Quilting Tote Bag Tutorial

 This Scraptastic Quilted Tote shows off your pretty scraps, and you don't even have to buy new fabric to gussy it up. The strip of colorful fabric in the middle makes this tote bag look very stylish and professional, as well as different from the look of other homemade quilted handbags.

Today, I'm sharing a simple, fun scraptastic tote bag tutorial, perfect for any of the ladies on your Christmas list, from little girls to mothers-in-law!  Never made a bag before?  No worries, I'm going to break it down into simple, easy steps for you.  You can do this!!

Scraptastic Tote Tutorial

You'll need:
1/2 yd neutral linen (54" wide WOF) or 3/4 yd quilting weight fabric (44" WOF)
1/2 yd lining fabric of your choice
1/2 fusible fleece
Various scraps from your scrap bins, trimmed down to a total of 18 - 3" squares

 1. Let's cut some fabric!
From your linen, cut:
* 2 - 4.75" x 14" rectangles
* 2 - 8" x 14" rectangles
* 4 - 3" x 20" strips for straps

From your scraps, cut:
* 18 - 3" squares
* 6 - 2" x 3" rectangles for straps

From your lining, cut:
* 2 - 13.5" x 15.5" rectangles

From your fusible fleece, cut:
* 2 - 14" x 16" rectangles

2. Next, let's make the patchwork strip to go across the front and back.  We're going to make two 9-patch blocks, then slice them up, as you would to make a disappearing 9-patch block, but rather than piecing them back together into a block, we're going to piece them together in a strip.  Start by laying out your 18 squares into two 9-patch blocks in a manner that's pleasing to you.

3. Take the two far left squares of each row first and seam together, lining up right sides together, using a 1/4" seam.  Press your seams open, then add the remaining square for each row.

4. Piece your three rows together for each block to finish off each block, matching up your seams as you go.  Press seams open and place on your cutting mat.

5. Cut your blocks into four equal pieces - at the 4" point both lengthwise and widthwise.  Then lay your newly cut blocks into two strips of four blocks each.

6. Seam your patchwork strips together, matching raw edges and using a 1/4" seam.  Press your seams open.

7. Next, take one of your 4.75" by 14" linen pieces and use a 1/4" seam to attach to the top of your first patchwork strip.  Repeat with the second strip of patchwork, and press seams open.  Then, add your 8" x 14" linen piece and seam to the bottom of your first patchwork strip, again using a 1/4" seam.
Repeat with the second patchwork strip and press all seams open.  We will use one of these finished linen and patchwork pieces as a bag front and one as the bag back.

8. Make sure your iron is plenty hot and lay your fusible fleece with the fusible side up.  Lay your pieced bag front on top of the fleece and press carefully, making sure to fuse the fleece to your patchwork.  Press firmly, as some linen is a little resistant to fusible interfacings.

Alternatively, you can do the opposite and lay your patchwork right side down and then place your fusible fleece on top, and press firmly, it's up to you.  My linen was giving me tough time, so I did the opposite method.

9. Let's make the bag lining, now that we've got the front and back of the bag taken care of.  Start by placing your lining fabrics right sides together and pin along the two long sides first.  Then, along the bottom of the lining, pin together, leaving a 5" - 6" opening to turn the bag. 

I like to double-pin my start and stop points along the bottom of the lining to be sure I don't foul it up and go too far.  Use a 1/2" seam when seaming your lining together. 
Make sure to backstitch at the start and stop points on the bottom of the lining so it won't pull apart when we turn the bag a few steps from now.

10. To make your handles, cut some 3" strips from your remaining linen.  This should easily yield 4 strips that measure approximately 3" x 20", which will allow for some flexibility with your straps.  
Next, grab your 2" x 3" scrap strips and seam three of them together for each strap.  Then, add a strip of linen on either side of your patchwork and press your seams open. 
At this point, you can trim your straps to the length you'd like.  I laid both of my patchwork straps on my cutting mat, making sure to stagger the patchwork, and trimmed to 29" long.

Next, it's time to finish the straps.   Fold your strap in half, wrong sides together, and press to set.  Then, open your fold and fold again, folding your raw edges to meet in the center, where you have just pressed a fold. 

Using a 1/4" seam, finish your straps by adding a line of stitching down both sides of each strap.  Now let's add those straps to your bag.

11. First, let's baste your straps in place on both the bag front and the bag back.  Fold your bag front in half to find the center and mark with a pin.  Then, measuring 2" from either side of the center, pin your straps in place.  Baste a scant 1/8" seam across each strap.

 12. Lay your bag back right side up on your cutting mat, and line up your bag front on top of it.  Make sure your bag straps are out of the way and pin along both long sides as well as the bottom of the bag.  Do not pin across the top!  Use a 1/2" seam along the sides and bottom, and backstitch at both ends for security.

13. Place the exterior bag (the linen with the patchwork) inside the bag lining, right sides facing.  Pin around the top where the raw edges meet.  Make sure to line up the seams as you pin.  Sew all the way around the top of the bag, using a 1/2" seam allowance.

14. Next, let's box the corners of the bag.  Pull the lining away from the exterior of the bag.  Take one corner of the bag, and flatten it, pinning and lining up the seam as you go, like so:

Measure 2" from the tip and draw a line across.  This is your stitch line.  Stitch across this line, backstitching at the end and the beginning, and be sure to trim the excess, leaving at least 1/4" on the opposite side of your stitching.  Repeat for all bag corners (including the lining), for a total of four.

15. Now it's time to turn the bag out - first, reach in through the hole in your bag lining and grab some of the bag exterior.  Pull it through the hole, making sure to push out the boxed corners as you go, turning the entire bag right side out.

Next, push the lining back inside the bag and press along the top of the bag.  Topstitch along the top of the bag, using a 1/8" seam allowance.

16. Last, but not least, we'll finish off the hole in the lining.  You can either slipstitch this hole shut, or you can  pin it closed and machine-stitch it closed.  I tend to go with machine-stitching, in part because my hand-sewing stinks but also because I prefer the security of machine stitching.

Once you've finished the lining, push it back down in the bag, and voila!  A finished bag!   I hope you enjoyed this tutorial!

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