Patchwork Tote Bag with Couching – Tutorial


I love using 5″ squares to make bags. Everything is precut and you don’t have to think to hard about matching fabrics as it’s all done for you. That is of course, if you are using Moda Charm Squares or another brand of precut squares. However, for this tutorial you could cut also your own. I have used Suzani by  Michelle Marvig for George Parsons. I just love the colours.

So what do you need:

  • 16 x  5″ squares
  • 1 piece for the backing – ours is 18½” by 18½”
  • 2 pieces of batting or fusible fleece – depending on the look you want – our two pieces each measure 18½” by 18½”
  • 2 pieces of fabric measuring 18½” by 18½” for the lining
  • 2 pieces of fabric measuring 5″ x  22″ or the length you want for your handles.
  • 2 pieces of batting 2½” wide by the length of your handle
  • 1 ball of thick wool (you don’t need much so you may have some in your wool stash)

Please Note: This is just a basic outline, for full instructions check out the video below.


Step 1:

  • Lay out your squares


Step 2:

  • Sew the squares together in rows


Press the seams in opposite directions for each row, as pictured above.

Step 3: 

  • Sew rows together


Step 4: 

  • Add batting to back of main piece and wrong side of back piece. Put backing piece aside.



Step 5: Couching

  • On a piece of scrap material test the size of your zig-zag stitch. You want it to go right across the yarn and not split it.


  • When you are happy with the width of your zig-zag then you are ready to attach the thread to the seam lines of your squares.  We sew the thread across all three rows then turn the bag and couch down the other three rows, just running the thread over top of the thread you have laid down previously.add-yarn-attach
  • Trim off the threads


Step 6: Sew Main Piece to Backing Piece

  • Place the main piece and the backing right sides together and sew around 3 sides with a ¼” seam.
  • Leave the top end open.
  • Pivot at the corners.
  • Backstitch at the start and the end.


  • Turn bag to right side. Put aside for now.


Step 7: Lining

  • Take your two lining pieces and join them on 3 sides using a ¼” seam allowance.
  • Leave the top end open.
  • Pivot at the corners.
  • Backstitch at the start and the end.


Step 8: Box the Corner

I wanted a four inch base on this bag so I measured down 2″ from the base of the ‘V ‘at the corner  where the bottom and the side seam meet.  Make sure the bottom and side seams line up perfectly as you want to have a continuous look to your seam line when you finish.

We have a tutorial on “How to Box Bag Corners” where you can see this process in detail.

You need to box all four corners – 2 on the lining and 2 on the main piece of the bag.



Trim the excess fabric  from the boxed corner when you are happy that the seams line up. Leave about a ¼” seam.


Put all the pieces aside and make your handles.

Step 9: Handles

  • Fold your handle pieces right sides together and press down the length of the fabric


  • Open out and fold each edge to the middle – the fold line that you have just made down the middle – and press


Open out and lay your batting down the middle.


  • Fold the edges back into the middle over the batting.


  • Topstitch down both sides of handle ⅛”  from the edge.


  • Measure in 4″ from each side seam and draw a small line with a water erasable or Frixion pen.


  • Pin the handles in place, with one side on the mark you have just drawn. Make sure they are not twisted and pin with the bulk of the handle out towards the side seam.
  • I like to stitch them in place before adding the lining so that they don’t move and I know that they are sitting correctly.


Step 10: Putting the Bag Together

  • Turn the lining inside out and place the bag inside the lining so that the right sides are facing. Make sure the handles are pushed down towards the bottom of the bag.  We don’t want to catch them up in the seam we are going to sew around the top.


  • Line up the sides seams from the lining piece and the main bag piece and pin


  •  Give the bag a bit of a shake (hold on to the top edge), you want the whole thing to lay relatively flat.
  • Pin the two pieces together and join with a ¼” seam. Make sure you leave about a 4″ to 5″  opening on the back side of the bag so that you can turn the bag through once you have sewn it together.


  • Turn bag through. Push lining to the inside of the bag. Make sure it’s nice and neat by giving it a bit of a press.
  • Topstitch around the top of the bag about ⅛” from the edge.


And here we have it – our finished bag.  Don’t forget to check out the video for the full instructions.


Tote Bag Tutorial – How to Box a Corner

Adding a boxed corner to a tote bag gives it some stability  so that it will stand up on its own and it just gives a nice finishing touch to a bag.

In our video we show you how to box a corner. It’s not difficult and it’s well worth getting the hang of.

