Thursday, January 10, 2013

Make a Tote, Have a Tote, Give a Tote!

By now, it's no secret that I love fabric, and I love to combine different patterns and coordinating colors to create surprisingly stylish and unique items!  So when I saw this delicious red chevron up against this creamy blue I knew at once that they needed to join forces and become something extra special...a tote bag!
And I thought I'd put together a tote bag tutorial for those of you interested in making your own!
 As always, it starts with a pattern, but this is simply a matter of deciding how big you want your tote to be and cutting 4 rectangular pieces (two for the outside and 2 for the lining) Mine measure 14"wide and 20" tall.  The pocket 2 square pieces 10"x10" and the straps again are subject to how long you like them, but mine measured 4 inches wide and 16" long.
Start by laying both outer pieces together with right sides facing.  Pin the sides and bottom together but make sure to leave the top open!
Then sew together using a 1/2" seam allowance.
(Do the same thing with your lining pieces)
Now, to make the rectangular bottom of the bag you will measure two inches from the bottom corners of the bag and fold it over and pin in place...
And it should look like this!
be sure to do both sides, and then do the same for your lining!
Then, using 1/2 inch seam allowance, sew along the fold.
Ok, before we slide the lining inside the outer piece, we need to fold and press the top edge.  Doing this now with save you time and frustration later when it's time to sew all the way around the top edge!
I fold out the lining by 1" as pictured above, and I fold in the outer piece by the same 1"...
When you slide one inside the other it should look like this!
Ok, now it's strap time!!!
The first time I made a tote I did the straps as four pieces, sewing two together and then turning them right side out, but these straps are so narrow that the turning process was super difficult and frustrating.  So instead, I make an extra wide bias tape!  It simplifies the entire process, requires only two strips of fabric, and it actually looks much neater once complete!
To make the bias tape straps, begin by folding one of your strap pieces in half and press it.
Now open the piece up and fold both sides toward the center and press again...
Next you simply fold the piece in half and press it one last time...
Do the same for your other strap piece and you should end up with two straps that look like this...
Ok, now the finishing touch to these simple straps is to top stitch both sides using a 1/4" seam allowance.
This makes the strap look neat and complete!
For strap placement I measured in 3" on each side of the bag. 
(Make sure your straps aren't twisted!)
Then slide your strap in between the lining and the outer piece and pin it in place.
Now you are ready to sew all the way around the top!  I like to sew all the way around using a 1/4" seam allowance followed by a 1/2" seam allowance, it looks very professional, and it ensures that the straps are securely attached!
Ok, pocket time!  Lay your pocket pieces together with right sides facing and pin all the way around leaving a 2" opening so you can turn it right side out.
Once you have sewn all the way around using a 1/2" seam allowance, turn your piece right side out and attach your label if you have one!
My labels make me so happy!
Now simply attach the pocket to the bag using a 1/4" seam allowance, and make sure to sew closed your 2" opening!
From every angle!
Lining and all!



  1. Sew much fun! Beautiful job, too! I'm sew impressed and sew proud of you!!!

  2. You and Donna crack me up! I love how daring you are with your fabric combinations and this tote is adorable!