madeleine tutorial

yay! i’m so excited to finally be able to share the free pattern and tutorial for the madeleine bag :)

the madeleine bag
you will need:
  • printable pattern pdf (click here to download: imagine gnats madeleine pattern)
  • fabrics (yardage depends on whether or not you choose contrasting exterior and strap fabrics)
  • interfacing (i like to use fusible for this)
  • 7″ zipper
  • magnetic closure
  • thread, needle, scissors, sewing machine, etc.
Madeleine: fabrics cut

note: the finished size of the bag is approximately 11″ wide and 9″ tall.

1. cut out pattern pieces and interfacing:
  • pattern piece A: cut out 2 each of exterior fabric and interfacing on the fold.
  • pattern piece B: cut out 2 each of exterior fabric (or exterior contrast fabric, if you choose) and interfacing.
  • pattern piece C: cut out two of lining fabric.
  • strap: cut out 2 strips, each measuring 28.5″ x 2.5″ of exterior fabric (or exterior contrast fabric, or a combination) 1 strip measuring 28.5″ x 2″ of interfacing.
  • pockets: cut 1 piece of fabric measuring 8 x 10″ for pleated pocket and 1 piece of fabric measuring 9 x 12″ for the zipper pocket.
2. iron interfacing to pattern pieces A, B, and one piece of strap (if you are using contrasting fabrics for the strap, fuse interfacing to the piece you want to be the outside of the strap).
3. using the dotted lines on the pattern piece as a guide, form pleats on both exterior pieces (A) and pin.
4. carefully pin pieces B to pieces A, right sides together.


5. sew together, using a 5/16″ seam allowance. (if this seems random, it happens to be the width of the zig-zag foot i typically use on my machine and therefore simple for me to measure. as long as you maintain the same seam allowance for all pieces, you can easily make this either 1/4″ or 3/8″.) note that this is easiest to do with piece A on top, so that you can make sure that the pleats are sewn properly.


6. press seam allowance towards piece B. topstitch on piece B, close to seam.


7. pin exterior pieces, right sides together, taking care to line up the seam where pieces A and C meet.
Madeleine: stitching outer materials


8. stitch around exterior, again using 5/16″ seam allowance. turn right side out and put exterior aside for now (after admiring your work, of course).
9. pin together strap pieces, right sides together.

10. stitch both long sides of strap pieces. oddly, this can be one of the trickiest parts if your machine tends to feed the two materials at different speeds (like mine) and you don’t have a walking foot. experimenting with whether your machine works better with the interfaced side up or down may help. also, starting your stitch on the same end of the strap both times will at least allow the fabric to pull the same way for both stitches and make it a bit easier.


11. turn strap right side out and press. topstitch close to the edge along both long sides.


12. pockets! click to see the madeleine mini-tutorials on how to make the pleated pouch pocket and zipper pocket.

13. pin lining pieces right sides together and stitch around the edge, leaving a space along the bottom of the bag (about 2 to 3″) for turning.


14. insert the magnetic closure…. instructions here in this mini-tutorial.

15. now we put it all together (otherwise known as “the fun part”). center your strap over the side seam of the exterior and pin on both sides to hold firmly in place. if you have used contrasting fabrics for your strap, make sure that the fabric you want to be the lining of the strap is facing out. attach the other side of the strap in the same way, making sure not to twist it.

16. place lining (inside out) around the exterior and strap. line up at sides, pin all around top edge, and stitch.
17. where the strap meets the bag, stitch within the seam allowance to secure straps (i’ve used a zigzag stitch here).
18. turn bag right side out through opening in lining. press the top seam.
19.  topstitch bag close to top edge.
Madeleine: top-stitching
20. just one more step! pull lining out of bag, pin opening closed, and either slipstitch opening or use machine to stitch close to edge (as shown here).
and that’s it! you’re done! congrats :)
Madeleine in gray, mustard, and birds.

did you make a great madeleine? share it with us in the imagine gnats flickr group and let me know how it went. i love to hear from you and see what you’re making :)

happy stitching!

Rachael Gander

I am a sewist, mom, wife, designer, blogger, and fabric enthusiast. I learned to sew alongside my mom, but lost interest in the craft until my early twenties, and I've spent the last fifteen years making up for lost time! I've experimented with modern quilting, accessories and garment sewing, hand-printed fabric, and textile design, I have found my love in pattern design, and sell my original sewing and embroidery patterns in the imagine gnats shop.

