Temari Project Tote Bag Tutorial

This Temari Project Tote Bag Tutorial is based on my second version of this tote bag. It is a handy tote for other sewing projects too.This project is not recommended for beginner sewers.

temari tote v.2 1

Although this bag could easily be used for other types of needlework projects, there are couple nice features incorporated into the bag that have the temari maker in mind.

The tote bag has a hexagon base, six outer pockets and an inner drawstring bag. The pockets accommodate both thread and small tools. The button pocket closure serves the additional function of securing the thread that is dispensed through the eyelet hole below the button hole. There is an additional D-ring below the bag handle to hang a temari pincushion. These instructions do not include the temari pincushion but the temari pillow will be in a separate future post.

The instructions that are given here are to make the bag as seen in the photo above which is slightly larger than the first version. You might wish to change things depending on what you have available such as: type of fabrics, size of D-rings, size of buttons, material used to  make strap, etc.

Just remember if you change the size of something, it might effect the dimensions of something else. For example a different size D-ring would need a different width strap to attach it to the bag.

There is little use of pins in this project, but feel free to use more pins if that is your desire.


Looking ahead: a link to a printable hexagon template is provided in the next section, Making Bag.


Outer bag– 1/3 yard  heavy weight fabric such as denim or upholstery fabric (I used denim)

  • Cut one at 7″ h. x 28″ w. (outer bag sides)
  • Cut one 11″ x 11″ (outer bag bottom)
  • Cut two at 1 1/2″ w. x 3″ l. (for D-rings)

Inner bag– lighter weight such as muslin (I used shirt weight linen)

  • Cut one at 10 1/4″ h. x 28″ w. (inner drawstring bag)
  • Cut  one at 11″ x 11 (lining for bag bottom)
  • Cut one at 7″ h. x 28″ w. (lining for outer bag)
  • Cut one at 5″ w. x 30″ w. (sleeve for drawstring)

Stabilizer for bag bottom- Pellon’s Peltex #70 Ultra firm stabilizer

  • Cut two at 8 3/4″ across (point to point)

6 buttons at 3/4″ diameter (for pocket closures)

6 eyelets at 1/4″ and eyelet tool (eyelets could be substituted with small buttonholes but there will be some friction on thread when thread is pulled through). NOTE: if I had larger eyelets, I would have used them as they would be easier to poke the thread through than these small ones.

3 D-rings at 3/4″

General purpose sewing thread– one to match inner fabric and one to match outer fabric

Twill tape at 1″ wide and 28″ long in a color to match inner fabric

Cording– #21 weight cotton cable cord (2mm craft cord is a comparable weight)

  • 4-6 yards (for braided handle)
  • 2 yards (for drawstrings)

Stencil material- a piece of heavy cardstock or stencil plastic that is at least 10″ x 10″.

Temari pillow– The temari pillow tutorial will be coming up soon but the following supply list is provided now so you can get your materials at the same time in case you wish to have the fabric match your bag.

for top: cut one hexagon 10″ across (point to point)- same fabric (or same weight) as inner bag

for bottom: cut one hexagon 8″ across (point to point)- same fabric (or same weight) as inner bag

Stabilizer for pillow bottom- Pellon’s Peltex #70 Ultra firm stabilizer

  • Cut two at 7″ across (point to point)

1 button at 3/4″ diameter (for temari pillow)


Hexagon template

This pattern template is a half of a hexagon, cut to 10″ from point to point with a 9″ half hexagon inside. Click on this link for a printable pattern.

If you don’t wish to or are unable to print the hexagon template, then you will need to make one. Click on this link for printable instructions on how to draw your own.

me center point, draw a 9″ diameter circle inside the first circle. Use the comp

Hexagon base

temari tote v.2 2

Rough cut the hexagon outer fabric to slightly larger than the template.

temari tote v.2 3

Cut out hexagon inner fabric to slightly larger than the outer fabric. Here they are stacked together so you can see that I did not waste time cutting out the inner fabric, just tore a square to that is a little oversized.

temari tote v.2 4

Trim the template to 1/8″ smaller than the stitching line. It is easier to see what is meant in the next picture.

temari tote v.2 5

Note: The hexagon template gets cut to just a tad inside the stitching line because the stabilizer for the base needs to be slightly smaller than the finished size of the base. The seam that joins the top to bottom gets stitched close to but not right at the edge of the stabilizer. This makes it easier to stitch the two parts together and the end result looks nicer.