We don’t box the corners on all our bags and you may not want to either, but this just such  is a handy technique to know for those times when you do.

DIY Canvas Tote Bag Tutorial

DIY Canvas Tote Bag Tutorial

We’ve been meaning to create a tutorial for a canvas tote bag for some time now, so when we found some lovely teal canvas fabric from our local craft store, we took that as a sign.

This is a really simple bag to make because it doesn’t have any lining. For our bag, we used a canvas fabric with a design on the outside but you can use a plain fabric for this if you prefer.

What You Will Need:

  • 1 piece of canvas fabric measuring 34 ½” x 15 ½”
  • 2 pieces canvas fabric measuring 5″ x 55″ for the handles – Note that the finished length of the handles will be 104″ so this is why we cut two pieces as the width of our fabric off the roll was about 55″ in length. We sewed those two pieces together to make 110″ and then cut it back to 104″.

The trick with this bag is that we sew it together with the wrong sides facing. So our first seam is on the right side of the fabric. But that’s okay, there’s no need to panic.  We are going to tidy up the seams by turning the bag inside out and sewing a seam line that encompasses our previous seam and hides the raw edges. This is known as a French Seam, and it is generally used on lingerie and fine fabrics. But  hey, there are no seam police so we are going to use it on our canvas bag.

I left my first seam at ¼” but you can trim it down to 1/8″ and make a smaller final seam if you wish.

Checkerboard (Bargello) Tote Bag Tutorial.

We love making tote bags and we also love the Bargello method of creating quilts so we had to combine the two and design a bag. I just love this technique. It is sooooo easy to do and makes a great checkerboard effect.

What you Need:

  • 8 Jelly Roll strips or  alternatively cut your own at 8 x 2½” strips measuring around  40″- 42″ in length (width of fabric).

For our Pink Bag: we used alternating strips using white as the main and 2 contrasting pink strips
For our Blue Bag: we used alternating strips using blue as the main and 4 different colour co-ordinated strips

  • Batting or fusible fleece.
  • Backing

Method :

  • Cut off the selvages from each end of the strips.
  • Lay the strips on your table side by side, starting with the main colour.laying-out-the-strips
  • Place the first two strips on top of each other with right sides together.


  • Sew the long edges together with a ¼” seam.
  • Pick up the 3rd strip and place on top of the second strip, right sides together and sew with a ¼” seam. Continue in this manner until the strips are all sewn together.
  • Press the seams flat.


  • Trim across the short ends to straighten up.


  • Join the first and last strip together lengthwise and sew with a ¼” seam to form a tube.


  • Lay the tube on your table and cut 8 x  2½” strips from the tube.
  • Lay the tubes next to each other making sure the co-ordinating squares line up.


  • Unpick the top row of stitching on the first tube
  • Unpick the second row of stitching on the second tube
  • Unpick the third row of stitching on the third tube
  • Unpick the fourth row of stitching on the fourth tube
  • Unpick the bottom row of stitching on the fifth tube
  • Unpick the top row of stitching on the sixth tube
  • Unpick the second row of stitching on the seventh tube
  • Unpick the third row of stitching on the eighth tube.
  • Open the tubes and you will find that they alternate in design – 1 main, 1 contrast, until you get to the sixth tube, simple turn this one and the next three around so that the design is consistent.


  • Sew the strips together with a ¼” seam.

Note:  Make sure you sew the seams in the same position as when we ironed them, so that they stay flat. And your joins will be perfect.front-piece-of-bag

  • Press your piece and put aside.  We are now going to work on the back.
  • Decide whether you want to have a main strip on the bottom of the bag or a contrasting strip.  I went with a main colour.
  • Open one seam line so that you have a flat piece of striped fabric.


  • You can now choose if you want the stripes on your bag to run horizontally or vertically across the back of your bag.
  • Trim your bag pieces to the size you want, my bag is 16¼” x 16¼”.
  • Cut your fusible fleece to the size of your bag. Making sure you iron the rough side of the fleece, this is the side that has the glue on, to the wrong side of your bag pieces. Do Not Use Steam.


  • Once you have added your fusible fleece to both the front and the back bag pieces, its time to sew the bag together.


  • Place the pieces right sides together and sew around 3 sides only with a ¼” seam.
  • Start and end with a back stitch.
  • Stop a ¼” from the corners and pivot.
  • Cut 2 pieces of lining 16¼” wide to match your bag BUT cut the height 16¾”. This is to create the trim at the top. If you don’t want to have the trim then cut your lining pieces to match your bag pieces, in my case 16¼” x 16¼”.
  • Sew around three sides as you did before, leaving the top end open on the longer ends.

