Thursday, November 06, 2014

Charm Pack Bag - Tutorial

Here it is a tutorial for the Charm Pack Bag

This is a bag I started with a basic design and then developed along the way.  My first one was 2007 and has gone from there.

Here is the one that started it all

July 2016 update:

I  am updating this tutorial just a bit.  Mainly adding some pictures of the other bags and variations I have made from this basic bag.

Fabric with a band

One less row

Ruffle at the top - patchwork band, solid fabric and ribbon ties

Jelly rolls to make the pattern.

Your supplies:

1 Yard fabric for lining, handles and ties

1 Charm Pack (5 inch squares in a precut) at least 42 in package

1 yard Peltex for firmer bag or ¾ yard fusible fleece for a softer bag (I prefer the Peltex)

2-1/2 yards SF101 Pellon interfacing

Thread to match

Purse feet (optional)

General sewing supplies

NOTE - all seam allowances are 1/4" unless otherwise noted

   Step 1 - Select your favorite 35 charm packs and lay them out on a flat surface –
5 squares in a row and you will have 7 rows

Now since we are sewing this as one large panel, side, bottom and other side some care needs to be taken with the layout and directional fabric.  Here is how you need to lay out the charm packs if you are making this bag with some directional fabric.  Click on the photo for a larger view.  The important thing is Rows 1-3 should be facing for you to read them - Rows 5-7 will be upside down.

Hint - on Row 4- I use the prints I don't really like or colors I don't like, after all it is the bottom of the bag and you are not going to see them.

Step 2 - Sew the 5 blocks together to form the rows then sew the rows together with 1/4" seam allowance.
Hint: Press seams in each row in opposite directions making it easier to match the seams when joining rows

Step 3 - Place the sewn squares on Peltex or Fusible Fleece and cut out the Peltex or Fusible Fleece slightly larger than the pieced section

Use your preferred method to secure these two together.  With the fusible fleece, you would press the two together.  With the Peltex, you could use quilt basting spray, pins or safety pins.

Step 4 - Quilt the outer layer.  You could do diagonally or I prefer to quilt it 1/4" on each side of the vertical seams

A close-up of the quilting:

 Step 5- Trim the fleece/Peltex

Step 6- Cut lining - like you did for fleece/Peltex in Step 3.  

Hint: If your lining is not directional cut this in one sold piece.  If the fabric is directional - add 1/2" to one end of the lining, cut a the lining down the center of the bag (what would be the bottom) and seam the two sides together with the directional fabric in the correct direction.  

here is what the fabric should look like after you cut the lining

Step 7 - Fuse SF101 to the back of the lining, an option is to fuse 2 layers for a stiffer lining.  I only do the multiple layers of SF101 if I have used fusible fleece on the patchwook.  Set lining aside for now

Step 8 - Fold the quilted bag in half, matching side seams and matching the seams of the patchwork.

Step 9 - Box Bottom - I like to press the bag so I have a mark for the center of the bottom of the bag.  I match this pressed mark and the side seams, place a pin to keep this secure.  Measure 2" from the corner of the bag and draw a line across the bag (see the blue mark to the left of the ruler).  
Hint:  Place an inch marking at the seam and this keeps the ruler straight which keeps your line straight.

Sew on this mark and repeat for other corner

Step 10- Trim the excess

Here is what the corner will look like on the right side.  

Step 11- This is optional - I like to add more structure to the bottom of the bag and add another piece of Peltex or Soft and Stable.  To do this I measure the length of the bottom and the width of the bottom.
This one is 4-1/2" by 17-1/2" and I cut the Peltex or Soft and Stable to this measurement

Stitch this piece of structure fabric just inside the seam allowances.  Turn bag right side out

Step 12- Purse Feet, which is optional.  I like to add the feet, it just keeps the bottom of the bag cleaner and it wears better.

Step 13 -Handles and ties - Cut information.  From that leftover lining fabric cut like this

Handles will be 6" by width of fabric, Then cut in half - you will have two handles 6" x 21-22" long depending on WOF

Ties are 2-1/2" x 18 inches long - cut 4

If you want different widths - take the finished width you want and multiply by 4 for the cutting width

Step 14-- Handle construction

 If the fabric is directional - I will cut the 21" in handle in the middle, and then stitch together with the fabric going in the right direction - So when the handles are attached to the bag, the fabric is right side up on each side ( See photo in step 14 )
 Fuse SF 101 onto the handles.  I use up my scraps for this, it does not have to be a
continuous piece.

Hard to see in this picure -fold handle in half with wrong sides together - it will be 3" wide and press a crease at the fold.

Open handle up and place right side on ironing board - maybe your ironing board cover will look nicer than mine!  Take the outer edges and fold to the crease - repeat on each side. Press in place

Fold handle in half matching the two folds.  Your handle will measure 2" wide.

Repeat for other handle

Take to sewing machine and edgestitch each long side on both handles

Hint:  -if your fabric is not directional you can sew the handle up in one long piece and then cut in half for the two handles after edgestitching

I also will measure the handles against each other to make sure they are the same length.

Step 15 - attach the handles - on each square left and right of the middle square.  Measure to center and stitch in place on bag.  I like to stitch back and forth several times to secure these handles to the bag.

