Jacquard ribbons are exquisitely woven, richly colored and simply beautiful. Today’s sponsor, Renaissance Ribbons is known throughout the industry for supplying some of the loveliest and most unique Jacquard ribbons available. A number of them are imported designs from France; many others are created by some of your favorite designers, such as Kaffe Fassett, Anna Maria Horner and Sue Spargo. Designer ribbons are a wonderful way to instantly add intricate style to a project. Today’s unique barrel tote, with its detachable strap, uses them to their best advantage, adding just the right dash of drama. Don’t go overboard – too many ribbons is like too much whipped cream… sounds like a good idea at the time, then it smothers the taste of everything. Use them to accent not overwhelm. This bag would be considered an advanced project, but as always, we’ve included detailed step-by-step instructions and lots of helpful photos. Read through the tutorial a couple of times before you start, and we know you can do it! 

Our thanks to Renaissance Ribbons for providing the ribbons for today’s project, which are available from their online store. The rich chocolate and turquoise palette we chose is just one of the hundreds of options available. Some of our other favorites, which would also make wonderful bag accents (and more!), include these dozen beauties below. Simply click on any photo to go the Renaissance Ribbons online store to purchase that ribbon. 




Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • 1 yard of 59″+ wide cotton twill or similar weight fabric (for the exterior); we used a chocolate brown twill, purchased locally
  • ¾ yard of a coordinating 44-45″ wide standard weight cotton print (for the lining); we used a aqua and chocolate quilting cotton, purchased locally
    NOTE: The exterior fabric should be a neutral tone, and even the lining fabric should be subtle. The beauty of the bag comes from the ribbon, so the fabric should not compete in any way.
  • 1½ yards of heavyweight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon Shape Flex  
  • 1 yard of ⅝” woven ribbon trim; we used designer ribbon from Renaissance Ribbons: ⅝” Blue Flower On Brown 
  • 1 yard of 1½” woven ribbon trim; we used designer ribbon from Renaissance Ribbons: 1½” Flowery Blossom in Blue/Brown
  • 1 yard of 2½” woven ribbon trim; we used designer ribbon from Renaissance Ribbons: 2½” Turquoise Suzani
  • 1 yard of 1″ woven ribbon trimwe used designer ribbon from Renaissance Ribbons: 1″ Turquoise Palmette – This ribbon is temporarily out-of-stock at Renaissance Ribbons. As an alternative, should you not want to wait for re-stocking, we suggest ⅞” Brown/Turquoise Paisley.
  • 5 yards of ⅜” woven ribbon trim; we used designer ribbon from Renaissance Ribbons” ⅜” Maroon/Turquoise Spinning Wheels
    NOTE: Ribbon amounts shown are sufficient for all the steps shown, however, you may want to purchase ¼ to ½ yard additional in order to fussy cut each ribbon for the very best effect.
  • ONE 12″ purse zipper; we used a Coats & Clark Purse Double Slider zipper 
  • ONE 7″ zipper to match lining fabric for the optional zippered pocket in the lining; we used a 7″ Coats & Clark invisible zipper in pale blue; a standard zipper would work as well
  • TWO 1¼” D-rings or rectangular rings
  • TWO 1¼” swivel clips
  • FOUR 9/16″ purse feet
  • 1 yard of 12″ – 15″ wide tear-away stabilizer to build ribbon stratas; such as Pellon lightweight Stitch & Tear
  • All purpose thread to match fabric
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Tape measure
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins
  • Hand sewing needle

Getting Started

Our bag finishes at approximately 7″ wide x 14″ long x 7″ high. 

