at the machine is not your cup of tea, hang on a bit and you can just stitch a ready-made version.

About the Design

This design is a simple project that is mostly completed in the hoop. While under 3300 total stitches, it does have 9 color stops. I stitched it in two colors, using one color for the decorative quilting and another for the rest of the project.

The many color changes allow for design flexibility and also provide stops for fabric placement as well as positioning guides. The decorative stitching can be done with any thread; I used Softlight Metallic thread on one of my bags.

For the other steps, you can use polyester embroidery thread, which is stronger than rayon. Optionally you can use regular sewing thread. The only major stress point on the ITH sewing steps is at the prairie point and there are 3 passes of stitching securing it so it’s not going anywhere soon!

To finish, you’ll need to insert the precut metal carpenter’s tape measure strips, make and attach the optional loop or handle, and sew the front to the back plus a bit of top stitching along the top edge.

All sewing involved is just basic straight stitch sewing plus some zigzag overcasting if you choose the exposed seams finish.

When placing the fabrics during the embroidery process, some are placed face up and others face down and then flipped and pressed.

I chose this method rather than satin stitching because the seams are straight and I prefer that look. I wanted my bag to be virtually indistinguishable from a conventionally constructed bag.

How To Make Your Own Bag

Download the Easy Peasy ITH Snap Bag. With it you’ll find the dimensions for your fabric pieces.

Supply List

  • Small bits of fabric or pick up some fat quarters
  • Cotton batting like Warm and Natural
  • Fusible interfacing (I used Pellon 950F ShirTailor)
  • Lightweight cutaway stabilizer (I used Sulky Soft n Sheer)
  • Polyester embroidery thread and bobbin
  • Decorative thread of your choice for the quilting area
  • Coordinated sewing thread
  • 5/8” or 3/4” retractable metal carpenter’s tape measure
  • Cellophane tape (Scotch brand invisible is perfect!) - I also often use blue painter's tape
  • Duct tape or other heavy tape
  • Wonder Clips


  • Mini iron for pressing in the hoop
  • Rotary cutter, acrylic ruler, and cutting mat for accurately cutting pieces
  • Embroidery machine with a minimum sewing field of 5” x 7” (130 x 180mm)
  • Sewing machine with straight stitch & zigzag; a free arm is great!
  • Sharp, heavy duty cutters for trimming the metal tape measure. They need to be strong enough to cut and not just bend the corners when curving off the sharp corners.
  • Steam iron


Getting Started

Getting Started

1. Select and cut all your fabric and batting pieces.

Sizes are listed with the downloadable file.

2. Press all fabrics and starch if desired.

Starching isn't necessary but if you aren't interfacing your fabrics, it can give them a little more structure for stitching.

3. Apply interfacing to the casing area on the lining piece and other pieces as desired.

5. Optional: Loop Handle:

  • Make a self-fabric loop or cut a length of ribbon for a loop for a short handle or hanging loop. To determine the length, decide how long the loop should be, for example 2”, double that and add ½” for the seam allowance.
  • For a self fabric loop, I made mine to look like a continuation of the decorative band. Cut your fabric 1 3/4”-2" wide (depends on thickness of fabric if you want it to be 1/2" when finished to match the decorative band) and to the length you determined above. I like to make mine a bit longer and then trim to size later.
  • Press the strip in half lengthwise. Then open the strip and press each long edge matching the raw edge to the center fold. Refold the piece and press well. Once again, starch is your friend!
  • Top stitch 1/8” from the edges starting on the side with the two folded edges.
  • If you’re adding hardware, slide it on now, making sure the prettiest side of your top stitching will be on the outside when folded in half. Top stitch across the loop near the hardware to hold it in place.

4. Make the prairie points.

Fold each square in half crosswise and press. Bring each corner on the folded side up to the center and press again.

Press well! A bit of spray starch will help keep it flat. If the fabric doesn’t hold the crease well, then overcast the raw edge to secure. This will prevent your presser foot from lifting the folded edge while stitching.


You’ll be stitching two panels—one for the front and one for the back. They can be identical or different. For example, you may want a monogram on the front and the quilting on the back.

1. Turn on your mini iron to heat while you do the first few steps

2. Hoop stabilizer securely between the rings of your hoop.

If your hoop is not secure on the long straight sides, take measures to make it so. One way is with duct tape. Tear strips in half lengthwise, apply to the back of the stabilizer along the hoop edges and wrap up and around the sides of the hoop.

3. Sew color 1.

This is the placement line for your batting. If desired, lightly mist the batting back with TESA before smoothing it over the stitching lines.

The batting will be slightly larger than the stitching area. Match the edge of the batting along the left side and top stitching lines so you only have to trim 2 sides.

4. Sew color 2.

This is the tackdown stitch for the batting. Remove the hoop from the machine and place it on a smooth flat surface.

Carefully trim off any excess batting. This line is your seam line and applying the batting in this manner will minimize the bulk in the seam.

