Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tote Bags & Happy Girl Friends

Happiness is Girlfriends!
 I just got back from a long weekend in Atlanta with some of my girlfriends (including my mother-in-law, who is the "E" in this photo). We went to the Southeastern Flower Show, lunch at a tea room, shopping at Collector's Corner, and enjoyed The Leader of the Pack at the Strand Theater in Marietta. We all stayed at my mother-in-law's house in Peachtree City, and it was like one big slumber party with great shopping, dining, and lots of laughter and girl talk. I made our shopping bags as a surprise, and everyone was thrilled and surprised to get one with their own initial embellished on the front. It made me very happy to see all the smiles!

I think you might like to know how to make these bags
but I'm just going to give you the basic instructions and you can do the embellishing (or not) according to how creative you want to be. I used outdoor fabric for the outside (which added great body as well as easy clean-up), and upholstery fabric for the lining. I found them both at Wal-Mart. Have fun and, if you make one, please send me a photo and tell me what personal touches you added. I'll share that with everyone. :-)

My large tote bag
3/4 yard 50 inch wide fabric for the exterior (or 1 yard 45 inch wide)
3/4 yard 50 inch fabric for the lining (or 1 yard 45 inch wide)
14 inches cording or nylon rope, cut in half
Matching thread
1/2 inch seam allowances throughout
Press all seams

-Cut two squares 22 1/2" x 22 1/2" out of each fabric. I made a template out of poster board first and traced around it onto the fabric. That made it easy and quick to mark and cut the fabric into perfect squares.
-Cut two pieces each of the exterior and lining fabric into 3" by 30" strips.
-Cut two 7 1/2" x 6" pieces out of the lining fabric for interior pockets. Press back 1/4 inch on all sides. Top stitch across the top.
-Cut one 11" square piece out of the exterior fabric for the pocket on the back of the bag. Press back 1/4 inch on all sides to the wrong side and top stitch across the top.
For Handles
-Place one 3" x 30" strip of lining fabric over one 3" x 30" strip of exterior fabric, right sides together.
-Sew down length of strip on one side only. Turn right sides out. Press open.
-Fold over and press 1/2 inch along the unstitched side of both pieces. Press wrong sides together and stitch that side closed. Top stitch 1/4" along each side.
-Center cording in middle of handle against the fabric you want on the interior of the handle, fold the fabric over and sew with the seam tight against the cording. This will make the handle easier to hold and will prevent the them from slipping off your shoulder. (See photo below for close-up of handles.)
For Pockets
-Center interior pockets on right side of lining fabric 6" from the top and sew around three sides, leaving top open. I also made an extra vertical seam to create a narrow pocket to hold an ink pen.
-Center exterior pocket with the bottom 6" from the bottom of one right side exterior fabric square. Sew around three sides, leaving top open.
For Tote
-At this point, embellish your bag. I applied colored cording to the top of mine, and applied our initials on the front, which I cut from the lining fabric. You are limited only by your imagination.
-Sew handles to lining fabric, placing them 3 1/2 inches from each side.
-Pin exterior body fabric pieces together with right sides facing, then sew around three sides.
-Pin lining fabric pieces together with right sides facing. Sew down each side and across the bottom, but leave about a 6 inch opening in the middle for later turning.
-Create 5" gussets in the bottom corners of both the outside and lining fabric & trim away the excess fabric.
-Turn the exterior bag inside out & slide it into the lining. Right sides should be together and handles pushed down into the bag.
-Pin & sew around the top, matching side seams and centers. Turn and pull exterior fabric through the opening you left in the lining. Sew the opening shut in the lining, push the lining down inside the bag and straighten the top seam. Pin the top seam with the exterior fabric evenly against the interior fabric.
-Top stitch 1/2 inch around the top opening of the bag through both the exterior and interior fabrics, and across the handles. You're finished!

With love, from me to you!

Lining & Pockets

Corded Handles

1 comment:

martinaleslie said...

What a cool green you chose for the bags! Loved them. Sounds like a great time was had there! I'm going to try making a bag!