TOTE BAG and matching tissue holder


Home made bags are a thing of beauty! They are also very addictive, once you’ve made one, you’ll be coming back for more, because they can be simple to make, quick and don’t take a lot of fabric so, like this one, they make great beginners projects.

And why not make a matching tissue holder like this one. It makes the perfect gift too.IMG_3173

So here is how you make the Tote bag and matching tissue holder. The finished Tote bag measures 39cm x 35cm with long handles measuring 100cm and an inner pocket.

TOTE BAG and tissue holder

You will need:

50 cm* of outer fabric, lining fabric and iron on medium or heavy interfacing.               (*if your fabric has a one way direction you will need 60cm x 112cm of outer fabric). ETSY SHOP AFRICAN FABRIC HALF METRE LISTING  as seen below 

A reel of thread.


LAYPLANScreen Shot 2020-04-24 at 19.13.06

Using the layplan above as a guide, cut out the following pieces:

Outer fabric

Cut two pieces 42cm x 36cm (Bag Front and Back)

Cut two pieces 36cm x 8cm (Bag inner top band)

Cut two pieces 7 cm x 100cm (Bag straps)

Cut three pieces 10cm x 15cm (tissue holder)

Lining fabric

Cut two pieces 36cm x 36cm (Bag lining)

Cut one piece 16cm x 14cm (inner bag pocket)

Cut one piece 10cm x 15cm (tissue holder)

This is what you do:

MAKE THE STRAPS Fold the straps in 1cm each long side, press. Then fold in half so the folded edges are aligned. Pin. Stitch down each long side, close the edge. Press. Place to one side.1

TOP INNER BAND With the RST* (right sides together) pin the top band to the lining at the longest edge. Sew a 1 cm seam allowance. Press the seam allowance upwards towards the band. Top stitch on the right side a few millimetres from the seam line on the band side. Press.


Now pin the handles to the top edge of the inner band 12cm apart, positioned centrally (ie leave a gap 6cm either side of the centre point before the strap). See how they are hanging downwards, These handles are short, if yours are longer then tie them to keep them from getting in the way. 4aStitch across the straps at the top, 5mm from the top edge, to secure them in place, so you can remove the pins

POCKET  Make a small hem at the top edge of the pocket by folding over 1cm press, then fold again 1cm, press. Sew.

Fold over 1cm at the remaining un-hemmed sides. Pin to the lining approx 2cm down from the inner band positioned centrally. Topstitch around the three folded edge sides close (3mm) to the outer edge of the pocket. Press.


Now pin one outer bag front piece on top of the inner band and lining piece at the top edge with the RST. Sew across with a 1cm seam allowance. Press the seam allowance flat open. Top stitch on the band edge close to the seam line. You can see that the handle is encased in the seam and is now secure.

Repeat for the other outer bag back and inner band/lining pieces.

CONSTRUCTING THE BAG so now place one bag piece open flat on a table with the right side facing up. Place the second bag piece on top with the RST. Align the lining to lining and bag outer pieces, align the raw side and lower edges all around making sure the cross seams match up. Pin all around. 6a

Now sew all around the bag with a 1cm seam allowance, leaving a 10cm opening in the bottom of the lining. Trim across the seam allowance corners.8Now turn your bag inside out through the opening in the lining.

Push the lining into the bag, pushing out the corners inside with a pokey tool (knit needle/ chopstick or a blunt pencil that kind of thing).  Press. And there, my friends, you have a lovely bag. Pat your self on the back!

TISSUE HOLDER Fold and press in half two tissue holder outer pieces with the long sides matching and the wrong sides together. Lay one tissue holder lining piece and one outer piece on top with the wrong sides together. Lay the folded pieces on top of the outer piece with the folded edges at the centre. Pin all around. Sew all around with a 1cm seam allowance. Finish the raw edge with a zig zag stitch. Trim across the seam allowance corners to reduce the bulk. Turn inside out, pushing out the corners. Press. Pop a pack of tissues inside and voila! All done.


Copyright Fiona Hesford. All rights Reserved. Please contact me if you wish to use the text or photographs. 


Cushions how we love them!

Square ones, round ones, plain, multicoloured they support the backs of the world! They give a colour pop to our sofas, garden furniture and beds, like pieces of art brightening up our homes.

A cushion is a wonderful thing. As my husband put it “what is it with women and cushions?” Well, he’s the first one to bolster himself up with a morning cuppa in bed, so I think that men secretly love them just as much as we do!

Anyway down to business…..


Here is a tutorial about how to make an envelope cushion. To make a 16″ square envelope cushion you will need:

50cm of main fabric, a reel of thread, two 25mm buttons (optional) and a cushion pad inner (polyester or feather).

You can get pads here on ebay


s-l1600You can make a cushion from all sorts of fabric, but if you fancy making in African fabric you can see my selection via my ETSY SHOP where I have half metres available and patchwork packs. Here is a selection of some of them.

By the way, I also have a small video on Facebook  and Instagram showing you my fabrics in my Funky Kitchen and Lounging around showing you my cushions in situ. Just saying!

So you have a good pair of scissors and a ruler, you need get cutting out the pieces. IMG_7764

For a 16″ cushion you need to:

Cut out one piece 43cm x 43cm (front) and two pieces 43cm x 35cm (back).