5. Sew color 3.

This is the placement line for the bag pieces and also the cutting line for the finished project. The slight indents along the edges are placement guides.

These will be covered over in the next step so extend them onto your stabilizer with a pen or some other marking device. Any pen will do since this stabilizer will be trimmed off later.

The only ones we’ll be using for this project are the left most two at the top and bottom edges (sides of the bag; the bag will open to the left long edge in the hoop). A reference guide to the markings is included with the download.

With the right side up, align the main bag piece top with the indent guides and smooth the fabric over the batting. I didn’t use any TESA; the fabric “sticks” to the batting. A few short strips of tape can hold the fabric in place if you’d like.

6. Sew color 4.

This will tack down the outer edge of the fabric and sew a straight stitch across the top.

7. Sew color 5.

This color is the quilting or decorative design.

8. Place the decorative band.

This strip is placed face down, matching the top edge of the band with the indented placement guides and the top edge of the body fabric (assuming you placed it accurately…).

9. Sew color 6.

This step attaches the decorative band to the bag front.

After stitching, fold the strip over and finger press in place then press firmly with the mini-iron. With the batting in place, your machine should be well protected from the heat.

If your band won’t stay down, apply a few strips of Wonder Tape under the raw edge and press in place.

Scotch Invisible Tape is also good and peels off easily and can be stitched through without gumming up the needle.

10. Sew color 7.

This step sews a placement guide for a triangular prairie point pull.

11. Place the prairie point.

Align the top (raw) edge of the prepared prairie point just over the stitched guides (right side up). A bit of tape placed vertically across the middle of the triangle will hold it in place for stitching.

The point and center folds of the prairie point should also line up with the center bag mark you transferred onto the stabilizer after sewing color 3. If you’re using a different type of pull, center it using this stitching line as a reference guide.

12. Sew color 8.

This step sews a reinforcing stitch over the prairie point and secures it to your bag.

12. Place the lining.

The lining is placed face down (right sides together) with the casing end matching the top edge of the bag (left side of the hoop).

13. Sew color 9.

This step stitches the bottom edge (folded edge) to the top of the decorative band and batting and secures the prairie point.

Fold up the bottom edge and finger press in place and press with the mini iron. There's no stitching at the top edge with this version. You'll edge stitch later when then lining can be folded over the back of the bag.

14. Optional: Before removing the project from the hoop, you could add some other small design or monogram to the body of the bag. This works best if you skipped color 5.

Finishing the Bag

1. Remove the project from the hoop and trim off the excess stabilizer.

2. Press the project well with a steam iron.

The lining extension will wrap over the top edge of the bag and down the back of the bag.

3. Even up the lining and front pieces.

Fold the lining down into place and if it extends beyond the bottom edge of the front, trim off the excess. Trim the sides of the bag to just along the outer edge of the zigzag tack down on the main body fabric.

4. Prepare tape measure strips.

  • Using heavy duty metal snips, cut two strips 3/4” shorter than the width of the bag.
  • Round off the ends of the tape to remove any sharp corners that could damage the fabric.
  • Apply short pieces of duct tape over the ends of the metal tape.
  • A layer of heavy duty tape will also add a bit of protection from the sharp edges.

5. Optional: Add loop or handle

If you’re adding the optional loop, match the open ends to the raw edge of the bag at the decorative band. Stay stitch the ends within the seam allowance at your sewing machine.

When stitching your front and back pieces together, take care that the loop end doesn’t get stitched into any other seam.

Attach the Front to the Back

While the lining is attached in the hoop, you’ll need to finish the bag in a more traditional manner so as to avoid stitching into the tape measure strips.

Finishing in this manner also makes better seams since your machine tensions will be balanced evenly and you’ll be using regular sewing thread for construction in the needle and bobbin.

Also, you can back stitch over areas that need more reinforcement such as at the optional loop and at each end of the casing. It also makes it easier to make sure all your seams and other landmarks are perfectly matched and held in place for stitching.

Version 1: No Exposed Seams on Lining

1. Insert the metal tape strips.

With the outward curved side toward the outside and the numbered side toward the lining side, slide one tape measure strip into each panel between the two layers of the interfaced casing.

2. Stitch the front to the back, leaving an opening for turning on the bottom end of the lining side.

Smooth out the back piece with the lining extended, face up. Match the front, right sides together.

Start just before the corner on the long edge of the lining, back stitch, and sew all the way around to just beyond the curved corner of the other side on the opposite side of the lining. You’ll need a wide opening to turn the the bag due to the metal strips.

When stitching next to the ruler strips, push them towards the other side and backstitch over the casing ends. Using a shorter stitch length (I used 2.0mm) is also a good idea.

Tip: The batting placement line makes an excellent guide for stitching the front to the back. Wonder Clips can help you keep the seam lines matched better than pins. Using a slightly wider seam allowance for the lining can help it lie smoother inside the bag.

