This tote is the perfect size as a grab and go bag. It is big enough to hold all your essentials, yet small enough for a quick trip to the market. Not only is it super easy to make and you can sew it in under an hour, but it is reversible!
I love sewing this bag and have made it so many times that I can now do it in my sleep. I’ve given it to many family members and friends. My husband uses it as a baby bag, my Mom carries her iPad in it and my Mother-In-Law holds her knitting projects in it.. I travel with it – fold it up and put it in the front pocket of my suitcase. There are so many uses, right?
I’ve been hoarding and waiting for the perfect time to tear open my April Rhode’s “Arizona” fat quarter bundle from The Fat Quarter Shop. I knew the modern, geometric designs would bring the simplicity of the bag to life. Her pattern literally vibrates and pops off the fabric. I had to check a few times to make sure my pictures weren’t out of focus!!
This is a very basic tote bag project and utilizes 1″ poly webbing wrapped around the raw edges of the bag. You sew a piece to the center front and center back and then sew one continuous piece that becomes the 2 straps.
- Fabric – 2 colors, 1/2 yard each or 2 fat quarters for the outside/same color/pattern and 2 fat quarters for the lining/same color/pattern
- Interfacing – I like using Pellon SF101
- 1″ Poly webbing – 3 yards. Check out Seattle Fabrics for colors and widths
- Disappearing fabric pen
- Sewing supplies – thread, pins, scissors
- Iron and ironing board
Let’s get sewing:
- Iron the interfacing to the wrong side of your fabric. Both main and lining. Place and pin pattern on the fabric. Cut out 2 main and 2 lining pieces.
- Place main pieces on top of each other, right sides facing. Pin. Place into sewing machine and stitch side seams and bottom together with a 1/2″ seam allowance. Repeat for lining pieces.Press seams. Open seams and press again.
- Create boxed corners at all 4 corners. Wiggle bottom to meat side seam. Sit seams directly on top of one another. Place quilting ruler on top and line up at the 45 degree mark and 1″ up from point. Mark a line with the disappearing fabric ink pen. Repeat for each corner. Place into sewing machine and stitch following the line.
- Cut off the tip. Leave a 1/2″ seam allowance. Want to learn more? Check out my quick tip tutorial on sewing boxed corners.
- Turn main bag right side facing out. Leave lining right side facing in. Place the lining into the main bag and wiggle corners into place. Pin along top edge.
- Lay bag flat on working surface. Hand press wrinkles out. Measure along front along front curve and add 1″ to each side. Cut webbing to the length of the front curve. Cut 2 pieces [ one for back and one for front]
- Cover center front raw edge with the webbing. Pin and place into sewing machine. Edgestitch webbing along the center front. Backstitch. Repeat for center back. Trim the ends off.
- Create the continuous strap – start at one side seam and cover the raw edge with webbing. Pin in place. Continue up the side seam towards the front top edge curve. Pin to hold in place. Leave 16″ of webbing free and then pin the webbing in place at the other side, top front edge. Pin. Continue around side seam [ covering raw edges] and repeat for the back. Place into your sewing machine and edgestitch along the webbing. Stitch in one continuos loop, including along the 16″ strap. Backstitch at the end. Note: Use a lighter over the webbing ends if it is fraying.
A couple of comments:
- Take caution to not twist the webbing when sewing the straps. You don’t want to sew the webbing in place, only to find that it is twisted around. While you are wrapping the raw edges, make sure it lays nice and flat.
- Are the ends of your webbing frayed and gross? Use a lighter and gently melt the ends of the webbing. Just a tad. This technique is perfect for anywhere the webbing is not enclosed or under another seam. Works like a charm.
- You can determine your own strap length. Each strap in this tutorial is 16″ long. Change the strap length to suit your armhole. However, remember to cut enough at the beginning and before you attach to your bag.
I love this bag so much that I named it the “Jolly” bag a few years ago. It brings back fond memories. I’ve used my pattern a gazillion times and love sewing this bag as a simple gift.
The pattern is available as a free download in my online store.
This post was brought to you in collaboration with The Fat Quarter Shop. They provided me with the fabric to create this handbag. I appreciate the support that allows me to create new and unique content for my blog. The print you see above is called “Tomahawk Stripe” and is from Art Gallery Fabrics and their Arizona collection.
Want to see other tote bag tutorials? Click here for my Asymmetrical Color Block Tote.