spring tote tutorial

Tote bags are an easy and satisfying sewing project, and can also be a quick project if you are using pre-cut fabric, like tea towels. For this bag, I used a set of Orla Keily towels from Target (no longer available, unfortunately).

Materials needed:
  • two tea towels (one for the outside of the bag, one for the lining) OR two pieces of fabric cut to 20x30 inches
  • 3 yards of coordinating 1 inch wide belting
  • measuring tape
  • fusible fleece interfacing (Pellon)
  • 1 package of coordinating piping
Project time: 2 hours or less

1. Using a seam ripper, take out the seams of both towels and press. If you want to make this a super-fast project, you can skip this step and leave the seams in. I have made the bag both ways with good results. However, I found it to be much easier to sew the bag after taking the original towel seams out (fewer layers of fabric to get through).

After I took out the seams and pressed the fabric, I trimmed it to square off the corners.

2. Iron the fusible fleece interfacing to the towel you'll be using as the bag's outer fabric, following the manufacturer's instructions (again, this is optional, and will simply make it stiffer and not so floppy).


3. Lay the 3 yard piece of belting out flat. Join the ends using a zig zag stitch (go over it several times) to form one continuous loop, taking care to not twist the belting.


4. Lay the loop of belting on top of the outer fabric. If you are using the same towel as me, you can follow the line of the fabric pattern to figure out the belting placement. I counted four flowers in from each side (see below). If you are using a different fabric, the belting was placed 5 3/4 inches in from each side.

Adjust the loop so that the seam where you joined the belting is directly in the center of the fabric (this will put it at the bottom of the bag where it is not noticeable). Measure the straps on either side and adjust until they are of equal lengths (approximately 23 1/2 inches).

5. Pin the belting in place. Leaving about a 1/2 inch space on each end of the fabric (see photo below - this leaves room to sew in the piping in step 10), sew down each side of the two strips of belting.

6) Fold fabric in half, right side together, matching top and side raw edges - pin in place.

7) Stitch sides of bag using 5/8 inch seam.

8. Square off bottom of the tote: match side seam to bottom fold (it will form a triangle). Stitch across 2 inches down from point (it will be 4 inches across). Repeat for other side and trim off excess.


9. Repeat steps 6, 7, and 8 with the lining fabric, leaving a 6 inch opening in the middle of one side. This is important - you won't be able to turn the bag right side out if you don't leave an opening.

10. Pin piping to the outer bag fabric, lining up both raw edges. Start the piping behind one of the straps to hide it. Overlap at the joint and cut off the excess piping.

11. Sew piping in place using a coordinating thread color, or one that will show up well on the back side of the fabric -you'll want to be able to see it clearly so you can follow the stitch line.

12. With right sides together, place the outer bag fabric inside the lining fabric. Match raw edges and pin.

13. Sew the bag and lining together, following the stitch line from the piping.

13. Almost done! Turn the bag right side out through the opening in the lining. Hand stitch the lining closed.

14. Press bag for a cleaner look and enjoy!


I used two sets of these towels and had enough fabric to add inner pockets to the bag, as well as make a coordinating wipes case and changing pad:


51 comments:

Amber said...

You are so awesome!

MaryAnne said...

Yay - I was hoping you'd post a tutorial for this!

The changing pad looks awesome - I can't wait to see your tutorial!

Julie said...

You. Are. The. Best! Thanks so much :D

Spencer Family said...

Thank you for this tutorial. I have been thinking about making a beach bag out of Anne Maria Horners laminated fabric and this is the perfect bag. Thank you! Oh and I can't wait for the changing pad!

Rachel@oneprettything.com said...

Oh i love this, thanks so much for sharing! I'll be linking.

little wash wash said...

You are so good!!

*~*a.l.s*~* said...

that is so great! I had no idea it could be that easy! Thanks for the tutorial!

Alicia said...

OH MY GOSH, I can't wait to make all of the above! That will be such a fun summer project, thank you!

Jordan and Ashley said...

This is so cute! LOVE the bag!

hopeful #1 said...

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

Seriously, you are just amazing!

Bette's Bags said...

Very Nice!

casserole said...

Tres cute!!! I posted a link to your project at Craft Gossip Sewing Blog: http://sewing.craftgossip.com/tutorial-sew-a-spring-tote/2009/03/12/
--Anne

NoeKs blogt... said...

Your website is very nice! And this post is just in time: I bought a laundry bag from Orla in New York's Target. I just bougt it for the fabrics as I don't need such a enormous laundry bag here in the Netherlands. So I already was thinking of another bag, but know I am sure ;)
Anouk

East of Main said...

You are fabulous! Thank you! I'm going to make some of these for a craft sale and I know they'll go like hot cakes!

Stuff I Heart said...

Thanks, Jill! I just "happened" to be at Target the morning after I saw your delicious post. One trip to JoAnn and three hours later I had me a darling tote! All my friend are jealous :)

Anonymous said...

You write beautiful tutes! and I'm an experienced sewer! thank you thank you...I've been collecting towels to make aprons, and there are so many great ones out there....a bag for me with one of them would be the berries.

Christine

Cheryl said...

I love this print and am just wish I was a sewer like you! Look at all the cool things you can make and amazingly with an infant. Hope your little guy is doing well :) xx

Liz (Loving Mom 2 Boys) said...

I just went shopping this weekend and found a million tea towels that I want to make into bags now!! I am hoping to do one tonight once my boys go to bed!! I am so excited!!

