Thursday, January 1, 2009

How to Make Japanese Knotted Bags (borrowed instructions)

A few months ago, I was looking for a quick purse to make from fabric and came across an excellent tutorial created by Helen in New Zealand. Her complete instructions, including nice photos of her Japanese print bags, can be found at Japanese-knot-bag.

Only two fat quarters (if you are not a quilter, one fat quarter equates to very little fabric) are required to make this bag (photo courtesy of Helen):

She says about her shop where she sells hand crafted items:
Welcome to Show Your Workings. I like to recycle and re-purpose. I mostly work with fabric but also collect and sell vintage patterns and haberdashery. I'm trying to live a sustainable life in New Zealand with a small footprint, craft is a way of living sustainably and inventively (that's my excuse anyway!). I also write and blog at
Thanks for stopping by and supporting NZ handmade.
Her online shop can be accessed at Helen's Etsy Shop.

The process for sewing the purse looked so intriguing that I just had to try it. I am not finished with my Japanese knotted bags, but here is a photo of three sets of coordinating fabrics that will be used to make three different bags:

A couple of coordinating face pins in my jewelry stash will be added to the sides of the purses when the sewing step is completed.

One idea that I added to Helen's instructions for making the Japanese-knot-bag is this: use the plastic that comes atop any 2 lb. coffee can as the insert for the bottom of the bag. You will not even have to cut the plastic, because it is exactly the same size as the pattern piece. And you will be recycling plastic and going green.

If you are looking for another type bag to sew, you can go to another quick tutorial on making shopping bags at Free Crafts:Shopping-bag.

The entire cost of making one Japanese knotted bag was less than $5, including newly purchased fabric. They are the perfect size for holding a small knitting project, or just your car keys and a lipstick.

If you make one of these bags, please send me a picture of it, and I will post it on a future blog. Thanks!


  1. I just finished making one of these bags for my daughter who doesn't sew. This is the 3rd one I've made for her. She likes this pattern because it has a flat base. I'd send you a picture but I don't know how. I do have a question though. Even though I've made several of these, I have a terrible time with the side seam where it meets the handle. I can't seem to get this smooth and it takes several tries to get it acceptable. That means I am turning the entire bag through that little hole in the handle more than once which is a big pain. Do you have any idea on what I might be doing wrong that is making the side seam so hard to do?


    1. Hi, Sandee. No problem about asking the question, only wish I had an answer for you. I have had the same problem with the lining matching correctly to the fabric of the bag, and ended up cutting the selvage really close to the seam to take away that bulk prior to turning it over. Probably Helen Heath might help?

      My hat is off to you for having made three Japanese knot bags!

      All the best,


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