Patchwork Bag – Part Two


Okay, so at this point in time, you should have two plaited straps, a lining for the bag, and a patchwork “outer” part for the bag. Both the lining and the outer bag are still flat at this stage, but now have to be sewn into “tubes”. This is where things feel “wrong” when handling the bag. Nothing sits flat, and the fabric feels all twisted as you are trying to sew. This is normal. If you look at the lining in a completed bag, the seam actually travels around the inside of the bag in almost a spiral from top to bottom. Hence the “twisted” feeling when trying to match up the appropriate seams.

On the photo below, I have labelled the seams that need to be matched up. Basically, the two edges (the labelled ones) get stitched together in a manner that carries on the staggered format of the patchwork strips.

Cat Bag Outer Layer, Labelled

The edges need to be lined up, right sides together, so that the corresponding letters match up.

If you mark the bag in the places that correspond to the letters above, and then match each mark to it’s partner (A to A, X to X) and sew, you should end up with a tube as follows…..

Cat Bag Tube

The seam that you have just stitched will now be running at an angle from top to bottom, which is why it feels so awkward to pin and sew.

You now need to do the same with the lining, but you don’t have the seams to help line things up, hence the reason for marking where the seams would be. Use these markings to help match things up and stitch in the same manner as the outer bag.

Now to begin creating the base. Line up the points on the bottom of the bag as shown below. Stitch the outer edges, from crease to point. Do the same with the lining. The first photo shows the base, with points matched up, and the second photo shows where the base has been stitched.

Cat Bag Base Before Stitching

The base before stitching, with points matched up.

Cat Bag Base After Stitching

The base once the first edges have been stitched. The two corners (one on top of the other) in the centre of the picture will end up being pulled apart from one another so that they are at either end of a straight edge.

Now the base needs to be prepared for the next row of stitching. Find the corner that corresponds to the one in the centre of the picture above. It will be two layers of fabric on top of one another. Grab each layer of fabric at the corner and pull apart from each other (as if you were opening a sealed bag full of crisps or similar). This will bring the seams you have just stitched into line with each other. Now you should have a straight edge to sew, as in the photo below.

Cat Bag Base Step 2

The second part of stitching the base. The seam down the centre of the photo is one of the first two base seams that were stitched in the step above this one.

DO NOT do the above step with the lining, or you will not be able to turn the bag in the right way later! Only the first seams of the lining base get stitched for now.

Turn the outer part of the bag, and the lining, so that one if the right way out, and the other the wrong way out. Place on inside the other so that right sides are together. Match the corners of the bag and lining that you pinned/marked previously.

Inserting the lining

Matching up the points of the lining with the outer bag.

Ensuring the handles aren’t twisted, insert them between the lining and the bag layers, with the ends at each corner. The two ends of one handle should be in adjacent corners, not opposite ones. Pin everything in place and stitch.

Placing the Handle

Placing the handle of the bag, between the lining and the outer bag. Ensure the handle isn't twisted.

When stitching the outer corners, stitch across them rather than in a point. Stitch back and forth across each corner a couple of times to ensure the handles are secure and will take the weight of the bag contents without the stitching pulling undone.

Cat Bag Securing Lining to Bag

The stitching around the top of the bag - this part is where one of the handles sits.

Clip the inner corners as shown.

Clipping Corners

The corners need to be clipped, to allow the bag to sit nicely once turned in the right way.

Now you can turn the bag in the right way through the hole left in the lining base. Check that the handles are securely caught up in the stitching before closing the gap in the lining. I like to turn the edges of the gap to the inside and machine stitch it closed as shown below, but hand stitching will provide a neater finish.

Stitching Lining Closed

The lining where it has been stitched closed after turning the bag in the right way. I do this stitching on the machine, but it can be handstitched for a more invisible finish.

At this stage, I like to topstitch around the top edge of the bag. It keeps things sitting nicely, especially in the corners, and is just one more layer of stitching to help hold the handles in place securely.


The top edge of the bag, showing the topstitching. Not a good photo I'm afraid.

Now you should have a finished bag. Congratulations!!

Finished Bag

The final product.

I hope to write another post soon, showing some variations, such as pockets, a bag in which the lining is not done separately, and a lining option which makes better use of fabric than the method explained here.

Happy sewing!


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