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The most basic box bottom bag becomes a top-notch Halloween Treat Bag thanks to three Frightful Faces made from iron-on patches as well as a few bits and pieces from your own scrap stash. Not trick-or-treating? They’re fun as indoor décor too. Iron-on lettering personalizes each bag and a sturdy 1” polyester belting handle means your little ghosts and goblins can load them up with lots o’ loot.

The construction of the main bag is as easy as it comes. Start with square panels in a study canvas; we show you how to create box corners and a simple top hem.

The easy grip handle is made from 1″ belting. We used and recommend choosing a belting made of tough polypropylene; it allows you to simply melt the cut ends with a low flame for a fast, clean seal. Each end is then riveted in place so there’s no danger of the handle tearing off – even when the bag is loaded with mountains of M&Ms® and towers of Twizzlers®.

There’s a free download offered below with all the individual pattern pieces for our three Frightful Faces: Frankenstein Frank, Black Cat Katie, and Zombie Zooey. In addition, there are full face templates in actual size to use to get our exact look. Or, create your own custom face to match your little one’s costume.

Once the bag itself is done, there is very little sewing involved. Iron-on patches form the majority of the facial features. It’s easy to cut, place, and adhere. If you have patches in all the colors you need, you could certainly use them for all the features. We mixed in some heavy duty felt in black and gold, layering it with a firm fusible interfacing for the “stand-up” elements, like Frankenstein’s bolts and Black Cat’s ears. Felt is also necessary for Frankenstein’s hair since that pattern is larger than a traditional iron-on patch. We recommend a hot glue gun to layer and adhere the felt. You could also use a fabric adhesive, but we found the hot glue created a stronger bond and was easier to manipulate – especially for the small pieces.

Our Treat Bags each finish at approximate 9” wide x 10” high x 5″ deep. The single looped handle has a 5” drop, which should be a good length for most trick-or-treaters. However, belting is easy to cut and rivet at slightly shorter or longer length.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

NOTE: The list below shows all the elements we used for our three sample bags. Make one or make them all. Use our photos and the free template downloads to help correctly position all the elements for the most “Frightful Faces” – or create your own creepy countenance. 

  • ½ yard of 44”+ wide duck canvas or similar mid-to-heavy weight fabric for the bag itself; we used Olive, Black, and Natural 
  • Scraps or ¼ yard of 36″+ wide Premium felt (it needs to be a heavy wool blend felt, not lightweight craft felt); we used black for Frankenstein’s hair and bolts and gold for Black Cat’s ears, eyes, and nose
  • yard (one package) of 1” Belting/Strapping; we used Dritz belting Black, Raspberry, and Red
  • FOUR – SIX Double Cap Rivets and appropriate setting tools; we used nickel – Frankenstein uses six rivets, Black Cat and Zombie both use four each
  • TWO Extra Large Eyelets and appropriate setting tools; we used nickel – for Zombie’s Hair
  • 5” x 5” Iron-On Patches; we used Red, White, and Black
  • Iron-On Lettering; we used Dritz 1” Soft Flock Letters in Black for Zombie and Dritz 1” Embroidered Letters in White for Frankenstein and Black Cat
  • Scraps or ¼ yard of 18”+ ultra-firm interfacing for Frankenstein’s bolts and Black Cat’s ears; we used Pellon Deco Fuse 
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • 5 yards of brightly colored yarn for Zombie’s hair; we used purple variegated yarn
  • Scraps of narrow ribbon for  Zombie’s hair; we used about ONE yard of orange grosgrain, cutting it to length after it was tied into pretty bows
  • Black heavy embroidery floss for Frankenstein’s facial stitches and Zombie’s eye stitches
  • All-purpose thread to match fabric for construction
  • White all-purpose thread for Black Cat’s whiskers
  • Black all-purpose thread for Frankenstein’s mouth
  • See-through ruler
  • Measuring tape
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors
  • Rotary cutter and mat
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins
  • ONE large safety pin for Zombie’s eye
  • Heavy hand sewing needle for the floss
  • Lighter or match to seal ends of the belting; you could also use seam sealant as an alternative to flame
  • Small hammer to set rivets and eyelets; we recommend a soft leather mallet or a ball peen hammer
  • Heavy metal, stone or wooden block to use as a cutting and hammering surface for setting the rivets and eyelets; we use a small granite block

