Easy Tote Bag – Tutorial!

This Easy Tote Bag Tutorial is a how-to tutorial for all you sewing newbies who need a good project – well, it’s for anyone really….
I normally make tote bags a different way (flip them right-side out through the lining) but I wanted to give this way a try – finish the bag with a fold-over top edge.  After doing this way, I still prefer the other way, but it was fun to do something different.  I hope to do a tutorial on the other way soon, but here’s this one for now.  
My daughter said she needed a new piano bag – so we just had an impromtu sewing session to whip one up.   She loved being able to help on the project  - so remember to include kiddos when they want to join the fun.
First, embellish the front piece of fabric with any decorations you want.  You could leave the front plain – but why else have an embroidery machine except to embroider everything in site.  So I added a panel to the front that said “piano”:

Then cut 2 main pieces for the front and back, a little bigger than you want the bag to be.  I knew it needed to fit a folder, so I went with a fabric piece of 12×16 (I wish I would have gone 13 or 14 wide, but oh well):

So, you’ll need:
–2 main pieces
–2 lining pieces (same size, but 1 1/4 inch shorter)
–2 fleece/flannel pieces ( same size, but 1 1/4 inch shorter ) or fusible interfacing
–4 handles the size you want them (I only show 2 – oops) and 2 pieces of fleece/flannel to stabilize the handle:

A note on the use of fleece/flannel – - to make your bag just “feel” nice, like have a nice heft and weight, you need something to make it a little stiffer than plain fabric.  You could iron on fusible interfacing to your lining. But another option, when you have scraps of fleece or flannel laying around, is to use those as an inner layer.  Fleece is a little on the thick side, but I just used some leftover from another project.  Flannel would be great.

First up, make a sandwich of handle: lay it out on your table one right-side up, on top of that one right-side down.  Sew the 2 long edges then flip the whole thing right-side out.  Then you can use a safety pin to pull the piece of fleece/flannel through the inside to make it thick.  She did the handles:

 Then take your lining, also with right sides together, and sew it in a “U” – start at the top left and sew all the edges til the top right corner.  Don’t sew the top edge!

 You’re going to do that same thing with the main outside layer – your fabric sandwich will go fleece (my fleece was about an inch shorter than my main piece of fabric), fabric right-side up on top of that, fabric right-side down on top of that, and another piece of fleece on top of that .  Sew together all but the top edge.

 Then you have this and you can trim your corners:

Then on the main panel iron down 1/4 inch and then iron down again about 1 inch – that’ll make your top edge:

Turn your bag right-side out and slide your lining into it:

 Then fold it down where you had ironed it and sew it in place.  I used a fun wavy stitch.  See how folding it over hides the raw edge of the top of the lining:

To attach the handles, fold the raw edge under itself and stitch a square, then stitch an “x” for extra hold.  You can tell what I mean in the pictures:

 That’s it!  Use and enjoy!  I thought I had taken a picture of the bag in action as she headed off to piano lessons, but I guess not – oh well!  You’ll just have to imagine it….

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