On this picture you can see my directional handles (upside down in the picture because of placement but going in the correct direction)

Hint: Pin handles on both side of the bag and then hold the bag top together.  You are checking to see if the handles on each side of the bag are pinned the same. Also, make sure your handle isn't twisted.  It is no fun unsewing much of the bag to correct this, yes, ask me how I know this!

Step 16 - Ties - construct like the handles (Step 14)  but we want to finish one of the ends, so fold in one end 1/4".  You will also, edgestitch 3 sides on all 4 ties - the two long ends and the one short end (folded under end)

Step 17 - Attaching the ties

I pin the side with the unfinshed edge to the 2nd block from the side seam and the top row.  Place the unfinished edge right at the seam between block 1 and 2 (top row).  I stitch at 1/4".

Trim the seam allowance and fold the tie over the seam.  Then topstitch over the folded piece -this keeps it in place and hides the seam.   I like to do the topstitching to follow the seam line. Repeat for the other 3 ties.

Step 18 - inside pocket
Select 6 charm squares - you will only have 1 leftover!
arrange the squares 2 in a row and 3 rows and sew together.

Fold pocket in half  Right sides together- middle row will be the half mark, sew the side seams and bottom leaving an opening for turning.

Turn the pocket, press and edgestich the upper edge.
Finished pocket:

Attach to the lining.  I place my ruler at the top of the lining at 3" and place the pocket which should be centered on your lining.  Stitch pocket in place.

Step 19-  Sew lining like you did the outside of bag except leave a 4-5" opening for turning - See steps 8, 9 and 10

Step 20 - Place the finished bag (which is right side out) into the lining (which is wrong side out).  Match the top of the lining to the bag,  Make sure the  side seams match and pin all around the top.  Sew a generous 1/4" to 1/2" around the top.  I like to do this to make sure everything is caught in the seam.  Turn right side out through opening in lining

Step 21 - Press the opening and stitch in close.  

Step 22 - Press the top of the bag with the seam going to the lining

Step 23- Place lining inside of bag, press, topstitch 1/2" away from the top edge and you are finished.  Here is a picture of the finished topstitching.

A few more hints:

  • You can change the order of construction to help with limiting your thread changes - in this bag - I did the pocket before the handles so I could keep the cream thread in and then change to black.
  • on the final topstiching you can use one thread on the top and one in the bottom.  In this bag I used cream through the needle and black in the bobbin.
  • I like to use dark fabric for the handles - shows less dirt.
  • I like to give the side seams and bottom a good press.  I feel this gives the bag a definite shape

Hope if you enjoy this tutorial and know that this pattern and bag has been developed and changed over almost 10 years.


  1. Great tutorial! Thanks so much.

  2. What a great bag! Thanks for the tutorial!

  3. Beautiful bag, Lori! Thanks so much for taking the time to do the tutorial!

  4. Beautiful - Do you remember what fabric collection you were using?

  5. Love it, have two people in mind to make them for.

  6. Thank you for sharing this tutorial. I am just learning to quilt, this may be above my current skill level, but I do love this bag so much. There are so many different bags to be made, but this one is much more my style. I can't wait to gain the courage to try this pattern, I have all the materials, but I don't want to mess up too badly!

  7. You sound a lot like the voice inside my head. You can do it Laura. It's probably easier than you think! Give it a go! You'll be glad you did!

  8. You sound a lot like the voice inside my head. You can do it Laura. It's probably easier than you think! Give it a go! You'll be glad you did!

  9. You sound a lot like the voice inside my head. You can do it Laura. It's probably easier than you think! Give it a go! You'll be glad you did!

  10. Hi There,
    I have a quick question please. Where it says cut the lining the same as you cut the fleece in step 3, does that mean we cut the lining slightly bigger than the quilted piece or the same size? Great tutorial, many thanks xx

  11. What size it the finished bag??

  12. What an amazing tutorial, so pleased with my bag,I’m so glad i found this tutorial i had one moda charm pack left after i made a table runner in a class i go to and kept looking at it thinking what am i going to do with it as it cost so much. i didn’t want to waste it on a whim I’ve had it about 6 months and i found this brilliant and thank you so much.

  13. I have made so many of these bags! I make them for all my granddaughter's teachers, bus drivers, piano teachers, family members, and of course myself! I've posted pictures of some of them on Instagram, and am going to post the one I just made using April Rosenthal's Orchard charm squares as soon as I finish top-stitching it. It's for a soon-to-be new grandma, and I think she will love it! Thank you for this wonderful tutorial, I think it's my all-time favorite bag to make!

  14. P.S. I will use #girlsinthegardenpatchworktote on Instagram.

  15. Hi Lori, I appreciate the time and effort you have put into this tutorial. I really like that there is so little waste and the pattern is a great way to use a whole charm pack. The one alteration I will make is to make the ties first before sewing the side seams of the bag exterior so I can sew the ties directly into the actual side seam itself. That is not a criticsm of this tutorial but a suggestion to be considered when making this bag. Thank you.

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  17. Another great tutorial as always you do. Planning to give this a try with a twist. Thought of using leftover material pieces, which I have got from my stitching work. And thought of adding some SVG designs as well. Would that work well?

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