Getting Started + Pattern and Template Downloads

  1. DOWNLOAD AND PRINT: the patterns and templates for our three Frightful Faces. These elements have been bundled into ONE PDF to make the download easier. We recommend printing at least TWO copies of the bundled pattern/template set as you will need to cut out elements from the face templates to use as pattern pieces. In addition, the final page of the PDF bundle is a layout showing how the two sets of eyeballs and Frankenstein’s teeth can indeed fit one 5” x 5” white iron-on patch.
    IMPORTANT: This pattern download consists of FIVE 8½” x 11″ sheets. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide rule on each main page to confirm your printout is to scale.
  2. Frankenstein’s hair pattern is made up of two pieces. Cut out each half, then butt together the two halves using the printed arrows to align. Do not overlap. Tape together to create the full pattern piece.
  3. From the canvas for the bag itself, cut TWO 15” wide x 15” tall squares.
  4. Cut the belting into ONE 19” length for the handle. Use a small flame to melt each end. It doesn’t take much heat, just pass the end of the Belting through the Belting a couple times. If working with small children or if you otherwise prefer to not use a flame, use seam sealant as an alternative
  5. From firm fusible interfacing, cut the following:
    Using the small inner ear pattern, cut TWO for Black Cat’s stand-up ears
    Using the Bolt pattern, cut FOUR for Frankenstein’s neck bolts
  6. Use the various face templates to cut all the elements for each of the faces you’d like to make.
  7. In addition to his face, Frankenstein also needs to have his hair panels cut out – we recommend felt for this since the pieces are larger than a traditional iron-on patch. Cut TWO hair panels from the assembled pattern. You will also need to cut FOUR bolts from the pattern.
  8. The yarn and ribbon will be cut below within the instructions.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Making Faces: Frankenstein, Black Cat, and Zombie

  1. Each of the faces is created while the fabric panels are still flat.
  2. As mentioned above, we recommend printing multiple copies of the pattern/template PDF bundle so you have one complete printout to use as a guide for placement and one or more additional sheets to cut apart into the appropriate pattern pieces.
  3. It can be very helpful to cut out the face elements, leaving behind “windows” to use to trace the shapes onto your fabric panel. This helps make placement super easy and precise.


  1. First draw a horizontal line ½” down from the top raw edge of each panel.
  2. Place a hair panel on each bag panel, centering it side to side with the straight top edge of the hair panel aligned with the drawn line.
  3. Using hot glue or fabric adhesive adhere each hair panel in place. Because the top of the hair will be folded to the back as part of the top hem, we also recommend stitching along the top for extra security. We used a medium zig zag in matching thread. Since you will be stitching along the top, your hot glue should not go all the way to the top edge of the felt. It is very hard to sew through hot glue.
  4. Find the eyebrow and eyeballs, which we cut from a black iron-on patch.
  5. Find the eyes and teeth, which we cut from a white iron-on patch.
  6. Using the face template as your guide, set the eyes position. Iron in place to adhere.
  7. Overlay the eyeballs onto the eyes (check the template for the correct position). Again, iron to adhere.
  8. Using the face template as a guide, you should have already marked the panel for the short horizontal line that will create Frankenstein’s mouth.
  9. Thread the machine with black thread in the top and bottom. Set up for a dense satin stitch approximately ¼” in width. Stitch along the drawn line.
  10. With the mouth stitched, set the the teeth into position. Iron in place to adhere.
  11. Overlay the eyebrow. Iron into position.
  12. Thread the heavy duty hand sewing needle with the black embroidery floss. Use a simple running stitch to create the facial stitches along Frankenstein’s chin. Once again, the face template is your guide, and remember that the end of the stitches should be at least 2½” up from the bottom raw edge of the fabric panel so the embellishment doesn’t get caught up into the fold of the box bottom.
  13. As Frankenstein, our bag also needs neck bolts! Find the four bolts cut from the felt and the four bolts cut from the interfacing. We trimmed just a sliver from all sides of the interfacing bolts so there’d be no chance of the white interfacing peeking out from between the layers of felt.
  14. Following manufacturer’s instructions, adhere a layer of interfacing to each of the felt bolts.
  15. Apply hot glue or fabric adhesive to the interfaced side of each bolt.
  16. Place the pairs of bolts wrong sides together (interfaced sides together) and press to set the glue/adhesive.
  17. Add a double cap rivet at the intersection of each bolt. To do this, first use the the appropriate rivet tools to cut a hole at the intersection point. Insert the top half of the rivet through the hole and snap the back half into position over the stud of the top half. Using the post and anvil tools, hammer to seal top to bottom. As mentioned above, the rivets are easiest to use if working on a very hard surface. We used Dritz rivets, but the insertion is similar for most brands.

