Monday, 9 August 2010

Tote Bag Tutorial

I am simply rubbish at design and a bit slap-dash about quilting and cutting out but have decided to make a big and roomy simply quilted (ie rustic) tote bag for books and ... a tutorial to go with it. I shall probably regret this but here goes anyway... I have some lovely left over Lila Tueller fabric called Santorini and also a sizeable chunk of Robert Kaufman Basic Spots. They go well together and would, I think, make a pretty tote bag. This tutorial is basically 'make it up as you go along' or 'off the back of a fag packet design' ... (although I do not smoke!!!)

Cut some pretty squares - mine are five inches square.
Cut nine for each side of the bag = eighteen in total
Lay them out in a colourful eye candy design

One Side Of The Tote
Second Side Of Tote
Sew Into Strips Of Three
Second Side In Strips Of Three
Now Sew Strips Together For Each Side
Make Sure All Seams Face Same Way
Sides Are Now  Quilted Onto Wadding
Now quilt the side panels onto some wadding. I have made my wadding approximately four inches wider than the panels - more about this later. I have used a simple 'stitch in the ditch' for a quilting design (I am lazy) but it is possible to do any elaborate design at this point that you choose.

Lazy Stitch In The Ditch
Some Added Strips - Or Frame
Now to add some strips. Mine are two and a half inches wide. They are to frame the patchwork and make the sides and bottom of the bag. The three centre strips will become the bottom of the bag ... I have reinforced these with some simple top quilting strips to give added strength to the base. Also note that the centre strips are longer - this is to give the corners of the finished bag a bit more support. The side strips will become the sides of the bag and the additional four inches of wadding is to accommodate their width..

Reinforced Area To Become Bag Corner
Reinforced Centre Section To Become Bag Bottom
You Have Now Completed The Body Of The Bag
Now for the handles, lining and binding. For the handles you need two pieces of fabric roughly twenty-two inches by four inches and two strips of wadding of twenty-two inches by one and a half  inches. You can now make a tube with these lengths, enclosing the wadding inside to give some softness to the handles. I have added a little fancy stitch to the handles for added strength and decoration.

Now make a similar tube for the bag. We are going to put the padded bag front facing up and the lining of the same size facing down and sew both long sides together and leave the shorter ends (ie the top of the bag) open at each end. Turn the bag now so that the bag faces and the lining are both outside.

Red Lining Facing Patchwork
Turn Tube Right Way
You now have the body of the bag, which is fully lined. Now french seam down both sides of the bag (I used this method to give a good strong seam to the sides) and tidy the top to make it perfectly level. Now to attach the handles to each of the open ends. This will be attached at the same time as the binding/top inner lining. This is a strip of four inches wide and the circumference of the bag top, plus one inch. It need not be cut on the bias.

Handles And Binding
The Handles Attached
Handles Attached And  Binding In Place

Now to top stitch the outside of the bag. I decided to do two rows of zig zag stitch .... and it was at this point that disaster struck!!!! My sewing machine had a nervous breakdown and got itself into such a frenzy that it tied itself in knots....the mess was unbelievable and it was almost impossible to right the damage.  So ...

Strip To Hide Knotted Cottons

At this point I have added a pretty strip to hide the mess of cotton, which was almost impossible to remove. The lining at the top inside the bag is also a real mess and needs to be salvaged - perhaps with a hand-sewn strip or ribbon of approximately one inch depth - definitely no photos of this until it is rescued!

Work In Progress
Work Still In Progress
The bag now is ready for personal touches (cannot deal with the main body of the bag until machine fixed) - I am in the process of adding notions, buttons, flowers, strips and other personal things to give it a bit of individuality. The interior and top stitching is a real mess - but I shall continue working on this (perhaps more binding at the top when the machine recovers from its breakdown) and will post a pic when it is rescued.  The lining  is a pretty red dotted fabric, again by Robert Kaufman.

I bet people NEVER post their disasters - and this is a real mess ... so do come back tomorrow and see how it has all been resolved (new top, new handles, new stitching, new lining ... MAYBE NEW BAG?)

It is a truly big tote and measures approximately 15 inches wide and 18 inches deep - it will take masses of books along to my book club!! Yippee!!

Now to go and nurse the very poorly sewing machine and try to find out exactly what went wrong and hope that it can be resolved by tomorrow.

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you like anything you see do leave me a message to let me know.