Tag Archives: fun crafts

Quick and easy tote tutorial

This tote pattern was inspired by the best bag I ever had: big enough to carry a small selection of groceries or a creative project, but small enough that it never felt cumbersome. To expand on that bag’s great shape, I created three different sizes, each perfectly useful in its own right.

NSB - quick and easy tote tutorial header

The simplicity of this tote design provides so much opportunity to exercise creativity! Choose a fun printed fabric and embellish it with embroidery. Create some graphic patchwork and quilt it for additional texture. Paint your own fabric to be used for the outside. Make it in leather for a chic look.

This pattern goes together so quickly, I doubt you will want to make just one!

SUPPLIES

For all sizes, you will need:

  • Fashion fabric (I used printed cotton)
  • Lining fabric (I used printed cotton)
  • Webbing or ribbon for handles
  • Thread
  • Fusible fleece (optional; this adds body to the bag and stabilizes fabric)

TOOLS

  • Rotary cutter (recommended) or scissors
  • Quilter’s style see through ruler (I use 6.5” x 24”)
  • Self-healing mat (if using rotary cutter)
  • Marking tool (pen, pencil and chalk are all fine)
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron
  • Hand sewing needle (optional)

DIMENSIONS

quick and easy tote dimensions chart

Finished tote sizes:

  • The small tote finishes approximately 9.5” tall x 8.25” wide x 3.25” deep
  • The medium tote finishes approximately 12.25” t x 10.25” w x 4.25” d
  • The large tote finishes approximately 14.75” t x 12” w x 5.25” d

DIRECTIONS

For this tutorial, we show the construction of a medium tote. All seam allowances are 3/8”.

1. Cut fashion and lining fabrics to size. If using fusible fleece, follow manufacturer’s instructions to fuse to back of fashion fabric.NSB - quick and easy tote cut fabrics to size

2. For each piece of fashion fabric, find center point of top edge. Measure and mark the distance from center point according to dimensions chart (e.g. for medium tote, measure and mark 3” to either side for a total spacing of 6”).NSB - quick and easy tote mark center and strap spacing

Next, take one strap and align raw edge of webbing to raw edge of fabric along the top, matching to the  outside of the spacing mark.NSB - quick and easy tote align strap 1

Repeat with other end of strap and second spacing mark.NSB - quick and easy tote align strap 2

On sewing machine, baste straps in place (I like to sew 1/4” from the edge).NSB - quick and easy tote baste strap

3. Pin and sew one lining piece to fashion fabric along top edge using 3/8” seam allowance. NSB - quick and easy tote pin lining to outside

Repeat for second fashion fabric and lining pieces.NSB - quick and easy tote sew lining and outer pieces

Iron to set seam, then iron lining and fashion sides down (this will help create a clean finish along top edge).

4. Take one side and reopen; lay wrong side down. NSB - quick and easy tote lay wrong side down

Open second side and lay atop the first, right sides together, matching fashion fabrics and aligning the seams at edges.NSB - quick and easy tote pin tote pieces right sides together

Sew the two side seams and the bottom seam for the fashion fabric. On the bottom edge for the lining, leave a 4” to 5” opening in the center. **NOTE: it is best not to  backstitch at the corners, as these will be pressed open and cut off**NSB - quick and easy tote sew all sides leaving an opening at bottom of lining

Press flat.

5. Create the box bottom: in one corner, pull the two fabric pieces away from each other so the two seams match; press seams open. Using the ruler, measure and mark the length shown on the dimensions chart perpendicular to the seam line (e.g. for the medium tote, measure 4” from fold to fold). I find a quilting ruler marked with 45° angle to be particularly helpful to this task, as I can align with the folded edge. NSB - quick and easy tote mark box bottom outer fabricNSB - quick and easy tote mark box bottom lining

Sew on machine; be certain to backstitch at the edges. NSB - quick and easy tote sew box bottom

Trim seam allowance to 3/8”.

Repeat for all four corners. Press to set seams.

6. Turn the bag right side out through opening in bottom of lining.

Edge stitch the opening closed on the machine or blind stitch closed by hand.

NSB - quick and easy tote stitch opening closed

Fit the lining into the tote body, matching the box corners.

7. Iron the top edge (this is where that ironing in step 3 comes in handy). Pin in place, if desired.NSB - quick and easy tote iron top edge

Stitch around top 1/8” from edge; stitch again 1/4″ from edge.

8. Admire your new bag!


As mentioned above, there are many ways to personalize this tote!

In one version, I added a pocket to the lining…

…which would also work very well on the outside!NSB - reusable gift wrap large tote pocket outside

For another version, I used a printed fabric and a coordinating near solid for the lining. I added embroidery to the printed fabric and made a matching appliqué for the near solid. By finishing the ‘lining’ by hand, this becomes a reversible bag!

I hope you enjoy making your own version of this tote! If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below!

Interview with a store department: the quilt shop

In a similar vein to our interviews with Nancy’s employees, I have a fun new series planned for the NSB blog! Let’s get to know the store, one department at a time!

NSB - quilt shop header

Who are you?
Hello! I am the quilt shop at Nancy’s!

Where do you reside at Nancy’s Sewing Basket?
We recently rearranged a few sections of the store and now I live just inside the front doors, to the right of the stairs.

NSB - quilt shop angle view

It’s especially great because I get a lot of natural light through the big front window, so it is easy to color match. I love my new location!

NSB - quilt shop birds eye view

Do you have a special focus?
I specialize in fabrics that are appropriate for quilt making and craft projects. I house all the printed and solid cotton broadcloth, along with some cotton/linen blends that are suitable for quilting. If you are looking for fun, bright prints, this is likely where you will find them!

NSB - quilt shop low view

I also house the quilt batting-by-the-yard. We have a lovely selection in a variety of qualities: light and lofty polyester batting, heirloom quality washable wool batting, classic cotton batting, and a nice cotton/rayon from bamboo blend that has an exquisite drape.

What is your most recently received product?
We just got in a fabulous set of Halloween themed prints, that I adore. One of the prints is actually designed as bunting, featuring a few different motifs, so it’s a fun and fast-to-complete project!

NSB - Halloween bunting

The collection also includes a large panel print that I think will make an awesome wall hanging or banner to display for Halloween! I love the historical costuming aspect, in addition to the wordplay. It is ‘sew scary’!

NSB - Halloween panel print

Do you have a current favorite product?
Nancy’s recently started carrying a fabulous new line of prints called Cotton + Steel, which are incredibly charming and come on a variety of base cloths. While the majority of the prints are on cotton broadcloth, C+S also makes lovely cotton lawn, cool linen/cotton canvas, sumptuous cotton double gauze, and smooth rayon challis. We’ve received two shipments so far and I love every single print.

NSB - C+S prints

Any favorite projects you’ve seen made from your wares?
One of my favorite projects is something called a “me doll”. The local schools make them every year, meaning we get a rush of enthusiastic younger students who come in looking for fabrics that represent them, which they usually find among the cotton prints. I’ve never actually seen a finished doll, but I imagine them to be perfect and adorable.

Thanks, quilt shop! Any questions about what is available in this department? Let us know in the comments below!