Creative articles about sewing

Boro Patchwork Bag – Gift Wrapping

Dear community,
in this blog post you can find easy instructions for sewing a boro patchwork bag.

BERNINA Advent Calendar Sustainability Boro Patchwork Bag

Welcome to the 13th window of the BERNINA advent calendar with the theme of ‘sustainability’!

As a patchwork enthusiast, my contribution on this subject is the use of fabric remnants. With the amount of material that runs through my hands daily, this means a lot of remnants. I don’t keep all of them, but I would like to give myself – and you as well – a little nudge in the right direction with my contribution to the BERNINA advent calendar!

Boro Patchwork Bag – Gift Wrapping

The Japanese method of recycling fabric remnants is a good example of sustainability. “Derived from the Japanese word “Boroboro”, which means ‘torn’ or ‘repaired’, Boro refers to the practice of repairing textiles (often clothing or bedding) through compositing, darning, or sewing in order to extend their use.” (From ‘Make Your Own Japanese Boro Bag: V&A,


  • Fabric remnants in any size and color for the exterior
  • Remnants of compact non-woven liner (such as Freudenberg 279 Cotton Mix) approx. 65 cm x 45 cm
  • Larger fabric remnants for the inner lining approx. 65 cm x 45 cm (or comprised of cloth pieces)
  • Bias binding for binding the seam allowances
  • 2 strips of material 5 cm x 110 cm for the bow
  • Spray adhesive or textile glue


BERNINA Advent Calendar Boro Patchwork Bag - Cutting Plan

The boro patchwork bag can be made in any size. It can also be made as a basket or utensil organizer. This tutorial deals more with the cut and style than with the end result. In order to achieve the above dimensions after stitching the seams, the cut of the non-woven liner and the inner lining must initially be somewhat larger. After stitching, trim the surfaces to the specified measurements.


BERNINA Advent Calendar Boro Patchwork Bag - Working with the Fabric Remnants

As you can see in the image above, my fabric remnants are frayed. For this reason, I cut them back before working with them.

BERNINA Advent Calendar Sustainability Boro Patchwork Bag - Laying Out the Fabric Remnants

The back side of the roughly cut non-woven liner is sprayed with spray adhesive and glued to the inner lining material. Then, the section is turned and the top side is also sprayed with spray adhesive so that the fabric remnants stay glued together when they are laid out. 

The fabric remnants should be laid out so that they generously overlap. Since the spray adhesive only lightly glues the material, you can change the position of the pieces of cloth as often as you need until it is just right. 

If you are using textile glue, first place the pieces where you like them and then carefully lift them to glue them together.

BERNINA Advent Calendar Sustainability Boro Patchwork Bag - Distributing the Fabric Remnants

Even here there are still remnants remaining…


BERNINA Advent Calendar Boro Patchwork Bag - Stitching

In the original boro sewing method, a white sashiko thread or a pearl yarn no. 8 is used to sew long, rough stitches by hand.

I have opted for the plain lockstitch. The walking foot #50 is ideal for sewing precise stitches with a length of approx. 4.5 mm. 

To start, I sewed one line after the other in foot-long intervals across the entire seam. At the end, however, I determined that some pieces of cloth were not ‘fixed’ enough as a result.

BERNINA Advent Calendar Boro Patchwork Bag - Stitching

Then, I added additional lines in the middle between two stitches.

BERNINA Advent Calendar Boro Patchwork Bag - Stitchwork

In spite of the white thread, the individual printed textiles are still wonderfully visible. The material is again a little frayed due to the stitching, but now it has a certain charm to it. Now you can trim the section down to the previously specified measurements.

Binding the Seams

BERNINA Advent Calendar Boro Patchwork Bag - Bias Binding

Now you can clean up the side seams with the overlock machine or with a zigzag stitch. I prefer binding it with diagonal stitches. Afterwards, the side seams are closed with a 1 cm seam allowance.

BERNINA Advent Calendar Boro Patchwork Bag - Cut Edge

In the next step, the bottom and side seam will be sewn together. I also closed this edge with a diagonal stitch.  

Buttonholes for Drawing the Ribbon

BERNINA Advent Calendar Boro Patchwork Bag - Buttonhole Position

The picture above shows where the buttonholes will be made after you have closed the side seam.

In order to draw the ribbon through the upper part of the boro patchwork bag later, you have to put in buttonholes. You can also do this before sewing together the side seams, but then the gap between the buttonhole directly beside the side seam will change by 1 cm to 4 cm, instead of as shown in the illustration above, which is 3 cm!

I sewed my buttonholes with the automatic buttonhole foot #3A. The buttonholes have a length of 3 cm.

BERNINA Advent Calendar Boro Patchwork Bag - Interior View

In the last step, I have cleaned up the upper edge of the boro patchwork bag with a diagonal stitch.

The bag has a good shape due to the compact non-woven lining, the inner lining, and the many small pieces of material on the exterior.

Sewing the Band

For the band I have ironed a strip of material onto the long edge towards the middle. Then I put both strips on the respective ends, aligned the strips along the long side, and stitched them together with a top stitch.

BERNINA Advent Calendar Sustainability Boro Patchwork Bag

You can now use the boro patchwork bag as gift packaging…

BERNINA Advent Calendar Sustainability Boro Patchwork Bag

or use it as a utensil holder for knitting items, …  

BERNINA Advent Calendar Sustainability Boro Patchwork Bag

…or, if you sew the ribbon together, you can even use the boro patchwork bag as a proper bag!

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2020!


Free sewing tutorial: Boro Patchwork Bag

Difficulty level: Intermediate
Time to Complete: Evening
Used Material: cotton, cutting mat, Fabric remnants, patchwork fabric, rotary cutter, scissors, sewing thread, textile glue
Used Products:
Buttonhole Foot with Slide #3A
Buttonhole Foot with Slide #3A
Patchwork Foot #37
Patchwork Foot #37
Three-Sole Walking Foot with Seam Guide #50
Three-Sole Walking Foot with Seam Guide #50

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