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Discussion Starter #1
Tote Bag Tutorial

Pattern Materials


<DIR>Pattern fabric or paper (optional)

Ruler

Pen or pencil

2/3 yard of fabric (24 inches) I am using upholstery fabric that I had on hand.

Scissors

Matching thread

Iron and ironing board

2 - 20” pieces of 1” wide webbing (optional) http://www.joann.com/catalog.jhtml?CATID=61093&PRODID=60094</DIR>


I'm sorry I didn't suggest fabrics for you all, thank you for pointing it out to me CJ and thanks Denise for the suggestions.

You can use any of the following to make your tote bag:

100% Cotton, Corduroy, Denim, Cotton Twill, Upolstry, Canvas, Home Dec fabrics or Nylon. I wouldn't use a knit fabric, these tend to stretch too much.
 

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I chose to make pattern pieces because I plan on making a tote again. I only want to do this once instead of each time I make a tote. You can measure and mark on the wrong side of your fabric if you chose to. These measurements I am giving you will make a 14” x 14” tote. Plenty of room to carry your knitting, crocheting, portable craft or even a plastic bag from the grocery store.

To make your pattern pieces. Measure out 15 ¼” wide by 16 ¼” long . In this tutorial I am using 5/8” seam allowances. To use ½” seam allowances you will cut your piece 15” wide by 16” long. This is for the body of the tote bag.

After you cut out your pattern piece, you will need to add a grain line. Take the straight edge of your ruler and line it up with one of the side edges and draw a line. Add an arrow at each end of the line.

I added notches on both sides, top and bottom of mine. This is because I may want to use this pattern again and if I use a fabric with stripes or plaid, I will need these for matching up. To do this, measure down from the top _____ “ (I used 8”) you can use any measurement you want, but you must use the same measurement on both sides. On top of your measurement mark make a notch ( ^ ). Now do the same on the other side.

Do the same to the top and bottom, but this time make them double notches ( ^^ ).

Mark your pattern pieces with the following information.
<DIR>Tote Bag

____” Seam Allowance (insert what you are going to use for a seam allowance here)

Cut 2

14” x 14” Finished Size

Date made (optional)

Mark the Top and Bottom if you like, but you can tell by your grain line too. </DIR>
 

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Discussion Starter #3
To make the pattern pieces for the straps, measure and mark 2” wide by 20” long. I made 2 of them, this saves me from cutting one set of straps out, unpinning from the fabric and doing it again for the second set. I can pin and cut out both sets at the same time.

Add a grain line the length of the strap. Mark your pattern pieces with the following information.
<DIR>Tote Bag Strap

Cut 2 of Fabric

½” Seam Allowance </DIR>
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Here is a picture of all your pattern pieces.
 

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Don’t forget to wash, dry and iron your fabric before using. You don’t want it to shrink and twist after you have made your tote bag!

If I don’t say otherwise, I back stitch at the beginning and end of all my seams.


Pinning on and cutting out the pattern pieces.


This is done in the same way you would with any other pattern. First fold your fabric with the selvages together, Next take your Tote Bag pattern piece and place it on the fabric and pin the top arrow of your grain line. Measure from the arrow to the fold and note this measurement.
 

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Now take your measuring tape and place it on the bottom arrow of the grain line, measure across to the fold. If it is the same as your first measurement, place a pin in the arrow, if not pivot your pattern piece until it comes out exactly as the top measurement. Pin around the balance of the pattern piece.

Now I have a stripe in my fabric. The best way to pin and cut out striped fabric is to do it on single thickness of fabric at a time. I can do it double thick for most fabrics. Here is the reason for my notches. See in the picture where I placed a pen at the top and bottom? These are where my double notches ( ^^ ) are, I want them to be in the exact same place on the fabric print.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Do the same thing for the straps, measuring from the top and bottom of the grain lines and pin in place. Cut out your pattern pieces.
 

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As you saw in the above pictures, when I make pattern pieces I make my notches on the inside of the pattern pieces. I cut the pattern piece out straight and then mark the notches afterwards. The single notches ( ^ ) get marked with a single snip (1/8” deep). Sorry these pictures came out blurry.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
The double notches ( ^^ ) get marked with 2 snips (1/8” deep).
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Remove the pattern piece from the tote bag. With right sides together, match up notches and sew the bottom seam using either a ½” seam allowance or 5/8” seam allowance, which ever you allowed when making your pattern. Don’t forget to pay attention whether your fabric has a one way design and stitch the appropriate end as the bottom. Mine not only had a stripe, it also has a one way design. Finish off

the seam. You can do this a few different ways, these are all used to stop fraying. A tote is going to get a work out carrying possibly heavy items, so I would finish off my seams.

<DIR>Trim with pinking scissors

Stitch a zigzag along the inside of the seam allowance

Flat Felled Seam

Finish off with a serger </DIR>If using a zigzag stitch or trimming with pinking shears, Press seam open.

I chose to do French seams on the sides and serged my bottom seam. See the tutorial on Flat Felled Seams

With right sides together, stitch both side seams, matching notches. Finish off seams and Press open.

If finishing your seam with a zigzag stitch, it is sometimes easier to finish each side of the seam before you actually stitch the seam.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Here is how your seam edge should look when using a zigzag stitch to finish off the seam.
 

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Squaring off the bottom.

This is optional. I chose to do this because a tote that can stand up is more useful to me.

Match up the side seam with the bottom seam.
 

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Lay it on a flat surface and using your ruler, mark up between 2” to 3” from the point on the bottom of the tote. I used 3” so I have a square looking tote bag. You will need to use at least 2” in or you won’t have much of a bottom. Note the corner point is on 3” on my ruler, just under the 'Omnigrid' on the ruler.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Mark like this.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Pin in place and stitch on the line you just made. Trim off the excess and finish seam allowance. Do the same to the other side.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Finishing off the top.

When making the pattern piece I allowed 1 ¼” at the top.

Press raw edge under ¼”.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Press under again 1” this time.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Sew in place close the edge.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
If you find the ‘top’ of your fabric has more give than the ‘bottom’ fabric. Hold your fabric like this. Your thumb is on the underside and the rest of your fingers are on the top. You are holding the fabric ‘up’ with your thumb and pressing down with the rest of your fingers. Practice on a scrap of fabric before doing on your project. This helps to ease the 2 pieces together.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Straps

The following is my way of making a 1” wide strap. I hate to turn tubes, so I have figured this way out myself.

With right sides together, using a ½“ seam allowance, sew one long seam on the strap. Press seam open. Press each raw edge in ½”. In this instance you will meet the 2 seams up.
 
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