Monthly Archives: May 2018

Origami Bags: A Little May Day Cheer


Happy May Day, all! And what a picture perfect day it is here in the Twin Cities. After biking the kids to school through spring showers, the clouds cleared and the sun shined through.  What makes this weather all the more sweet is that a mere two weeks ago we had snow up to our knees!

I thought it was fitting to celebrate the long-overdue arrival of spring with a new craft project: the Origami Market Bag. (I couldn’t resist hanging it on the front door with a bouquet of flowers, by the way. It reminds me of a modern May Day basket. For years my mother-in-law has exchanged May Day baskets with her neighbor, and I love that tradition. One of these days I’ll get my act together and surprise my own neighbors!)

Anyway, I’ve been a bit obsessed with making these bags lately, and it all began with a lovely linen tote bag that I picked up in Vietnam last month. It is such a simple yet elegant design, that as I was eyeing it in the shop my mom said, “you know, this would be pretty easy to make…” Just like that, the seed was planted. I did buy the bag, and I love it, especially the red tassel that adorns the front. But I had to make one (or two, or three…) myself. A couple of weeks later as I dug through piles of patterned fabrics at the textile garage sale, I had these bags on my mind.

I found a couple of bundles of coordinating fabrics for 1 or 2 dollars each, and I couldn’t wait to get home and sew up some origami bags. I found great instructions for how to make an origami bag here, at  I made the first bag using a polka dot upholstery fabric and a much lighter weight striped fabric, following the instructions pretty much to the letter (although I did make a slightly longer handle).

The bag turned out well, and it was fun to make. I love how it’s big enough to sling over one shoulder and take to a farmers’ market. But, just like any other project, I was interested in trying a few things differently the next time around. I wanted to make a bag with a liner and I thought it would be fun to size it down a bit.

I also had some trouble with the heavier fabric I used for the first bag…it didn’t have the drape I was after and it made for some bulky seams that were challenging to sew. So I unearthed (I almost mean that literally…you should see my fabric stash) this blue and tan coordinating set of much lighter weight upholstery fabrics, one in floral and one in leopard print, that I had picked up for almost free at the local Goodwill outlet. Then I used the heavy polka dot fabric for the handle, where its sturdy stiffness would come in handy. The second “mini market” bag turned out pretty cute. Okay, I kind of love the result.


I’m still fine-tuning, of course. I’ve already cut the pieces for my next attempt, which will be in a striped linen and cotton floral. You can see the beginnings of it here:

I’m so excited to finish this one, which will be more in line with the weight and size of the original bag. I’ll keep you posted on my progress! If you’re looking for a little crafty inspiration yourself, check out my latest release, The Craft-A-Day Book! Happy Spring!