Thursday, May 19, 2011

Easy Tote Bag Tutorial

I know I didn't invent the tote bag and that most tote bags are probably made very similar.  I'm sorry if this is similar to anyone else's tutorial.  I just wrote up a tutorial for how I made this bag.
 I made this bag for a birthday present for one of my daughter's friends.  I was going to just buy a simple tote bag and fill with goodies but changed my mind and decided to make one instead.  I'm glad I did because it was really very easy.  I used a canvas-y fabric that used to be curtains that I found at D.I. last weekend.   The blue denim at the top and on the pocket were part of the tab at the top of the curtains.

So to make one you need to first decide how big of a tote bag you want.  Small, like for a child to carry toys and a snack in, large, like to carry beach towels and swimming stuff in, or a medium size like this one, that's just right for a first grader to carry their lunch and homework folder in, or any size in between.
I laid out a folder and made the fabric about an inch or 2 bigger on all sides.
So for the bag, you'll need 3 pattern pieces.
1 front/back piece
1 side piece
1 bottom piece
You'll cut 2 front pieces and 2 side pieces and only 1 bottom piece.
To figure out how big to make them, you'll make the side piece the same length as the length (top to bottom) of the front/back piece.  Make it as wide as you want, that's how much space you'll have inside.
This next part is tricky to explain so read slowly and see photos.
Also pay no attention to the drawings on the pattern and hopefully you can read how they are labeled.  The "bottom" piece is that piece at the top.  I know, not very smart of me.
Make the length of the bottom piece, the same width (side to side) as the front/back piece (see photo) .
Make the width of the bottom piece the same width as the side piece.

See in this next photo how the side piece is the same width as the piece that is out of the picture (which is the bottom piece)
  Cut out all the pieces and add a pocket now too, if you want one.  Here's how:
Cut out a square of fabric about a half inch bigger than you want it as a finished piece.  Serge or zig zag  all the edges and then fold in about a quarter inch and sew.   Or fold in a quarter inch and sew and then again another quarter inch or so and sew.  Pin it to the front or back piece and sew it on, as close to the edges of the fabric as possible. 
This next step is for adding a different colored tab at the top.  If you don't want one, just skip this part.

Now for assembling the bag.  Sew a side piece (lengthwise) to a front piece and then another side piece to the opposite side of the same front piece and the sew the back piece onto the side piece.  (See photo below) It will be one long piece.  REMEMBER TO SEW RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER!

Next take the bottom piece and sew it to the front piece. (Right sides together) then sew each side piece to the bottom piece followed by sewing the remaining back piece to the bottom.  ALWAYS RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER.  Then sew the last side piece and back piece together.

Next is the straps.  Make them as long as you'd like.  I cut my fabric 30 inches long and 5 inches wide.  Just pretend this paper is fabric.

Fold each side of the fabric in, to meet in the middle.

Then fold it in half, inward, so that the folds are on on the outside.

Then sew it closed on the folded side.  I also (for looks),  sewed down the opposite side as well.  It makes it look more professional.

Next attach the handles about 1 inch from the side seam,  Pin in place and make sure everything matches up.  Then sew a square and an x in the center of it and there you have it.

I chose to make the stripes on the bottom, going the opposite way.  But you could also match it to the tab on the top, or make it a different color all together.

You can also add a cute tag:)

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