  1. Download and print the Pocket Template and the Circle Template
    IMPORTANT: Each pattern consists of ONE 8½” x 11″ sheet. You must print the PDF files at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page.
  2. Cut out the pieces along the solid lines. Set aside.
  3. From the exterior cotton twill fabric, cut the following
    ONE 4″ x width of fabric strip
    ONE 3″ x 22″ strip
    ONE 14″ x 19″ rectangle
    TWO 2½” x 14″ strips
    Using the pattern, cut TWO 8″ circles
    Using the pattern, cut TWO pockets
  4. From the coordinating print lining fabric, cut:
    ONE 14″ x 22″ rectangle
    ONE 9″ x 14″ rectangle
    Using the pattern, cut TWO 8″ circles
  5. From heavyweight interfacing, cut
    ONE 14″ x 19″ rectangle
    TWO 2½” x 14″ strips
    ONE 4″ x 14″ rectangle
    Using the pattern, cut TWO 8″ circles
  6. Cut the tear-away stabilizer into 4″ wide strips.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Apply the interfacing

  1. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the 14″ x 19″ rectangle of cotton twill, the 2½” twill strips and the two 8″ twill circles.
  2. Find the 4″ x 14″ strip of interfacing. Center it over the the wrong side (the interfaced side) of the 14″ x 19″ rectangle of cotton twill. The 4″ x 14″ strip should be perpendicular to the 14″ x 19″ piece. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place. 
    NOTE: This extra layer of interfacing reinforces the bottom of the handbag and supports the purse feet.

Make ribbon stratas

  1. A strata is a quilter’s term for a block of pieced fabric made up of strips sewn together side-by-side.The completed strata can be cut into smaller strips for a project. It’s a wonderful time-saving technique, and today we’re using it for our ribbon units.
  2. If possible, attach a ditch quilting foot or (what we used) Janome’s Clear View Quilting Foot & Guide Set foot, assembled in the ditch quilting position. This handy foot has a flange down the center of the foot, and allows the ribbon to be joined edge-to-edge without overlapping. We used a narrow zig zag stitch (2.5 mm width and 1.0 mm length).
  3. As we mentioned above, this very cool quilting foot set does three tasks in one. You can see our original article about it here.
  4. Cut two 36″ lengths of the ⅜” ribbon (Maroon/Turquoise Spinning Wheels in our sample) to match the 36″ length of the 2½” ribbon (Turquoise Suzani in our sample). 
  5. Collect your 4″ strips of tear-away stabilizer. 
  6. Center the 2½” ribbon on a strip(s) of stabilizer. 
  7. Place one length of ⅜” ribbon next to the 2½” ribbon. The two ribbons should be butted together, not overlapped.
  8. Bring everything to your sewing machine. If using the ditch quilting foot, lower the foot so the flange is between the two lengths of ribbon.
  9. Using a narrow zig zag, stitch the ribbons together, keeping the edges together as you sew. Add additional strips of stabilizer as needed. The stabilizer is used to keep the ribbons stable; you will tear it away when done, so don’t worry about how it looks. 
  10. Place the remaining ⅜” ribbon along the opposite side of the 2½” ribbon and stitch in place using the same technique.
  11. Remove the excess stabilizer from the ribbon, and press. This completes Ribbon Strata A.
  12. Create a second group of ribbons using three 20″ lengths of the ⅜” ribbon (Maroon/Turquoise Spinning Wheels in our sample), one 20″ length of the 1½” ribbon (Flowery Blossom in Blue/Brown in our sample) and one 20″ length of 1″ ribbon (Turquoise Palmette in our sample or our alternate suggestion of ⅞” Brown/Turquoise Paisley). 
  13. Arrange the ribbons as shown on the sample handbag or create your own pattern. We arranged the ribbons as follows (left to right): ⅜”, 1½”, ⅜”, 1″, ⅜”.
  14. Stitch the ribbons together using the same technique as outlined above for the Strata A. This completes Ribbon Strata B.

Pocket circle ends

  1. If possible, change the ditch quilting foot to an appliqué foot. Select a straight stitch.
  2. Find the two exterior pocket pieces, Ribbon Strata A, and the two exterior 8″ circles.
  3. From Ribbon Strata A, cut two 8″ pieces, centering the ribbon pattern. 
  4. With a fabric pen or pencil, mark a line ¼” from the upper edge of each pocket on the WRONG side of the fabric.
  5. Working with one ribbon unit and one pocket piece, place the top edge of the ribbon piece along the marked line (you are working on the wrong side of the pocket with the wrong side of the ribbon strata against the fabric). Keep the ribbon centered. Edgestitch the top of the ribbon strata in place.
  6. Fold the ribbon along the stitch line, which brings it down and over to the front of the pocket.
  7. Edgestitch the bottom of the ribbon strata in place.
  8. Place the pocket on one 8″ exterior circle. Pin in place.
  9. Machine baste the pocket in place within the ½” seam allowance; an approximate ⅜” seam allowance would be good.
  10. Repeat steps 5 – 9 to create the opposite end pocket with the remaining pieces.

