Simple Seminole


  • 1m of fabric for the outside of the bag
  • 1m of fabric for the inside of the bag
  • 10cm each of three contrasting colours for Seminole strip
  • 1.5m of very lightweight iron on stabiliser (Vilene)
  • 15cm sew-in Velcro
  • Freezer paper
  • Fabric marker pen
  • Usual sewing equipment

Please note that the bag pattern measurements include 1⁄4in seam allowances

Finished Size

25 x 30cm (10 x 12in) plus handle

Skill Level


You can download a copy of the original magazine pages for this project here, Simple Seminole

Earlier this year, a friend who had just been to Australia gave my daughter a bag. I thought it was a useful bag, but before I could work out how it was put together my daughter took it back to university with her. The bag that I designed looks similar – but having looked at the Australian bag again, the construction is completely different. This bag is basically two bags, one inside the other, with one handle each. There are three pockets in it and the handle is tied at the top. You could adjust the length of this to suit your height. You can replace the Seminole strip with appliqué or machine embroidery on the outside of the bag if you wished. If you want to do this, mark the bag shape with a water-soluble pen onto the fabric you are going to use as the outside of the bag. Complete any decoration and check the marked dimensions before you cut out the bag front; sometimes surface decoration shrinks the fabric.

Seminole Strip

  1. Decide which colour is going to be in which position on the pattern and cut out the following:
    • 1 1⁄2in strip of green for base triangles across width of the fabric
    • 1 1⁄2in strip of yellow for top triangles across the width of the fabric
    • 1 1⁄4in strip of gold for centre squares on point across the width of the fabric
    • Two 3⁄4in strips of gold across the width of the fabric for the borders
  2. Sew the strips together so the green and yellow strips are on the outside and the 1 1⁄4in gold strip is in the centre as shown in Figure 1.
  3. Carefully cut the strip into 1 1⁄4in segments. Do not pull them about once you have cut them up as this weakens the seams. You have cut through the thread and it will be a bit fragile.
  4. Sew the segments together as shown in Figure 2. It is important that they are all slanting the same way and that the seams meet. Match the seams in the centre, not the ends of the strips.
  5. Resist the temptation to straighten up the edge by cutting off the points or you will end up with a very stretchy piece on the bias.
  6. Stitch the 3⁄4in strips to the top and the bottom of the Seminole strip. Line up the strip with the points on the Seminole. See Figure 3.
Figure 1: Sewing the Seminole strips
Figure 1: Sewing the Seminole strips
Figure 2: Joining the segments
Figure 2: Joining the segments
Figure 3: Placement of edging strips
Figure 3: Placement of edging strips
Figure 4: The Seminole panel
Figure 4: The Seminole panel

Making the Bag Pieces

  1. Draw a full size template following the diagram. Cut out the following:
    Diagram for bag pieces
    Diagram for bag pieces
    • Two bag outsides
    • Two bag insides
    • Two outside straps
    • Two inside straps
    • Two lightweight iron-on Vilene bag shapes. You do not need Vilene in the straps
    • Two rectangles 6 1⁄2 x 7 1⁄2in from the inside fabric for the pockets
  2. On the bag outer fabric, cut across the outside of the bag 4in up from the bottom edge so that you can insert the Seminole strip to go round the bottom part of the bag as in the photo. You may like to pin it in place first to check, if you adjust the length the bag pattern at all, a slightly different placing might look better.
  3. Stitch the Seminole strip onto the top and bottom section of the bag. Lay the inner bag over the outer bag piece and trim the outer bag so that it is now back to the same size as the inner bag.

The Bag Assembly

Figure 5: Bag and pocket assembly
Figure 5: Bag and pocket assembly
Figure 6: Sewing the straps
Figure 6: Sewing the straps
Figure 7: Construction
Figure 7: Construction
Figure 8: Forming the base
Figure 8: Forming the base
  1. Stitch each inner strap to the two inside bag pieces and the other two straps to the outside bag pieces. See Figure 5.
  2. Fuse the Vilene to the inside bag pieces on the wrong side. Christine did not put the Vilene on the straps, as it would make the straps difficult to tie.
  3. Stitch the two pocket rectangles RS together and leave a gap to turn through. Turn through and press. Stitch a 4 1⁄2in piece of Velcro 1⁄2in from the top.
  4. Position the pocket 2in down from the top on the inside of the bag and stitch a corresponding piece of Velcro on the inside fabric. Stitch the Velcro onto the bag lining. Stitch right round the pocket first then stitch round three sides with the Velcro fastening at the top. See Figure 5.
  5. Lay the outside and inside fabrics RS together. Stitch the top of the bag and the handle. Repeat with the other piece. Turn to the right side.
  6. Take one of the bag shapes. Fold and pin the side pieces so that the RS of the lining is against the RS of the lining on the other side. Repeat with the outside fabric so you now have a tube with a handle. Make sure the seams line up. Sew down this seam from the top of the lining to the bottom of the bag outer fabric. Repeat on the other bag shape. See Figure 7. Push the lining inside the tube and pull the handle into shape; it should now look like one of the bag pieces.
  7. Slide one bag tube into the other, so it now looks like the finished bag, but without having sewn up the bottom yet (that comes last). The handles will be on opposite sides. Take the side of the bag that has a seam up the outside. Pin all the layers together down that seam and tack. Stitch following the seam line down the side so that all the layers are joined together down one side. On the opposite side pull the outer fabric up. Find the seam on the inner layers. Pin the inside bag to the outside lining and tack. Machine down the side seam. These two seams form the bag into separate pockets.
  8. Turn the bag inside out. Pin and tack all the four layers at the base together. Stitch across the bottom and do a zigzag stitch to finish off the raw edge. Fold the corner as in Figure 8 and machine stitch across. Go slowly, there are a lot of layers to go through. Snip off the pointy bits and zigzag stitch to finish the raw edge. See Figure 8.
  9. Turn through to the outside of the bag. Tie the straps in a knot at the top and wear with pride. You can also sew more Velcro pieces to close the bag sections if wished.

Christine Thomas teaches patchwork and quilting at the Camberley Adult Learning Centre, France Hill Drive, Camberley, Surrey. Tel: 01932 794524.

First published in Popular Patchwork May 2006