Catching Critters! A Fun DIY Bug Bag

July 19, 2019By Janice FergusonProjects, Sewing, Tutorial 22 Comments Opinion by Paid Consultant

You can’t beat bug hunting for kids’ summer fun. Make this bag with your Brother embroidery machine and they will be kept busy prowling the bushes and grass. Whether the prey be creepy crawlies or fireflies, the adventure is a child’s version of a jungle safari. But where to put the catch? This fiberglass screen wire teepee bag (the name suggested by its shape) is a perfect accessory and holding pen. Use insect designs from and your personal design library to embellish the outside. Your Brother embroidery machine handles the screen wire effortlessly. The stand-alone butterfly swaying inside the bag will intrigue the children and send them racing out the door into nature.


  • Brother sewing/embroidery machine
  • Open Toe foot, J foot
  • 4×4 or 5×7 frame to embroider more than one design in the same frame
  • Fiberglass screen wire: 18 x 26” for bag embroidery and another large piece for stitch rehearsal of each potential design.
  • Utility scissors for cutting screen wire and zipper
  • Notions: zipper at least 18” or with plastic teeth. Longer is fine. It will be cut to size during construction; 8-10” cord or ribbon; monofilament, sewing and embroidery thread, seam sealant
  • Extra heavy water-soluble stabilizer (wss)

Templates to Download:

Templates look like this:



1. Print pattern/design templates. It is broken into two parts because my scanner bed is too small for the entire template. Print both the left and right templates and tape them together.
2. Print template of each design you plan to use. If deemed appropriate, resize to be proportional to the bag.
3. Cut 18 x 26” screen wire. This large size makes hooping easier.
4. Tape completed template to white surface or pin to padded surface.

Note: It may be necessary to trace over the lines with a wide black marking pen for better visibility.

5. Center screen wire over template and tape or pin corners to hold in place.
6. Trace section placement lines onto screen wire with child’s “school” chalk. These lines show each section of the finished bag for suitable embroidery placement.

Note 1: To make the necessary marks, neither a sliver of soap, chalk marker or washout marker could be seen on the screen wire. Only white chalk, like that used on school black or green boards worked. Hmmm… were you ever in a classroom with a chalkboard? If so, you must be a grandmother like me.
Note 2: The screen wire will slip if not well secured when placed over the template. The red slashes show where it slipped and the line had to be redrawn after pinning it more securely to a padded surface.

7. Place templates of selected embroidery designs in chosen location within the section.

Note: It is helpful to take a picture with your phone so you can refer to it as you embroider.

8. Wind bobbin in each thread color used in the designs.


9. Select one or two designs to embroider on one large side and load into machine.
10. Hoop screen wire and heavy-duty water-soluble stabilizer (wss). Puckering occurred when the screen wire was simply basted to the wss.
11. Touch the CAMERA icon, boxed in green at the top right of the screen in image # 5. Scan the hooped screen wire.
12. Call up your first design—the ant for this example. Use the stylus to drag the ant to the desired location.
13. Touch the Add icon boxed in orange at the bottom left of the screen. Bring in another design or however many you wish to add to that section of the bag. Drag each in place with the stylus. After embroidery, do not remove wss.

Note: Without the camera scanning function, pin the templates in place for placement.

14. Continue hooping and embroidering each section. The wss is still in place on the back. Do NOT embroider the ladybugs now.

Note: To create the illusion of the ladybugs trailing up the green zipper they must be embroidered after the zipper insertion.


Insert the zipper in this unorthodox manner, stitched flat on the top side of the screen wire. This is done so the ladybugs could be embroidered along the zipper edge.

15. Attach open toe foot. The zipper is placed on top of the screen wire.
16. Open the zipper, place the top of the tape at the top of the bag’s marked cutting, right side up with the teeth at the edge of the left marked bag side.

17. Straight stitch 1/8-1/4” from zipper teeth, with open toe foot positioned along the edge of the teeth. Needle position is in far right.
18. Open the zipper as far as possible. Repeat on the opposite side. WSS is still in place.
19. Stitch ‘grass’ for ladybugs’ home. Select stitch #7-12, width 6.5, length 4.0.

Return to Embroidery

20. Open ladybugs design. Hoop with zipper near center of frame. Scan the frame and position design. Embroider.

21. Hoop 2 layers of wss in 4×4 frame. Embroider butterfly. This one was resized up to 2.56 x 2.55”. Be sure to use matching thread in the bobbin.

