I’ll be working on a project tote bag for the remainder of the week. The measurements I’ll provide today will make a 15” square bag, but you can change the dimensions to make any size you wish! Before you know it, you’ll have bags for all your supplies and projects. Remember, you can personalize these bags with novelty fabric, use embroidery by hand or machine, or decorate them with decorative stitches, as I’ve done. The sky is the limit for personalizing your project tote bag.
tools and materials
- Presser Foot A or B
- Zipper Foot E
- Non-Stick Glide Foot H
- Edge/Quilt Guide
- Interchangeable Dual Feed Foot (Optional Accessory) for binding
Since I’m using quilting-weight cotton, a size 12 or 14 needle will work for the piecing, topstitching, and decorative stitches (quilting).
- Universal or Microtex for piecing
- Topstitch for topstitching
- Twin needle for decorative stitches (quilting). There are various widths – I chose a 4.0 mm needle.
I’m using 50-weight thread for the piecing, decorative stitching (quilting), and topstitching. I used a neutral thread for the construction, but you could use one of these threads to construct your project.
- Matching thread for topstitching and construction
- Contrast thread for the decorative stitching (quilting)
I used a Chaco Liner (white) to mark the quilting lines on the back of the tote bag. The Chaco Liner is my FAVORITE marking tool, and I mostly use white. The chalk will virtually disappear by the end of the stitching. I marked a diamond pattern using the 30-degree line on the 24” ruler ruler. I only made ONE line, and you’ll see why when I start stitching.
To give the project tote bag a bit of stability, I’ll add some fusible fleece to the back of the bag, and then I’ll quilt it. I like fusible fleece because it’s thin yet sturdy and fusible on one side, making it super easy to work with. I’m economical and join the smaller bits as needed to make larger pieces. As the fusible fleece will be on the inside, no one will be the wiser! I’ll share how I join them later.
- 16½” square of fusible fleece
Décor Bond (interfacing)
The front of the project tote bag will also need stability, mainly because there’s a zipper, and I prefer my bag pieces to be stable. There’s nothing worse than a bag part with no interlining! Décor Bond is heavy interfacing and fusible on one side, and it’ll easily withstand opening and closing that zipper!
Cut the following pieces:
- 2½” x 15½” (top of zipper flap)
- 2” x 15½” (bottom of zipper flap)
- 5” x 15½” (bottom front)
I have amassed many zippers, so searching for the right length and color is fun! I’m using an 18” [45cm] closed-end zipper for this project. Here’s a tip about zippers: instead of struggling to find the correct length for your project, buy longer-than-needed zippers. You can make a zipper shorter but you can’t make it longer!
The front of the project tote bag will have a transparent vinyl window. There are different gauges of vinyl, and you want something reasonably stiff but not overly heavy. A 10 or 12-gauge vinyl will work best. You‘ll find vinyl by the yard, where you purchase yardage for tablecloth fabric.
Tips for working with vinyl:
- Try to keep the paper backing attached to the vinyl. It helps to keep the vinyl flat, and it helps to see when cutting!
- You’ll need to press the vinyl (I pressed it to remove the wrinkles) and the seams. I used a cotton setting (no steam) and a press cloth. Pressing will make the vinyl very soft and pliable. Let it cool before using it. DO NOT overheat!
Cut the vinyl:
- one piece 9” x 15½”
Choose from various novelty print fabrics or colors to match personalities, or decorate the back and front of your project bag with embroidery or decorative stitches. I also like to quilt the back since I’m using fusible fleece, and I’ll quilt it with decorative stitches. You may want to put a fun novelty print that shows through the vinyl, but remember, you’ll be putting something IN the bag, so whatever you have inside won’t show through! Mix and match your fabrics if you don’t have enough of one!
cut the following pieces
- Two (2) squares of fabric at 16½” square (for the inside and outside of the back)
- Two (2) rectangles at 2½” x 15½” (top zipper tab)
- One (1) rectangle at 4” x 15½” (bottom zipper tab)
- One (1) rectangle at 10” x 15½” (bottom front)
- Two (2) strips at 2½” wide for the binding
prepping the pieces
Now that we have assembled everything, it’s time to prep the pieces.
Fusible fleece – if you’re using one piece, you’re good. If you remember, I’m using several pieces and will join them. It’s super easy with a wide zigzag stitch.
- Cut a straight edge along the two pieces you are about to join.
The trimming ensures the pieces lie flat after you’ve stitched them together. Otherwise, they will ripple and buckle and will be harder to manipulate.
2. Set up the ONYX 25 for a wide zigzag stitch and a neutral piecing thread. I used Presser Foot A and a stitch width of 6mm. Hold the two pieces together as you do a zigzag, keeping the seam in the center of the presser foot.
3. Continue to trim and join pieces until your piece of fusible fleece is large enough. Depending on the number of pieces, this will not take long, and you have recycled some bits of fleece!
Don’t worry about the wrinkles; they will disappear when you fuse them onto the fabric.
Remember – it’s fusible, you can’t iron the wrinkles out!
fusing the fusible fleece and the Décor Bond onto the fabric
This next job will be easy if you have a Singer Steam Press. I love my Singer Steam Press, and it takes a mere 10 seconds per side to ensure that everything is well adhered to.
I lay the fabric on the pressing base with the wrong side up. Then, with the fusible side down, align the interfacing. Close the lid and wait for the beep. You can use steam or not – be sure to check with the products you are using. It does MAKE a difference. Then, I flip the piece over and give it another press. It takes seconds to do each piece, and the fusible products are WELL adhered. Gone are the days when I do this with a traditional iron!
4. Fuse the 16½” square of fusible fleece to the wrong side of ONE of the 16½” fabric squares.
5. Fuse the 5” x 15½” rectangle of interfacing to the wrong side of the 10” x 15½” rectangle of fabric, lining up the long raw edges so that half of the fabric is covered.
6. Fuse the 2” x 15½” rectangle of interfacing to the wrong side of the 4” x 15½” rectangle of fabric, lining up the long raw edges so that half of the fabric is covered.
7. Fuse the 2½” x 15½” rectangle of interfacing to the wrong side of the 2½” x 15½” rectangle of fabric. This piece will completely cover the fabric.
I also joined the two strips of fabric for the binding on the diagonal and pressed it, ready to finish the project later this week. If you need a refresher on how to make and attach binding, check out my Binding a Quilt blog post.
Ok – that’s all the prep work we need to do today.
Tomorrow, we’ll assemble the front of the project tote bag using the Husqvarna VIKING ONXY 25. I can’t wait!!!!
Have a super day!!