Making a tote for your quilting tools.

The Northcott ColorWorks Concepts fabrics arrived this morning so I started to think of ways to use them in a project. Late last night when I couldn’t sleep I came up with a few ideas…a table runner…a tote bag…an apron…a lap quilt. But I wanted to make something that I actually needed. Then when I was looking at my cutting table, it hit me. I need a bag big enough to carry my cutting mat when I go to quilting classes and retreats. Do you also need a great way to get organized for your next retreat? Then making a tote for your quilting tools is the solution.

Now…how to make it?

The first thing I did was to gather all the supplies I like to take along to quilting retreats. A cutting board, rotary cutter, rulers and other small tools. This gave me an idea of what size the bag and pockets would need to be. My cutting board measures 24″ x 18″ so my bag is going to measure 26″ wide x 20″ tall.

Essential tools I take to a retreat

I’ve made large tote bags before, but one of the things I don’t like about them is that everything gets lost at the bottom of the bag or lost in the pockets. I recently made some tote bags with vinyl pockets on the outside and I love how you can see everything in them, so I’ll want to add some clear vinyl pockets to my bag. I also want to make sure that the cutting board stays flat when it’s in the bag. An idea is starting to come together…

But to make this bag, I’m going to use some notions I usually don’t use in my quilting; things like hook and loop tape, heavy fusible interfacing, woven strapping, clear vinyl and rectangular strap rings.

Hook and loop tape, heavy fusible interfacing, woven strapping, clear vinyl and rectangular strap rings.

How to cut the fabric?

My stack of ColorWorks Concepts fabrics looks SO inviting! I can’t wait to cut into it, but what am I going to do with it?

My stack of ColorWorks Concept fabrics

To decide which layout to use and which fabrics to use for each block, I find it helpful, and playful, to lay the fabrics out on my cutting board and previewing what of the fabrics look like beside each other and how they ‘interact’ together. I fold the fabrics into long borders, squares or triangles and lay them out to see what I like best.

Different ways to preview fabrics

Supply List

If you would like to follow along to make your own retreat bag, here’s a list of supplies you’ll need:

  • 1 panel ColorWorks Concepts # 20813-99 (New York Beauty)
  • 30″ ColorWorks Concepts # 20792-99 (flying geese)
  • 1yd ColorWorks # 9000-640 (teal)
  • 1yd ColorWorks Concepts # 20804-44 (rainbow diamonds)
  • 1yd ColorWorks Concepts # 20826-98 (black print)
  • 4″ ColorWorks # 9000-71 (lime green)
  • 60″ fusible heavyweight interfacing such as Fast 2 Fuse
  • 28″ x 28″ piece of medium weight clear vinyl
  • 1 – 15″ long zipper
  • 60″ of 1″ woven black strapping
  • 4 – 1″ rectangular rings

Cutting the fabrics

I’m certain I want to use squares from the New York Beauty panel as the center of the design on both sides of the bag, so I’m going to fussy cut two sections of 9 squares allowing for a ¼” seam on all sides. Each of my squares turned out 14⅝” square.

The center section of the front of the bag

I want to use the flying geese fabric to make borders, so I’m going to cut one strip 20″ x WOF and then I’ll cut down the center of each striped section to make four strips that are 3⅝” x 20″.

Cutting the flying geese fabric into strips

For the rest of the fabrics cut as follows:

  • Teal – Cut one strip 1½” x WOF (width of fabric). From this cut two 1½” x 15½” strips
  • Cut one rectangle 38½” x 25½”
  • Rainbow diamonds – Cut one strip 7″ x WOF. From this cut two 7″ x 14″ rectangles.
  • Cut one rectangle 32″ x 25½”.
  • Cut three strips 2½” x WOF. From these cut three 2½” x 15″ strips and two 2½” x 14½” strips
  • Black print – Cut six strips 1½” x WOF. From these cut four strips 1½” x 15½” strips and eight strips 1¼” x 20″
  • Cut one strip 2″ x WOF. From this cut two strips 2″ x 15½”
  • Cut two strips 3″ x WOF. Set these aside for the binding.
  • Cut one strip 2½” x WOF. From this cut one 2½” x 25½” strip and one 2½” x 14½” strip
  • Lime green – Cut four strips 1″ x WOF. From these cut four strips 1″ x 14 ⅝” and four strips 1″ x 15½”
  • Fusible heavyweight interfacing – cut two pieces 26″ x 20″
  • Vinyl – cut one piece 14″ x 25½” and one piece 12″ x 15″

We’re on our way!

Now that we have the fabrics cut, tomorrow we start to sew. I can’t wait to see it come together and making a tote for your quilting tools is a great way to get organized for your next quilting retreat!

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Sarah C March 5, 2017 - 5:51 pm
Love the bright colors against the black and I definitely need one of these totes so thank you for the tutorial
Jeanette Pilson December 10, 2015 - 9:26 am
Neat colors and idea!
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