Tarot Bag Pattern

December 14, 2008

Lined, reversible, with double drawstrings.


LEFT:  Padded, flannel-lined embroidered bag for “All Souls Procession Bell”

CENTER:  Flannel inside and outside, for jewelry.

RIGHT:  Half-size bag for Pod Knife:   Hemp/cotton hand-dyed with pomegranate husks, with hemp cords and silk tassels.

This pattern is sized to fit most Tarot decks, but I use it far more often to make bags for my bells and jewelry.   If it is not embellished with embroidery or ornaments, it is completely reversible.  Suitable fabrics include calico, flannel, muslin, and other quilter’s cottons, as well as lightweight denim, hemp/cotton, and corduroy. Construction can be a challenge with lightweight or unstable material (silk, satin, handkerchief linen, etc.) unless you are sewing by hand or have experience with these fabrics.  View a larger version of the pattern here:



Cut four pieces, two for the outer bag, and two from another fabric for the lining.  The pattern is 8.5″ x 5.5″ but can easily be resized.

1. To be sure the pieces are the same size and the notches line up exactly, stack the four cut rectangles on top of each other, and cut all the notches at once. 

2. Fold the top (notched) corners over twice onto the wrong side of the fabric, and stitch flat.  The folded triangles will not be stitched together, because they will form the open ends of the cord channel.  Complete any embroidery, applique, etc. for the outside of the bag now.

3. With right sides together, sew the two pieces of the lining (inner bag) together along the sides and bottom (NOT the top of the bag above the side notches).  Use a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Repeat with the the outer bag.  Clip seam allowances to 1/8″.

4.  Turn the outer bag right side out and press so seams and corners are straight.  Leave the lining as is, with the wrong side facing out.   Put the lining inside the outer bag, fold and press 1/2″ of the the tops over towards the wrong sides so they face each other to make the seam, and pin the two bags together at the top.  You should now have one bag with a lining.

5. Tack with a few stitches to firmly anchor the four top corners and the bottoms of the two”V” openings that form the cord channel, matching the pieces carefully. This step reinforces stress points and and helps keep the outer bag and the lining from slipping when you are stitching the top edges of the bag.

6. Stitch the two bags together at the top, about 1/8″ from the edge.   This can be done by hand or on the machine.  If the two pieces are different colors, match the top thread to the outer bag and the bobbin thread to the lining, since this stitching will be visible on both sides.

7. Use a ruler and a fabric-marking pencil, draw a straight line parallel to the top of the bag to connect the bottoms of the two “V” openings (note that the two pairs of folded triangles are facing each other).  On the pattern, this line connects the side notches to indicate the bottom of the cord channel.

8. If  you want the bag to be fully reversible, topstitch this line on the machine.  Since it is prominently visible on the bag, you may wish to handstitch it with embroidery thread instead, to give a more elegant look, especially if you are embellishing the outside of the bag and/or you don’t need it to be reversible.  I use herringbone stitch because it is quick, easy, attractive, and durable. 

9. The bag is done! If you are using commercial cord or ribbon, choose carefully and do not use cord that is too slippery or too small, or the bag won’t close properly. This pattern is really designed for 1/2″ or even wider ribbons, or for flat 1/4″-1/2″ drawstrings made from cotton fabric scraps.  Fabrics can be chosen to complement the colors of the bag, and the result is an attractive, long-wearing cord that is washable and closes very securely.  Photo shows the top of a completed bag with herringbone topstitching. 


Choose a solid color or small print, keeping in mind that the finished cord is only 1/2″ wide. Fabrics should be the same weight as the bag fabrics or a bit lighter. Since you will be stitching through four layers, avoid heavy fabrics. Cut a piece 1 1/2″ wide and about 30″ long.  Fold the piece in half lengthwise and press. Fold the sides into the center, then fold in half lengthwise along the first fold.  You will have a strip that is four layers thick and 1/3 the original width.  Press and pin shut. Topstitch within 1/8″ of the edge.
Now you have a cord.  Cut it in half.  Attach a safety pin to one end of the cord, close it, and use it to help you thread the cord through the two channels.  Repeat with the other cord.  Pull cords until ends are even.  If they are too long, cut to desired length.  Ends can simply be knotted, like any other cord, but the raw edges will show.  You can finish the ends in various ways:  Fold them over and stitch them, add shapes in contrasting fabrics, felt, leather etc., make tassels or stitch the end into a loop for beads or bells, wrap them with wire, or crimp them with pieces of metal tubing.


3 Responses to “Tarot Bag Pattern”

  1. judithornot said

    Thank you for sharing this, Lorena! Lately I’ve been experimenting with knitting and felting bags for tarot decks (or whatever).

  2. ironwing said

    Hi Judith,
    I really like knitted bags (and knitted things in general) but I don’t need to add ONE MORE THING to my list of media, especially since I just started two ambitious sewing/embroidery projects.

  3. […] found a pattern or fabric that fits the bill. I think I may have found it this last week – here – I still have a few more mock-ups to […]

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