Friday, January 07, 2011

Stylish Tote

I needed a bag to carry all of my stuff in when I go out and about. It needed to be a purse, diaper bag, and hold anything I grab along the way while I am out. I'm about to make a bunch of canvas totes, but before I started with them I wanted to make something a little more fashionable.
I drafted my own pattern for this as I went, but I tried to make measurements for those of you who would like to make a similar
tote. I've included a picture at the bottom with my measurements, but results will vary.

Fabric measurements:
Straps: 56 x 2 inches - sew them as one and then cut them in half
Body: trapezoid with a bottom of 17 inches, top of 12.5 and a height of 11 inches.
Facing: trapezoid 12.5 inches at base, 12 inches at top, and a height of 2.5 inches
Bottom (optional): Eye shape with measurements of 15.5 in length and 5 inches tall at the widest point.

Start off with two long strips of fabric, these will be your straps. Sew them together on three sides, leaving only one of the skinny ends open. Turn the straps inside out. The 2 inch side that is sewn will help you turn it inside out. Once you succeeded at turning it inside out, then you can trim off the sewn 2 inch side. Now you should top stitch the strap, I always feel that top

stitching gives everything a finished look. It takes a project from homemade to store quality. Once you get the one long strap top stitched on both sides, fold it in half and cut it in the center. I always like dealing with straps as one long piece of fabric rather than two because it gives the strap more consistency. One of the bigger challenges of making two separate
straps is to make them seem identical, but if you sew it as one long strap then it is more likely the two will look the same. Once the straps are done, then it is time to baste stitch them to the top of the tote. I like to put mine two inches in, but place yours where you see fit.

Now we move onto the facing, which is used to give the top of your bag a finished look rather than a hemmed edge. I would recommend serging the sides and shorter end of the facing. If you do not have a serger,

then you can use a blanket or zigzag stitch from
your sewing machine. If you want to make the inside look a little nicer, you can take the shorter of the ends (not the sides) and fold it over for a nice hem. It is time to sew the facings, straps and bag together. Since we have already basted the straps in place, all we need to do is sew them in place. Layer the bag fabric, handles pointing down to the bottom of the bag, and then the facing. When you top stitch the facing, make sure you pull the handles out so that they are now one top of the bag.

Next it is time to sew the sides in place. Make sure that the handle straps line up as well as the fabric pattern. Start from the top of the bag and work your way down. It is less obvious if the bottom doesn't match up perfectly rather than the top.


The final step is to sew the bottom. Personally I made an eye shaped bottom for my bag, but you can simply sew the bottom in a straight line and call it a day. If you do use a shaped bottom, then I would recommend using a pattern as mine was a lot of guess work and fiddling with in order to get it right. For a shaped bottom, it looks even nicer if you top stitch it with the main bag fabric on top. It helps to start from the middle and work your way out because it helps get more into the corners.

I think my stylish tote turned out great, and I can't wait to test it out!






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