    NOTE: Riveting is easier than you might think, and we’ve simply summarized the steps above. Check out our Metal Rivets Tutorial if you are brand new to the technique.
  18. Mark along each side of the front panel for the placement of the neck bolts. This mark should be 3¾” up from the bottom raw edge of the panel.
  19. Center a bolt over the mark at each side. The small end of the bolt should be flush with the raw side edge of the panel. Pin and/or machine baste each bolt in place.

Black Cat

  1. Using the face template as your guide, draw in the guidelines for the Cat’s whiskers.
  2. Draw in guidelines for the eyes, nose, and the base of the ears as well.
  3. Re-thread the machine with white thread in the top and bobbin. As above with Frankenstein’s mouth, use a dense satin stitch to create the six diagonal lines that make up the whiskers. Our whiskers were about ⅜” in width.
  4. Again using the face template as your guide, place the Cat’s eyes and nose. The nose should cover the end points where the whisker stitch lines come together.
  5. The Cat’s ears are designed to stand up above the hem of the bag. You’ll prepare the ears now, but won’t apply them to the bag until after the tote is assembled and hemmed. For now, find the outer and inner ear pieces and the matching pieces of interfacing for the inner ears.
  6. Place interfacing against one side of each of the inner ears. As above, trim away just a sliver of the interfacing it keep is away from the very edge of the felt/patch. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
  7. Apply hot glue or fabric adhesive to the interfaced side of each inner ear.
  8. Center an inner ear on each outer ear and press to set the glue/adhesive.
  9. Set aside the ears.


  1. Cut out the Zombie’s eyes from the remaining white iron-on patch.
  2. Cut out the eyeballs and mouth from the red iron-on patch.
  3. As above with Frankenstein and Black Cat, use the face template to properly position Zombie’s eyes and mouth.
  4. Iron these elements into position, then overlay the Zombie’s eyeballs and iron into position.
  5. You’ll notice that the Zombie’s eyeballs are a bit wacky with one lower than the other. Her mouth is also at a slight angle. These things happen when you’re a Zombie and are what give your face its personality!
  6. Use the template to mark for the large stitches around the eyes.
  7. Thread the heavy duty hand sewing needle with the floss. Add the stitches around both eyes.
  8. The stitches are pulled through to the inside and hand knotted to secure. Trim the floss tails tight to the knots.
  9. You can follow our template or your own surgical knowledge.
  10. As an option, you can add a large safety pin to one eye for added Zombie style.
  11. Find the two extra large eyelets and the appropriate setting tools.
  12. Add two eyelets to the top of the panel. These will be what eventually hold the Zombie’s pigtails in place.
  13. The CENTER of each grommet (eyelet) should be 2” below the top raw edge of the panel and 2½” from the center point of the panel. The Zombie face template does include markings for the grommets to help make positioning easy.
  14. Cut a small circle at each marked point and insert the eyelet. For extra security, we like to add a bit of seam sealant around the cut edges of the hole prior to inserting the grommet.
  15. Grommets are easy to install, but if you’re brand new, we have a full step-by-step tutorial you can review prior to starting this project.

Adding a name – optional, but it’s best to be able the prove who’s the owner of all that candy!

  1. Iron-on lettering is easy to use. If you’re having trouble with the letters adhering, it may be your iron setting (too cool or not being allowed to pre-heat completely) or the ironing surface. It isn’t recommended to apply these letters on heat-reflective ironing board covers. They push the heat back up and cause the glue to melt. A heavy cotton ironing board cover pulls the heat down, which in turn pulls the adhesive down into the fibers of the fabric to which you’re applying the letters.
  2. Another thing to keep in mind is appropriate spacing of the letters. The two most important positioning items to remember are: 1) give yourself both an upper and lower guide line on which to align each letter, and 2) when nesting (called “kerning” in design) the letters, err on the side of what feels almost too close. Most people space lettering too far apart. Your word will look better if the letters are more tightly nested.
  3. We used Dritz 1” Embroidered Letters in White for Frankenstein and Black Cat. These letters have a bit of dimension to them because of the actual embroidery that forms each one. The thread used for that embroidery also has a nice sheen.
  4. Zombie’s name is done in Dritz 1” Soft Flock Letters in Black. These letters have a matte finish and are thinner than the Embroidered Letters. If you need to spell out a longer name, these would probably be the better choice.
  5. On Black Cat and Zombie, the name should be centered along the bottom of the bag. This means the bottom of the letters should be 2¾” above the bottom raw edge of the panel.
  6. Cut out the letters needed for your name and place them face down, centered along this base line. As mentioned above, having both upper and lower guidelines helps insure a super straight name.
  7. Iron the letters to adhere.
  8. Carefully pull away the backing.
  9. You can use a pressing cloth and press the finished letters once more for good measure.
  10. On Frankenstein, the name should be centered within his hair. Application is done in the same manner – only the positioning is different.

