Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Tote bag tutorial

I've been busy the last few days making all sorts of things and, I've also completed my McCall's dress and have made a pretty fluffy bed runner (bed scarf) out of a re-fashioned HUGE bed throw from NEXT.  I've still got plenty of the throw left so may well make a few to give away. Perfect for snuggling into (if you're a cat) or just to keep toes toasty over the winter months.

It gets the seal of approval from Millie!

vintage fabric

As you may remember, I bought a vintage fabric a while ago, which looks like it dates back to the 1970's. Ever since, I've been busy making all sorts of things from it; including peg bags (Pin bags for those of you in the USA), available in my Etsy shop. I've also just completed a few simple tote bags which I've really enjoyed making.

These bags would be a brilliant beginner project, I'd even consider teaching this as a KS3 Textiles project as I'm sure pupils would love to have a pretty bag to take away (rather than the typical puppet or pencil case!). They could be made even more complicated if you were to introduce applique/surface decoration techniques, pockets and/or zips.

Change the handle length for a shoulder or hand tote.

Tote Bag Tutorial

Step 1) Prepare your materials:
  • Main fabric - cut 2 x rectangles for the outer bag measuring 12"x14"
  • Main or Lining fabric - cut 4 x strips for the handles measuring 2"x16" for the hand tote or 3"x34" for the shoulder tote
  • Plain/lining fabric - Cut 2 x rectangles for the lining measuring 12"x14"
Seam allowance is 1/2" throughout

step 1
Step 2) Sew the Tote Sides
NOTE*Add pockets and applique before you do this should you wish to include these.
  • Layer the main fabric rectangles, right sides together. Pin and stitch.
  • Press the seams open  

Step 3) Sew the Tote bottom
NOTE*Add pockets and applique before you do this should you wish to include these.

press seams open
  • Pin and stitch.
  • Press the seam open
  • Trim the corners
    step 2
 Step 4) Sew the top of  your Tote
  • Keeping the tote inside out, turn and press a 1" seam.
  • Turn 1 = 1"
  • Tuck the raw edge under to meet the crease and press again. This leaves a neatly finished double-turned 1/2" hem. TIP - A seam gauge, like the one I am using here is a really cheap but worthwhile purchase for this type of job

Turn 2 = 1/2"
Step 5) Make the lining
  • Repat steps 2-4 to make your bag lining. *Important: Keep it inside-out (right sides together) when you're done!
 Step 6) Make the handles.
  • For each handle, put 2 of your rectangle strips right sides together and sew down one long side. 

  • Press the seam open and press on reverse side also.
  •  Fold over and pin the other long side of each of the strips and press

  •  Fold your handle down the centre seam so that the outer edge of the straps meet wrong sides together and press.

  • Sew a running stich a few millimetres from the edge.  
  • Repeat with another row of running stich down the other side (this adds a better quality finish known as 'top stitching'). 
top stitching adds a neat, professional touch
Step 7) Assemble the bag  
Now for the best part..... don't you just get such a buzz when a project comes together and your hard work can be shown off! These straps will be sewn inside the lining to create a really neat and stong finish.
  • With the lining still inside-out (right sides together, fold in half and crease the top hem to find the centre.  Now measure 3" out to each side from your crease and put a small dot (using a pencil or a tailors chalk) to mark where the staps will go.
  • On one of the staps, measure 1" from each end and again, put a small mark.
  • Now line the handle up (making sure it isn't twisted), 1" from the top of the tote and 3" either side of the centre, using your marks as a guide.
  • Pin and sew

sew 2 rows for strength

  • Repeat on the other side of the lining with the second strap.
  • At this point you could add a fastner (like my button), a name tape etc..... 

  • Slip the lining (still inside-out) into the outer bag ( which should be the correct way round, wrong sides together), and line up the tops. This is what your finished bag will look like so make sure it's nice and neat!
  • Pin and sew

    sewing the lining into the bag, concealing the handles
  • Press the bag and hey presto.... show it off to your pals :D

I'd love to see and hear how you get on with this tutorial so please get in touch and let me know 
Shorter handle, mustard strap

Shorter handle, floral strap

Long shoulder strap, big button fastener


Photos can be added to the EDiS Flickr Group here.

x Gem 

No comments: