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Monday, 24 June 2013

Free Dumplings!

No, this isn't an amnesty call for incarcerated dumplings holed up in some miserable prison kitchen. I'm just letting it be known, should anyone feel so inclined, that my dumpling bag pattern is freely available for you to make. Here are the instructions:

You will need
  • 8 x 20 inch piece of fabric for the body
  • 8 x 20 inch piece of fabric for the lining
  • 1 circle of fabric, enough to cover 5 1/2 inches in diameter
  • 2 contrasting fabric circles (in a slightly heavier weight than the larger circle), enough to cover 4 1/4 inches in diameter
  • 2 scraps of lining fabric measuring 3 1/2 x 1 1/2 inches for the flowers
  • Approximately 24 inches of cord
  • The template
NB: The pattern can be scaled up or down – just make sure that the longest edge of the body, and lining, are greater than the circumference of the big circle. Also, this is the first time I've used file dropper to store pdfs, so please let me know if you have any trouble getting hold of the template.

To make the base
1. Cut an 'X' in the base of one of the smaller circles. With right sides facing each other, sew the circles together, leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
2. Push the uncut circle through the slit so right sides of fabric face you. Run your finger, pencil or crochet hook along the inside seam to help shape the circle. Working on the right side of the circle sandwich, roll the seam between your fingers to further shape the circle. Press.
3. Sew the circle sandwich to the larger circle (make sure the side with X slit is against the larger circle). Overlock the edge of the larger circle with zigzag stitching. Press and set aside for later.

Making the base

To make the body
4. Using the template, cut 1 piece of fabric for the body and lining. Turn back a 1/4 inch hem on each side edge and secure with a line of stitching. With right sides of body and lining fabrics facing each other, sew a 1/4 inch seam along the top edge. Trim, then turn back fabrics so wrong sides are facing each other. Press to get a crisp edge, pin and secure with a row of top stitching 1/4 inch from the folded edge. Overlock bottom edges of lining and body together with a row of small zigzag stitching. Trim away any fraying edges or stray threads.

To make the channel for the cord
5. Sew another line of stitching 3/8 of an inch down from the previous line of stitching. Then sew a third row of stitching 1/4  – 3/8 of an inch down from that (channel depth will vary depending on thickness of cord).
6. Sew from lower edge of channel, to bottom edge of body and lining, to join sides together. Leave the top 1/4 inch (above the cord channel) and sew together later, by hand, when making the flowers. You will now have a cylinder wider at the base than it is at the top.

Making the body
and attaching it to the base

To join base to body
7. Thread a needle and run a row of stitches along the base of the cylinder. Pull thread to gather in base of cylinder and spread gathers evenly around the circumference. You are aiming for the circumference to be the same as that of the larger circle, so don't be discouraged if this takes a bit of faffing and fiddling to achieve, the results are worth it in the end!
8. As shown in the photo, pin right sides of base to cylinder (I used lots of pins to do this in order to keep my gathers in place).
9. With a 1/4 inch seam, sew cylinder to base, making sure that it you leave pins in your work (instead of being a health & safety nut and tacking, or basting, the pieces together) they are always at 90 degrees to your presser foot, as that way, you are less likely to break your machine's needle.
10. Turn the work the right way round and thread your cord through the channel opening with either a safety pin, or a bodkin–which is my preference.

Making the flowers

To make the flowers
11. Fold the strips in half, so right side faces itself, and overlock the long edges together to form a tube. Turn the tube inside out and press. Turn in ends and stitch them in place.
12. Thread a needle and run a row of stitches along the seam edge. Pull to gather in stitches, do not cut thread – just leave it dangling, in a dangerous, quite likely to impale yourself kind of way. I like to start off my flower by shaping it around a knitting needle and loosley sewing it in place with a single stitch.
13. Transfer flower to the cord before knotting end of cord to form the stamen. Now continue to pull and gather in stitches on the flower and secure with stab stitches. Finally sew short edges of flower together and open out petals.

And that's it! If you decide to make one, I'd love to see some pictures–perhaps one day we'll have a dim sum banquet of dumpling bags! And, if you have any suggestions for how the pattern could be improved, please let me know.


PS: I'm happy for this pattern to be used to make gifts, and items to sell at craft fairs, but please don't sell it to a third party for publication.


  1. Cute bag, neat tutorial. I hope to see a lot of Dumpling Bags walk around.

  2. I am wondering what 'to dumple' means?
    Could it be the verb to describe how one walks away from the table after a meal involving cooked balls of dough?
    Or the action of cuddling someone around the tummy?

    What do you think?


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