Tips for Sewing Charm Square Bags

It seems that I am living up to my “bag lady” name, this is the third or fourth bag I’ve posted in the last 2 months!  Bags are a great project because you can completely finish them with 2 – 3 sessions of good sewing time.  They are also very functional and make great gifts!

Sew Charming Bag - Small

If you are frequent reader you will know that I am crazy about charm square bags.  After making so many, I’ve come up with some guidelines for how to place the charms to create more aesthetically pleasing results:

  1. Place dark squares on bottom, medium squares in center, and light squares on top of the bag.
  2. Another variation is to alternate between light and dark squares on each row to create a checkboard of lights/dark.
  3. Be mindful of where squares are placed on the side and bottom, as these will touch squares on the other side of the bag when the exterior is sewn together.
  4. For pocket pieces or other accents that need to stand out from the bag, use the squares that will contrast the most in terms of pattern and then color.  For example, when working with a predominantly floral fabric line, use the squares that feature lines/shapes or other bold patterns.
  5. Group squares of like colors when creating pockets.  This sets off the pocket as a decorative element on the bag.  Additionally, you can alternate two different colors or two different values to create something that looks unified.
  6. When choosing fabric for the handles, pick a medium tone.  Since the handles provide a unifying element to the bag I find that medium tones blend better with the bag.
  7. Don’t have squares of the same pattern but different color touching each other (but they can be placed diagonally from each other if needed).
  8. Mix up the small, medium, and large patterns in the square placement.
  9. Avoid using the solid colored squares (this is just personal preference since I like to show off all the fabric patterns in the bag).
  10. When only using part of a charm pack, it is useful to focus on using 4 – 5 colorways.  For example, I had a charm pack that featured red, white, light blue, dark blue, and black.  I entirely removed the black and dark blue from the choices.  However, you can use these colorways for lining or handles.

This is Sew Charming Bag by Rose Hip Lane and is by far my favorite!   You can make two sizes small (shown above) and large (shown below).  The large bag contains a nifty divided pocket that has room for notebooks, pencils, and other supplies.

Charm Tote
Charm Tote - Large

One reason this bag stands out is because of the ruffle on the pocket and top of the game.  The ruffle is easy to create and sew on – even for beginners.  You start by cutting two strips of fabric and then you join them to create one long strip.

When joining strips, I prefer using a mitered seam since it has less bulk and looks more polished.  Here’s a quick tutorial on how to create a mitered seam:

Step 1 – start by putting your strips right-sides together at right angles to each other.  On the top strip, use a pin to mark where the bottom strips ends (this way you can clearly see where the strips overlap to make a square).  Take a ruler and draw a diagonal line from left to right.  Refer to the picture to make sure you are drawing your line in the correct place.

Joining Strips with Miter - Step 1

Step 2 – Sew along the line you just marked.  Before cutting off the extra corner, open up the two strips to check that they match up and you have created the miter correctly.  Now, you can trim off the excess corner.

Joining Strips with Miter - Step 2

Step 3 – Press the seam open and you will have a nice diagonal seam joining the two strips together!

Joining Strips with Miter - Step 3

Keep it thimble!

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