Friday, February 8, 2008

Tote Bags: Hidden in Plain Site?

When you need to wrap a birthday gift, why use paper? And if you're going to use fabric, why not make a tote bag? And if you're making it from cherry fabric, why not make two so your other cherry-loving friend can have one, too?
That's how things tend to get out of control, but this morning it all went well.

Here are the cherry fabrics, dark for the outside and light for the inside. See the pockets on the lining? Those were stashed in with the cherry fabric collection, left over from a Mary Engelbreit jacket. And there were 4 of them! How lucky can I get?
Now note that the pockets are going two directions. That's because the bags I made today are just one long piece of fabric that includes the sides and bottom (see formula below!). I folded the lining in half, pinned one pocket one, then turned it over and pinned the other in place. It's all visual...when the lining is opened flat and they look wrong, you just have to trust yourself!

I wanted the tote to be big enough to hold a calendar that's part of the gift. You can make a bag any size you want. Just start with an idea of what might be going inside!

Size of Item: W (wide) and T (tall) and B (bottom....can be wide for large items or narrow if you want to restrict how much the bag can carry)
W + B + 1" for seams: cut this for the width if the bag
(T x 2) + B + 3" for top turn in: cut this for the length of the bag, which includes the bottom.
cut one piece for the outside and another for the lining

Sew the pockets on now, outside and/or inside. Avoid sewing them within 1.5" of the short ends (top of the bag) or anywhere at the center that will end up in the bottom.

Put the two fabrics right sides together and sew the long edges.
Turn the bag right side out and press flat.
Fold the fabric in half with the lining out and then sew along the sides. Now you have French seams that will show nicely on the inside of the bag.

Press the bag flat so the bottom has a well creased fold.
Open one side seam and match it to the bottom fold. Using a ruler, find the place where it is as wide as the B ( bottom) measurement. Draw a line and sew on it to form the bag's bottom.
Here I have made the bottom 2" wide:

Repeat for the other corner!
This a good way to put a bottom in any bag, even if it didn't have one originally...but it will make the bag shorter. That's why we added in the bottom width to the cutting measurement.

Make your own handles or use purchased webbing (I had some from another project). If it's ravels, like nylon webbing, zig-zag the ends.

Zig -zag around the bag's top edge to hold the layers together. Then turn the edge about .5" to the inside, press, and stitch it down.
Fold the top edge in again about 1" and press. These turns are the extra 3" added to the length (T) when cutting (1.5 for each side).
Tuck the ends of one handle up to the fold and pin in place. I just lined mine up with the sides of the pocket. Turn the bag over and pin a handle on that side.
The handles should hang down like this:

Sew all around the bag at the lower (nearer the pocket) fold.
Then turn the handles up so they go out the top of the bag and sew all around the fold at the very top. This is a really sturdy handle now!

Here are the two bags, one inside out. The inside is maybe prettier than the outside!
Whenever I finish a bag, I start to think of all the things I wish I had done.

Well, now here are two tote bags hiding in plain site.....this blog site!
Burning Questions:
Will the recipients find them here? Or will I give the bags to CC and DeLuna before they read all about it????
And what is all that tape doing on my sewing machine?

Stay tuned!

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I will say this -- CC is exhausted and this post sure did brighten up the evening. I'm a lucky, lucky gal!