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75 Responses to madeleine tutorial

  1. Courtney October 20, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

    So lovely in the joel dewberry fabrics! This is a great pattern, I can’t wait to finish some WIPs so I can start one!

  2. Kara October 24, 2011 at 2:29 pm #

    I love this bag!!! Totally pinning the heck out of it so I remember to make it in the future; when I do I’ll blog about it and link back to this post! :)

  3. Julie E February 25, 2012 at 11:33 pm #

    This bag is SO cute! I can’t wait to find time to make one. Thanks for the tutorial series. :) Maybe for my Covert Robin gift?!?

  4. Dori Stowell May 2, 2012 at 6:59 pm #

    I love this bag and will probably make some for gifts for my son on a foreign exchange to Japan this summer! Thanks so much for sharing! I found it on Pinterest and will be pinning it myself!

  5. ana-ane May 15, 2012 at 10:12 am #

    Muy bonito.


  6. karen pior June 1, 2012 at 12:11 am #

    as usual, wonderful!! Hoping to participate if I can get myself off the computer and back on the sewing machine!!! Cheers, Karen.

  7. Ana Lopes July 26, 2012 at 11:20 am #

    Hi Rachael,

    I have a butterflies linen fabric and I’ll try to make this. Great tutorial tanks for sharing it.You have a usefull blog I love it.
    Have a look at my blog I’ll be glad.

    Hugs from Portugal,
    Ana Love Craft email

  8. Lee February 18, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

    Where did you find the beautiful fabric? It is such a great part of the bag. Thanks for the tutorial! Lee

    • rachael {imagine gnats} February 23, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

      thanks so much! the fabric is part of the aviary 2 collection by joel dewberry… not sure how easy it is to find anymore, but i know that hawthorne threads still had some in stock a few months ago ;)

  9. WPBMOMMY1 March 31, 2013 at 4:47 am #

    Hi,I’m making this bag following your tutorial. For step 4, you have to pin C to A right sides together but in the picture, you are pinning the pattern that is marked as piece B. So, I should be pinning piece B to A in that step right sides together?

  10. WPBMOMMY1 April 1, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

    thanks so much! I finished my first bag thanks to your wonderful tutorial! Now my daughters want one too!

  11. vicleigh May 5, 2013 at 1:15 am #

    Just what I was looking for. Gonna scale it down to use for my GRANDdaughters.

  12. Karen Johnson June 15, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

    Great tutorial. You make it look so easy, so I’ll give it shot. I like your blog.

  13. Angie Richards September 30, 2013 at 12:06 am #

    What is the finished size of your bag as shown in the tutorial?

  14. Anonymous October 3, 2013 at 7:33 pm #

    would be nice if you could print out the instructions

  15. Cassandra October 16, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

    I love this tutorial. I’ve made my own versions of it but never had a tutorial so they each come out a little different or even wonky. I’m gonna try this out and see how different it comes out. I look forward to making this bag. Simple bags and purses like this make great gifts. :)

  16. ~Nan~ October 18, 2013 at 6:42 pm #

    help! :)
    i’m getting confused between steps 5. and 6. In steps 4 & 5 I’m working with A & B and then in step 6. it says to press seams to C. what am i doing wrong? ;)

  17. An Vande Velde October 20, 2013 at 7:26 am #

    Waw! That is a great bag!!! I’m going to make that today :-)
    Love your blog!!
    Gr An (Belgium)

  18. megabitch October 20, 2013 at 7:41 pm #

    Making this for my youngest niece (13) for Christmas. My info from her mother on likes and dislikes were “Red, blue or purple. No flowers!” She’s getting red with medium gold swirls as the main fabric and white with tightly packed red, green and pink swirls for the contrast. Hope she likes it :)

  19. judi December 3, 2013 at 7:43 pm #

    I just love the pleats on this bag! I need to make myself one.

  20. Owlhaven December 13, 2013 at 10:44 pm #

    I ADORE this pattern. Made three so far and uploaded them to your flicker stream so you could see them! I am going to blog about it today.

  21. Heather January 6, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

    I have made four of this bag for myself and presents. But, I keep having people ask me to make them. Do you offer some sort of limited license to make for profit? I am thinking not making them and posting them on Etsy, but for people in my limited circle?

