How to make a P.E bag tutorial.

P.E Bag tutorial

In this tutorial I am going to show you how to make a simple sturdy lined P.E bag. These P.E bags are essential school requirements and really useful if you have a child who does after school sports activities too.

I originally made both my kids these bags using this method when they were at pre-school, these original P.E bags are still going strong. However with growing feet and bigger kits in general the P.E bag size needed to increase. In this P.E bag tutorial I will share both size options. I would recommend the smaller size for 3-5 year old and the larger for 6 years and older.

The great thing about these P.E bags is that you can choose from the massive arrays of printed craft weight cotton fabrics available. Truly individualising your child’s P.E bag. When I look along the row of hooks in the school corridor I can instantly recognise my kids P.E bags among the row of plain burgundy school logo bags.

Fabric requirements and supplies:

This works perfectly in woven craft weight cotton. You could also use lightweight denim or woven cotton blend fabrics.

For these bags my kids chose:

Blend fabrics Meltdown dinosaur print lined with Kona solids plain orange Kumquat cotton.

Dashwood – tropicana bird print lined with Kona solids plain turquoise Azure cotton.

The amount of fabric will depend on the depth of bag you make.

Small bag = 50cm /19.5″ length piece of fabric and the same for the lining.

Larger bag = 55cm/21.5″ length piece of fabric and the same for the lining.

You will also need approx 2m/2.1yd x 0.5cm/1/4″ cord.


To make this bag you need 4 rectangles, 2 for the outer and 2 for lining.

Cut rectangles :

Small bag – 40cm x 45cm – 15.5″ x 17.5″

Large bag – 43cm x 50cm – 17″ x 19.5″

The best way to draw your rectangles is by marking a chalk line using a ruler (with right angles) parallel and close to the selvedge edge. Measure the distance you require along this line and mark the points. Square across using the right angle to mark the remaining sides. Cut the fabric out double and repeat or use this as a pattern for the lining.

How to make:

I used a 1.5cm/5/8″ seam allowance to sew these bags together.

  1. With right sides together (RST) pin the outer bag pieces together. Mark a point 2.5cm/1″ down from the upper edge of the bag. Mark a second point 1cm/3/8″ below this point. You could place a pin at each point or mark with chalk. Do the same on the other side at the upper edge. Stitch from the top stopping at the first mark. Back stitch a few times here to make this stitching really strong. This is the opening where the cord will be inserted and will receive a lot of wear and tear. Lift the machine foot up and begin stitching at the second point, back stitch here several times too. Continue sewing around the bag and repeat this with the marks at the upper edge of the other side.

2. With RST pin and stitch the lining pieces together. Leave a small gap approx 10cm/4″ somewhere across the base for turning through.

3. Turn the lining through to the right side. With RST place the lining inside the outer bag, pin around the top edge.

4. Stitch all the way round this edge.

5. Before turning through to the right side trim a little of the excess fabric from the corners to help you achieve neat corners.

6. Turn the bag to the outside through the gap in the lining.

7. Press this gap in line with the seam. Pin the gap closed.

8. Stitch across the gap close to the outer edge. Push the lining inside the bag. Tweak the corners into shape and press the upper edge of the bag.

9. The hole in the side seam should be 1cm/3/8″below the upper edge. Its best to check this before you sew the next row ( you can easily adjust this if your measurements haven’t quite worked out the same as this). Stitch a row 2.5cm/1″ below the upper edge or approximately 0.5cm/1/4″ from the base of the hole.

10. Cut two piece of cord double the width of the bag plus a little bit extra so that the bag can open fully.

11. Pin a safety pin into one end of the cord. Feed the cord into the channel, all the way round and out of the same opening. It can be a bit fiddly to get past the seams. It sometimes helps if you pull the channel apart a little then guide the cord through.

12. You could simply knot the cord or if you like overlap the ends by about 2.5cm/1″ using a tight narrow zig zag stitch to stitch the cord together. Reinforce this seam several times with reverse stitch to make it strong. Feed the cord in until the join is at the opposite side, it won’t come out so easily when the cords are pulled.

13. Repeat with the other cord at the opening on the other side to complete the bag.

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Julia Claridge

I was about 6 or 7 years old when I had my first go on a sewing machine, it was an old hand crank machine that my mum used with her patients, she was an occupational therapist. I still vividly remember watching with amazement as the tiny perfectly formed stitches were created as I turned the handle. I Grew up in the 70’s and 80’s when buying clothes was less affordable and dressmaking was an answer to updating your wardrobe more regularly. My own mother was a talented dressmaker who made most of my clothes and my sisters clothes as well as a many for herself. I soon got involved with making my clothes, I loved the whole experience of picking out fabrics, trims and a pattern to create a new outfit, then going home to make a new garment or outfit. When it came to leaving school I visited a careers advisor who asked what I wanted to do next. My answer was ..Sew! Read more...


  1. Rachel on August 16, 2020 at 12:59 pm

    Love this pattern thanks! I modified to put some loops into the bottom seams of the outer layer and passing the cords through so it can be worn as a rucksack too. Thank you!

  2. Katherine on August 19, 2021 at 1:17 pm

    Thanks so much for this super easy but effective pattern. Really pleased with the result!

  3. Jules on October 2, 2021 at 4:44 pm

    I have just helped my 12 year old granddaughter make this as her first sewing project. The instructions were clear and easy to follow and she is delighted with the result. She even added a useful pocket inside. Many thanks for taking the time to share the pattern.

    • Julia Claridge on October 3, 2021 at 11:20 am

      Thank you so much for letting me know, what a lovely way to spend time with your granddaughter too :-)

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