Create the main bag with its zipper

  1. Find the remaining piece of Ribbon Strata A (it should be a 20″ length), Ribbon Strata B, and the 14″ x 19″ exterior piece (which you fused above).
  2. Place the 14″ x 19″ piece right side up and flat on your work surface.
  3. Place Ribbon Strata A across the center of the 14″ x 19″ piece. It should extend ½” beyond the raw edge of the twill on each end. Pin in place.
  4. Place Ribbon Strata B along the top edge of the 14″ x 19″ rectangle, ⅝” down from the edge. Pin in place.
  5. Edgestitch both ribbon stratas in place along each side of each strata. 
  6. Change to a zipper foot.
  7. Find the two 2½” x 14″ strips of twill (which you also fused above) and the purse zipper.
  8. Place the zipper face down along one edge of one of the twill strips, aligning the edge of the zipper tape with the raw edge of the strip. The zipper has two sliders; to start, they should be closed – meeting in the center.
  9. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch the zipper to the fabric. 
  10. When you get towards the center, stop and lock your stitch. 
  11. Remove the pieces from under the needle and move the sliders out of the way.
  12. Replace the project under needle. Drop you needle at the exact point where you stopped. Secure your stitch, then continue the ½” seam to the end of the zipper. 
  13. Repeat these steps to attach the opposite side of the zipper to the remaining 2½” x 14″ strip. 
  14. Switch back to a regular presser foot.
  15. Press the strips away from the zipper, and edgestitch both strips in place. You will again need to stop and move the zipper pulls out of the way.
  16. Find the main 14″ x 19″ panel (with the ribbon stratas).
  17. Place the zipper unit right sides together with one 14″ side of the exterior panel. Pin in place.
  18. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch in place.
  19. Press the seam toward the zipper unit.
  20. Flip the panel to the right side and edgestitch the seam allowance in place, stitching within the zipper unit.
  21. Stay stitch both long sides (the 19″ sides) of the purse ½” from the edge.

    NOTE: Stay stitching is a single line of stitching that simply helps stabilize the fabric to prevent stretching or distortion. In this project, it will also provide us with a seam line to follow later in the instructions. 
  22. Bring the remaining raw edge of the exterior panel right sides together with the remaining edge of the zipper unit. You now have a tube (the beginnings of your barrel!).
  23. As above, use a ½” seam allowance to stitch these layers in place.
  24. And, also as above, press the seam towards the zipper and edgestitch the seam allowance in place. You will need to twist and flatten the exterior “tube” to get it under the needle for this step. 
  25. Clip the raw edges of the two open ends of the tube. Clip approximately every ½”, taking care to not cut through the stay stitching.

Strap tabs

  1. Find the 4″ x WOF twill strip and the two D or rectangular rings.
  2. Fold the strip in half lengthwise, matching the long raw edges. Press.
  3. Open up the strip so the center crease is visible and fold in each edge to meet the center line. Press.
  4. Fold the strip in half again along the original crease line. The folded edges will now be aligned. 
  5. Edgestitch the layers together along the folded edges.
  6. From the finished strip, cut two 6″ lengths. Set aside the remaining length; it will be used for the strap.
  7. Slip each 6″ strip through one of the rings. Fold the end into place so one end extends 1″ below the other. Pin in place.   
  8. Fold up that extra 1″ on each tab, enclosing the the upper end’s raw edge. Pin in place.
  9. Find the two circular end units (which now have pockets on them from the steps above).
  10. Place one tab on one end unit, centering it above the pocket. The end should be approximately ½” above the top edge of the pocket. Stitch the tab in place with an “X box” stitch. 
  11. Repeat to attach the remaining tab to the remaining end unit.
  12. Place a pin at the exact center top, exact center bottom and top side edge of each pocket. Think of it like at clock, with pin points at 12:00, 3:00, 6:00 and 9:00.
  13. On the main barrel unit, the corresponding 12:00 point will be the center of the zipper. Keeping the zipper in the exact center, flatten the barrel to find the opposite 6:00 point. Then, flatten the barrel in the opposite direction to find the 3:00 and 9:00 points. Place marking pins at all these points. 
  14. Place the end unit right sides together with circular opening of the barrel, aligning all the pin points. Easing the fabric, fill in the rest of the circle with pins. If you have done garment sewing, this is very similar to putting in a sleeve.
  15. Stitch the layers together, following along the original line of stay stitching. 
  16. Trim the seam allowance to ¼”.
  17. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, add purse feet to the bottom of the purse. Mark the placement for each foot using the backing circle as a template. The marks should be 1″ from the seam, and ½” from the edge of that original extra center layer of interfacing. 
    NOTE: The purse feet are optional. 
  18. Turn the completed barrel right side out.

