Lined Tote Bag

This project is a simple tote bag with two different fabrics on the outside and a single-fabric lining. It only took a couple hours and I’m sure would be faster if I made another one. I chose bright, summery fabrics for this project:  yellow, blue, and white flowers on a navy blue background for the main color, and yellow with subtle little white leaves for the contrast color and the lining.

I originally planned to make the straps out of cotton webbing as the pattern called for, but soon decided that the tote bag would look more integrated and well-designed if I sewed the straps from the main flowered fabric. The process was similar to making the straps for the apron, with the addition of topstitching accents. After cutting two strips of fabric that were 4″ wide and 44″ long, I sewed each strip together with right sides facing and 1/2″ seam allowances, then pressed the seams open.

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Next, I put a safety pin on the end of each tube and used a wooden dowel to turn the tubes right side out. I pressed the straps flat with the seam along one edge (rather than in the center as it is in the picture above).

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To finish the straps, I topstitched about 3/16″ from each edge with a contrasting yellow thread. The finished width of the straps was 1.5″ and at this point they were extra long.

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Now that the straps were complete, it was time to assemble the bag. To make the outer panels, I simply sewed one straight seam per side to attach the smaller yellow pieces to the flowered pieces, then pressed the seams open. It wasn’t clear to me yet why the pattern included the notches at the bottom.

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Next I attached the straps to the lining and the outer panel of each half of the bag by sewing across the top and sides with right sides facing and the strap sandwiched between the two layers. I didn’t keep the straps as long as they started, but adjusted the length so the bag would hang comfortably, then simply cut off the excess length after sewing.

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I turned each half of the bag right side out, placed the outside faces together, then sewed the sides and bottom edges, leaving the notched cutouts unseamed. (I still didn’t understand how these were going to work!)

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Finally, I learned why the notches were there:  they were designed to make the bottom of the bag sit flat. To achieve this, I had to simply line up the two cut edges of each notch and sew straight across on the lining side.

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After a quick line of topstitching around the top edge for strength, the tote bag was complete and ready to carry all my knitting projects!

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