Use the resulting hexagon template to mark and cut two pieces of stabilizer. When tracing the template onto the stabilizer, I find it easier and more accurate to mark the template half on the stabilizer, then rotate the template and mark the other half, rather than trying to mark a folded stabilizer since it is so stiff.

temari tote v.2 6

Stack the two stabilizer hexagons with edges aligned and then stitch them together with an over-edge zigzag stitch.

temari tote v.2 7

Lay the stabilizer hexagon on top of the back of the inner fabric. Stitch them together with a smaller zigzag stitch than in previous step.

temari tote v.2 8

Flip over the stabilizer and inner fabric so that inner fabric is up and place on top of outer fabric. Use a straight stitch to baste them together. Notice that the stitching is close to, but not right against, the stabilizer. When stitching the hexagon base to the sides, you will be stitching a tad closer so this should not show. The edge of the lining fabric is turned up so you can see the outer fabric it is being stitched to.

Trim seam allowance to 1/2″ from edge of stabilizer. This will give a 3/8″ seam allowance. The extra 1/8″ is to keep the stitching off the stabilizer so it is not adding bulk to the seam.

Outer Bag 

 temari tote v.2 9

Take the two pieces of fabric that are 7″ x 28″ and place right sides together. Stitch 1/2″ from edge along one long side.

note: I used the wrong side of the denim as the right side since I wanted a lighter colored denim bag.

temari tote v.2 10

Press the seam allowance towards the inner fabric side and then top stitch close to the seam. In the photo above, the edge is turned back so you can see the back too.

temari tote v.2 11

Fold the stitched together fabrics with right sides together and align seam and pin short side. Stitch 1/2″ from edge.

temari tote v.2 12

Press seam allowances open. Pressing the seam open rather than to one side, not only reduces bulk when stitching to base later, but looks nicer.

temari tote v.2 13

Fold along long seam so that wrong sides are together and pin along the folded side. Stitch 1/2″ from edge. This will be the top edge of outer bag.

Then pin together the other long edges and stitch about 1/4″ from edge. This will be the bottom edge of the bag. Stitching the two fabrics together makes it easier to manage them when pinning and stitching them to the bottom later.

temari tote v.2 14

Fold the resulting short tube in half so that the short seam is exactly at one of the two folds. Use a ruler and find center of the top edge of the bag and pin mark. Then pin mark edge at 2 1/4″ to each side of the center mark pin. This will give a space of 4 1/4″ between two pins.

temari tote v.2 15

Flip bag over and again pin mark edge at 2 1/4″ to each side of the center mark pin. Remove center pin.

temari tote v.2 16

Pin mark edge at each fold.

temari tote v.2 17Stitch buttonholes so that they are centered between pins and the top of the buttonhole is about 5/8″ from top edge. That way you don’t have to stitch a buttonhole through the bulky seam allowance along the top edge. The pink dots represent the pins that I forgot to leave in for the picture in my eagerness to move on to next step.

Inner Bag 

temari tote v.2 18

Measure up from bottom to center of button hole. Mine is 5 1/2″. This is the height at which to stitch the twill tape to the inner bag fabric.

Yours might be different if you placed the buttonholes down further or used a different size of button and therefore buttonhole.


temari tote v.2 19

Just line up the sides of outer bag with the short side of the inner bag fabric and use the distance from bottom of outer bag to center of button hole and mark both short sides of inner bag fabric. Lay the Twill tape so it is centered over marks, pin in place and then stitch it down to fabric along both sides of the tape. Put a small pencil mark in one of the corners at the bottom edge so you will know which is top and which is bottom in later step. See my little mark in lower right corner?

With the twill tape to the outside, line up the short sides of the outer bag and stitch with 1/4″ seam allowance, then stitch again with an over-edge stitch. Press seam to one side and then turn the tube of fabric right side (so that the twill tape is inside).

temari tote v.2 20

Along the length of the 5″ x 30″ piece, fold over 1/2″ seam allowance on one edge towards back and press. Repeat for other side. Stitch folded edges down with a triple stitch zigzag stitch.

