Join the fashion with this Patchwork Tote Bag Free Pattern

Quilting, Sewing Patterns

Ever since I saw this Coach patchwork bag with matching wallet in person, I have actually started liking patchwork hand bags. It opened my eyes, as they were quite beautiful.

coach patchwork bag coach patchwork wallet

Coach Patchwork Bags

Before I associated patchwork bags with ‘grandma-craft’ and consider them to be ‘not my style’. Now patchwork hand bags have become contemporary. In fact, I am considering to make my own handmade designer patchwork bag, which is why I put this tutorial aka complete bag making overview together.

I think fabric patchwork bags can be particularly successful when matched with other materials & details, such as embroidered beads, sewn on flowers & ruffles, plush pompoms, crocheted trimming, leather, bamboo or wood. But, I’ll leave those extra bits for a later follow-on tutorial, as today, I’m trying to get the basic patchwork bag idea across.

What is Patchwork

In essence, patchwork is sewing a bunch of matching fabrics together in a simple or complicated pattern to make a new fabric out of which to make blankets, placemats, pillows, and of course, bags. While that concept is easy to get your mind around, it is moderately difficult to actually make a patchwork bag such as this, as it does require concentration, measuring skills and a bit of a sewing ability.

Moda Charm Packs, a. o.

Materials Needed for this Patchwork Quilted Hand Bag

  • 5” Fabric Squares
  • Quilt Lining
  • Fabric-marking Pens (helpful)
  • Ironing Board & iron (if you want to be neat)
  • Measuring Tape
  • Sewing Machine, needles, thread & pins
  • Cutting Boards & scissors or rotary cutters for cutting

Reversible Patchwork / Rag Bag / Quilted Tote Free Sewing Pattern

Patchwork Tote Bag Free Pattern

Some call this a rag bag, others a patchwork bag, and others again a quilted tote bag. All the same thing. This is an easy-to-make quilted tote bag.

If you want, you could finish this bag in a way so that it’s a reversible bag. If you choose to do do so, one side of the tote will feature neatly quilted patchwork. Then, when you reverse the bag to the other side, it transforms into a shabby chic “rag” patchwork design that I prefer. (See photo).

How to make your patchwork tote bag – step-by-step instructions:

1. Cutting Your Patchwork Squares

Cut 27 5” fabric squares for the outside of your bag, using matching fabrics.

If you choose to make this bag reversible, cut an additional 27 5” fabric squares of contrasting colors & patterns for the inside of the bag. If you don’t make this bag reversible, you can just choose a simple lining instead.

Also cut 27 4” squares of batting like Insul bright.

2. Lining Up Your patchwork Squares

FRONT & BACK – each

3 X 3 (width x height)

SIDES – each

1 X 3 (width x height)


1 X 3 (width x length)

That makes 27 squares in total, right?!

As the fabric pattern of each square is a bit different, Take the pieces of fabric and lay them out in the way that  you want. Start with the front & the back of the bag, and then the sides and do the bottom last.  Once you’ve worked out where each square will go, pin on a piece of batting. When done with all that, flip all the squares over with the batting side up. While you do this, also ** reverse ** the front pattern: i.e. the one on the left goes to the right, etc.

3. Sewing Fabric onto Batting

Sew the two fabric layers with the batting in between together.  For example, sew a big X across each square by sewing two diagonal lines over each square. 

Tip: Keep your pattern in order while you’re sewing your squares.

quilted bag little bittles

4. Sewing Pieces into Rag Bag Sides

3/8” seam allowance is good. To achieve those ragged edges, sew all layers with their seam allowances folded outwards and showing, instead of tucked inside (folded towards the batting and thus hidden).

Once all are pinned together and in pattern you have planned, start sewing all the pieces together, doing a side at a time: the 9 of the front, 3 for the left side, the 9 of the back, etc.

Optional Extra: Pocket

Adding pockets is easy. Add a fourth 5” square over the squares where you you’d like pockets.

Before you attach it, sew a 1/4” hem for your pocket’s top side. If you wish to make 2 smaller pockets out of a 5” square, sew it vertically in the middle of the square, which will divide the pocket into 2 small, deep pockets.

5.  Sewing Your Bag Together

First attach the sides to the front and then the back. Add the bottom last.

Note: by stitching this the fast way, i.e. sewing all 3 layers of the fabric & lining together, one side of the bag will be neatly quilted, while the other side will be featuring your ragged edges. Note: while it is possible to make both sides ‘ragged’ by stitching one side of fabrics first, note that the batting will only be able to be folded out to one side.

Optional Extra: Bag Top Bias Trim or Button Tie

As a finishing touch, you may wish to sew on a bias trim to the top of your bag. Suggested: double fold bias tape 7/8” wide. You’ll need 35”.

Or, add a nice big button or jewel and add a little loop to close the bag top.

charm heart tote pattern

6. Adding Bag Handles

Bag handles are super easy to make:  just two strips of fabric (6” by 25”). For thicker handles, then cut the strip into 2 3” strips and line them with Insul Bright. Alternatively, fold the fabric over, stitch it close to the edge along the handle and add trimming along the length of the Promenade Market Tote Patternhandle for extra strength and contrast.

Attach one handle to the front of the bag and the other handle to the back of the bag. Place them about 1” from the top  & from the side of the bag, and stitch them on by stitching a big X cross at the end of each handle.



first image at & original bag making instruction no longer available source but were from: Henrietta’s Handbags.

Blue polka dot tote bag:

Heart patchwork tote bag:

Squares in squares bags: (We’ll talk more about these kind of patchwork bags in Fall)

Choosing Patchwork Fabric

You can see in both bags that choosing great fabric is 50% of the work.

So, here are some great MODA squares that will (without a doubt) give you great results for this project:

Mode Fabric Squares

Moda HAPPY DAISY 5″ Charm Pack Fabric Squares

moda Make life 5 quilt squares
5″ Moda Fabric Squares Charm Packs

If you prefer to cut your fabric yourself, here are some great fabrics:

fabric citrus fabric

First published July 19, 2010. Updated

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