Monday, September 21, 2009

pumpkin trick-or-treat bags, a tutorial

Materials needed:
3/4 yard orange fabric for body of pumpkin
3/4 yard black fabric for lining
1/16 yard green fabric for handle and stem (will make 2 handles and 2 stems)
scraps of black and yellow fabric for face
3/4 yard black lace or ric rac
1/2 yard (or half of a 36x45 piece) of quilt batting
orange, black, and white thread
2 green buttons (optional)
green, black, and white ribbon (optional)
1 yellow pom pom (optional)

a note: all measurements include a 1/2" seam allowance

Step 1. Cut out your patterns. I used regular computer paper to make mine. Don't worry, they don't have to be perfect. Obviously, a compass would be useful to make the circles, but I didn't have one, so I free handed them. After I had drawn my measurements for my side pattern, I folded the paper in half lengthwise before cutting, so the curved sides would be even. If you enlarge the picture, I think you can see all of the measurements except for the stem piece. The top of this piece is 3" wide, the bottom is 2 1/2"wide, and it is 2 3/4" long. If you have any trouble seeing the other measurements, please let me know. The side pieces should measure 12 inches long, 3 5/8 inches wide at the top, 5 1/2 inches wide in the middle, and 3 1/8 inches wide at the bottom.

click to enlarge

Step 2. Cut out your fabric.

Step 3. Make the face. I found that it's easiest to sew the face onto the side before assembling the pumpkin. If your face will take up more than the space available on one side piece, sew two pieces together first (instructions in Step 4), and then add your face (Don't let your face go all the way to the edge of the piece, though. You want to leave 1/2" seam allowance on each side.). This is where you can really be creative, though I copied the face my grandma made almost exactly. I used a few scraps of black fabric for my face shapes and pinned them in place (near the middle/top of the side piece).

With black thread, I used a really tight zig zag, almost like a satin stitch all around the edges. For the mouth, I drew a pencil line and followed it with my needle.

I stitched on a pom pom for the nose.

Here's an idea for a boy pumpkin, made my by grammy.

Step 4. Assemble the pumpkin. With right sides together and backed by the batting, sew the side pieces together. (Change to white or orange thread first.) Keep going until all 8 are stitched together.

Step 5. Attach the bottom.With right sides together, and the bottom piece backed by the batting, sew the bottom circle to the body of the pumpkin.

Turn right side out.

Step 6. Sew the lining. Stitch the 8 lining pieces together, right sides together. Make sure to switch to black thread first.

Attach it to the top of the pumpkin by sewing right sides together.

Close the bottom of the lining with a topstitch.

Stuff it inside.

Step 7. Make the lid. With right sides together, and backed by the batting, sew the lid and lining together. Don't forget to put your lace or ric rac on the inside. I like to pin the lace toward the inside all around the top of the lid. Then I sandwich it with the lining fabric and repin.

When sewing them together, leave a small opening to turn it right side out.

Trim the edges. Then turn it right side out.

Pin the opening closed, put orange thread in the top of your machine, and topstitch all around the edge.

Now stitch it like a pie.

Step 8. Make the stem. Switch to white thread and sew the right sides together, leaving the bottom open. Trim corners.

Turn right side out and stuff with batting. I used the leftover batting scraps from the side pieces. I tear and loosen them a bit first.

After stuffing it well, sew the bottom closed. Next, attach it to the top of the lid. This must be done by hand. When stitching, try to keep your stitches from piercing the lid completely. You want to get beneath the orange fabric, but not all the way to the lining.

Decorate with ribbon or flowers (optional, and only recommended for a girl pumpkin).

Step 9. Attach the lid to the pumpkin. With a few handstitches, secure the lid to the back of the pumpkin's opening.

Step 10. Make the handle. Fold the handle piece in half lengthwise, right sides together. Sew top and sides closed, leaving the bottom open. Turn right side out and stuff. Again, use the leftover batting scraps. You really want this stuffed well. Put as much in there as you can. Stitch the bottom closed (I do this by hand so the stitches cannot be seen).

Now attach the handle to the pumpkin. This must be done by hand, as well, and can be hard on the fingers. Use a thimble, if you have one.

