I still consider myself a beginning level sewer… maybe moving towards intermediate, certainly not advanced. I appreciate quick projects that aren’t too involved. I like projects that can be made in a couple of hours, in their basic form, but can be embellished and personalized if you have the extra time.
One of these projects is a simple tote bag. This is such an uncomplicated sewing project, but the finished product can be whatever you want it to be. I made this one as a gift for one of Luke’s little friends from preschool, adding some appliqued flowers and a little bit of embroidery (done after these photos were taken). We filled it with a book and a homemade card… perfect!
Here are the instructions for making the bag. Have fun with it!
2 pieces of fabric 12″x 15″ (a heavier fabric works best)
one piece of fabric 3-4″ wide and 24″ long, for the strap
(All seams are 1/2″)
To make the body of the bag, place right sides together and sew the sides and the bottom of the bag together. I like to serge or zig zag the seams to finish them. It adds some durability and strength.
Mitered corners will give the tote bag a bit of depth and allow books to stack inside of the bag. To miter the corners, you match the bottom seam to the side seam and sew across, making a little triangle. I sewed about 1-1.5 inches from the point. Cut off the extra fabric and finish the edge by serging or using a zig zag stitch.
Here’s what it looks like right side out… isn’t that nice?
Now for the strap. Fold the strap long ways and sew a 1/4″ seam. Turn the strap right side out and press it smooth. Topstitch along the long edges.
Time to attach the strap to the bag. With the bag turned inside out, fold the top edge down 1/2 inch and press. Fold down again and press again.
Take one end of your strap and tuck it under the top fold, lining it up with the side seam.
Repeat on with the other end of the strap on the other side and pin around the top of the bag.
Edge stitch all around the bag.
Let’s secure the strap by stitching it to the top edge of the bag. Lay the strap up and against the side seam of the bag and stitch a box with an “x” in it, making sure to lift your presser foot and pivot at the corners of the box. Repeat on the other side.
Have fun with fabrics and embellishments! You can do whatever you want with this bag. If you want to make it for an adult, just increase the size of the pieces proportionally. This is such a rewarding and fun project. Use it to carry toys, books, groceries, whatever!
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Jenny is a wife and mother first and foremost. You can find her here at The Southern Institute, as the founder and owner of the blog, as well as at unboundbirth.com. She enjoys blogging and sewing, cooking for her three picky eaters, and playing tennis with her husband, Tom.