Create the base tote

  1. Find the two 15” x 15” canvas panels. Place the panels right sides together. All four raw edges of both layers should be flush. The face is sandwiched between the layers.
  2. Pin along both sides and across the bottom.
  3. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at both bottom corners. If making the Frankenstein bag, double stitch across the bolts along each side seam.
  4. Canvas has a tendency to ravel; we recommend finishing the seam allowance. We used a simple zig zag. For more options, check out our four-part series on Machine Sewn Finishes.
  5. To create the finished 5” deep boxed corner, you need to cut out squares one half that size or 2½” x 2½”. Cut this square from each corner.
  6. Flatten each corner, being very careful to align the side and bottom seams. Pin to secure.
  7. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across each corner. We recommend stitching across three times for a super reinforced corner that can handle the weight of lots of candy. As above with the main seams, finish the seam allowance of each box corner.
  8. Turn the bag right side out.
    NOTE: If you are brand new to making box corners, we have a full tutorial that shows you both this cut-out method as well as the basic method without a cut-out. Click to the full tutorial

Hem the top of the bags – add the Black Cat ears

  1. The Black Cat bag and the Zombie bag both have simple 1” double turn hems around the top.
  2. To make these, fold back the top raw edge of the bag ½” and press well. Then fold back an additional ½” and press again, hiding the raw edge within the two folds and creating the clean finish.
  3. Make sure the machine is threaded with thread to best match the fabric in the top and bobbin. Topstitch the hem in place all around the bag, staying as close as possible in the inside folded edge.
  4. The Frankenstein bag top hem is done in a similar manner, but you’ll first fold the ½” of fabric above the felt and then fold another approximate ½” rolling the felt to the inside so there is a clean felt finish around the entire top of the bag.
  5. Topstitch in matching thread to secure.
  6. With the top hem in place, use the original drawn baseline of the Black Cat ears to place the ears. Hot glue the base of the ears into position. The top of the ears should extend above the top hem of the bag by about 1”.

Zombie’s pigtails

  1. Cut a long length of yarn. We used about 90”. Accordion fold the yarn in approximate 8” segments to create a single bundle.
  2. Insert the yarn bundle through the grommet. Bring it through so the looped ends align.
  3. Find one approximate 15″ length of ribbon. Tie the ribbon around the yarn bundle just above the top of the bag.
  4. Tie the ribbon into a pretty bow and add a line of Dritz Fray Check to the ends to prevent raveling (the photo below shows the seam sealant before it was fully dried).
  5. Trim away the yarn loops so the hair is now individual strands. You want the strands short enough so they stand up. Ours were about 1½” from the knot of the bow.
  6. Repeat all the steps above to create the second pigtail.

Rivet the Belting in place

  1. Find the length of belting and four double cap rivets and rivet tools.
  2. Both ends of the belting should already be lightly melted to seal or you could use a line of seam sealant.
  3. Mark each end for the position of the two rivets that hold each end in place.
  4. The two eivets are centered within the bottom 2” of the belting. The lower rivet is ½” up from the end of the belting and the upper rivet is 1” above the lower. Mark each position with a fabric pen or pencil.
  5. Pin the marked belting in place. The belting should be centered over each side seam with the bottom edge of the belting 2¼” down from top finished edge of the bag.
  6. Use the rivet cutting tool to make a hole at each marked point through all the layers. If your rivets don’t come with this type of tool, you could carefully cut a hole with your scissors.
  7. Insert the rivet caps through the holes from front to back.
  8. Snap the rivet backs into position on the studs of the caps.
  9. Using the post and anvil. Hammer to seal front to back. As mentioned above, we highly recommend working on a very hard surface for this step. We like to use a small block of granite.

    NOTE: Don’t forget to check out our Metal Rivets Tutorial if you are brand new to the technique.


Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild

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