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Laminated Insulated Summer Tote Tutorial

Laminated Insulated Summer Tote Tutorial

Whether you are headed to the beach, the pool, or a backyard BBQ, you can carry your summer treats in a lovely insulated tote that will not only keep your food cool but offer up some fashion, functionality and discussion topics as well.

The tote is quite simplistic and easy to make.  The most difficult part is dealing with the laminate.  I recommend using either a teflon sewing foot, or a walking foot as I did.  You can also place some scotch tape on your regular foot to give it some glideability (is that even a word?).

I chose to use laminate for the interior and the exterior because I wanted the entire bag to be wipeable.  I did use a cotton fabric for the handles, but you could use a laminate for that as well, although it may prove challenging to get the creases right (remember, you can't iron laminate).

What you will need:
2 pieces 21x19 laminate* (Exterior)  *this does not have to be laminate
2 pieces 21x9" laminate (Lining)
4 strips 33.5x4" cotton (straps)
4 strips 33.5x3.5" interfacing for straps (optional)
2 pieces 21x9" Insul-Bright (or other insulated lining)
2 pieces 21x9" thin, low-loft batting
1 22" zipper (I used a jacket zipper with chunky teeth)

Step 1: Prepare the lining
*The top/bottom=21", the sides=19"
Lay one piece of the lining on top of one piece of the Insul-Bright and baste along 3 sides (leave the bottom open)

Measure and mark 3 lines 7" apart down from the top (mark on the Insul=Bright side).  Starting at the top of each line, stitch following the guides.

Repeat for the other lining piece.

Step 2:  Prepare the Straps
If using interfacing, iron it to the wrong sides of all the strap pieces.
Place 2 strips right sides together and sew one short side together to create one long strip

Open the seam and press

Fold the long strip in half lengthwise, open and press the raw edges in towards the center (wrong sides together) so the raw edges meet crease mark.

Fold in half again to create the strap.
Repeat with the other two pieces of fabric to create the 2nd strap.

Step 3: Prepare the Exterior

Baste the two exterior pieces of fabric to the 2 pieces of light-weight batting.
Measure and mark 6" in from the left and right side on the top and the bottom of both exterior pieces.
Starting at the bottom on one side, place the raw edge of the strap at the mark and lay it flat so it meets the top mark.  Use only minimal pins to hold it in place, and place them only in the center of the strap (holes are permanent on laminate!)  
Using the opposite raw edged end of the same strap, place it on the other side of the exterior piece.  The handle will come up and over the top edge.
Make sure that the handle is not twisted!

Measure 2" down from the top edge and place a pin across each side of the  strap to mark.

Top-stitch the strap to the exterior starting at the bottom raw edge up to the pin mark, across and back down.  You will be leaving the top 2" detached from the exterior.
Repeat for the other side of the strap.


Fold the un-attached fabric underneath itself so you can top-stitch the remainder of the strap.
Place your needle right at the fold of the fabric, and continue the top-stitch line around the top of the strap handle.  Lock stitch at the start and finish.


Repeat for the other side of the handle. 

Repeat this entire step for the other exterior side.

Step 4: Attach the zipper
Place one piece of exterior bag (face up, handles at the top, tucked inside), the zipper (face down), and then the insulated lining piece (wrong side up). 

Laminated Insulated Summer Tote Tutorial

Pin in place and use a zipper foot to sew all the layers together

Laminated Insulated Summer Tote Tutorial

Turn right side out and repeat using the other lining and exterior piece

Laminated Insulated Summer Tote Tutorial

Open up and using your regular sewing foot, top stitch about 1/4" from the seam on both sides of the zipper.  Make sure to pull the lining and exterior pieces taught when sewing so the fabric does not interfere with the zipper!

Laminated Insulated Summer Tote Tutorial

Step 5: Sew the bag together

Place the two exterior pieces and the two lining pieces right sides together and pin in place.
Sew around the exterior of the bag, leaving a 8-10" opening in the bottom of the lining to turn.

Step 6: Create the corners
Put your hand inside the bag and starting with one corner, push it out flat so the bottom and side seam lines match up. Measure 3.5" in from the corner and mark horizontal line. Sew along this line, back-tacking at start and finish.  You may wish to double stitch this for strength.  

Laminated Insulated Summer Tote Tutorial

Trim excess fabric and repeat for the remaining 3 corners.

Laminated Insulated Summer Tote Tutorial

Step 7: Finish the Bag
Turn the bag right side out and carefully push the zippered corners out.
Close up the opening with a slipstich and you are finished!

Laminated Insulated Summer Tote Tutorial

Laminated Insulated Summer Tote Tutorial

Fill and head out to a picnic!

Laminated Insulated Summer Tote Tutorial


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