*With the two back pieces, fold over and press 1cm then again 2cm at one long edge on each piece. IMG_7762Pin, then sew close to the inner fold to make two back pieces with hemmed finished edges.IMG_7765If you would like to insert a buttonhole and button fastening, do so at this stage after making the back hems. IMG_7770

You may have a one step buttonhole attachment – see below for the different types.

Here are links to You tube video tutorials about how to make a one or four step buttonholes:

How to make a one step buttonhole 

How to make a four step buttonhole

Not sure which one you have with your machine? Well if you have an attachment like this in pic 1 its a four step:


Or a one step buttonhole attachment looks like this:


if you don’t have either, its possible your machine doesn’t buttonhole, in which case, leave your cushion opening open on the back, thats no big deal!

So place one or two buttonholes on the back, I like to place one centrally on the hem or two approx 15cm apart. The buttons are stitched on at the end.

If you don’t want to add buttons, just skip this stage.

Now to sew the cushion together.

With the right sides of the fabric together, matching the raw three sides, place one back piece at each side on top of the front piece so that the hemmed sides overlap at the centre. Pin all around.Screen Shot 2020-04-21 at 11.46.46

Sew all around the outer edge with a 1cm seam allowance, drop the needle into the fabric at the corners when pivoting at the corner to avoid losing your place.

Zig zag the raw edge all around to stop fraying.

Trim across the seam allowance corners, this reduces the bulk and makes the corners more pointy.

Turn inside out and push out the corners with a poking tool, a knitting needle, chopstick or scissors end are all good but take care not to poke a hole in your corner! (been there done that!).

Press and insert a cushion pad. Let your cushion relax into its pad and then mark the button position through the centre of each buttonhole. Sew on the buttons in position.

Enjoy! **


Now who fancies making a patchwork cushion? Heres an 18″ one I made from African fabric.

IMG_3188I have some fabric packs in stock on my Etsy shop so check them out there.

IMG_3217 (1)

To make a patched front (I like to have a plain linen back) but you could also patch the back too.

To make an 18″ patch cushion you will need to cut:

FRONT PIECE: 9 squares of different fabric  16 cm x 16cm (6 1/4″)

BACKING: one piece 47cm x 47cm (18.5″ x 18.5″) (linen, cotton fabric is good) if you are putting a zip in or two pieces 47cm x 35cm for an envelope style backing. Repeat in Batting* if you would like to quilt your fabric

BATTING*: use a bamboo one for eco friendliness heres a good one, Polyester or cotton thin batting would also work. EBAY BATTING SUPPLIER s-l640


Arrange your squares in the formation you require and in 3 rows of 3.

With the right sides of the fabric together and the raw edges aligned, pin pieces 1 & 2 together and sew with a 1/4″ (6mm) seam allowance. Then sew piece 3 to the piece 2 you have just sewn. Press the seam allowance to one side. Repeat for the remaining 2 sets of three squares so you have 3 sets of 3 altogether. Tip: press your seam allowances in opposite directions on each band. 

When you have completed three strips of 3 squares, join the first band to the second and then the second to the third, again with the right sides of the fabric together and raw edges aligned.

If you would like to quilt your front piece this is the stage to lay your batting to the reverse side of your front piece and back piece(s). Pin or fuse with fabric spray glue if you have it.

Quilt the front piece (and back too if you would like more stitch detailing) as required, you may need to insert a walking foot on your machine to ease the flow of the fabric.

Screen Shot 2017-11-04 at 16.10.38 copy Press. Now continue with the instructions for constructing the cushion same as the envelope cushion above * to **IMG_3188

Now, if you would like to make a cushion with half triangle squares (its the one shown above at the back) just cut out 9 slightly larger squares 6 1/2″ (16.5cm). Make your triangles by following this video tutorial…


When you have your 9 half triangle squares completed,  patch them together as shown in the previous tutorial for the patchwork cushion.

Then follow the instructions as before for making the envelope cushion as from * to **

Now to make a circular cushion with segments like this one


To make a cushion like this one you will need to download and print off two copies of this file for the template, make sure you print at 100% scale and check the 5cm measure on the file:

Cushion Segment Template download 

You need 6 pieces of different fabric prints 25cm x 25cm (10″  x 10″), backing fabric 50cm x 50cm, two 25mm-30mm buttons, one round 18″ cushion pad. Ebay cushion pad shop.

From the constructed template cut out one piece each in the different fabrics. Sew two pieces together with the long sides aligned and the right sides of the fabric together*.  Press. Then sew on the third segment to the two part piece so you have two pieces of 3 joined segments.

Then sew the two semi circle pieces of 3 segments together, aligning the longest edges with the RST* Press. You can add batting to the reverse side if you would like.

Finally with the RST, pin the circle piece to the square backing piece. Stitch all around the curved outer edge 1cm from the edge but leave one section unstitched for inserting the cushion. Insert the cushion. Stitch up the opening with a small slip stitch. Sew on the buttons at the centre either side, passing the needle from one side to the other and pulling tight so that it pulls the cushion in at the centre and covers the corner bits.

MAKING A CO ORDINATING LAMPSHADElampshade 2From a half metre length of fabric you can cover a lampshade like this one. You need one 30cm diametre lampshade kit from:


It comes with full instructions and theres also a video here that helps in the making:


Hope you enjoy making lounge accessories and they light up your life.


Copyright Fiona Hesford. All rights reserved. Please consult me if you would like to use any of the images/text shown on this blog.