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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Tote Bag Tutorial

I have made 3 of these totes, the first two were given away in swaps. With this last one I took progress photos and wrote down measurements, and I'm going to keep this one.

Photo heavy post! And some photos were taken at night, sorry about that - but that is when I can sew and when the progress photos get taken.  
Here are the other two totes I made with the same process
This is the front of one 

This is the back of another

The front of the one above

Here is the finished tote for the tutorial

This tutorial is for the tote only - I will do a post later in the week on the thread painting.

The finished tote measurements are approximately 17" h X 15" w X 5" d with a 14-15" handle drop.

Start with a selection of fabrics cut 4 1/2" square.  For this tote I used Wee Wander by Sarah Jane for Michael Miller fabrics.  I loved the whimsical springtime feeling of these fabrics.  I added some Botanics by Carolyn Friedlander for Robert Kaufman and a few solids.
You will need 25 squares for the back and 25 for the front (if your front does not have a focal block in the center)

Sew together squares for the back exterior of the tote 
5 rows of 5 
If your front is the same, you can sew together those squares also
Back of tote before quilting

Front of tote before quilting- if you want a focal block, this one is 12 1/2" unfinished, and it will fit perfectly in the center of the 4 1/2" squares to make the 20" x 20" sized front

I lined my back and front exterior pieces with Pellon SF-101, I like this bit of lining for totes and bags.

Layer the back and front  exterior with batting (no need for a backing layer before quilting as there will be a lining in the finished tote) and quilt as desired.  If you have a focal block for the front, you will need a 20"x 20" quilted front, make this as you desire, and cut to the same size as back.  

I matchstick quilted - which looks fabulous and helps hold the shape of the bag, but takes quite awhile so be prepared to spend some time at your machine doing this.  

Cut two lining pieces the same size as your exterior pieces, 20" X 20"

You can add to this tote slip pockets, swivel hook for keys, closures.  For this tote I added a slip pocket for my phone and a swivel hook for my keys.  This is a deep tote, I don't want to dig for the little things.

To add a slip pocket, cut a piece of fabric 7" x 8 1/2" ( you can change to any size your desire), line this piece with Pellon SF-101 for a finished look inside the slip pocket.  Press each side under 1/4" and top stitch along the top only (long side)

Attach to one side of lining approximately 3 1/2" down from the top edge and 6" from each side.  Stitch along 3 sides (not the top), creating a slip pocket.

Sew together the two lining pieces, right sides together, along two sides and bottom with a 1/2" seam allowance.  Fold over the top edge 1/2" all the way around and press, toward the wrong side.  Press your seams as you desire, I pressed open.  You will box the bottom corners, I have photos of this with the exterior of the bag, it is the same process for the lining of the bag.  

For the exterior pieces, right sides together, sew together along 3 sides - the bottom and 2 sides with a 1/2" seam allowance.  Press the seams open and now you will box the bottom.  With right sides together, lay the exterior pieces so that the seams line up, going out from the corner, measure 3" along the seam and draw a stitch line across the exterior, all the way across.

Stitch across drawn line, back stitching at beginning and end
then cut off the corner 1/2"  from the stitched line.  Do this to both bottom corners of exterior and repeat for the lining.  

For handles you have several options, you can use cotton web and just attach, leather straps or lined cotton web.  I chose the lined cotton web for this tote.  This tote has an approximate 15" handle drop, so the cotton web pieces should be cut 30" each (not 15" as I did the first time!).  My cotton web was 1 1/2" wide, I cut a piece of fabric 3" X 30" to line the web.  

Fold under each long edge of fabric 1/4" and press.  Lay the cotton web centered down the fabric piece (wrong side of fabric), fold fabric over edge of cotton web, and glue baste each side, then top stitch.  If you do not glue baste, you can clip with wonder clips.
In this photo the green strap has been edge stitched and the peach one has been glue basted.

Turn exterior right sides out, and attach the handles to the top edge of the exterior with a 1/4" from edge stitch.  Line up the handles how you desire, make sure both sides are equal.  When placing the handles, and before sewing down, roll the handle back up as if you are holding the tote to verify the handles will be facing the correct direction and won't be twisted when you have a finished bag.  

This is where I also attached my swivel hook, along the edge close to the corner.  

With the exterior of the tote turned right sides out, press under along the top edge 1/2".  Place the lining inside the exterior with wrong sides facing, pull out the handles, and the swivel hook if you have it attached, and clip the lining to the exterior all the way around, lining up the side seams.  

I changed to my walking foot to edge stitch around the perimeter of the tote at 1/4".  Make sure to catch the handles and the swivel piece.  

And now you should be able to take a deep breath and have a large tote to carry all your miscellaneous to your next meeting, play date, road trip or just walking around to show off our skills

Keep Calm and Quilt On!



Anonymous said...

Great tutorial. My bag you made me was a big hit at the retreat I went on two weeks ago. The flying geese are amazing. When I get through all my surgeries I want to make this tote! Thanks for inspiring me. Love the big bunny photo.

Louise said...

Thank you so much for these very clear and excellent directions. I just finished my first tote and I'm just so tickled with it!

I posted some photos on Instagram, where my username is @LouiseHornor and I tagged you.

I didn't put interfacing in it (because I didn't have any) but I'll add it to the next ones. I'm already cutting the fabric for totes to give to my two nieces for Christmas.