Sunday, October 10, 2010

How to make a tote bag

I don't know about you....but I really enjoy tote bags. :)  They come in every shape and size.  You can use them at the Farmer's Market, Mall, Grocery Store...and really everywhere!   I used to have some I really liked--mostly because they were pretty.  They actually had some of the most uncomfortable straps ever.  And then, my reusable bags aren't the prettiest things in the world...but they are comfortable to carry.

So, I decided to make one (and hopefully will turn into some) for myself.  Here's the how to...but I'm going to be honest with the fact that I'm not ever sure how to go about writing it to make sense to you.  So, feel free to ask questions! :)  Also, Apple Pie Gal just recently did a tutorial on purses that would probably be helpful for you!  :)

Oh, and I just got the greatest deal on the fabric I used for this naturally I have to share that with you!  when I was at Target last week, I noticed they had some clearance items on an end cap of one of the bedding aisles.  Sometimes their "Clearance" can mean just 15 or 30% off.  But this time, it was a whopping 75% off!  So, I picked up a set of twin sheets for only $3.48!  And they are adorable!  And, I am using them to make things like totes! :)

On to the tutorial eh?  :)

Start out with some fabric.  More specifically make two rectangles that are the same size.  Each one of these is roughly the size I wanted my finished product to be, when folded in half.
 Now if you'd like a pocket on the inside cut a long rectangle out of fabric.
 Then fold that pocket fabric in half like so.
 Then sew around the pocket fabric so it has finished edges like sew.  ;)
 Now, take one of the large rectangles of fabric and pin your pocket into place.  Make sure that the pretty side of the fabric is facing up on both the pocket and the large rectangle.
 Sew the sides and bottom of the pocket, to make the actual pocket.  You can also make stitches through the pocket to hold pens, phones, etc....  I did make one for a pen.  You'll see in a minute. 
 Backside of the pocket that I just sewed on the beginnings of the bag.
 My pen slot on my pocket!
 Alright, this is when you are going to sew the bag together.  First off, I for some reason didn't get pictures of this whole part of the process....and for that I'm sorry!  But, I think I can explain it ok.  

Lay out your large rectangles on the table with the pretty sides facing each other.  Then pick it up in the middle and fold them in half, together.  So you'll have 4 layers of fabric that you will sew together, and you see the non pretty side.  Like above pic.
Pin those into place so they don't move while sewing them together.  Then sew around the sides and bottom, and be sure to not sew the top closed!  :)  You can double stitch the sides and bottom, I did just to make sure it will last a long time!  :)  

Then once you have sewn the bag together turn it right side out.  This part will be confusing at first, but fear not, you'll get it!  Just turn it until the pretty sides of the fabric are on the outside and inside.  Oh, and make sure the pocket is on the inside...unless you want it on the outside! :)  
 So the outside should look like this at this point.
 And the inside should look like this.

Then....I apparently didn't get photos of the next step either. :(  You'll have raw edges at the top of the bag, so we'll turn those in and top stitch them, where we'll also attach the strap.  For now, fold the edges in about 1/2" at the top and pin into place.  Then get the strap ready before top stitching...

Strap:  Figure out how long you'd like it.  I wanted my long enough to be able to cross my body, so I just held it up until it was the right length for me.  Be sure to cut the fabric wide enough so you can have a few layers.  (To better distribute me on this one!)  Then once you have your fabric cut out, fold it until it is your desired width with all raw edges hidden.  Then top stitch it so it looks like the strap below.
 Once the strap is all sewn together you can start top stitching the top of the bag to finish it and attach the strap!  Just go around the bag, and insert the straps where you'd like.  I did then just next to the side seems so it will cross easily.
 Once you are done top stitching you are almost all done!  Good work!  All you have to do is add a few finishing touches--some of which are optional!  :)  One that isn't optional though is reinforcing the strap attachments.  You can sew something like above to reinforce the straps...notice now I didn't use contrasting thread for this step.  You can do whatever floats your boat though!  :)
Then some other things you can add are:  closures like a button, some velcro, snaps, etc... 

But if you'd just like to stick with simple, you're done with your tote!  That's where I stopped with this one...I will probably get more adventurous with the next one though!  :)  I can't wait to go somewhere just to use it!

Hey, if you want to check out the bag in use see this page.

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