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10 super-useful, time-saving notions for quick and easy bag-making

by Michael Smith

Like many quilters, I got turned-on to making tote bags a while back and just can’t stop. These useful, environmentally friendly totes come in handy, especially since I always seem to acquire more goodies in my travels. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

4 versions of The Everyday Tote pattern by Elaine Theriault for Northcott

Join me over the next 5 days as I’ll share with you 10 super-useful, time-saving products and notions for quick and easy bag-making, plus a few little tips and tricks along the way.

There are many great patterns on the market, but my favorite is The Everyday Tote by Elaine Theriault for Northcott.

The Everyday Tote pattern by Elaine Theriault for Northcott – one of the many FREE patterns on the Northcott website and my favorite tote bag pattern!

Many of you may already be familiar with Elaine’s work as she’s a regular contributor to and A Needle Pulling Thread magazine. Her article, 7 Tips for Accurate Seams is a great tutorial for those especially new to piecing a quilt or in need of a refresher.

Elaine’s instructions for The Everyday Tote are super-easy to follow and the tote itself is a great beginner project.

You won’t need much fabric; a couple of fat quarters. Chances are you already have some on hand, or, how about visiting your local quilt shop to pick up some beautiful new fabrics from the Banyan Classics Collection by Banyan Batiks? I designed a simple Rail Fence quilt and wrote about the stunning new Banyan Classics Collection by Banyan Batiks the week of February 18, 2019 here on QUILTsocial.

One reason I love this pattern is that it’s a perfect blank canvas for you to unleash your creativity and build upon its simplicity. The first Everyday Tote I made was exactly as the pattern was written, but, for the next tote I made, I added a little accent band of fabric to the body of bag to brighten things up.

Orange accent band of fabric was added to brighten up the greige fabric used for the body of the tote bag

This was especially easy to do while each piece of the bag body was flat; before the side seams were sewn. After I pressed each long edge of the strip of fabric to the center, I used one of my favorite products, HeatNBond Quilter’s Edge iron-on adhesive, to position the strip exactly where I wanted it on the body of the bag.

Use HeatnBond Quilter’s Edge iron-on adhesive to position fabrics, trims, etc., quickly and easily without using pins.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the back of the package, but basically, you press the HeatnBond Quilter’s Edge iron-on adhesive to the wrong side of your fabric, let it COOL, then remove the paper backing and position, in this case, onto the main body of the tote bag. Press and now you’re ready to stitch. So fast and easy!

The hardest part is waiting those extra few seconds for the fabric to COOL before peeling off the paper backing of the HeatnBond Quilter’s Edge iron-on adhesive

I try to avoid using pins whenever I can as they can distort and shift the fabric and I also don’t like having to stop sewing to take them out. I won’t even discuss the possibility of sewing over pins because I learned the hard way, many years ago, why it’s important not to. Turns out my high school sewing teacher was right! Lol!

HeatnBond Quilter’s Edge comes in many sizes and strength of adhesives so if your local quilt shop doesn’t have the size or type you’re looking for, they can likely order it in for you. It’s such a time-saver, and it won’t gum up the sewing machine needle, either. I use it to position the tote bag handles, pocket pieces; anything I want to hold securely into position before sewing.

TIP After opening the package, make a slit in the plastic blister pack through which you’ll feed the tape. Basically, you’re making your own tape dispenser. Reel off as much as you need, then tear or cut leaving a small tail of tape through the slit. Hang it up on a peg board, or hook near your machine or cutting table so it’s ready to use next time.

Make a tiny slit in the blister pack to feed the roll of HeatnBond Quilter’s Edge through to keep it neat and ready to use

Fusibles save so much time and make things easier. A new discovery for me is Clover Wrap N Fuse piping.

Use Clover Wrap N Fuse to make piping quickly and easily

Clover Wrap N Fuse cording is encased in fusible web so piping is created quickly and easily by pressing with an iron, rather than sewing at the sewing machine

It’s the coolest thing! The name says it all. Simply wrap your fabric over the Clover Wrap N Fuse piping then press with your iron running along the cord. I’d say it’s SEW simple, but you’re not sewing at all! Isn’t that amazing?!

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to press the iron up against the Clover Wrap N Fuse cording – a real time-saver to use the iron to make piping instead of the sewing machine!

Clover Wrap N Fuse piping adds a distinctive designer touch to tote bags – and Home Dec projects!

On the tote bag pictured below, I inserted the contrast piping the traditional way; stitched fabric around cording then inserted between layers and stitched, but, for my next tote bag, or Home Dec project, I’ll try this Clover Wrap and Fuse piping method instead. Such a time-saver and fantastic designer touch!

Piping detail inserted between the contrasting band and the main body of The Everyday Tote – though it was not included in the pattern, it’s an easy detail to add

Join me tomorrow for Part 2 of 10 super-useful, time-saving products and notions for quick and easy bag-making.

This is part 1 of 5 in this series.

Go to part 2: Part 2 – 10 super-useful, time-saving notions for quick and easy bag-making

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