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Braided Handle Tote Bag Tutorial

Braided Handle Tote Bag Tutorial

Ready for another variation on an all-purpose tote?  
This bag is super simple,but it gets "dressed-up" with two coordinated exterior fabrics, some fun braided handles made from clothesline (How cool is that?) and some metal grommets.  

Braided Handle Tote Bag Tutorial

The fabrics used for this tote are Chevrons Golden and On Point Golden

Are you ready to get started?  Get the instructions after the jump!

WHAT YOU NEED:
Two 14"x18" pieces of main exterior fabric
Two 4" x 18" pieces of coordinating exterior fabric
One 17" x 18" piece of fabric for the lining (I used a lightweight canvas).
Two 17" x 18" pieces of fusible fleece
One 14" x 17" piece of fabric for the interior pocket (optional)
One 14" x 17" piece of fusible interfacing (optional)
Six pieces of 40" long clothesline (I used polyester)
Coordinating thread
Four grommets (and grommet setting tool)  

STEP 1:  Assemble Exterior Panels
Sew one large and one small exterior piece, long side together, using a 1/2" seam allowance as shown below...

Turn over and press the seam allowance open.

Repeat for the other set of exterior pieces.

Iron the fusible fleece to the wrong side of both exterior pieces.

Top-stitch 1/4" from both sides of the seam line on both exterior pieces.

STEP 2:  Assemble Bag Exterior
Place the exterior panels right sides together.  It is up to you if you wish to have the coordinating fabric pieces on the same side or opposite.  I choose opposite.

Sew down both sides and along the bottom of the tote exterior - use 1/2" seam allowance.

STEP 3:  Round the Corners
Keep the bag inside out and pinch a corner, laying it flat, creating a triangle with the seam line on the bottom.  

Braided Handle Tote Bag Tutorial

Make sure the inside seam lines match up on the interior.

Measure 3" from the tip down each side and mark.  Also measure 2" down the center seam line. You now have 3 marks.  

Connect the marks with a rounded line. 

Sew & clip off the corner.

Braided Handle Tote Bag Tutorial

Repeat for the other side.  
You can now turn your bag right side out to see how it looks!  See how that fusible fleece added  enough structure to the tote so it can stand on its own?  Awesome.

Braided Handle Tote Bag Tutorial

STEP 4: Make the Lining Pocket
This is completely optional, but if you want a pocket, here is how to do it.  

Take your 14" x 17" piece of fabric an iron the fusible interfacing to the wrong side (this adds some thickness to the pocket).  Fold it in half lengthwise (right sides together) and sew using a 1/2" seam allowance.  You will now have a 7" x 17" pocket.

Press open the seam allowance and turn right side out.  Press so the seam allowance is on the bottom of the pocket.  Top stitch along the top of the pocket (opposite side), using a 1/4" seam allowance.  

Place the pocket on one of the lining pieces about 5-6" down (your preference).  Sew along the sides and across the bottom.

Decide how many pockets you want to divy this large pocket into and sew vertically to section them off.  I simply divided this in half to make two pockets.  Make sure to backstitch a few times at start and finish to secure.

STEP 5: Create the Lining
Place the two lining pieces wrong sides together and sewn down both sides and along the bottom leaving a 2" gap at the bottom to turn.

Repeat STEP 3 to round out the corners of the lining.

STEP 6: Assemble the Bag
Place the the lining inside the exterior (right sides together) and pin in place making sure to line up the side seam allowances.

Sew along the top using a 1/2" seam allowance.

Turn right side out through the gap you left in the lining.

Iron flat and top-stitch around the opening.  Take a minute and close that hole in the lining with an invisible stitch.

Braided Handle Tote Bag Tutorial

STEP 6: Add the Grommets
Get your grommets and setting tool.....

Decide and mark where you want to install your grommets.  For this tote I found the center of the opening and marked the holes 6" apart (or 3" to the right and left of the center point) about 1 1/2" down from the top.

Create a hole at that mark.  You can use a seam-ripper, eyelet tool, or a leather/fabric punch.  This hole will go through the outer layer of fabric, the fleece and the lining of the bag.

Take your time and using a scissor, cut a little bit away so you have a small circular opening.  

Try to fit your grommet - it probably will not fit, so you will need to cut more, but do only a tiny, tiny bit at a time because if you cut the hole to large, you are out of luck and will need to remake the tote!

Place the back of the grommet on and use your setting tool to set it in place.

Take your time and install the other four grommets.

Braided Handle Tote Bag Tutorial

Yeah!  Your tote is almost finished.  Now onto the straps.....

Braided Handle Tote Bag Tutorial

STEP 7: Make the Straps
Take three pieces of 40" rope (clothesline) and knot them together.  Don't tie them too tight, your going to untie them later.

Have someone hold the end, or find a way to secure one end while you braid the pieces together.  Do this for both sets.

Once finished, untie your knot (braid the extra length if needed) and cut both sets of braids to the same length.  You will need to find a way to prevent the ends from fraying.  I choose to heat the ends with a lighter, melting the polyester.  If you do this, try not to brown the ends...it doesn't look good!

Now simply feed the braided strap ends through the grommets (from exterior to interior) and tie in a knot to secure.

Braided Handle Tote Bag Tutorial

Braided Handle Tote Bag Tutorial

Repeat for all ends and you are done!

Braided Handle Tote Bag Tutorial

Braided Handle Tote Bag Tutorial

Pat yourself on the back and go take your bag out to show it off!  I'm sure you will get many requests to make more!

Braided Handle Tote Bag Tutorial

Braided Handle Tote Bag Tutorial


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