  22. Esther February 14, 2014 at 4:28 pm #

    I just love the name of your website….made me laugh out loud! Thanks for the great Madeleine Purse tutorial. It is just lovely.

  23. Mary February 18, 2014 at 9:13 pm #

    This was a great tutorial! This went more smoothly than when I have an actual pattern. If I can figure out how to post a picture, I’d share the finished project.

  24. nonette February 24, 2014 at 3:34 am #

    c’est MAGNIFIQUE ! I’ll do it ..

  25. Sara Johnson March 12, 2014 at 10:00 am #

    Thanks for the great pattern! I made it with a couple of coordinating corduroy remnants I had been hoarding. I love how easily it came together! I think I will make another that’s a bit bigger; seems like there is never enough room in my purse. When I do, my daughter has already laid claim to the first one lol.

    • Janice Marple March 12, 2014 at 7:25 pm #

      How much bigger are you going to make it? I want to make one for my sis and don’t want it too small.

      • Janice Marple April 23, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

        I enlarged all the pieces by 25%. It came out great.

    • Rachael Gander March 13, 2014 at 11:35 am #

      that sounds great!!

  26. Emma April 7, 2014 at 10:09 pm #

    I’m just wondering if there is an option to put a zipper close on the bag?

    Thank you in advance.

    • Rachael Gander April 8, 2014 at 5:00 pm #

      i don’t have a tutorial for that, but i would try Sew Sweetness! Sara is a bag genius :)

    • Cynthia April 17, 2015 at 12:22 am #


      Did you have any luck add a zipper to the main compartment? I want to do it, too.

  27. Brenda April 21, 2014 at 10:58 pm #

    Hi, Rachael,

    The instructions for this bag look really easy to follow, but I can’t find any mention of the amount of fabric needed, though I realized it depends on whether you use one or two kinds. Would you please let me know? I’m itching to get started on your cute bag!”

    • Rachael Gander April 22, 2014 at 9:55 am #

      you should be able to get the full bag out of 3/4 yard (likely less, but to be safe!) or 1/2 yard plus 1/4 yard for two fabrics.

  28. Liz April 23, 2014 at 11:08 am #

    This is my first try at following a pattern. I cannot seem to get the pleats correct. How many pleats are there? I end up with 4. If i go with one or two in the middle, piece B is too long. If I go with 4 pleats, piece B fits perfect, but it seems like there’s a line for the pleat on the pattern. Am I lining up the pattern wrong or taking too much material with each pleat? Or should I leave it with 4? It doesn’t look bad, just not like the one in the tutorial.

    • Janice Marple April 23, 2014 at 12:50 pm #

      I made one of the bags. There are 5 pleats. Two on each side and one in the middle. Make sure you are matching up the BOTTOM of piece B with the TOP of piece A. I had them wrong at first and redid my pleats to fit and then realized I had it wrong and had to redo them again.

    • Rachael Gander April 23, 2014 at 7:43 pm #

      the pattern accounts for five pleats. but, more importantly than any pattern… with pleats, my vote is always to do what works and what you think looks good :) if four pleats look nice and make those pattern pieces fit just perfect, then i say four pleats is perfection.

      of course, if you really want it to look the same, you’ll likely need to make each pleat a tiny bit smaller to add the fifth. keep in mind that any amount you adjust a pleat will change the width of the fabric 3X the amount it widens/narrows the pleat, so a little bit off can change it a lot.

      • Rachael Gander April 23, 2014 at 7:45 pm #

        also, Janice makes a good point about the bottom/top of piece B. that part is important!!

  29. Liz April 23, 2014 at 2:22 pm #

    Thanks! I ended up with 6 pleats…. two large on each side, then two little ones in the middle facing each other. I did an even number because I couldn’t get one pleat in the middle to look right directionally.

  30. dixie August 15, 2014 at 6:43 pm #

    Thanks for the great pattern. I was looking to make a small bag for vacation. This fit the bill just right.

  31. LubbyGirl September 6, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

    So, I’m getting ready to make this in the next few minutes. I noticed that all 3 pieces say cut from exterior fabric. I’m wondering if I’m missing something there – it looks like to me that piece C would be for the lining fabric. Is that what you used for the lining? I’m also thinking that, after I make this one, making another purse using piece C for both outside and lining, and adding a flap for a different look. Whatcha think??

