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Boxed corners give a summer tote a professional look

 

Using multi purpose prints to create an exciting summer tote bag is going to have you at the sewing machine in no time. It’s so exciting to be able to continue on our blogging journey with these fun fabrics by Northcott.   Along with the Urban Elementz Collection, I’m also using the Urban Elementz Basix fabrics. Yesterday, we took a look at how to fussy cut stripes to get borders, and using French seams to hide raw edges. Well, today we’re going to continue to have fun with this fabric collection and make a fun summer tote bag.

In April we made an adorable little artist’s apron and travel case by sewing 2½” strips of exciting dot fabrics. After we completed our projects, we were left with a little panel that I promised we were going to use in another project this month. That little panel is going to be the base of our fun summer tote bag.

There’s one exception that I’m making with this particular project. I usually add a batting or heavy fusible to line my tote bags. But for this bag, I want to create a project that is lightweight; a project that you can easily use during summer, and wash often without any hassle. For this project, we won’t be using a third layer, but we will finish it off nicely with boxed corners for a polished and professional look.

Northcott Urban Elementz BASIX

Northcott Urban Elementz BASIX

Click here to view Northcott’s Urban Elementz BASIX collection.

 

A leftover pieced panel from our April projects featuring stripes of multicolored and patterned fabric. Northcott.
Leftover piece from our April projects

 

To start, I trimmed my striped panel from April, to 5″ x 18″. This panel is the focus of the front of the tote bag.

materials

fabric

  • 5″ x 18″ fussy cut from our stripe print
  • 8½” x 18″ of one of the coordinate prints from the collection
  • two 18″ x 18″ squares for the tote bag lining, and one rectangle 5″ x 30″
  • 2 strips 5″ x 40″ for the tote bag straps

other

  • heavy cardboard or foam core – 4″ x 13″

Note: All seams are ¼” unless otherwise stated.

The first step is to make the front panel. To complete the front of the tote bag, stitch the fussy cut stripe print to the top of the pieced panel from April. Stitch the 8½” x 18″ coordinate print to the bottom of the panel.

This completes an 18″ x 18″ front panel for our tote bag.

 

The fussy cut stripe print is sewn to the top of the pieced panel from April, and the 8½" x 18" coordinate print is added to the bottom. Northcott.
The fussy cut stripe print is sewn to the top of the pieced panel from April, and the 8½” x 18″ coordinate print is added to the bottom.

 

From the four 18″ x 18″ panels, cut a 2″ square from the two bottom corners of each piece. This is going to give our tote bag a wonderful box bottom.

 

A 2" square is cut from each of the bottom corners of the tote bag front, the back, and the two lining pieces. Northcott.
A 2″ square is cut from each of the bottom corners of the tote bag front, the back, and the two lining pieces.

 

Hint: An easy way to mark that 2" square is to simply align the corner of your ruler with the 2" marking aligned on the side and bottom of the fabric, and draw the square. Northcott.
Hint: An easy way to mark that 2″ square is to simply align the corner of your ruler with the 2″ marking aligned on the side and bottom of the fabric, and draw the square.

 

Layer the tote bag front and back right sides together. Sew along both sides and the bottom edges using a ¼” seam allowance. Don’t sew the cut out corner portions. For the lining, layer the pieces right sides together, and stitch along both sides and along the bottom edge leaving a 3″ opening in the center of the bottom. As per the tote bag front and back, don’t sew the cut out corner portions.

Sides and bottom edges are stitched using a ¼" seam allowance. The cut out corners are left unsewn. Northcott.
Sides and bottom edges are stitched using a ¼” seam allowance. The cut out corners are left unsewn.

 

To make the boxed corner, align the side and bottom seams, pin and stitch across the opening with a ¼” seam allowance. Repeat this step with the tote bag lining.

 

The boxed corners are prepared for stitching by aligning the bottom and side seams, and pinning them in place. The opening is then stitched using a ¼" seam allowance. Northcott.
The boxed corners are prepared for stitching by aligning the bottom and side seams, and pinning them in place. The opening is then stitched using a ¼” seam allowance.

 

With the boxed corners stitched, turn the tote bag outside with panels right side out. Leave the lining as is, wrong side out.

 

Bottom of the tote is shown with nice professional looking boxed corners. Northcott.
Doesn’t the boxed corner give the tote a nice professional look?

