5 June 2014

'Make it' a little patchwork bag tutorial

At last I hear you cry!!!!!  Here's my much promised, 'how I make my little patchwork tote bags' tutorial. I love making these bags and once you've mastered how to put them together, you can easily change the outer design.  HERE'S ONE I made for Poppy incorporating an embroidery on the front and patchwork strips on the back and another one HERE, which I made using up some 2"square Tilda scraps.  I hope that you enjoy the tutorial.....stay with me it's quite long, but there's a little surprise at the end, so please do keep on reading!

Ok then..... are you ready........yes........let's get started.........

Things to Remember

  • Read the pattern in full before starting
  • Seam Allowances are 1/4" unless stated otherwise
  • Always press your fabrics before starting
  • Press all seams as you go along

5 different fabrics to form the front and back of the bag.
1 Fat Quarter of a complimentary cotton for the lining.
Wadding/Batting measuring 12 1/2" x 30" (I use a low loft cotton wadding/batting from my stash)
1m of Cotton Webbing Tape.
1m of Ribbon.

Cutting Instructions

From each of the 5 fabric pieces, cut 8 x 3" squares
From the Fat Quarter, cut 2 x pieces each measuring 10 1/2" x 13"
From the Wadding/Batting, cut 2 pieces each measuring 12 1/2" x 15"

Let's get stitching

First off we're going to make the front of the bag.  Lay out half of the 3" squares using the picture below as a guide. I find it useful to lay them directly next to my sewing machine.

The bag front is formed by first sewing the squares together to create the horizontal rows (a,b,c,d & e). I find the quickest and easiest way to do this, is to chain piece them together, which means that you will be working on all 5 rows at the same time.  To do this, start by sewing squares 1a & 2a together and then without cutting your thread (see the picture below) feed the next two squares 1b & 2b in to your machine, and repeat for rows c, d & e.  Cut the thread, once you have finished joining squares 1e & 2e.

This is what it will look like....

Now take the column of squares over to your ironing board and press the line of stitches.  This sets them in place.

Now you can cut the threads in between the squares...

Open out the squares and press the seams in the direction of the arrows, as shown below.  By alternating the direction of the pressed seam, when you come to join the rows, the seams will 'nest' together helping you get neat, matching corners.

Repeat the process, joining columns 1&2 to column 3 for all 5 rows and then finally columns 1,2 & 3 to column 4.  Remember to keep pressing in the direction of the arrows.  It should now look like this.....

To complete the bag front, take row a and row b and carefully line up the seams and pin in place ( as shown below) then sew together.  Repeat until you have joined all the rows together.

You can now see if you turn the front piece over, how the pressed seams all sit neatly.

Repeat the whole process again to make the back of your bag......

Hopefully you are still all with me, time for a cup of tea and a little treat!

Right back to work, baste the front piece to a piece of batting, I use 505 spray and then quilt as desired. I straight line quilted using my machine foot as a guide.  

As you can see from the pictures below, I switched from my 1/4" sewing machine foot to my standard sewing machine foot.  For small projects I have found that this worked absolutely fine, however I have now 'borrowed' (ahem)  mum's walking foot which I have used on subsequent larger projects to great effect!

Repeat for the back. 

Once you've finished quilting, trim away the excess batting/wadding (photo 3).

Moving on to the bag handles, stitch the ribbon to the cotton webbing tape and then cut in half length wise.

Using the patchwork seams as a guide, pin the handle right side down to the top of the front piece, overlapping the handle by 1/2".

Machine in place. I like to go backwards and forwards a couple of time, to ensure that there is no chance of the handles coming away from the bag.  

Take one of your lining pieces and pin right side to right side (the bag handle will be sandwiched in the middle) and stitch using 5/8" seam allowance across the top edge.

Open out and press the seam open (as shown below). Then tuck the lining underneath and press the top of the bag again. By doing this final press, you will find that when you come to turn through the bag later, the lining will sit neatly inside.

Repeat this process for the back of the bag.
Ok we're nearly there.....

Open out the bag front/lining and place right sides together on top of the back/lining, pin in place.  Using the picture below as a guide, stitch using 5/8" seam allowances around the perimeter.

Trim the 4 corners......

and then turn the bag through the opening.  I find a chopstick the most wonderful tool for getting nice points on the corners! (As you can see from how bent mine is, this one has done many hours of valuable service!)

Press and then stitch along the lining opening to close.
Push the lining back in to the bag.  That extra bit of pressing you did early should now be paying you back!

Finally top stitch around the upper edge to hold the lining in place.

That's it, you're done.....hang up your bag and admire!

Now for the little surprise.......

....... as a little thank you for your patience whilst waiting for this tutorial, I thought it would be nice to have a little Giveaway and I would like to give the bag I made to one lucky reader! 

