Thursday, October 16, 2008

"Finish it your way" Quilted Patchwork Bag Tutorial

Another project, another tutorial. This is my new quilted patchwork bag...(once again not mine but will go into my handmade Christmas presents pool...sigh)

Full view


Bottom corner with dart

You might say this bag style is quite common. That's probably true...but what makes this one unique is the patchwork and the special touch and hard(er) work that comes with it. Being able to use up fabric scraps is an added bonus. I chose a floral motif for my fabrics. I did not bother to combine colours though. It seems any combination comes out nicely once sewn together.

The reason for the title of this post is this --- This tutorial is open-ended. Whilst I will be guiding you through most of the steps, the way you will do the final bag assembly will be up to you, not me. For my particular bag, I chose to do a zippered top. You might want to leave the top open, as in a simple tote, or close it with a magnetic snap or button loop. You might even want to add a flap. The final bag assembly will vary according to your preference.

Of course, before embarking on this sewing project, I recommend that you have at least some experience with bag-making. Or else, you might get a little lost towards the end!

Finished bag size is approximately: 12 1/2" at the top, 12 1/2" high, and 14" at its widest point. Pretty roomy.

* assorted medium-weight printed cotton fabric scraps
* medium-weight plain cotton fabric scrap, measuring no less than 7" by 15"
* fusible fleece and fusible interfacing enough to line main bag and lining
* matching thread
* your choice of closure, i.e. zipper, magnetic snap, button, etc.
* basic sewing skills, some experience in bag making recommended

How to:
1. PATTERN: Download the pattern here. Print at 100% then cut out pattern pieces. Glue pattern pieces onto cardboard then cut out once again. Use these as your templates.

2. CUTTING YOUR FABRIC: With the use of your prepared templates for tracing, cut the following:
For pattern piece A - cut 12 strips in assorted fabrics (you can choose to cut 2 of each kind if you want to make the front and back of your bag uniform).
For pattern piece B - cut 2 strips first then reverse the template before cutting 2 more (there should be 2 strips each for right and left side of bag).

3. CREATING YOUR PATCHWORK: To create your bag panels, first determine how you would want to layout your fabric strips. Piece the strips by stitching them right sides together along the long edges. Start with the left side of the bag using the strip with the curved left bottom corner, then continue with 6 different straight-sided strips. End with the piece for the right side. Do the same for the rest of the pieces for the other bag panel.
Open all seams and press flat.

Pin one bag panel to your fusible fleece. Using this as your pattern, cut out two pieces of your fusible fleece. Iron on to the wrong side of your fabrics.

Quilt your bag panels by stitching down on both sides of the seams, about 1/4" away from the seam.

4. HANDLES: Cut two 4" by 30" strips for your handles. You can choose to cut from one fabric only or join different fabric strips to make the required length. I used two different fabrics for mine.

Cut two 2" by 29 1/2" strips from your interfacing. Center your interfacing to the wrong side of your handle fabrics, such that 1" on both long sides and 1/4" on both short sides will remain uninterfaced.

Fold the long sides to the center, then fold again in half to end up with a 1" wide handle. Stitch down the long sides, about 1/8" from the edges.

5. TOP BAND: Measure the upper edge of your pieced bag panel. Using this length, cut 2 pieces from your plain fabric, 3 1/2" wide. Cut the same size of interfacing. Fuse your interfacing to the wrong side of your top bands.

6. ASSEMBLING THE BAG PANELS: Pin handles to bag panels as shown below. Center handle ends to the second strip (on your patchwork) from each side. Baste in place.

With right sides together, align the long edge of your top band to the upper edge of the bag panel, sandwiching the handle. Pin in place, then stitch layers together 1/4" from the edge. Do the same with both panels.

Open your fabric. This is what the right side will now look like.

Press the seams (where your top band and pieced panel joins) downward.

Topstitch close to the edge, making sure you catch the seams on the other side. Again, do the same with the other bag panel.

7. LINING: Pin one bag panel to your lining fabric. Using this as a guide, cut out 2 lining pieces.

Use lining pieces to then cut out your interfacing. Iron on interfacing to wrong sides of lining pieces.

If you'd like to put in a simple or a zippered pocket on your lining, do this now.

8. DARTS: The darts will give your bag bottom a bit of depth. To make a dart on a bottom corner, you will need to do the following:

Fold your bag panel diagonally such that one side edge will line up with the bottom edge.

Mark your dart by measuring 1" on the folded side and 3/8" on the curve. Lightly draw a diagonal line as shown. Stitch the dart in place along this line. Do the same for all curved corners of both main bag and lining panels.

This is how the corner will look like after stitching the dart.

Now comes the fun (?) part....How do you want to close your bag?

It's up to you now. Just some general suggestions:
If you want a zippered closure like mine, you can assemble the main bag and lining as you would a simple zippered pouch. If you don't know how to, click here to learn.

If you want some other kind of closure (like magnetic snaps), you would have to sew around the main bag and lining separately first, then assemble it as you would a basic lined tote or purse. See this for a sample.

Whatever you choose, just make sure your darts line up correctly. Please email me for any questions. I am happy to help. Good luck with sewing!


  1. This is a beautiful bag, a great way to use up strips of fabric

  2. Great use of fabric! I'll be linking to this.

  3. I'm in love with this! I've been wanting to make a new purse (for myself of course). Thank you so much for taking the time to make this (very well written) tutorial. I'll have to find some time to make my very own.

  4. I LOVE this to bits and bits!!! If only I knew how to sew.. boo hoo..

    So happy to have found your blog!

    Happy Fall!
    xoxo Jenny

  5. This is deffinatley on my to-do list!!!

  6. Hi Corinne - I do so love your bag tutorials. You sew beautifully and explain beautifully !!!! I tried this one and was really happy with the result.

  7. I have listed your wonderful tutorial in
    Hope u dont mind =)

  8. I just want you to know that I love visiting your blog!! I have visited a few times and always been in awe!

  9. I love the look of the bag...thanks for this post...the shape of it is so alluring that I may be at it within hours.

  10. im gonna try this one also . love the bag.
    i hope i can understand it becouse im dutch.

  11. thanks for this tutorial. i just made one as a send-off gift to a friend ;) thanks a lot!

  12. I like your work, they are beautiful
    have a good day

  13. Hello I am new to your web site and this is the first thing I saw. What a lovely handbag, do you have a download on the instructions? I have put you under my fav list. thank you for such wonderful sewing projects.

    1. So sorry I don't have a downloadable file for the instructions, only the pattern.

  14. Copy and paste the instructions into a MS Word document.

  15. I LOVE this bag! I've d/l'ed a lit of bag patterns, & this is by far my fave.
    Is it available as a pdf file? I have d/led the pattern file & it would be so much eadier to make the bag from an offline file rather than a blogpage.
    Regardless, thank you for a very nice bag, Valentine's presents for several relatives & friends are now taken care if

    1. Sorry I don't have a PDF of the tutorial. As suggested in the comment above, you can easily copy and paste the tutorial into a Word document. Thanks!

  16. This is so lovely! What length of zipper did you use. I am teaching myself to sew and am leery of zippers but want to try.

    1. I made this so long ago that I don't really remember. However, since the finished size is 12 1/2" across the top, then the zipper I used must have been about 14" or longer. I tend to use longer zippers then cut them after sewing.

    2. Thank you some much Corinne. I appreciate your response.