Today I am sharing a Glossary of bag terms which Karen has put together for you! Over to you Karen!


There are so many bags out there now.  Some bags are called after how they are worn rather than their shape or style, i.e. Crossbody or Shoulder bag, or even how they close i.e. drawstring, which can make describing exactly what you want even more difficult.   I decided it would be fun to compile an alphabetical list, a glossary of styles and features.

BACKPACK Dawn to Dusk Backpack

Dawn to Dusk Backpack

Carried on the back by two shoulder straps.  Often with a gathered closure under a flap, with a variety of external pockets which are zippped, gathered or have a flap, and a grab handle on top.  Made famous by hikers, now popular for school and college.  More cool if carried on one shoulder.


This is a small bag secured by a flap with the grab handle on top, just big enough to hold the essentials.  Made famous by the t.v. show Sex and the City.  However there is also the real baguette bag, designed to carry the bread!



This is a horizontal cylinder closed with a zipper, held by two straps and named for it’s shape.  Also works as a kit bag, gym bag or weekend bag.


Abby's Alley - A ChrisW Designs Sew & Sell Pattern
Abby’s Alley

A larger variation of a tote bag these often have rope handles and an open top to carry beach towels, and can have a waterproof nylon lining for wet costumes.  Usually with pockets to organise suntan lotion, sunglasses and reading matter.


Bodacious Bowler Pattern by ChrisW Designs

Bodacious Bowler

Originally designed to carry your Bowling Balls this is now a bag collection staple.  Sturdy with strong handles Christine’s version the Bodacious Bowler comes in three sizes to include junior users.


Discount Tan Leather Bucket Bag Online 4350_1

Named after it’s bucket shape with an open top and shoulder strap.


The Lunar Collection - a ChrisW Designs PDF Bag Sewing Pattern

The Lunar Collection

The maximum dimensions for an airline carry-on bag are 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches (22 cm x 35 cm x 56 cm), so the Lunar Collection “Half Moon” would fit the bill!  It also has a rear luggage sleeve to slip over the handles of a roll on case.


Chloe's Court Clutch - A ChrisW Designs Sewing Pattern

Chloe’s Court

Basically this is a bag that has no handle so you clutch it in your hand, or tuck it under your arm!  They do have the option of a clip-on shoulder strap though.  Christine has Chloe’s Court, the Eve Clutch and the Kiss Clutch.



A zipped pouch to hold cosmetics.  This can be a flat or boxy, or like a small train case with a grab handle on the lid and elastic straps to hold bottles in place inside.


The Epiphany - A ChrisW Designs PDF Bag PatternThe Epiphany

This is a strap long enough to wear your bag across your body and can be an optional extra on any bag.  Made popular by Messenger Bags, and when I was young the School Satchel!


Images (2)

Named after the leather bag doctors habitually carried, which closed with a snap and could be locked for security.


The Fiona's Freeway - A ChrisW Designs PDF Bag Sewing PatternFiona’s Freeway

A closure method where the top of the bag is gathered and pulled closed by a cord either in a channel or fed through eyelets/grommets.  This can be tightened and held closed with a cord lock, like this one on Fiona’s Freeway.


Explorer Duffel Bag

A cylindrical bag with a pair of handles and a top zip closure, traditionally used by the services, now used to carry gym kit. There is the option of a clip-on shoulder strap.



This resembles an envelope in the way it is constructed and is a style of clutch bag.


Chloe's Court Evening Clutch

Chloe’s Court Clutch

A small bag to carry the essentials for an evening out, made out of luxury materials such as satin, silk, lace and often decorated with beads or embroidery. Can be a clutch bag or have a shoulder strap or chain, or a wrist strap.


Gabbie's Grove by ChrisW Designs

A large bag where you can fold over the top to form a flap, like the Gabbie’s Grove above or use it unfolded as a tote.


Il_570xN.1527345021_apzsA rigid metal internal tubular or wire frame that gives structure to a bag, and can close with a snap!  The best known example is Mary Poppin’s Carpet bag, but small ones are used in spectacle cases.


Gym Sack

This is a drawstring bag used for gym and dance, sometimes with extra long strings forming shoulder straps so it can be worn as a backpack.  Popular with kids.


Stitchbow Travel Bag open large

This is what I am calling a range of bags from Camera Bags to bags for holding art, embroidery or quilting equipment for roadtrips/workshops, manicure/gardening equipment or your sewing machine!  They zip up and have mesh pockets and elastic straps to hold everything in place (and the right way up) when being transported.  They also include ones for kids activities.