 

The next step is to make the two straps for our summer tote bag. For the straps, use the two 5″ x 40″ strips. Taking one strip at a time, lay the strip on your ironing surface, wrong side up. Fold the strip in half with the 40″ edges aligned, and press. Open up the strip and fold one of the 40″ raw edges towards the center with the raw edge aligned with the fold mark. Press. Follow the same step for the other 40″ edge. Now fold once again, so that the two folded edges are aligned and press again.

 

The straps are double folded for stability. First the raw edges are folded to the center, then the strip is folded again with the folded edges aligned. Northcott.
The straps are double folded for stability. First the raw edges are folded to the center, then the strip is folded again with the folded edges aligned.

 

Top stitch both of the 40″ sides of each of the straps, using a scant ⅛” seam allowance.

With the straps ready to be added to the tote bag, measure 5½” from the side seam in both directions, on the front and back of the tote bag, and place a pin in those locations. Pin one of the straps to the front of the bag, the other strap to the back. Pin the strap with the raw ends centered on the 5½” markings. Be careful not to twist the strap.

 

The tote bag with straps pinned to the front panel. Straps are also pinned to the back panel of the tote bag. Northcott.
Straps are pinned to both the front and back panels of the tote bag, and pinned in place.

 

With the straps pinned in place, we’re now ready to assemble our tote bag. For this step, simply slide the complete tote bag outside portion with the straps pinned in place, inside of the lining. Align the seams of both sections and pin. Pin around the top, pinning the outside and lining sections together. Where the straps are pinned, remove the original pins and pin through strap and tote bag layers.

 

The lining is pinned to the outside of the tote bag. Northcott.
Outside of the tote bag is securely pinned inside of the lining portion

 

Stitch around the top of the tote bag opening using a ¼” seam allowance.

Turn the tote bag right side out though the opening in the bottom of the lining. After the bag is turned right side out, simply push the lining to the inside of the outer shell of the tote bag, pushing out the boxed corners. Close the opening in the bottom of the lining with a hand or machine stitch. Press the seam around the top of the tote bag, and top stitch all around the top opening though all layers using a ¼” seam allowance.

 

Topstitching around the top of the tote bag. Northcott.
Topstitching around the top of the tote bag

 

The last step is to give our tote bag a nice flat bottom.

To do that, take the 5″ x 30″ piece of lining fabric, fold it in half right sides together with short ends aligned. Draw a 4″ x 14″ rectangle on one of the wrong sides. Stitch the two long ends and one of the short ends, leaving one of the short ends open for turning right side out. After the stitching is complete, trim the rectangle to ¼” outside of the drawn rectangle. Turn right side out and press.

Cut a rectangle 4″ x 13″ from heavy cardboard or foam core, and insert the rectangle inside of the lining bottom pocket. Fold the open edge towards the inside covering the edge of the cardboard or foam core, and whip stitch the opening closed.

Insert the finished bottom support inside the bottom of the tote back, making sure that it lies flat. This gives the tote bag a nice professional flat bottom.

Voila! The SUMMMER TOTE BAG is now complete! Enjoy!

 

The Summer Tote Bag is now on display, on a wall with other quilted wall hangings, at the Studio bringing the promise of sunny times to come. Northcott.
The Summer Tote Bag is now on display at the Studio bringing the promise of sunny times to come.

 

Use this diverse collection of Northcott fabrics  to create a tote of many colors that will brighten up any day. The boxed corners add that special touch that make the tote bag look neat and professional. You may make more than one!

Be sure to check back tomorrow for another fun installment. Until then, happy stitching!

 

This is part 2 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 1: French seams hide raw edges on this fun and colorful pillow case

Go to part 3: Easy borders add pizzazz to a table runner

Quilter/Stitcher, Designer, Teacher, Blogger. With a passion for all that is "stitchy", my goal is to share that passion with you though fun designs, informative and exciting lectures, trunk shows and workshops. Growing up next door to my paternal grandparents, I had the fantastic opportunity of sitting day after day watching my grandmother stitching away on her vintage White machine. She would often give me scraps and encourage me to be creative. Her creative spirit is the one that comes alive in me every day. My designs offer various techniques including regular piecing, foundation piecing, hand and machine applique as well as wool applique; catering to all levels. I create and have fun in my Montreal Studio-Quilt Shop, where I aim to bring you fun designs, exciting fabrics, notions and all kinds of stitching goodies. At Bill Locke Designs, stitching is definitely a passion where my goal is to keep you in stitches by unlocking your creativity and inspire you to stitch.

1 Comment

  1. Mar Richardson

    This is a terrific tutorial Bill. I can see lots of fun totes being made.

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