Are you sick of the cold weather yet? I know I am! In an effort to take my mind off the chilly winds and even the snow that we have had recently here in the North West of the UK, I have been making a few tote bags out of some floral fabrics that I got here from Calico Laine. These happy, colourful prints remind me of spring and summer, and help me look forward to the warmer months later this year. In today's blog, I'll be walking you through How To Make A Tote Bag, ready for the higher temperatures that we all look forward to.
What you'll need:
- 1 metre of fabric for the outside of the bag (our floral cottons are perfect for this)
- 1 metre of dress lining for the inside of the bag
- A reel of thread (I recommend our Moon threads or our Gutermann Sew-All threads)
- A pair of bag handles
- Optional items for embellishing (e.g. buttons, acrylic jewels, embroidery thread, bias binding and trims, fabric paint/markers etc.)
- A packet of dressmaking pins
First, decide how big you would like to make your bag. I chose to make mine 40cm x 40cm, so those are the measurements I will be using during this tutorial (feel free to substitute them with your own measurements if you would like a larger or smaller Tote Bag). Lay your outer bag fabric down on a flat surface, and lay your dress lining down flat on top of it. Smooth out any creases, fold it in half, then measure and mark out a square that is about 45cm x 45cm - this is to allow for 1 inch seams. Use pins to hold the fabrics together while you measure.
Using your markings, cut the square that you just measured. You should now have four square pieces - two in your outer fabric, and two in your dress lining. With right sides together, pin your two squares in your outer fabric together and sew around three of the sides with 1 inch of seam allowance.. Do the same with your dress lining. Turn the piece made of your outer fabric right side out. Place your dress lining piece (which should still be inside out) inside your outer fabric piece.
Using your remaining outer fabric, cut a strip about 10cm wide. Fold it in half with right sides together and sew it, then turn it right side out so that you are left with a neat strip. Cut this piece into four equal lengths. These pieces will be what you use to attach your bag handles to your bag.
Fold the un-sewn sides of your outer fabric and lining fabric inwards so that you make a neat edge, and pin in place. Estimate where you would like your bag handles to sit, then take one of the small strips you made in Step 3. Slip one end into the middle of the outer fabric and lining fabric, then loop it around your bag handle and slip the other end into the same place as the first end. Do this with all four small strips (two for each bag handle). Pin into place.
Top stitch around the top side of your bag, closing this edge neatly. Make sure that your stitch runs over the strips of fabric holding your bag handles in place. Your Tote Bag is now finished!
OPTIONAL: If you wish to decorate the outside of your bag, we recommend doing this during Step 2 of our tutorial before you insert the dress lining piece into your outer piece. You can use all sorts of items to embellish your bag, such as buttons and acrylic jewels, trims and embroidery thread, or perhaps even fabric paint and markers. A great fabric to use for painting and drawing on is our calico, which we have several different kinds of available both on our website and by phone.
Don't forget to share photos of your creations on our Facebook page!