  32. LubbyGirl September 6, 2014 at 1:40 pm #

    OK – DUH. I just read in the instructions that piece C *is* actually for the lining. Reckon I shoulda read all the way through the instructions before commenting, eh? LOL

  33. Laura U November 9, 2014 at 10:40 am #

    I’m reducing the size to 75% to make for my 2 year old daughter. I put 4 pleats in it. And when I match the two pieces A and C together they don’t match up perfect, is this ok or should I only have 3 pleats to line up the edges perfect?

    • Rachael Gander November 10, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

      when it’s reduced a bit, they might be off. I’d just fudge the pleats to make it fit :) and it should be grand!

  34. Luanna December 2, 2014 at 6:33 am #

    I love this bag! What kind of interfacing did you use exactly? I’m so confused about all the different types.

  35. adrienne December 16, 2014 at 12:27 pm #

    Thanks so much for the tutorial! I did have issues with the pattern piece instructions not matching your tutorial instructions. Piece C printed out saying cut 2 exterior fabric and cut 2 interfacing. Your instructions say to cut lining and no interfacing for the same piece. Just thought I would mention. :-) Thank you again! This is going to be a great gift for my friend!

    • Rachael Gander December 16, 2014 at 8:36 pm #

      oh, thank you! I’ll have to fix that… I still love this pattern, but I wrote the instructions soooooo long ago that I wasn’t quite where I am now with explaining things ;)

  36. Kim Gaynor February 2, 2015 at 1:41 pm #

    Rachael, thanks for the detailed instructions! I am teaching myself how to sew again after 30+ years! I thought you might like to know that I pinned your blog post. You also might like to know about a vintage fabric giveaway I’m hosting on my blog:

  37. Kelsey March 7, 2015 at 2:38 pm #

    Hi! I just love the look of this bag and want to make one today. Question though, is this just for over the shoulder? Or is it big enough to be a crossbody bag? Thanks!

    • Rachael Gander March 8, 2015 at 12:21 pm #

      at this length, the strap is definitely over the shoulder, though you could certainly make the strap longer so that it would fit crossboydy :)

  38. Simone August 7, 2015 at 2:27 pm #

    Thank you so much for this great pattern & tutorial! I’ve made 3 Madeleine Bags so far, there’s a photo on my new blog:

  39. Pamela Balster September 5, 2015 at 4:24 pm #

    I just love this bag can’t wait to raid my stach I have the perfect bird fabric and make it

  40. Barbara Barber October 13, 2015 at 3:22 pm #

    Hi Rachael,

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful bag pattern; I have made two so far. The instructions are easy to follow and simple to sew. I do think it is a bit small and have given the bags to two young friends of mine. The next one i make will be at least two inches larger with a longer handle. I also would like to give the bag more depth, would you have a suggestion on how to add and insert?

    So much appreciated. Barb

    I will email you a picture.

    • Rachael Gander November 12, 2015 at 8:07 am #

      you could add a gusset, basically just a strip between the bag front and back. you’d just need to add the same piece to the lining as well. that would make it bigger and you could make the gusset as wide as you like :)

  41. Sheilee February 17, 2016 at 12:37 pm #

    Great easy to follow instructions. Wish I’d sewn the centre line of the pleated pocket to one side so my mobile would fit. Hope I remember next time ;) Thanks.

  42. Nika February 19, 2016 at 4:00 am #


  43. Jane Hollyhead February 21, 2016 at 1:09 am #

    Lovely cute bag I have made 2 and will make more as gifts good tuorial

  44. Gillysue Johnson February 22, 2016 at 1:07 pm #

    help!!!!…. I’ve cut everything out but not sure where to put the pleats on the exterior fabric…

    can’t see any markings so not sure where i should start… don’t want it to go wrong!!

    • Layne Bushell June 11, 2016 at 7:50 pm #

      When I print the pattern the pleat lines don’t print. Not sure why. I just draw them in as best as I can and then work with. It t get it to fit the piece you see to the top.

      • Janice Marple June 12, 2016 at 4:28 pm #

        Make sure you have PIECE A, the pleat lines are marked. Piece C is marked wrong should be Cut 2 – LINING, no pleat lines on that.

  45. Brandy February 25, 2016 at 9:08 pm #

    What kind of interfacing did you use. I am new to seeing and I don’t know what strength to get. Thank you. I can’t wait to make this


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