Lately I’ve been finding myself filling up used plastic grocery bags to carry this and that around. Not exactly the most practical way to transport items, especially heavy ones (yes, experience has told me that one… oops). So to the sewing machine I went and in not much time at all I made an easy-to-carry tote bag, strong and durable, and even washable!
STEP BY STEP TOTE BAG PROJECT
Measure out a 10″ x 18-3/8″ rectangle. Cut it out from pattern or recycled paper. Do the same for an 8″ x 8″ square.
Fold your material as shown. Fold it in half and then fold it across just enough to fit the larger pattern piece.
Pin your pattern to the fabric as shown. Make sure that one short edge and one long edge of your pattern is flush with the folded edges of the fabric. Cut out.
With the other pattern piece, cut out two 8″x8″ pieces of fabric for the pockets.
Zig-zag around the edges of the pocket pieces. Press under 1/4″ along the top of the pocket. Then, turn this edge down 1″ and press as shown below. Stitch this edge down.
Press under 5/8″ on the bottom edge.
Do the zig-zag stitch all the way around the tote bag.
Fold tote bag to make marks for pockets. The creases left by folding the fabric will mark where you need to place the pockets. To do this fold fabric in half lengthwise (i.e. make both short ends meet), then fold across, and then fold down again. Press the fold lines firmly with your hand and then unfold.
I circled where the creases meet. This is where you need to put a pocket. The middle of the pocket needs to be placed right on top of where the two creases meet. To find the middle of the pocket just fold the pocket square in half and then half again. Where the two creases meet on the pocket is the center of the pocket.
Pin pockets in place and stitch twice along the bottom edge. One right along the edge, and then stitch about a presser foot width in from the edge.
Pin your strap in place making sure it overlaps both sides of the pockets and the ends meet on the bottom fold line. (I made my own strap with the same material as the pockets. I show you how I did this later on in this project.)
Stitch down both sides of the strap to within 5 inches of the top edges.
Stitch an X at the top of stitching for reinforcement.
Fold the fabric in half lengthwise, right sides together. Pin both side seams and then stitch 5/8″ from the edge.
Press side seams open.
To finish the top edge, roll the edge over 1/4″ and press. Then…
roll over the edge again 1-1/2″ and press. Pin in place.
Stitch 1/8″ from the top folded edge, and 1/8″ from the bottom folded edge.
With bag still inside out, fold it as shown.
Draw a line 3-1/2″ from where the fabric comes to a point. Do this for both sides.
Then stitch along each line.
Turn the bag right side out and you’re done! If you want, place a piece of cardboard in the bottom of the bag for reinforcement.
To make the strap I had to piece together material because I didn’t have a long enough piece. I cut several 5″ wide strips of fabric that if pieced together would be 99″ long.
To put the strips of fabric together I sewed them at an angle. First, I placed one piece of fabric over the other.
Pinned in place and cut at a diagonal as shown.
I pressed a 1/4″ or so of fabric…
then pinned it to the other piece as shown. I stitched the two pieces together as close to the folded edge as possible. And that’s it!
Then to make the strap fold over each edge toward the middle as shown and press.
Make sure the strip is 2-1/5″ wide as you fold over and press.
Fold over one side of the strip just shy of the opposite edge. Stitch right along this edge and, voila, you made yourself a matching strap!