Liz (Loving Mom 2 Boys) said...

Oh...for the changing pad - do you use the fusible vinyl to make it waterproof?

Jill said...

Liz - yes, I used a fusible vinyl on one side.

Kathy - mom of many said...

I'm so glad you are back into the swing of crafting and posting tutorials. That tote is a must-have. I'd love to see more Oscar pics though. :)
He's too cute.

Liz (Loving Mom 2 Boys) said...

Cool!! I saw fusible vinyl the other day and figured that was it. I will be buying some this weekend!!

I am making myself a tote now - going to make one for a friend too - I am so excited for them to be done!!

LeAnne said...

I can't wait to get started making all these things you've posted lately!

Thanks for sharing!

erinn said...

I bought the towels and supplies to make this tote and can"t wait! Did you wash the towels first? I'm not much of a sewer and don't know if I should wash the towels first. Thanks for your help. I have a 7 month old and love your site!

Liz (Loving Mom 2 Boys) said...

I'm a bit obsessed, made another bag tonight!! This time I did it without the fleece and using a fun waffle textured towel set - it will be my beach bag this summer!!

http://lovingmom2boys.blogspot.com/2009/03/3-hour-tour-project.html

Thanks again for this great tutorial!!

Kellie said...

Thanks for the inspiration Jill! I just made a little tote and travel wallet using these towels. I couldn't resist buying them at Target after seeing this tutorial the other day.

http://kelliebrown.blogspot.com/2009/03/travel-on-mind.html

Hot Fuzz said...

looks amazing

Fresh Mommy said...

Wow, this is amazing!! You are so talented!

:)
~Tabitha~

freshmommyblog.com

erica said...

Hi Jill, I stumbled upon your blog and was amazed at all of your creations! You instantly inspired me and I have made a tote today and also some of the clothe baby shoes. You also inspired me to make my own blog and post crafts that I have done along with original artwork! Thanks and I will be uploading a pic of my tote I made very soon!

erica said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I love this tutorial. You have inspired me to make one. One question - if I wanted to add a vertical divider, how would I do it?

Valerie said...

How beautiful! I can't wait to see the Diaper Changer, I need to make one of those, and yours is the best I've found online!

Blessings,

Valerie

The Wentzell's said...

I just made this bag but I also made a smaller version of it for my daughter. It's so cute.

Carolyn said...

I just made this tote and loved it! It looks so professional and was quite easy to follow. Thanks for all the fun tutorials. I love your projects for babies especially as I just had a boy a few months ago. Your projects keep me busy during nap time. I've linked several of your pages from my own blog. Thanks again!

jillbert said...

Thanks so much for this. I made one and posted it on my blog (jillbert.wordpress.com under today's date). I'm a beginning sewer, and your instructions and pictures were really helpful!

Sarah said...

Thank you for this great tutorial--the tote is absolutely adorable! Two questions--what are the dimensions of your finished tote, and if I were making this tote from a cotton quilting fabric, can you recommend an approximate size piece to use to get the same finished dimensions as you did with the towels? Thanks so much! :)

Sonja, Queen of Crafts said...

I love Orla Kiely's designs and her bags are currently all the rage over here in the British Isles. They are quite pricey, though, so I couldn't justify buying *another* bag. But now you have just given me the inspiration to make my own Orla Kiely bag! Yours looks absolutely perfect. Judging from all your sewing projects you must be pretty professional! Cool.
Have become a follower of your blog - visit mine, if you like!
Looking forward to more inspiration from you!

Anonymous said...

It is very interesting for me to read that article. Thank you for it. I like such themes and everything that is connected to this matter. I definitely want to read more on that blog soon.

Jess said...

It can't get any better than this.

Britney Anglesey said...

I absolutely LOVE this tutorial, but am wondering about tutorials for the wipes case and changing pad. Do you have those. The link to the wipes case is not the same as the one pictured. I'm so excited to make some of these for gifts! Fantastic!
britney (at) angleseyfamily (dot) com

Michelle said...

I made a polka-dot spring tote today, and I love how well it turned out. Thanks for all the great tutorials. You are truly an inspiration! God Bless You!

Rebecca said...

Linked back to this today from your giveaway results post - yippee!! I have two tea towels I bought last year, because they were gorgeous and will make the perfect bag... but I'd been postponing the project because I didn't quite know how to tackle it. THANK YOU!!

Katie said...

This is great! Thank you very much, I have to try this soon :)

Ginger Danson said...

Wow! This tote looks awesome! Now, if I could only find a sitter for my two boys, we'd be in business! (Just a warning, number two is definitely more of a handful than number one!!)

Jen said...

I just made my second one... this one is for me! Posted on my blog (with several other posts with links to your tutorials).

http://spools.wordpress.com/2010/05/06/happiness-is/

Thank you!

jack!e said...

I have the same towel from Target! I love it! Except I didn't think to make a cute bag out of it like you did....so cute! I came across your blog while I was looking through someone else's and I think I might have to come back again and see what else you'll post. ;0)

Kristen Maier said...

About how much did it cost you to make that tote? I love seeing the creative ideas bloggers make, but I was wondering how expensive or inexpensive it is.

cherie said...

searching the internet and came upon this amazing tutorial! Thanks, Not only duable but AMAZING at the same time! Still best one out there!

Helen said...

I can't wait to try this!

Sarah said...

I LOVE this tote bag!! Talk about easy to follow. I made one and have fabric to make a couple more! Thanks Jill!

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