It's in the Bag


  • 50cm black cotton, or you could use a self-coloured pattern for extra interest
  • Remnants of floral fabric for Broderie perse: look out for furnishing and curtain remnants as these often have the large flowers suited to this technique
  • 50cm coordinating fabric for lining
  • 25cm Bondaweb or similar
  • 50cm lightweight wadding (Hobbs Heirloom cotton)
  • 50cm backing for quilting, could be calico or old sheeting
  • Black and pastel machine thread to tone with flowers
  • Toning beads
  • One press-stud

Finished Size

9 x 5 x 10in (23 x 13 x 26cm)

Skill Level



The materials used in this project are available from all good quilt shops. John Lewis stores have a good selection of furnishing fabrics or try a local independent outlet

  1. Enlarge the pattern and cut out two shapes from black fabric. Cut out roughly the flower shapes from the floral fabric. Protect your ironing surface with silicone baking parchment. Place the flowers on your ironing surface RS down, put the Bondaweb or similar glue-side down on top, iron on a hot setting without steam.
  2. Cut out the flowers leaving the backing paper in place. Position the flowers on the front and back of the bag, remembering that part of the shape forms the sides. Take your time with this so you have a design to be proud of, you may like your bag to be equal either side, or prefer a smaller design on one side. Once you are happy with the layout, peel off the backing paper and iron into place.
  3. Take one bag panel and place RS down on the work surface, place the wadding and then the chosen backing fabric on top, both cut roughly to size; flip over and pin in place. (Chris confesses she does not tack, it is after all a four-letter word! But you can tack if you want to.)
  4. With your machine zigzag around each of the flower shapes using a toning colour. Take your time and simply ensure that the stitch secures down the shapes. This does not need to be fanatically neat as the stitches add additional interest and texture. Traditional Broderie perse was worked with buttonhole stitch so it is not meant to be invisible stitching. Complete the second piece in the same way.
  5. To create the quilted grid use your cutting ruler and draw the first line at a 60-degree angle, the lines then continue at 2in (5cm) intervals; then reverse the lines to form a diamond pattern. Stitch with a contrasting thread stopping at the flower edges.
  6. Beads are added by hand. Chris has taken the colours of the flowers and simply used the beads to emphasise the lines. She has also added little loops of beads around the flowers; add as many or as few as the fancy takes you, you could also use sequins and dot these on the background. If you enjoy embroidery, similar effects could be achieved with French knots.


  1. To assemble the bag, place the two sides RS together and stitch along both sides. Place this to one side and cut from black fabric, wadding and backing fabric a piece for the base, each 6 x 9in (15 x 23cm). Pin these together and with the ruler draw a line with a soluble pencil from corner to corner. Stitch these lines to quilt the layers together.
  2. With the sides of the bag still inside out pin the base in place: do this by measuring 3in from the seam and pinning the long side at this point. Turn the bag through and check that it sits flat and is straight before using the machine to stitch the base in place. Stitch together the tops of the handles as seen in the finished bag. Turn the bag RS out.
  3. Take the lining fabric and cut out two pieces using the template and a base 6 x 9in (15 x 23cm). Stitch the sides of the lining together with RS together and attach the base as you did with the bag outer. Lastly stitch the handle ends together.
  4. With the RS of the lining still facing inwards place the lining into the bag, pin all around the openings. With the remaining black fabric cut, on a 60-degree angle, some lengths of bias each 2in (5cm) wide. Join as needed to make lengths long enough to cover the openings.
    Finished Bag
    Finished Bag
  5. Attach the bias binding to the handholds and the opening of the bag, ensuring that you trap the lining in place. Chris finds it best if hand stitched, as she can ‘nudge’ the fabric when necessary.
  6. Chris has made a freestanding flower to conceal the press-stud that is needed to keep the handles together. To create the flower you will need to cut two similar shaped flowers from your Broderie perse fabric. Make a sandwich of these with a piece of wadding in the centre and then cut around the sandwich to even the fabric.
  7. With your machine set on a zigzag stitch machine all around the shape, you may need to do this more than once if your machine does not do a satin stitch. With a running stitch, stitch the flower contours to help emphasise the petals; use a couple of hand stitches to secure the flower to the handle of the bag. The shape and format of the bag lends itself to different sizes and techniques. A wonderful Victorian flavour can be achieved by making this in crazy patchwork, particularly if adding lace and ribbons. Or strip patchwork would give a very 60's look especially if combined with some appliqued flowers.

First published in Popular Patchwork Volume 12 Number 10 - September 2004