Note: It is difficult to see the edge of seam allowance in this picture because it is on the other side and just showing through the fabric. I don’t like to use pins and find that sewing it from the top side works well without pins.

temari tote v.2 21

Cut the strip into 2 1/2″ long pieces so there is 6 pieces at 2 1/2″ x 4″. Fold them in half along length and machine baste about 1/4″ from cut edges (not folded edge).

temari tote v.2 22

Pin all six of the sleeves to the top edge of the inner bag evenly spaced apart. Arrange so that the seam on the inner bag is in one of the spaces between tabs.

Then stitch at 1/2″ from edge.

temari tote v.2 23

Use an over edge zigzag stitch to finish the seam edge.

temari tote v.2 24

Fold sleeves back and press. Stitch seam allowance down using a triple stitch zigzag stitch.

Note: Don’t let the fact that the outer bag and the drawstring cords are in this picture mislead you. Inserting the drawstrings is the last step. The tabs pictured here are a redo of this step. After the bag was “done” I discovered the original drawstring sleeves were too tight to allow the cords to cinch the bag closed.

temari tote v.2 25

Assembling Parts 

Pin together the inner and outer bags so that the little sleeves are spaced between the button holes. Machine baste them together about 1/4″ from edge.

temari tote v.2 26

Install an eyelet at about 3/8″ below each buttonhole.

temari tote v.2 27

In the next step, you are stitching the inner and outer bags together and creating pockets at the same time.

Use a narrow zigzag stitch and topstitch along outer bag seam up to the top stitching at top of bag, then switch zigzag settings to make a bar tack at top.

temari tote v.2 28

Lay bag flat and use a ruler to mark a vertical line that is centered between two button holes and stitch the same as the one on the seam in previous step. Repeat until all six are done.

temari tote v.2 29

Pin hexagon base to bag bottom. The vertical pocket seams that you just stitched will be lined up with the corners of the hexagon.

Using a zipper foot, stitch 3/8″ from edge. A zipper foot works well, allowing the seam to be about 1/8″ from stabilizer. When working with the bag bottom facing up, it is important to constantly be adjusting the bulk of the bag underneath so it does not get caught up in the seam. If it does, a seam ripper is a handy solution.

temari tote v.2 30

Using an over edge zigzag stitch to finish the seam edge.

For this step, the bag bottom was at the bottom to make it easier to stitch without worrying about fabric getting caught up in seam. Notice that each corner is clipped to make the seam allowance lie flat while stitching.

temari tote v.2 31

Fold the 1 1/2″ x 3″ strips down the length so that cut edges are to center and press. Next, stitch down center with triple zigzag stitch.

temari tote v.2 32

Slip one D-ring onto one band and slip two D-rings on the other band. With right side out, whip the two ends together to form a loop.

temari tote v.2 33

Before stitching the D-ring loops onto bag, make sure inner bag is folded down into bag, and pin it to outer bag to keep it out of the way when sewing on loop. That is what the pin in the picture below is for, not for pinning the loop in place.

For both loops, roll the seam to 1/2″ from the bottom fold and press.

For the loop with two D-rings, place loop on side seam with 1/4″ sticking above bag and both rings at the top fold. Remember to place the loop seam should be at bottom. Stitch loop in place at 1/2″ from bottom with a straight stitch to baste it in place and then secure it with a bar tack.

temari tote v.2 34

Slide one D-ring down and then stitch between the D-rings at 1/4″ from top of bag, first with straight stitch and then bar tack.

Attaching the loop with only one D-ring is the same, you just don’t have to deal with a second loop.

temari tote v.2 35

Sewing Buttons

To sew the buttons in place, it is easier to mark through the buttonhole to get proper button placement. Lay the bag flat on the table and insert a pencil in the middle of the buttonhole, give the pencil a twist to make a dot on the inner bag.

Stitch the buttons on the marks, which are on the outside of the inner bag. The twill tape that was sewn on the inside of the inner bag provides a backing for the buttons so that they don’t tear the fabric.

The buttons could have been sewn on before now, but they buttons are usually best saved for after machine stitching is done so that the buttons don’t get in the way or get snagged on something.

