Wiggly Bags Tutorial (for Hickman Lines)

UPDATED: Sadly, The Liberty Rose Trust seems to have closed. However, if you know of somewhere that needs them, then you're welcome to use this tutorial to make wiggly bags. Please be aware though, that different hospitals require different sizes of wiggly bag.

Last month one of the lovely readers of my blog wrote to me and told me about some 'wiggly bags' that she was hoping to make for the Liberty Rose Trust and asked my advice about colours as she was having problems visualising what would work well. I'd actually never heard of Wiggly Bags, but following the link that she sent, found that they are bags that children undergoing treatment for cancer use to hold their central line, which will be with them throughout their treatment to give medicines and take blood (thus avoiding the need for needles). So that the line (that's the 'wiggly') doesn't get dirty or pulled while playing each child needs a wiggly bag to keep it in. Sarah Hill (Director of Family Support at the Liberty Rose Trust) told me that a child will often have their line with them on a constant basis for around 18 months and so the wiggly bag that holds it will become a big part of their daily life and the child will often become very attached to it. The bags are needed for children of all ages, from toddlers to teenagers and so there's a call for bags bearing pictures of animals, fairies, dinosaurs, rockets...but there's also a real need for bags that teenagers will be happy to wear.

So anyway, back to the reader who wrote to me...I could see exactly why she was having problems visualising the Wiggly Bag as although the Liberty Rose Trust have a pattern piece and instructions for how to make one, they don't currently have on their site a picture of the finished bag or any step photos...which is tricky if you are a visual person. So, with the Liberty Rose Trust's permission, I've written up a step-by-step photo tutorial based on their original pattern piece in the hope that it might make it even easier for other sewers to help. They can take as long or as little time to make as you can spare...they can be embellished with appliques or made from patchwork, or they can just be made from one simple fabric piece as shown in this tutorial (the latter means that you can whip up around 3 bags in an hour). Please remember though:
  • The bag will be washed every 2/3 days, which means that all wiggly bags need to be made from  cotton.
  • The drawstring must be made of soft tape (not ribbon, as that can be scratchy against the skin).
  • The tape must be 1 metre long so that the ends can be cut to size to suit the height of the child wearing the Wiggly Bag.
  • A variety of bags are needed for boys, girls, toddlers, children and teenagers.
  • You can find a downloadable PDF including the Liberty Rose Trust pattern piece and this photo tutorial at the bottom of this post, which can be downloaded to your computer and printed out.
  • This tutorial covers the basics in the hope that beginner sewers won't be put off.
Requiring just one piece of fabric at around 11" x 6", I can't think of a better excuse to go stash raiding and cut into that favourite bit of fabric that you've been saving for something special. The Liberty Rose Trust are hugely appreciative of any bags that you can make.

1. Print out a copy of the pattern and cut it out along the heavy black line that runs around the perimetre. With your chosen fabric wrong side up, trace around the paper pattern piece and then cut out. If you're working with a directional print then please be sure to keep your pattern print going in the same direction as the lettering on the pattern piece (A is the top).

2. Place the pattern next to the edge of your fabric and make a small mark to show where line 'A' runs. Do this at each side, and then join the two marks using a ruler to create a straight line.

3.Now fold over so that the top edge rests on the line that you just created. It should finish looking like the piece below. Pin in place and sew - I used a zigzag stitch to minimise fraying.

4. Now fold in half (along line B, as marked on the pattern piece) and mark on lines C and D as shown on the pattern piece - extend these lines all the way to the top and sides. Sew along these lines. When you reach the corner, make sure the needle is down in the fabric, lift the presser foot, pivot the fabric, lower the presser foot and continue sewing.

5. Now line the fabric piece up next to the paper pattern piece, with the bottom edges level. Make a mark at each side to show where line E should go, and join marks with a ruler. Turn fabric over and repeat on the other side.

6. Mark on to one side a central opening measuring 3/4" (1.5cm), depicted by XXX in the pattern. You can see my little purple marks showing this opening. If your Wiggly Bag has an applique or feature that you want to appear on the front of the finished bag, then make sure that you place this opening on the other side from this, as the side with the opening will be at the back of the bag.

7. Turn the top edge over so that it rests on the line that you've just drawn. Pin all round, pinning the side seam allowance to one side when you reach it (do not open it out, as this will make it hard to thread the drawstring later).

8. Turn right side out. Starting at one of the opening marks, sew all the way along this pinned seam until you reach the other opening mark. Sew as near to the bottom edge as possible and be sure to do a good few securing stitches at the start and finish as this opening will often be pulled against as the drawstring is opened and closed. The left-hand picture shows the front of the bag, the right-hand picture shows a close-up of the back of the bag.