22. Remove as much wss as possible then soak in tepid water until the edges are clean. What remains between the layers will give the free flying butterfly stability. Pat with paper towels to help it dry.
When almost dry, shape it with wings spread as if to fly. The antennae are just loose threads. Applying a bit of seam sealant gives them some body.

Return to Construction

23. Cut screen wire to 8×16”, along marked chalk lines but do not cut zipper. Best to remeasure for exact sizing. Leave zipper open to its greatest length.
24. Remove as much wss as possible. Trim screen wire and wss from teeth edges to first line of stitching.

25. Immerse bag in tepid water to dissolve wss.
26. Lie flat on a towel and roll the towel around it, like a burrito. Squeeze out excess moisture and hang to dry. If you are in a rush, a blow dryer speeds up the process of drying the zipper tape.

27. Stitch a folded 8-10” cord or grosgrain ribbon to the top edge within the ¼” seam allowance. The loop should hang down with raw edges extended a little beyond the seam allowance. This creates a loop handle.

28. Close zipper a few inches above the bottom raw edge. Fold the bag inside out with the closed zipper in the center of the seam line. Stitch with ¼” seam allowance right over zipper.

29. Cut excess zipper-finally! Use utility scissors.

30. Fold top in half with zipper at one side. Begin stitching at zipper just above the first tooth. Back stitch for reinforcement. Angle up to ¼” seam line. The open toe foot gives best visibility for those first stitches.

The top corner has been cut away to reduce bulk.

31. Insert a length of monofilament into the shaped butterfly. Place it inside the bag and stitch it to the top seam, leaving the butterfly suspended.

Does this make you want to hunt bugs or to sew a bug bag?


  • What fun! I’d suggest a book to identify the bugs that are captured to go along with this cute bug bag.

  • What a clever idea! This will keep your little one occupied while they learn about many little critters!

    • Rheeta, I’m sure this bag would keep them busy. I once gave one to a 5 yo friend and he filled it with toads in about 15 minutes! We had to free them before they died from being crowded in their. But he was so proud of his catch.

  • How sweet is that bag! Wonderful detailed instructions and tips that will carry over into other projects. Thanks.

  • This is a darling reuse of the old ditty kit pattern. I remember our children making these with you, and how handy they were for camp. Speaking of camp this would be a wonderful project when I am planning granny camp, As always your instructions are fabulous….shows your teaching background

    • Susanna, this is a perfect piece of equipment for Granny Camp. What wonderful fun that time will be and what fun you will have planning for it. Thanks for your comment and the suggestion for Granny Camp gear.

  • This is so cute. With no shortage of bugs in Florida this little gem would get lots of use. Thanks for the great instructions. Your pictures make it so clear.

  • Very cute Janice! That little triangle bag is one of the neatest bag shapes I have ever seen. Love the way you re-vamped it into a bug bag.

    • Joanne, I think that triangle/teepee bag is one of the most useful items I ever learned to make. I must have made more than 100 by now, made with sports fabric or embroidered with unicorns and more for birthday party favor bags stuffed with little goodies. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

  • When I was a child, I loved catching all kinds of bugs, even bees, before releasing them. This would be such a thrill for any critter-loving child! The embroidery designs on the screen add a very special touch and surely will make the captured bugs feel at home :). As always, your directions are so clear and easy to follow, with the additional help of the photos.

  • Donna, what a sweet comment! You are very kind hearted to consider that the embridery designs would make the captured insects feel at home. I love that thought but, honestly, it never crossed my mind. How brave you must have been to capture bees! I do wish I had had a few of these when my chiidren were young and prowling the bushes for critters. I have a few on hand now for when the grands visit and run wild on our property. Thanks again for your comment.

  • Love this. The group of ladies I work with are always looking for cute ideas to teach kids in our sewing classes. This is a great idea for the boys to sewing triangle bags.

    • Rita, this really is a great beginning sewing project, especially for the boys by using screen wire. This is the first time I have modified the pattern to make the zipper insertion easier. Any decorative stitch along the side of the zipper tape works well and allows the children to use decorative stitches.

  • I love this fun project! Janice, you always have such great projects with wonderful instructions! Thanks!

  • This really is a fun project, Betty. It amazes me how our Brother embroidery machines can embroider beautifully on anything–even if it’s not fabric. Stitching a few little insects with glow-in-the-dark thread would really add to the intrigue for a child. My favorite feature is the free-floating butterfly. I’m glad you enjoyed this, Betty, and hope you will make one.

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