How to Make an Eco-Friendly Quilted Tote Bagcomments (3) April 24th, 2009
Reusable market bags have made a big comeback, selling anywhere from around $1 to nearly $1,000 (the designer version, of course). They’re a smart accessory that helps the environment and makes the “paper or plastic” decision a no-brainer. Just say, “I have my own.” With this bag, you'll be proud to say, "I made my own." It's strong and roomy and green throughout—made from organic lightweight cotton fabric and bamboo batting.
Start with a “Tree of Life” block. It involves some complex piecing, but you only need to do one. This block makes a spectacular quilt, too. Check out some examples at The International Quilt Study Center and Museum, an affiliate of the University of Nebraska.
What You'll Need:
- 1 yard of cotton or lightweight canvas fabric for the bag
- 1 yard of similar fabric for the lining and some pieces for the tree
- 1/4 yard of similar fabric for the tree pieces
- Batting: 1 crib size (enough for several) or 3/4 yard if purchased by the yard
- Scissors and/or rotary cutter
- Marking pencil or chalk
- Sewing machine
Click here to download the pattern, then cut out the bag and block pieces. For the block, you'll need to cut the following:
A – 2 (yellow)
B – 2 (yellow)
C – 1 (yellow)
D – 1 (orange)
E – 12 (green), 9 (orange)
F – 1 (orange)
G – 3 (green)
(The bag lining will be cut later.)
Make the Block:
1. Triangle patches:
Draw a line from point to point through the center of nine green squares on the wrong side.
Place each green square on top of an orange one, right sides together. Sew through both thicknesses 1/4 inch on each side of the center line, and cut in half along line. Press the seams in one direction.
2. Cut the remaining 3-inch green squares in half from point to point to form six single triangles.
3. Sew the block together in rows and units following the diagram.
Construct the Bag:
1. Sew the top front (3) to the top of the block. Sew one side front (2) to each side of this unit. Sew the constructed front to the bag back and bottom (1) with 1/2-inch seams.
2. Cut the batting the same size as the flat constructed bag piece. Press the two layers together.
3. Quilt the bag to the batting by sewing rows of stitches (about 3/4 inch apart) that outline the tree and echo out from it.
4. Press the quilted section flat, and square and trim the edges if necessary.
5. Now, use this piece to cut out the lining. The lining is the same size as the bag, minus the 1-1/4-inch hem allowance at each end.
6. Fold the bag in half, right sides together, and sew the sides with a 1/2-in. seam. Press open.
7. Turn in 1-1/4 inches at the top of the bag and press. Then turn in 1/4 inch to finish the hem and press.
8. With the bag wrong side out, flatten the bottom corners and draw a line across that’s 2 inches above the point, creating a “floor” at the bottom of the bag as shown. Press the points toward the floor.
9. Sew the lining together at the side seams and create a “floor” as above.
10. Put the lining inside the bag, wrong sides together, matching the side seams. The top of the lining matches the hemline fold at the top of the bag. Pin in place with the pins 1-1/2 inches below the lining’s top edge.
11. Make the straps: Fold each piece in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press. Bring the raw edges to the center fold and press. Press together and stitch along the folds on both long edges.
12. Attach one strap to each side of the bag, placing the outer edges 5 inches from each side seam and the raw edges of the straps even with the top raw edge of the bag. Stitch close to the raw edge to hold in place.
13. Bring the straps to the inside, fold the hem in place over the lining, pin, and stitch in place all the way around, catching in the straps.
14. Bring the straps up and edgestitch along the fold at the top of the bag, catching in the straps again.
15. Crease a fold at the bottom of the bag to form the “floor” and sew along the fold all the way around.