9. Take the tape and attach a pin to one end. Feed this in through the opening hole in the bag and work your way around using a push-pull motion until you are able to push it out at the other side of the opening.

If you want to make your own tape from co-ordinating fabric, cut a piece measuring 3.8cm (1.5") x 1 metre long and fold in half lengthways, pressing with an iron as you fold. Next, fold the raw edges inwards to meet at the creaseline, fold in half, press, pin and sew.

11. Pull the tape through until both sides are an even length. Press with an iron.

12. Loosely knot the two ends together. Pull the drawstring closed to check it is easily drawn. Hurrah! Your first wiggly bag is complete...you can either send it to the address above...or make a few more and then send it to the address above!

Now for some dressmaking...Made by Rae's summer tops week has inspired me to do something...I just don't know what yet...

Florence x


  1. Along with may others, I made some wiggly bags for a local hospital a year or so back; we used a different pattern from Gina at Fan My Flame. I think it's time to make some more for Liberty Rose Trust - thanks so much for posting this.

  2. Of course, that should have read "many", not "may". Argh.

  3. I feel increadably moved this morning, will have to whip some of these up
    Thanks and good on you

  4. My first ever sewing machine should arrive today - I know I'm a late starter - I may give these a go to get me going... thanks for the tutorial I may have to print it off and follow it slowly, tracing the words with my finger and with my tongue stuck out for concentration.

  5. oh my goodness.. these are such a good idea. My dad had a wiggly last year (although alas he didn't name his) and he was forever fidling to move it around. It also looked pretty odd when he took his shirt off so the idea of a child having one neatly inside a little bag is just lovely. I am inspired to make some!

  6. What a fantastic idea - something that has never even crossed my mind - so thanks for bringing it to our attention. I think I may print this out and take it along to my sewing class tonight to show the girls - I'm sure we could whip up a few, together.

  7. What a lovely idea for stash busting... As soon as I get some time I will pull some together. It's nice to think of someone using something I made so often in their daily lives.

  8. Thank you for this. It takes such a small piece of fabric so we (even daughter can do these) must be able to come up with a few from those odd bits at the bottom of the basket.
    Great tutorial, Florence.

  9. What a great idea - I don't remember my friend's kid having a bag for his central line. I'll have to ask her. Perhaps our local hospital here would like some.

  10. what a great idea. I've just blogged about your post with one of your photos. I hope thats ok? I put a link to your blog and the charity too. I'll try and make some bags if I get chance. Great tutorial. I love your blog by the way!

  11. Does anyone know a good (mail order/internet) source for cotton tape, in pretty colors? I have found black and white but little else. I just made 12 bags in 2 hours (surprised myself!) from pretty Kaffe Fassett scraps, but now I need the tape. Any ideas??

  12. Hello everyone! I just wanted to say a MASSIVE thank you from all of us at the Liberty Rose Trust for any wiggly bags you send - my little girl was 6 when she was diagnosed - losing her long blonde hair and having an ng tube for months on end meant that she was very aware of people looking at her but having beautiful wiggly bags meant the world. We don't just send them to children who have brain tumours but to any child that needs them and i can't tell you how touched you feel as a parent to know that someone has taken the time to do this for your precious little dot.
    Thank you again! x

  13. Thank-you thank-you that is sooo helpful :) You are brilliant!

  14. Hi Florence, I popped over from sew scrumptious' blog as she's blogged about your tutorial for wiggly bags. I'll def. be making some but did just wonder if you had any good sources for the cotton tape as I'm struggling to find nice coloured stuff. Thanks again,Justine.

  15. Sorry to take a while to get back to those of you who have asked about the tape - it is hard to track down online (I bought mine locally from a shop that sold various colours) partly because I was unsure what search term to use. I've since found that 'cotton herringbone tape' or 'cotton herringbone webbing' are the names that this sort of tape goes by.

    Additionally, it may help you to know that my tape is exactly 1cm wide.

    Amongst others, the following places may stock something suitable:



    I hope that helps and thank you so much to anyone who makes some of these bags.

  16. Thank you for the tutorial. I have have made 10 bags and will follow up later with some more. Having got into the swing of making these it doesn't take long to get them done.

  17. I'd never heard of this, but I'm in. I'll get sewing and send them off. I assume there's a constant need for them?

  18. I'm going to blog about this too, I hope that's alright? Of course you'll be getting full credit and I'm linking to your tutorial.

  19. Hi, thank you for this lovely tutorial, my son has just started chemo for LCH and has a wiggly bag, it makes him feel so much safer, as it scares him to see his wiggly hanging loose.
    I am about to start making a load of these up, and will be sending them to my local hospital.
    Sam from Guinivere's

    1. I'm so pleased the tutorial was useful. I am sending so many good wishes to you and your son, Sam. With love, Florence x


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