To enter, please leave a cheery comment below.  The Giveaway will close at midday (GMT) on Saturday 14th June 2014 and I'll pick a winner at random and announce it there after.

Please do let me know how you get on if you make a bag and I would love to see some pictures, so please do email them to me.  If you have any questions or spot any errors, please do let me know.

Happy Sewing!

The small print....... No cash alternative can be offered. The winner will be announced here and if I have not heard from said winner within 7 days, then I reserve the right to redraw. 

:: Edited 14th June, The giveaway is now closed and I'll be back soon with name of the winner.  Thanks so much for all your lovely comments!



  1. Lovely tutorial thank you the colours cheer you up as the weather here is dreadful,cold,wind and rain. Good crafting weather!

  2. Thank you so much for the tips to make a bag,
    I love bags and as I am not so good to sew, I always said "may be one day"
    But it seams the day is coming to sew me a bag.
    I like this post, so easy!!!
    Miss xx

  3. I am most definitely a bag lady so thank you for the tutorial. Di x

  4. Thank you for sharing your great tutorial. I'm not a great sewer but will definitely have a try x

  5. It's adorable! Love the fancy webbing for the straps!

  6. Thank you so much for the tutorial...you explained it so well. I am so excited to make one of these precious bags for my granddaughter Ivy Xxx

  7. Thank you so much for the tutorial...you explained it so well. I am so excited to make one of these precious bags for my granddaughter Ivy Xxx

  8. I love your tutorials, thank you so much! You've definitely got me back into sewing again. Xxx

  9. This is so great Sarah, I have never quilted anything or made a bag, but even I feel as if I could tackle something like this now! Thank you for this. I love to read your posts as they are always interesting, but this one is really interesting!! xx

  10. Lovely bag. Great tutorial looking forward to having a go

  11. Great tutorial with lots of great tips, thanks for sharing xx

  12. Hello Sarah, thank you so much for this lovely tutorial...another project for the to-do list :-)
    Tracey xxx

  13. Good morning Sarah and thank you so much for the super tutorial. Can't wait to try it. Anne x

  14. What a gorgeous and very clear tutorial. I would love to make one of these, thank you so much for sharing. Hope you have a lovely weekend!
    Marianne x

  15. I love that bag!!! Tutorial is great!

  16. Thank you Sarah! The tutorial is so clear and perfect, I'm going to share this post with my new quilting club - it would be a great project for some of the new quilters to build their skills! Now I'm off to raid my fabric stash for squares...great handles, too! :-) Chrissie x

  17. This is such a great step by step tutorial.
    I love the pretty fabrics and also the two bags you made earlier especially the one with the stitchery ballerina.

  18. Wow. That is a really comprehensive Tutorial. I am new to Patchwork and Quilting but I could follow every step, thank you.
    I have just ordered the Tilda Scrap Bag. I am so jealous of all the other ladies who have piles of scraps ;0) Now I shall have my own.

  19. This is lovely! I'm a bit of a novice when it comes to sewing but with such clear instructions I'm sure I could give it a go x

  20. Great tutorial for a lovely bag Sarah, and I'd really love to have my name in the draw for it, thank you!

  21. Fantastic tutorial Sarah, I'm thinking I may give it a try. I'd love to enter the draw for the one you've made...thank you so much!!

  22. Thank you for a great tutorial - my daughter would love one of these!!

  23. AnonymousJune 09, 2014

    New to sewing but I am going to give this a try. You bloggers are so fantastic and generous too!

  24. It's a beautiful bag and the tutorial is very clear with great photographs. I'd love to make a bag like this for my older girl when she starts school. Thanks for sharing!! Marion x

  25. What a super tutorial! The way you 'chain' sewed the squares is pure genius and has never crossed my mind. It's just brilliant.

    Heather x

  26. What a cute bag - and thank you so much for the tutorial!

  27. Love this tutorial... now to buy some fabric!!
    Thank you. X

  28. Love this tutorial... now to buy some fabric!!
    Thank you. X

  29. It's probably a good job I can't just walk into your shop - I'd want to buy so many things!!
    Lovely tutorial - I'll definitely be giving it a go when I move on from my current crochet project mountain :)

  30. What a fab tutorial so easy to understand thank you was so worth the wait xx :-)

  31. The Giveaway is now closed, thanks so much for all your lovely comments! Sarah xo

  32. Oh bless you for putting together this beautifully comprehensive tutorial, I know these posts take hours to write. Lovely clear instructions and photos and a gorgeous bag too. Thank you. x

  33. Just found your tutorial today and it's great, thank you. Feeling inspired to have a go this weekend :D


Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment, it really does make my day! If you have a question, please do ask away and I will do my very best to answer. Sarah xo

Update July 2020: Unfortunately, due to a large increase in spam and inappropriate comments, I have turned on 'Comment Moderation', so your comment will not appear immediately. My apologies for this!

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