Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tote Tutorial

Simple Tote
With French Seams

(French Seam: A seam stitched first on the right side and then turned in and stitched on the wrong side so that the raw edges are enclosed in the seam.

I made up this little tote for a church youth group activity and thought I would share it with you. One cool thing is that there aren’t any raw edges, it is not lined (one less step and less fabric), and you don’t need a serger. If your kids are anything like mine they love to carry around the days treasures in a fun little bag and this one works perfectly. Just make the straps a little shorter.

Finished Size: 12” tall (32” tall if you include straps), 11 ½ “ wide. In all measurements width is listed first followed by length. All seam allowances are 1/4“ unless otherwise noted.

Fabric Requirements:
½ yard of fabric
Tip: An unlined bag like this is best when made with heavier weight fabrics such as denim, twill, or decorator’s fabric. I used decorator’s fabric for mine.

1. Prepare fabric. Wash, dry and press all fabric

2. Cut fabric pieces
Bag: Cut 2 pieces 13” x 13 ½”
Handle: Cut 1 piece 4” x 42”
Toggle: Cut 1 piece 1” x 6”
Facing: cut one piece 1 1/2 “ x 24”

3. Assemble Bag: Place WRONG sides of rectangles together and stitch down 13 ½” sides and along bottom. Clip corners along bottom of bag. This helps to reduce bulk.

Turn inside out and iron the side seams nice and flat (make sure you push the seam all the way to the edge.)

Now you can sew up the sides and bottom again with it still turned wrong side out.

*Make sure your seam is wide enough to enclose the raw edge or you will have the raw edges sticking out on the right side! * I sewed mine just wider than 1/4“. Turn right side out and press. Making sure your seams are nice and flat.

Turn wrong side out again and iron the top edge down ½”. Set aside.

4. Make the straps: Crease the strap down the center with the iron. Then, iron both long sides in to meet the center crease.

Then fold in the center again and steam press well. Stitch each long side about 1/8th inch from the edge. Then stitch 1/4th inch from the first stitching to form channels. (This step is optional, however I almost always make them this way; I find it makes for a stronger strap.)

Pin straps to side seams of bags about ¾” in.

5. Make the toggle or eye closure: Crease the 1” x 6” piece of fabric down the center. Then, iron both long sides in to meet the center crease. Fold in the center again and steam press well.

Edge-stitch along open side. Fold in half and pin to center of one side of bag about ¾” in.

6. Make facing: Lay your facing face down and iron in ¼” on each side.

With right sides together stitch along short edge ½”.

Press open seam.

Matching up seam with the side seam on the bag pin to the inside of bag matching up top edge and enclosing strap and toggle.

Stitch close to the edge of bag and facing making sure to catch both pieces. Then stitch the facing closed on the opposite edge making sure that the edges of the straps and the toggle are concealed in the facing.

Turn right side out and iron well making sure to push out corners.
7. Attach a large button to the front center of the bag making sure that the toggle will catch the button when closed.

Enjoy your new tote.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I’m up and sewing. I think it is an addiction. When you go to bed at night thinking about how to construct some new project and get excited to make your kids something new you know that you have a new passion. I love to sew and hope that as time goes by we can all share our talents and our need to create. My husband referred me to this awesome video. Check it out.