Add decorative buttons or bows.

another note: After I made my pumpkins, I realized that the buttons my grandma used were not merely decorative. She stitched all the way through the handle to the button. I think this would make it a bit more secure.

Yay. You're done. Now let's fill it with candy!


  1. Steph,yours is adorable and so cute for a little girl. I made those sooooo long ago that I had forgotten how long it took to make you all one. They were fun and I am glad you still have yours.'
    Love you

  2. I just love this, and I think I could actually do it too! Thanks for the very detailed instructions... I can't wait to get to the fabric store!

  3. Those are adorable Stephanie! Great tutorial. We totally had similar ones when I was little. I really want to attempt to make one. I am still just learning how to sew but this is too cute, I need to have one!

  4. i'm amazed. it's perfect! lucky stella.

  5. Thank you!! I can't wait to start!

  6. Your talent amazes me. Lucy is going to love it! Thank you so much for doing this.

  7. love it! can't wait to learn to sew...this will be my 1st obstacle! thanks for the tutorial

  8. ADORABLE- and all while you've got morning sickness- you are amazing

  9. that borders on rocket science for me. you make it look so easy...

  10. Thanks for sharing with us..wonder if I will ever have the time to make some..Hope you are feeling better..

  11. My goodness! Very cute. :) Although I have to admit I would probably buy one before making one. My skill level doesn't exceed maybe 5 steps. Ha!

  12. If I had your skills, I'd do it. I love it. Will you sell me one?

  13. I'm in the middle of making four of these for my kids; they nag me several times a day about their progress :) I'm using dingle balls for two of them and fat ric rac for two of them on the lids; the dingle balls were a pain (since they're not flat!) but they look really cute! I'll post pictures when I'm done; hope to finish all of them this week. My kids are SO excited about them; your step-by-step instructions have been great!! Thanks again :)

  14. Great tutorial! I can't wait to try this.

  15. What a great tutorial! Thanks so much for sharing! I just love it!


  16. I made this same bag over 30years ago. I have never made another one. Although it was fun it took along time to make. My daughter still has the bag.

    1. I made it the 1980s. I use it every year to put the Halloween candy in. Mine has the same face as the one made by Grammy. I still have that pattern in my stash.

  17. I found your tutorial and just knew I had to make it! My mom made these exact ones for my siblings and I grew up loving them. Thank you so much for posting this tutorial so I could make my daughter one! It was super easy to follow and my pumpkin turned out great.

  18. Now I'm wondering where the original pattern for this bag came from. It seems a lot of posters are like me, and had this exact same bag, made by their Mom, when they were a kid. I still have mine, in fact. And I made some for my kids two years ago from my Mom's pattern. Do you know where it originally comes from? Or maybe my Mom will know.

  19. Used and modified your pattern to make a "Mr Grouper" from the Bubble Guppies basket. It worked great...if I new how to upload a photo I would. Thanks for the tutorial!

  20. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  21. Oh, so cute and festive! My first time to your blog and loving this idea. I'll have to look around and find some more...

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  22. This was a commercial pattern sold in the 70's. I made several with identical faces as this tutorial. I stil. Have the original pattern.

  23. Cant read the measurements as it will not enlarge. Can you please tell me what the measurement is for the pumpkin panel piece.

  24. Stephanie,
    What an adorable pumpkin! Plan to start on it today for my granddaughter, but I cannot read the dimentions, especially on the side piece.

  25. My sisters and I all had candy bags like this when we were kids. I bought one on Etsy for our first daughter because I couldn’t find a pattern. I’m thrilled that I finally found it!!!!

  26. so happy to have found this. My daughter has hers which I made back on the early 90s. She passed it on to her daughter. Today she asked me to make one for her son. I was struggling with how to copy the one i have since the pattern is long gone. Thanks to you this will be a easy project now!!

  27. What a great idea! Although I read this out of season, I'll get my kids involved for sure, they'll love it!

  28. Thanks in support of sharing such a good thought, piece of writing is
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  29. Use double thickness of batting and the bags will sit up nice. I have the original pattern and made these for my son and daughter in the 80’s. So cute!


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