Introducing the Jolly Braid Tote Bag

Check out this new tote bag pattern from the Fat Quarter Shop! It’s a great way to use their exclusive 5” x 10” jolly bar precut fabrics.

Jolly Braid Tote Bag using Zen Chic Modern Backgrounds Luster fabrics by Moda
Jolly Braid Tote Bag: Pattern by the Fat Quarter Shop and fabric by Zen Chic “Modern Background Luster” for Moda Fabrics.

I’ve made several different bags in the past, and this is my favorite pattern for several reasons:

  • The size of the bag (12″x11″x5″) is perfect.
  • The design is timeless.
  • The bag is easy to sew! The pattern instructions are clear and there’s a great video tutorial.
  • The Soft and Stable adds great shape to the bag and quilts easily.


One reason I chose to make a bag instead of buying one is to personalize it to fit my style and needs.

Fabric Placement

Before I began sewing the braid, I chose six jolly bars for my handles because I wanted them to look like a cohesive unit rather than patchwork. I chose prints that had duplicates so each handle mirrored the other.

For the braid, instead of randomly adding strips, I decided to follow the gradation of color as it was packaged in the jolly bar.

Zen Chic Modern Backgrounds Luster jolly bar
Choosing fabrics for my new road-trip bag.

I placed the dark fabrics in the middle so that they would be on the bottom of the bag. By laying out my strips in advance, I was able to achieve the look I wanted.

Jolly Braid and Side Panels of the Bag


The pattern doesn’t include any interior pockets. Since I like to keep small objects accessible, I used extra jolly bars to create pockets and top-stitched them to the bag lining. I stitched down the middle of one jolly bar pocket to divide it into two smaller sections. The full size pocket holds my pens and mobile phone.

I added interior pockets
Interior pockets organize small items.


  • I used clear Elmer’s Re-Stick washable glue stick (found in the school supplies aisle) to tack the beginning triangle in place and skipped the pins. After I ironed each strip, I added a dab of glue to hold it in place while I stitched on the next strip. By using small dabs of the glue, I didn’t need to use any pins.
  • I left the paper backing on the pieced unit until I added the side pieces; it stabilized the bias edges along the braid as I stitched.
  • I used 505 Basting Spray to ensure my bag unit and Soft and Stable didn’t shift while I quilted it. (I always have this on hand to baste quilts.)
  • I used a clear monofilament thread when I quilted my bag to add texture without additional color that would compete with the gold shimmer on the fabrics.
  • I have large hands, so I left a 5″ opening (instead of 3″) when I stitched the lining to the bag. It made turning the bag right-side-out much easier for me.

Check out other blogger’s who are quilting along! Find photos on Instagram by searching on #jollybraidtote or #jollybraidtotebag.

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict

Jolly Braid Tote Bag
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Tracie grew up with three sisters and a brother in a farmhouse surrounded by cornfields and relatives. She draws on that early foundation to write about her Christian faith, creative activities, and family life.

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7 thoughts on “Jolly Braid Tote Bag

  1. What a great post! The pictures are fabulous, and you highlighted all the tips that I would have. I wish I’d added pockets on mine — clever idea. The fabrics are really nice, Tracie!

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