Japanese Quilt Geisha Bags




About: Hi, we're Dara and Nash. Industrial designers, tinkers, and mayhem builders. Follow our travels.

The following a tutorial from our 2016 handbag making class at Animazement. This tutorial teaches you how to make a female samurai's handbag from the 16th or 18th century and features Japanese Sashiko stitching and fabric manipulation. To make you will need:

2- 12 inch by 12 inch fabric squares in a light weight fabric. Cotton, silk, and linen work well

1 pair of scissors

buttons you want to sew on

scrap fabric for manipulation

button thread (available in most sewing shops at the bottom of the thread for sale)

1 piece of ribbon

piece of fabric 2 inches by 10 inches to form the casing

Teacher Notes

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Step 1: Sew the Lining and Shell

Lay your good fabric and lining together right side to right side. The good fabric should be up. Put the casing on top in the center. Sew from on side to the other at 5/8".

Step 2: Sew the Second Line in the Casing

Open your bag so it is flat and sew the second line of your casing at the bottom from one side to the other on the outside good fabric.

Step 3: Sew the Casing Ends

Fold the fabric back in half and snip where your casing lines up with your fabric in the lining in front and back. Open back up and fold the fabric under. Sew from one side to the other.

Step 4: Insert the Ribbon

Thread your ribbon through the casing. You can use a safety pin if you want for weight. A chop stick also works or bodkin.

Step 5: Decorate the Outside of Your Bag

This is the fun part. Thread your needle and tie a knot in the end. Using long running stitches called Sashiko to sew on bits of fabric, buttons, or fun patterns. You can use origami techniques to create flowers, birds, pleats, and other Japanese manipulations. The sky is the limit here.

Step 6: Sew on a Label

If you want to sew on a custom label. Now is the point you do it.

Step 7: Fold Your Bag in Half and Sew

Alright, now you want to sew the bag and lining together. Fold the fabric in half and make sure to tuck the ribbon inside. Start sewing from the top at 5/8" and remember to start and stop when you reach the casing so you don't sew over the hole for the ribbon.

Step 8: Flip and Fold

Flip your bag right side out and fold it so you are looking at the lining. The good side of the fabric should be tucked inside.

Step 9: Sew the Bottom of the Bag

Sew the bottom of the bag. Clip the corners when you are done.

Step 10: Flip and Admire Your Handiwork

All done! Have a great week!



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    6 Discussions


    3 years ago

    are your accent fabrics ribbon or have you just left raw edges everywhere?

    1 reply

    3 years ago

    I have Japanese silk from kimonos that were taken apart! This would be perfect. I never knew what to do with it.

    1 reply
    Haus Pageparisusa

    Reply 3 years ago

    Yes, it's a great project for scrap fabric which makes it ideal for left-overs from larger work, classrooms, or sewing parties. I really enjoy fabric Japanese fabric manipulation, but find myself too impatient to sew an entire quilt of squares. Since you only have to do one square to look good...it's pretty satisfying because you don't have to spend months sewing to get something unique and cool at the end.


    3 years ago

    nice work! is that a 12wells culture plate you have there?

    1 reply
    Haus Pagehaemophilic

    Reply 3 years ago

    Yup, a friend gave them to me...they're really handy if you have a sewing class to teach as they keep the small spare parts like pins, needles, buttons, ribbon, and beads all seperate.