This week’s Make Along project requires a bit more concentration …. and a sewing machine! We are going to make a 2 piece tote bag with an inside pocket. I have used a medium weight cotton, so this bag is not lined.
Materials needed:

– 2 or 3 fat quarters of medium weight cotton fabric (a FQ is around 50cm x 50cm, some may be up to 55cm).
– a sewing machine
– scissors, wooden measuring stick/ruler/tape measure, pins & pencil, chalk
– threads in coordinating or contrasting colours

I decided to use a bundle of the Echino Collection by Etsuko Furuya for Kokka. I am using 3 FQ, the third one for the inside pocket and straps, but you could easily use just 2 and other scraps for the pocket and straps.
I have used contrasting threads (blue for stitching and red for the bobbin). I am fan of visible stitching these days, I even stitch twice so makes it like a cool feature!! If you use two threads colours the contrast looks very good.
If I really like the fabric, sometimes I leave the selvedge as part of the seam, so I know which fabric/collection/designer it is. This makes things a bit more tricky when adding seam allowances. I have just skiped this in the tutorial although I have used the selvedge as part of my seams.

1. First of all, spend 2 or 3 hours sorting out your stash of fabric to help you decide which scraps are going to be the lucky ones 🙂

2. Mark and trace your measurements (allow 1 cm seam allowance, 4cm for double hems)

Bag width – 36 cm + 2 cm seam allowance = 34 cm (across all the pieces)
Piece one (top) – 21cm (+1 cm seam allowance at the botton + 4cm double hem at the top = 26cm
Piece two (bottom) = 17 cm (+2 cm seam allowance) = 19cm
Inside pocket – 10cm + 1 cm seam allowance at the bottom and 4cm double hem at the top = 15cm
Straps – 55cm (which was my FQ length) x 8cm
Piece one and two make one panel or side of the bag.

3. Cut your pieces and overcast.
This tote bag is not lined, therefore all the seams are going to be visible. If your fabric frays easily, serge or overcast all the edges with a zig-zag stitch. For more advanced skills, you can do French seams rather than leaving them exposed.

4. Prepare the inside pocket.
Make a double hem at the top of the pocket of 2cm.
On the wrong side of the top piece,  pin the pocket with the wrong sides together just so the bottom seams are aligned. I am not going to sew the pocket sides just yet, as it will be done when sewing the both pieces together, but if you don’t want to have pins around, you can just baste them together.

I wanted some little pockets so I can put mobile phone, pen, etc, so I have added some stiches in the middle of the pocket to devide it in 3 parts. I have followed the pattern of the main fabric, so from the right side it looks quite cool. If your fabric is completely plain or you dont want to make it so obvious, just leave it as one big pocket.
5. Sew the pieces together
Pin both pieces wiht right sides together and stitch. Do the same thing with the other side, the one with the pocket, making sure that you also include the pocket when sewing the seams.
Make sure your patterns will end up facing the right way when sewing the pieces together!
Press the seams that join your pieces towards the down side.
6. Once you have your pieces together, make the straps. Fold both sides to the centre, and then fold again. This gives you 4 layers of fabric which makes the strap very strong. I wanted to show the cars print in full, so my folds are not equal on both sides, that is ok as long as the final straps are the same width. Pin along the strap to secure the folds, you can also press them to make the sewing easier.

7. Stitch along the side of the strap to join all the layers together. Make sure you sew as close as you can to the long side! If your sewing machine has the feature to move the needle to the side, please use it as it is much easier when sewing next to the edge. I have also added another stitch on the other side, just to make the strap even.

8. Top hem:
Make a double hem at the top (2cm + 2cm) of the top pieces, pin.

9 Measure where you want the straps to be on your bag. Mine are 8cm from the seams. Making a little fold to hide the ends inside the hem, pin them to the wrong sides of the bag. Make sure the straps are not twisted. Stitch along the edge of the hem, take care when stitching over the straps as these will be quite thick.

10. Now a bit of fun .. I have sewn the straps with a cross to secure them (stitch along the sides and then a cross in the middle), but I have also made it a bit of a feature by stitching twice.

11. Sew the main panels of the bag together,
Put both panels right sides together and sew the botton seam, open the seam and then sew the side seams. Press these seams open flat.

12. Now we are going to make the flat/box bottom (this allows your bag to sit still when you have things inside!).

Start off by aligning the side seams so it lines up with the bottom (you can do this by just feeling both seams with your thumbs), center fold. Pinch it together and lay it on your work surface. Use pins to hold it together and make sure your seams are open.    

Use the ruler to measure your flat ends. I dindn’t want this bag to be too flat at the bottom, more like a thin tote, so I have marked 4cm along the line of the seam. Make sure you seams are flat on both sides when stitching the gusset line.
Stitch, cut the remaining part of the corner (leave 1 cm seam allowance) and serge / overcast the edges of the seam.

Press your bag and press the fold at the bottom of the bag to help it stay flat. 

I hope you enjoy it!! Please send all your questions through the blog!!
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