To see how to construct the bag its time to Watch the Video below.

  • How to box the corners
  • How to make and add the handles
  • How to make the trim
  • How to finish the bag

The Alanda Bag – Handbag Tutorial

Here is our tutorial on how to make a handbag. These are ideal to run up to match an outfit and for when you don’t want to be carrying around a large bag. You can slip your phone in the pocket on the front.

The beauty of this bag is that you can add more pockets to the the outside and even put some on the inside using the same method as the pocket we show you on the front.

Its fairly straight forward but adding the gusset can be a little tricky.

What You Will Need:-

  • 1 pce 18″ x 12″ fabric for main
  • 1 pce 18″ x 12″ fabric for lining
  • 1 pce 10″ x 12″contrasting fabric for pocket
  • 1 pce 1½” x 12″ contrasting fabric for pocket trim
  • 2 pcs 4½” x 7¼” contrasting fabric  for gussets
  • 2 pcs  4½” x 7¼” lining fabric
  • 1 pce 18″ x 12″ medium weight interfacing for body of bag
  • 2 pcs 4½” x 7¼” medium weight interfacing for gussets
  • 1 pce 3½” x 11″ heavyweight interfacing for base of bag.
  • 2 strips 64″ long and 2½” wide of two contrasting fabrics for handles
  • 1 pce tubular elastic 8″
  • 2 buttons

Method:Please note that the information below is just a basic outline. Please refer to the video tutorial for step by step instructions.

Main Part of Bag

  • Iron medium weight interfacing to the wrong side of the main pce.
  • Draw lines at 7″ and 11″ from the top edge of the main pce.
  • lace heavyweight interfacing in between the lines you have drawn and sew down by topstitching.
  • Make sure your bobbin cotton matches your main fabric.


  • Fold Pocket trim in half and press with iron to get a nice sharp centre crease
  • Open up and fold edges to centre and press.

Pocket Trim

  • Fold in half longways and iron
  • Open and fold each of the sides to the centre and iron
  • Fold trim over the raw edges of the pocket, pin in place  and topstitch down to neaten.


  • You will need to sew a number of strips together to get 64 inches.
  • Place the 64 inch strips face down on top of each other and sew together down one long edge with ¼” seam. Press seam open.
    Fold each edge to centre and press. Fold over and topstitch to create two toned handle.
  • Attach the handles to the bag.
  • Measure and draw a  line 2½” in from the sides and all the way down the bag.  Draw a mark 6½” from the top of the bag intersecting the line you just drew. On on either line.
    Draw another line on both top short edges of the bag ¼” from the edge.
  • Take your handle and fold it in half
    Place a pin at the half way mark.
  • Lay the handle along the line putting the two raw edged close together at the 6½” mark and the half way pin on the 6½” mark on the other side of the bag. Pin handle in place and topstitch to bag keeping stitch line as close as possible to the previous topstitching on handle.
  • Sew only as far as the ¼” marks on all four sides.

Attaching the Pocket

  • Fold the pocket in half and draw a line at the half way mark – should be 6″
  • Now place top of pocket 1½” from the top of the bag and pin in place. You will now topstitch along the lower edge of the pocket to hold the pocket in place.
  • Sew along the line you have drawn at the halfway mark, backstitching top and bottom to keep pocket securely fastened to the bag.


Take your gusset squares and measure 1½” up from one edge on  the long edge of each piece and make a mark with your frixion or water soluble pen.

Measure in ¾” on each side on the other edge on the short side and make a mark.

Draw a line from the 1½” mark to the ¾” mark and cut along this line to get the gusset shape.

Adding the Gussets

Place on gusset to the side of the bag making sure the edges line up and pin. Sew a ¼” seam down one side, pivot and sew along the bottom of the bag, pivot and sew up the other side.

Do this to the other side of the bag and do the same to the lining pieces.

Turn the lining inside out and place the bag inside the lining – right sides together. Make sure the handles are tucked into the bag so they don’t get caught up in your stitching.

Sew around the top of the bag leaving about a 4-5 ” gap between one lot of the handles. This is so you can turn the bag through when you finish stitching. Use a ¼”inch seam and sew close to the handles as you go making sure you don’t catch them between the lining and the main piece.

Turn the bag through and topstich around the edge sewing over the handles as you come to them, so that they are anchored to the top of the bag.