Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Red & Black Day 3: DIY Tote Bag


For Day 3 of Red & Black Week (and the sub-theme of Red, Black & White), a tutorial for making a tote bag in which to carry your booty. ARRRR!

This tote is extremely easy to sew, and you can make it with most any medium-weight non-stretch fabric. You will need a main fabric, a contrast fabric and a lining fabric. These can be the same or different, your choice. I used a pirate-print cotton for the main fabric, a red polka dot cotton for the contrast, and a plain black cotton for the lining.

You will need about 1/2 yard each of the main and contrast fabrics, and about 1 yard of lining fabric. Some of the pattern pieces are small, so you may be able to use scraps or remnants.

Begin by cutting your fabric pieces as shown in the diagram below. Note the diagram is only for measurements of the pieces, not necessarily how you want to lay them out on the fabric to be cut.

And then it's on to the sewing!
Step 1: With right sides together, sew the top band to the front. Then with right sides together, sew the bottom to the front. Repeat to create the back.


Step 2: Fold the handle in half lengthwise, right sides together, and stitch the long side. Repeat for the other handle. Turn both handles right side out. (This is probably the most difficult part of the project!)

Optional: Topstitch along both long sides of the handles. This will keep the handles flat and add strength.

Step 3: Pin the handles to the right side of the front top band, lining up the raw edges. Space them 4" apart, at 8" and 12", as shown below. Be sure the handles aren't twisted, and stitch them in place. Repeat to attach the handles to the back.

Step 4: Place front and back together, right sides together. Stitch the sides and bottom.

Step 5: Stitch the bottom corners. This is easy to do but hard to describe. :P At the bottom corner cutout, pull the front and back apart a little and match the end of the side seam to the end of the bottom seam. Then pinch the fabric together and stitch a straight seam to close up the corner.

Step 6: Fold the lining in half, right sides together. Stitch the sides, leaving an opening in one of the seams for turning the lining/bag right side out. (If you're using thicker fabrics, leave a larger opening.) Stitch the bottom and the bottom corners.

Step 7: Turn the bag right side out and place it inside the lining (this places right sides together). Make sure the handles are folded down and inside the lining. Stitch the lining and bag together at the top.

Step 8: Turn the bag right side out through the opening you left in the lining. Stitch the opening closed.

Done!

It's easy to make variations on this bag by changing up the fabrics, making the handles longer or shorter, or adding pockets to the inside or outside.

21 comments:

  1. No, it doesn't look easy o me...:D
    I wanted to ask you so many times before, but where do you get all these fun fabrics? I mean, it's impossible to find fun prints in the fabric stores over here...do you order them online, maybe? :)

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    1. I get many of the fabrics, including the ones I used in this project, from Jo-Ann (www.joann.com), a chain of fabric and craft stores. My other main source is www.fabric.com. They have a great selection of Halloween prints.

      I think the popularity of quilting as a hobby is what makes fun cotton prints readily available in the U.S.

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    2. Wow, so many gorgeous fabrics! Sometimes I browse eBay or Etsy for fun prints, but shipping makes them so incredibly expensive...

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  2. VERY cool! Have you ever decreased the measurements to make a smaller version/handbag version? I have a lot of scrap fabric that is waiting to me made into something awesome like this. Thanks Bane!

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    1. Yes, I have scaled it down 50% to make a smaller bag. Just divide all the measurements in half, except for the spacing of the handles, which should still be around 4" apart. It's a great use for scraps. :)

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  3. Crafty, cute AND utilitarian! It would be awesome to make several of these for re-usable grocery bags - so much more stylish than the mish-mash ones we've collected on sale. ;) I wonder if they would be sturdy enough for that, with a heavy fabric and heavy-duty thread...

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    1. They make good grocery bags and are quite sturdy with the right fabrics and thread. When sewing on the handles, you can add another row of stitches for extra strength. I also like to make the handles a little longer and space them further apart when I'm going to use the bag for groceries.

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  4. I never would have thought of combining skulls and crossbones and polka-dots, but it works! These would  make nice grocery bags. And sure to make all the little old ladies in the grocery line-up take notice, wouldn't they? Mwahahaha.

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    1. I chose the combination because the skulls are wearing red polka-dot bandannas. :)

      Yes, I think the little old ladies would definitely take notice. :D

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  5. That is a perky and cute bag! I must confess, that when there is a lining fabric, it is challenging to me. ^^* But when my old shopping bag is worn out, I shall try to make one like that!

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    1. I've had my share of misfortune with complicated linings. :P But as linings go, this one is quite simple.

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  6. You're such a smart cookie! I've been wanting to make one of these, now is a good chance for me to do it! Thanks for the great instructions :)
    I've been wanting to make totes to sell, but I'm not going to steal your pattern (that would be rude)

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    1. Mmmm... cookies. :)

      It warms my cynical heart to encounter a person with integrity... someone who does the right thing even when no one is watching. :D Feel free to use the pattern. I don't mind. Of course, if you become a tote bag millionaire, I hope you won't forget the little people. ;)

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  7. Thanks for sharing all of these patterns!

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