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 the third layer, but we will finish it off nicely with boxed corners for a polished and professional look.
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.
- 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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
With the boxed corners stitched, turn the tote bag outside with panels right side out. Leave the lining as is, wrong side out.
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.
Topstitch 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.
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.
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.
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 SUMMER TOTE BAG is now complete! Enjoy!
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 makes 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