Create the handles and shoulder strap

  1. Find the 3″ x 22″ exterior twill piece.
  2. Fold the strip in half lengthwise, matching the long raw edges. Press.
  3. Open up the strip so the center crease is visible and fold in each edge to meet the center line. Press.
  4. Fold the strip in half again along the original crease line. The folded edges will now be aligned.
  5. Cut a 22″ length from the ⅝” ribbon (Blue Flower on Brown in our sample).
  6. Center the ⅝” ribbon along the folded strip. Edgestitch in place along both sides. The edgestitching also secures the folded layers in place.
  7. From the completed strip, cut two 10″ lengths, centering the pattern on each strip. 
  8. Fold under each end of each strip ½”.
  9. The handles go on either side of the zipper, centered side to side within the twill strip. You will need to open the zipper in order to be able to flatten the bag enough to slip it under the needle
  10. Place each end of the handle 2¾” in from the end of the zipper trim strip. 
  11. Sew each end of each handle in place with an ” X box” as you did above for the end tabs.
  12. Find the remaining length of strap you set aside after creating the end tabs.
  13. Cut the strap to the desired length plus 6″. We made our finished strap 39″ and so started with 45″.
  14. Attach a swivel clip to each end, using the same fold-through, reinforced-box technique as you used above for the end tabs. 

Create the optional zippered pocket in the lining

  1. Find the 14″ x 22″ lining rectangle, the 9″ x 14″ lining rectangle, and the 7″ zipper.
  2. Place one 9″ edge of the pocket right sides together with one 14″ edge of the main lining, centering the pocket side to side and aligning the raw edges. 
  3. With the fabric pen or pencil, draw a box 7″ x ½” narrow box. This narrow box should be centered side to side on the pocket and 2″ down from the upper edge.
  4. Stitch around the marked box, using a short stitch length (we used 1.80 mm).
  5. Cut through the center of the box, then clip into each corner. 
  6. Turn the pocket right sides out through the opening. Press flat.
  7. Place the opening over the zipper, centering the coil. Pin in place. 
  8. Edgestitch in place around all four sides.
  9. Fold just the pocket layer in half, bringing the lower edge of the pocket up so it aligns with the upper edge. Pin the sides; do not pin through the lining layer, just pin the sides.
  10. Move the lining layer out of the way, and using a ½” seam allowance, stitch the sides together. 
  11. Machine baste the upper edge of the pocket within the ½” seam allowance.

Create and insert the lining

  1. As you did with the exterior 14″ x 22″ panel, stay stitch each 14″ side of the lining
  2. Clip to, but not through, the line of stay stitching every ½” – again as you did with the exterior panel.
  3. Press under ½” along the each 22″ edge.
  4. Find the two 8″ lining circles.
  5. Following same method as you did for the exterior, pin the lining to the 8″ circles, leaving a ½” gap at what will be the top of the lining (the 12:00 point).
  6. When inserted into the bag, this gap will allow the lining to smoothly straddle the zipper.
  7. Sew the ends in place, following along in the original line of stay stitching. 
  8. Trim the seam allowances to ¼”.
  9. With the completed lining still wrong side out, insert it into the exterior bag. Pin the lining in place along each side of the zipper. 
  10. Hand sew the lining in place with a tiny slip stitch
  11. Clip the strap in place to complete.


Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Michele Mishler

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