Boro Sewing Caddy

What to do with boro fabric once you've made it? 

I've long wanted a sewing organiser that sits at my side in the evenings when hand stitching. I don't like bags with zips or pockets, as I get frustrated rummaging for everything. So usually the arm of my chair is stuck with pins and thread, with the rest of my equipment on the coffee table. Searching the internet, I found a Japanese gift bag pattern and wondered if it would work with the thicker boro fabric

So I adapted the original pattern and it worked!

Now I have a sewing caddy that opens to form a tray to keep all my bits and bobs on view, but closes up for carrying to meetings.

This is how I did it...


You need:
  • 15” square plain cotton fabric (this will show on the outside of the bag, so I use white, navy or black)
  • Scraps of indigo/Japanese fabrics
  • Glue or basting thread
  • Sashiko thread (or crochet cotton)
  • sharp embroidery needle
  • binding
  • Cord and 2 beads

To make the boro fabric:
  • Lay out the cotton square on a work surface and randomly cover it with the indigo fabric scraps (don’t worry about frayed edges or rough cuts)
  • Lightly glue the scraps down or baste with thread
  • Chalk some straight lines across the work to act as a guide for your rows of stitching
  • Cut a length of thread longer than the width of the work
  • Without securing the threads at the start and finish of the row and using a running stitch, sew straight lines across the work. The rows should be approx. ¼” apart in order for the scraps to be well secured
  • Trim and square off the finished boro work   

To make the sewing caddy:
  • Finish the raw edges with a matching binding
  • Lay the square on a work surface with the boro side down, plain side up
  • Fold all four corners towards the centre (5” in from side bindings) and pin in place. These will form the petals
  • Stitch across each diagonal corner aprox. ¾” from the fold to form a tube for the cord
  • Thread cord through each corner tube, from one side, and tie ends together.
  • Repeat with a second cord from the opposite side and tie ends as before
  • Turn over so that the boro is on top
  • Pull the cords to close the bag then open it out to form a sewing tray. Trim the cords if necessary and add beads for decoration


  1. How simple but how effective!
    I might be tempted to run lines of short machine stitching (to be hidden in the binding) to secure the boro thread ends. Yes, I cannot overcome my fear of unravelling. Some people fear spiders; I fear unravelling. :)

    1. You would be really afraid with my latest bag...I had to put 4 large grommets in for the handles, which meant having to cut big circles in the boro fabric! Even I was nervous...


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