Turquoise Rectangular Bag


For large circular bag:

  1. Scraps of fabric or fourteen 5in charm squares for patch centres (core)
  2. 1m of black for outer fabric
  3. 30cm of wadding
  4. 30cm of pelmet Vilene for base
For the small rectangular bag:
  1. 1 FQ of scraps (to cut 4in squares) for patch centres (core)
  2. 70cm turquoise for outer fabric
  3. 30cm of wadding
  4. 10cm of pelmet Vilene for base - this is the exact measurement with no allowance

Finished Size

Circular Bag: 11in (28cm) diameter

Rectangular Bag (shown in turquoise):8in x 4in (20cm x 10cm)

Skill Level


You can take these folded units with you to sew on the train or on holiday. The bags are shown in two styles and sizes. The larger bag uses ready cut 5in charm squares.

Choose the bag size you wish to sew and draw the templates as shown. Cut them from cardboard (cereal packets are ideal). To make the large bag, you will need a circle template with diameter 7 1/32in and a 5in square template. The diameter of the circle for the bag base is 11in. The smaller bag uses circle templates with a diameter of 5 5/8in, and 4in squares. Draw around the circle template on the WS of the outer fabric. Cut out with slightly more than 1/4in allowance.

Template instructions
Template instructions

TIP! Using starch helps keep the units square.

Rectangular Bag

You will need to cut:

  • Twelve circles using the 5 5/8in template and the outer colour.
  • Twelve four inch squares using the core fabric. 
  • Twelve four inch squares of wadding.

Making the Units

  1. Stitch all round the edge of the circles, inside the seam allowance with a small running stitch.
  2. Place the cardboard circle inside and pull the ends of the thread to gather the fabric over the template.
  3. Press. Leave to cool, remove the circle template and fold over the square template. Press. This gives a crisp edge to your fabric.
  4. With your circle WS up lay a square of wadding and then a square of core fabric RS up in the centre.
  5. Pin the folds down. Stitch through all three layers. You can use a running stitch or a more decorative stitch if you prefer.
Figure 1: Preparing for pressing
Figure 1: Preparing for pressing
Figure 2: The folded unit
Figure 2: The folded unit



TIP! If you are careful and have a fancy stitch on your machine try this instead.

The core fabric will be showing in the centre of the square surrounded by the folded edges of the outer fabric (Figure 2). There should be no raw edges. This is one folded unit. Make the number of patches required for the bag.

Making up the Rectangular Bag

Figure 3: Joining the folded units
Figure 3: Joining the folded units
Prepare twelve folded units and then cut the following:
  • 4 x 8in of pelmet V1lene for lining the base
  • Two rectangles 4 1/2 x 8 1/2in in the outer fabric for the base
  • One 3 x 17in strip in outer fabric for the handle
  • One l x 16in strip of wadding for the handle
  1. With a 1/4in seam sew the two fabrics for the base RS together around the outside. Leave a 3in gap on one long side for turning. Press and turn RS out. Slip the Vilene into the base and slip stitch the opening closed. Top stitch round the outside to strengthen the edges.
  2. Sew two folded units together for the end panel. Make two panels like this. Sew four folded units together for each side.
  3. Sew the end pieces to the short ends of the base and the sides to the long edges (see Figure 3). Join the side seams from the inside. To join the pieces together you can oversew the units. This makes it look equally good on both the back and the front and also ensures it lies flat. You can also join the pieces by machine with either a zigzag or another more decorative stitch.
  4. Turn under 1/4in on all sides of the handle fabric, and press well. Fold the fabric over the wadding; the fabric will overlap. Top stitch 1/4in from the edge on all sides, making sure the seam is in the middle of one side of the wadding. Hand sew the handle to the inside of the bag, taking care not to let the stitches show on the right side.

Note If you prefer two handles, make two the same size and sew to each side of the bag.

Small Turquoise Bag

Circular Bag

To make the base draw a circle with a 5 1/2in radius,or 11in diameter on a large piece of paper, or make a quarter circle template, and fold the paper into quarters. Line the template with the folds and trace the quarter circle curve and cut out.

You will need to cut:

  • Fourteen circles of outer fabric using the larger 7 1/32in circle template and adding a seam allowance.
  • Fourteen 5in squares of core fabric
  • Fourteen 5in squares of wadding

Prepare fourteen folded units as before and then cut the following:

  • An 11in circle of heavy weight Vilene using the base template
  • Two circles of fabric to cover base (trace template and add seam allowances)
  • Two strips 3 x 18in for the handles
  • Two strips 1 x 17in of wadding for the handles
  1. Join fourteen units into one piece (seven by two units). Join the edge seams so you have a cylinder with no base.
  2. Stitch round one piece of base fabric using a running stitch and press over the Vilene. Remove the Vilene keeping the pressed edge of the fabric flat. Gather the second piece over the Vilene and leave in place.
  3. Align the first piece carefully on top. There should be no raw edges showing and no Vilene visible. Pin all round the edge. Stitch two rows of topstitching at the edge to strengthen.
  4. Mark the half and quarter way points around the base with pins (find by folding lightly). Then pin the bag piece onto the base, carefully easing in any fullness if necessary. Oversew or whip stitch for strength.
  5. Make and join the handles as before. For shorter handles, sew further down into the bag.


If you want to use a particular size base square the following is a guide to making your own templates.
  • To calculate the size circle you need for the pressing template. Start with a square and draw two lines from corner to corner. Measure from the centre to the corner - this measurement will be the circle radius. Allow about 1/8in extra for the folding and gathers. Using a pair of compasses, draw a circle. Always make a test sample before you cut your best fabric.
  • To calculate the base size for a circular bag use the following formula. Measure the length of your pieces when joined in a strip and divide by 6.28. This is the measurement of the circle radius. If you double the figure, you get the diameter of your finished bag. This is sometimes easier to visualise.
Cushion variation with folded panels
Cushion variation with folded panels

Variation on a theme

If you are intrigued by this method of patchwork, Betty Garrett has devised a variation which makes a striking cushion design when nine panels are shown together.

To make the panels for the cushion, you will need to work with an 8 1/2in circle template (remember to add a 1/4in seam allowance when cutting the fabric)and a 6in square template. For each folded panel you also need to cut another 6in square in a fabric to contrast with the core and folded fabric. Cut this square into four smaller squares of 3in. Fold the four squares corner to corner to make triangles and press.

Cushion detail

To start with, the folded patchwork square is assembled in exactly the same way as the bags. Before you fold over the curved edges, insert the folded triangles at each corner and pin in place. Fold the curved edges over as before and sew down. This secures the triangle shape in place.

Nine panels are sewn together to make an 18in cushion. For the backing and flange you will need at least 40cm of 112cm wide fabric if using a pillow type opening. For a solid back panel and opedning on one side, you will need at least 50cm of fabric. Betty has embellished the centre panel with seven tiny yo-yo puffs, embroidered with French knots for a delightful finishing touch.

First published in Popular Patchwork Volume 10 Number 4 - April 2002