How to Make a Stitches-and-Stripes Tote Bag

comments (5) March 30th, 2011     

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kaytet kayte terry, contributor
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Adding stitches and stripes is a great way to embellish a simple tote.
This basic tote is easy to create and customize.
Use a bias-tape maker to create the strips.
Adding stitches and stripes is a great way to embellish a simple tote.

Adding stitches and stripes is a great way to embellish a simple tote.

Photo: Sloan Howard
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This tote bag pattern offers infinite customizing opportunities. Make your own colorful stripes by sewing fabric tape to your tote. The project is a snap with a bias-tape maker.


• Bias-tape maker that makes 1-inch tape
• Cutting mat
• 1⁄2 yard fusible interfacing
• Iron
• 1⁄2 yard lining fabric
• 1⁄4 yard each of several patterned fabrics
• Rotary cutter
• Ruler
• Scissors
• Sewing machine
• Straight pins
• Thread


Construct the tote bag

1. Prepare the fabric. Cut one, 16-inch by 32-inch rectangle each from the outside fabric, lining, and interfacing. Fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the tote fabric. Fold the tote and lining rectangles in half to make a square, and cut a 2-inch square from the left and right corners of each piece along the folded edge. Cut two, 20-inch by 3-inch strips of fabric (they can match or contrast the tote body) and interfacing for handles.

Prepare the fabric.

2. Make the handles. Lay one interfaced handle strip face down, and press each long edge to the center of the strip. Fold the strip in half so the pressed edges align, and press again. Edgestitch along each long edge. Repeat for the other handle.

Make handles.

3. Cut and fold patterned fabric strips. Working with a rotary cutter and mat, cut five, 32-inch by 4-inch-wide strips from several different fabrics. Fold the strip in half; then pull it through the bias-tape maker, ironing as you fold the strip.

Cut and fold patterned fabric strips.

4. Attach the strips.
Pin the folded strips to the right side of the tote-fabric piece, starting at one upper edge, continuing over the bottom fold of the bag and back up the other side to the upper edge. Edgestitch along both sides of each strip with a sewing machine. With contrasting thread, machine-sew as desired between the strips to add a touch of embellishment.

Attach the strips.

5. Assemble the bag. With right sides together, stitch the tote front and back along the side and bottom seams, using a 1⁄2-inch seam allowance. Press the seam allowances open. Repeat with the lining.

Assemble the bag.

6. Square the corners. With the tote inside-out, fold the bag with the bottom seam aligned with one side seam. Stitch a 1⁄2-inch seam allowance across the short raw edge to close the bag. Repeat on the second corner and then the lining corners.

Square the corners.

7. Insert the lining.
Turn the tote right-side out. Fold the upper edge under 1⁄2 inch, and press. With the lining inside out, fold the upper edge under the fabric 1⁄2 inch, and press. Insert the lining into the bag so that the wrong sides are together and the folded upper edges align.

Insert the lining.

8. Attach the handles. Insert the short ends of each handle into the upper edge of the bag between the two layers. Place each end 3 inches from the side seams, and push the ends 2 inches down into the bag. Pin them in place. Topstitch around the top of the bag 1⁄8 inch from the upper edge. Sew a second seam 1⁄2 inch below the first seam.

Attach the handles.


Excerpted from CraftStylish Quick Stuff to Sew, Vol. 2.

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posted in: tote, bag, applique, tote bag, bird

Comments (5)

chammer writes: Cute, fun, and easy to make with you tutorial. Thanks.
Posted: 1:36 pm on May 13th
craftybegonia writes: Very cute and vibrant!
Posted: 6:44 pm on April 10th
isnessofwhatis writes: hmmm, this gives me some ideas for a version of my own.
Posted: 12:47 am on July 16th
CalPatch writes: i love this! i need to make one as soon as i get all my stash out of storage...
Posted: 11:16 am on October 3rd
janecanquilt writes: Terrific bag. Terrific instructions. I made mine with pockets on the inside lining. Phone and GPS are handy that way.
Posted: 5:38 pm on September 30th
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