Snazzy Slouch PDF Bag Sewing Pattern by ChrisW Designs

A large crescent shaped slouchy bag with a single shoulder strap and top closure, like the Snazzy Slouch


61iQOC3l9dL._SL1000_Another drawstring bag, this one with a round base, traditionally used by seamen and carried over the shoulder with a strap across the base.  Now they have longer ropes that can be used as a shoulder strap.


Genevieve - The pattern comes with 3 flap options! Piping or no piping!

Used by couriers on bikes this bag has a flap and a strap that can be worn crossbody.  Christine’s take on this is “Genevieve” which has a rather different shape.


A small rigid box that can be used in place of an evening bag.  Blank ones can be bought and covered in fabric.



This is an insert that keeps your items organised within compartments, and can be moved from bag to bag.  Everything in the same place, and nothing left behind!


Emma - A ChrisW Designs PDF Sewing Pattern


Originally a pair of leather bags hung over a saddle, with a rounded shape and a flap that closed with a buckle.  Nowadays a single bag with a flap and lock closure.



The Cambridge Satchel Company Ltd

A leather rectangular bag with a flap fastened with two buckles, a front pocket and shoulder strap, used for carrying school books.  Recently reinvented by the Cambridge Satchel Company Ltd in the U.K. this one looks just like the one I had.


A simple flat bag with short grab handles, nowadays it can often be folded down to make it more convenient to carry around.


The Stow It All Tote by ChrisW Designs

Stow it All Tote

A sturdy open bag with a pair of handles, used for toting your stuff.  Nowadays it can often have a recessed zip closure and pockets inside and shoulder straps.


Train Case

A rigid bag with a lid secured with a double zip, with a grip handle.  Traditionally carried as hand luggage on train journeys as an alternative to a suitcase and smaller than a trunk.


ShoppingThis refers to the shape of the bag, a boxy shape with as secured flap and ‘wings’ extending either side which can be tucked in for a sleeker look, developed by Céline and now an established designer bag.


71ylNvg2MjL._UX385_A small zipped pouch worn on a waist belt, often used by runners and stallholders, it was just a crescent shape but now is appearing more rectangular and boxy with flaps and straps instead or (or as well as) zippers.  As fanny has a less acceptable meaning in the U.K. it is usually referred to here as a Bum Bag or Waist Purse.


The Lunar Collection
The Lunar Collection – Full Moon, Half Moon and Quarter Moon

Used as an alternative to a small suitcase, this bag is big enough to carry the essentials for a weekend trip away.  Carried by a pair of handles with a shoulder strap option, a zipped top closure and various pockets inside and out.  It can be a duffle bag, barrel bag or carry-on luggage.


Brandt's Boulevard by ChrisW Designs

A small strap that fits over the wrist and lets a small bag dangle, leaving the hands free like the one on the Brandt’s Boulevard.


Yoga Bag

Designed to carry the yoga mat this is a long cylindrical bag that can have a pair or handles or a shoulder strap, have a drawstring closure one end or a zipper down the length.


Well I hope my little roundup of common bag terms has helped you identify the different types of bags and options available.  I don’t suppose I have covered absolutely everything, but it does cover the basics  If you have any suggestions for any that need to be added just tell us about it in the comments and I will slot it in!


Thank you for another fabulous post Karen! 

You can read more of Karen’s posts over at Sew What’s New HERE and visit Karen on Instagram – @auntystitches You can find all the above sewing patterns HERE!

Happy Sewing! 🙂


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  1. I LOVE the photo of the satchel bag. It took me back to when my sister and I each had one of those when were in grammar school back in the 1950’s! We called them “book bags” because we lugged around all of our school papers and workbooks in them. They had a hard plastic handle rather than a strap and I distinctly remember how that handle hurt my little hand if I had a lot of schoolwork (and whatever!) inside. Of course they weren’t leather, they were child-sized, made of cheap materials typical of the day and age, and I think we managed to destroy one every year.
    You gave me a nice trip down memory lane and I loved it – Thank you!

  2. I saw a Chanel bag with a “kiss-lock”. Is that an unusual term? It had two little metal closures that snapped open and shut.
    Love the list. The descriptions can be very confusing and with dark colored bags it’s hard to see the shape.

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