After turning right side out, I top stitched the casing along the top and bottom to keep the lining smoother at the top. The bag just fits over the free arm on my sewing machine so it wasn’t too hard to do.

This will also help secure the tape measure, since there is no stitching along the top edge of the casing. The glasses case has a seam at this position so no top stitching is required on that version.

3. Trim seam allowances.

If you were careless in your cutting and placement using larger pieces of fabric, it’s a good idea to trim off the excess, especially on the quilted front pieces.

Don’t trim the seam allowances by the opening you left for turning. Leaving them as is makes them easier to handle.

4. Press, turn, and press again.

Press back the seam by the opening to make it easier to close after turning.

5. Close the lining opening.

You can close the opening with fusible tape, hand stitching or edge stitching with your machine.

I edge stitched mine—it’s fast, easy and since it’s the lining, it won’t show.

6. Insert the lining into the bag.

Stuff the lining into the bag and smooth into place. Press.

7. Edge stitch the casing.

Edge stitch the top edge of the bag 1/8” from the bag opening. Optionally, repeat on the bottom edge of the casing, stitching 1/8” from the casing seam line.

8. Press one final time.

If you don’t object to exposed seams and would prefer a smoother inside try this method, which is easier.

Optional: Boxed Corners

Optional: Boxed Corners

You may notice that my two bags with the boxed corners aren’t the same height. These bags are pretty small and depending on how big you make your corners, your bag will be different sizes.

On the taller one, I measured in 3/4” from the corner for my stitching line; the shorter one is 1". I think 3/4" is a pretty good depth for these little bags. Experiment with yours and see what you like.

Also, the two bags I did box did not use batting; instead both the lining and the outer fabrics are interfaced. I recommend boxing the corners before you overcast the seams so that you can open the seams flat for stitching the corners. Then overcast as close as possible after stitching the corners.

To box a corner, with the bag inside out, pinch the bottom corners on each side of the bag together so the side seam aligns over the bottom seam. Press well with lots of steam to flatten. Wonder Clips can help hold everything in place better than pins.

How to Make ITH Snap BagsUsing a ruler, measure up along the seam line from the corner 3/4” and draw a line perpendicular to the seam line. Stitch across this line and then trim off the seam allowances to 1/4”.

Overcast the seams. Turn right side out and press!

How to Make ITH Snap BagsBoxing the corners is simple once you've done it a time or two but it can be somewhat counter-intuitive. If you'd like to see it in action, check out this free Craftsy class, Bag-Making Basics: Reversible Tote & Zipper Pouch with Kristin Link.

Make Another One!

Make Another One!

Once you’ve made your first bag, you’ll have the process down and you can start experimenting. You can get hooked pretty fast!

FAQ: Can the Design be Resized?

There’s nothing preventing you from resizing the design but you’re on your own there!

Although all the single runs should scale just fine, the quilting motif is composed of bean stitches and they may not resize precisely in some software.

Also, resizing can alter the dimensions of the casing making it either too tight or too loose for the tape measure strips. Obviously if you resize the design, you’ll need to adjust the sizes for your fabrics.

Give It a Go!

I think you can see that it's really pretty easy to make one of these bags. I may have made it seem more difficult by listing out all the steps in minute detail but once you've done one, you'll see that it's really not all that hard.

I've worked out all the details for you and the embroidery design makes getting a perfectly pieced and quilted front and back panel, well, a snap!

Download yours here: Easy Peasy ITH Snap Bag. They make great gifts and are quick and easy to do for craft fairs. Everyone is fascinated with the snap action on the closure!

13 Tips for a Better ITH Bag

There are lots of little things you can do when making your in-the-hoop bag to achieve a professional, polished looking bag. Check out my blog post, 13 Tips for a Better In-the-Hoop Bag Project to learn more!

Looking for Something Even Easier?

It is possible to create an in-the-hoop zippered bag in just one hooping that requires no extra sewing. If that sounds appealing, check out this blog post: One Hoop Wonder: An In-the-Hoop Zippered Accessory Bag.

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About the Author

Lindee Goodall

lindee crafsy ovalLindee Goodall is a veteran master digitizer who's won awards for her beautiful designs, been a guest on numerous PBS sewing shows, written articles for a variety of home and industry related magazines, and is a Craftsy instructor.

Lindee G Embroidery is her second company, following Cactus Punch, which was founded in 1994.

About Me

lindee crafsy ovalHi, I’m Lindee Goodall, a machine embroidery designer, digitizer, and educator  in Tucson, AZ.

It’s pretty accurate to say that I’m addicted to digitizing and I have a major fondness for cats, all things Mac, and Filemaker Pro. It’s my passion to help keep you in stitches—embroidery stitches, that is!


To inspire and nurture personal creativity and productivity by connecting embroiderers and digitizers with innovative, high-quality products and information that significantly elevate their enjoyment and experience while maximizing the use of technology. In other words, more toys and more fun!

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