Drawstring Closure

Thread a length of cord through all six short sleeves so that two ends come out in space between two adjacent sleeves that lines up with one of the D-ring loops.

Thread the second length of cord so that it starts and ends at a space that is opposite the first one and lines up with the other D-ring loop. Tie ends and trim cords.

temari tote v.2 36

Now for the handle. The cording length was given as 4-6 feet since it depends on if you tend to braid tightly or loosely and if you use 3 or more strands to braid with. This handle is a four strand braid.

Cut the cord into two pieces and fold them both in half. Take the loop end of the cords and insert them into the top D-ring of the loop with two D-rings. Insert the cut ends through the cord loops and pull the cords through until the cords make a snug cow hitch (lanyard hitch) knot. Braid four strands together. There are plenty of tutorials on how to make a four strand braid on the internet. When the braid is long enough to wrap around one side of the bag to the other D-ring, split the braid end into two groups of two strands and insert on group through empty D-ring. continue to braid for a couple more inches and then tie off end and trim the cord ends about an inch from knot.

Note: you will want the handle to be long enough to wrap around one side of the bag so that it is out of the way when putting in or taking out the temari ball. See picture below.

Your temari project tote bag is done.

Here are a couple of accessories for your bag. A peek inside the bag shows a temari resting on a removable pillow. The pillow can be taken out and placed on a table to rest your temari on so it does not roll away. As mentioned before, the temari pillow tutorial will be in an upcoming tutorial.

temari tote v.2 37

The next picture show the additional D-ring in use. A temari pincushion is made removable with the use of a lobster claw clasp.

temari tote v.2 38

MotherOwl used this tutorial to make her own temari tote bag. She included nice details such as contrasting thread that matches the wooden buttons and cord handle and drawstrings that coordinate with the outer fabric. She was kind enough to share a picture, seen below. Thank you MotherOwl.


6 thoughts on “Temari Project Tote Bag Tutorial

  1. Trying in the right place once again.
    Thanks for the proof readfing and corrections. Now I have one more problem and a question. The conversions to metric makes it a bit complicated, but you write that I’ll need to cut 2 stabilizer hexagons each measuring 8 3/4 ” across. When I print your template, my print measures roughly 10″ across. I’m going to make my own via the compasses method, to fit my metrics, but I just wondered if I did anything wrong.
    Question. Did you add seam allowances to all yor measurements?

    • Your template printed correctly. The outer hexagon measures 10″ from point to point. If you will notice on the template, it says “cut on dashed line for stabilizer” next to the inner dashed line. The inner dashed line hexagon measures 8 3/4″ from point to point. This template is used for both the stabilizer (inner dashed line) and for the bottom fabric. You might find the template easier to handle if printed on cardstock.
      Yes, seam allowances are included in the measurements. Not all seam allowances are the same, so pay attention at each step.

      • Thank you for your patience and readynes to answer all my questions. I promise a photo of the finished bag when I get there.

  2. Oh! how I admire your American crafters doing all your creative stuff in inches. I gave up on converting these measures and chugged on with a flexible inch ruler. I cannto count the times where subtractions, multiplications and most of all divisions have had the best of me. (Example 6 times 5.4 inches = 30 inches + 24 small ones; but those 24 is not 2.4 incehes, no no, they make 3 whole inches … argh!) I understand fully why TemariKai tells people to learn how to measure and do their figuring in metrics. So much easier!
    One last – I hope question. When do you sew in the buttons – or did I miss something again.
    Thanks for your patience.

    • I added a step for sewing buttons on, as the next to last step. As long as the buttonholes are stitched and the inner and outer bags are stitched together, then the button placement can be found accurately, but I prefer to add button to anything as close to end of project as possible so buttons don’t get in the way of sewing or snag on anything.
      Sorry you are having to struggle with our measuring system. Having lived with the U.S. customary system, it makes sense to me, unlike trying to use metric, which I am not used to.
      I actually don’t use either system when measuring in temari making. I just use relative measurements with a strip of paper, except when noting finished size of ball.
      Let me know if you have any other questions or comments. I appreciate the feedback.

  3. Pingback: Temari Tote Bag #4- final version | eccentricquilter

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