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How to make a tote bag


Hello friends!

I'm so excited that you are here to check this tutorial out! Are you ready to make a tote bag with me?



I made this tote bag using my new foundation paper piecing (FPP) pattern, SPOOLFUL OF LOVE. I wanted to make the FPP block(s) turn into something cute so here it is! The finished size of tote bag is 12" x 12" x 6" and it's quite spacious than you think. 




To make it, you need:





Cutting instructions

  • From FABRIC 1, cut
    • One (1) 16" x WOF, cross cut into:
      • One (1) 16" x 19" - exterior
      • Two (2) 16" x 4 3/4" - D
    • One (1) 10 1/2" x WOF, cross cut into:
      • One (1) 10 1/2" x 7 1/4" - C
      • One (1) 10 1/2" x 4 3/4" - B
      • Two (2) 1" x 5" - A
  • From FABRIC 2, cut
    • Two (2) 4" x 20" - handles
  • From duck canvas, cut
    • Two (2) 16" x 19" - lining
  • From Pellon Fusible fleece 987F, cut
    • Two (2) 17" x 20" or lager if you prefer 
  • From Pellon SF101 Shape Flex Fusible Interfacing, cut
    • Two (2) 4" x 20" 





First, make three (3) 3" x 4 1/2" blocks of SPOOLFUL OF LOVE. I picked the colors from my solid scrap bin. It was joy to see these scraps came to life again! For the block background, use the remaining fabric for the exterior.

NOTE: The pattern does not include instructions nor teach you how to paper piece. You need the basic knowledge of foundation paper piecing. But I have a quick video "Foundation paper piecing for the beginners" I shared on Instagram. I hope it helps you to get started!



Make the front exterior of a tote bag

 (NOTE: Use 1/4" seam allowance to sew in the process here.)

  1. Piece three FPP blocks and two Rectangles A as shown in the diagram above. Press seams toward A.
  2. Piece Rectangle B to the top and C to the bottom of the unit from Step 1. Press seams toward B and C.
  3. Piece each Rectangle D to both the right and left sides of the unit from Step 2. Press seams toward D. Unfinished size is 16" x 19".



Piece the exterior and lining pieces

Gather the exterior fabric pieces and two pieces of Pellon Fusible fleece 987F. Follow the general directions for the fusible fleece, fuse the exterior piece and fleece. Then quilt as desired. Repeat the steps with other exterior piece.





Mark 3" square on each bottom corner of both the exterior pieces and stitch 1/8" away from the marked line as shown.




Cut on the marked line.



Gather both exterior pieces. Right sides together (RST), sew both sides and bottom of the exterior pieces with 1/2" seam allowance. Backstitch at the beginning and ending to secure. Press seams open.



Take one bottom corner and align the seams of the side and bottom with RST. Sew with 1/2" seam allowance and backstitch at the beginning and ending to secure. Turn the right side of the exterior out.

You can also check my Instagram reel for this process HERE.

NOTE: In the reel, I mentioned as "topstitch at the beginning and ending to secure" but it was a mistake. It's BACKSTITCH.




Repeat the steps with the lining except you have to leave about 6" open on the bottom (green line in above photo) and do not turn the right side of the lining out.




Make the handles

Gather the pieces for the handles and Pellon SF101 Shape Flex Fusible Interfacing. Follow the general directions for the fusible Interfacing SF 101, fuse the handle pieces and interfacing.


Fold in half the piece and press. Open the piece and fold the edge toward to center line and press. 



Then fold the piece in half again as shown in the photo above and clip to hold. Topstitch and sew along both edges 1/8" away from the edge.



Repeat the steps with other handle.

Instead of using one color of fabric, I decided to play with these and used two colors!




Mark the center point on the front exterior and place the handles 2 1/2" away from the mark. 



Attach the handle to the exterior and sew 1/8" away from the edge as shown in the photo above. I recommend to sew a few time to secure. Repeat the steps with the other handle.



 Gather the exterior piece with the handles and lining piece.



Insert the exterior piece into the lining piece. Make sure to put the handles in the lining piece too. Align the seams of the exterior and lining piece and use clips or pins to hold. Then put the clips or pins all around the edge to hold the exterior and lining pieces together. Sew around the edge with 1/4" seam allowance. Take the exterior piece from the bottom opening part of the lining piece out!

I have fun Instagram reel for this process HERE.





Place the lining piece inside and use the clips to hold the top edge of the bag as shown.



 Topstitch 1/4" away from the edge.




We are almost done! Take the bottom of lining piece out and sew the opening part, then put the lining piece back to the inside and push the bottom corners.



 We did it! Here is the finished tote bag!



The back side of the bag.



I hope you enjoy this tutorial. :)


Happy quilting / sewing!

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