Friday, 25 April 2008

Sling Bag, Done!

I have been wanting to make the sling bag from the Life with Nature Girl blog since I first saw it. It is my ideal bag, worn across the chest and just big enough for the necessities. Simply put, it's perfect! I didn't use interfacing, because I find this Ginger Blossom fabric to be study enough on it's own.

I sewed up mine in just over an hour. To use up the small leftovers of fabric, I made a couple of extra pockets for the inside. One for the handy Chapstick, and the other for pens. They went together the same way as the original interior pocket.

Yes, my pics really suck tonight. Ah well, the bag rocks. I'll see if I can get some better pics tomorrow. Thanks for sharing this tutorial, Jill!

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Chicken Scratch Bookmarks Tutorial

Chicken scratch is such a pretty type of embroidery. It is quick and a great way to decorate up that stash of gingham you have tucked away. It is known by many other names such as Snowflaking, Depression Lace and Gingham Embroidery.

I'm completely addicted to chicken scratch now. The only items I have really seen it made into is larger pieces such as aprons, and pillows. I tried to come up with other objects where chicken scratch could be applied. They can't get too much wear because the stitches would get pulled or damaged. I decided a bookmark would be a nice small item that doesn't get too much wear, and would be quick to stitch up. So I made up a couple of small repetitive patterns. You can really go wild with these little stitches, and every little change has a noticeable impact on the finished piece. Test it out. I'd love to see what you come up with!

As usual, this tutorial is provided for personal use. Make up for yourself, gifts and charity. Please do not make to sell. If you are unsure feel free to email me. If you use this tutorial give credit with a link back to this page. And if you can give me a heads-up if you are making chicken scratch that would be great. I am thinking of starting a flickr chicken scratch group so everyone can see and share their creations, tell me what you think. Thanks!

For one bookmark you will need:
  • 1/4" check gingham (you could probably get 4 out of a fat quarter)
  • white embroidery floss (sewn with 3 strands held together)
  • embroidery hoop
  • needle
  • 6" ribbon

The final measurements are 7 1/2"x2" for the bookmark and 2x2" for the tab.

Here are a couple of quick pictures to familiarize yourself with the stitches. If you would like something more descriptive go here and come back.

Those are all the stitches used in the flower bookmark. They are Cross-Stitch, Double Cross-Stitch, Running Stitch and Woven Oval Stitch. The Woven Oval is made by passing the needle under the leg of the Cross-Stitches twice to make it thicker.

The same stitches are used in the second bookmark, only the Oval is substituted with Woven Circle Stitch. The Woven Cirle is made by passing the needle under the Running Stitches two times to make the stitch thicker.

Since this is such a small object leave your material whole for stitching and cut it out afterwards.

Here are the two patterns. Just a little 5x5 block.

The tab is made by stitching one repeat of the pattern. The bookmark is made by stitching 5 repeats. Follow the shading in the pattern. You want to start your cross-stitches on the darkest check in your gingham. I used 3 strands of floss, but you can try more or less to see what the result is. I knotted the ends because the back of the piece is covered and small stitches might be noticeable.

Once all your stitching is done. Cut the bookmark and a backing piece to measure 8X2 1/2". For the small tab cut out the stitching and backing into a 2 1/2" square.

Pin the bookmark pieces with right sides together with the ribbon in between. Let 1/4" of the ribbon peek out from one short side between the two layers. Leave a small gap open on the other end of the bookmark for turning. Sew 1/4" seam around the edge with the wrong side of the stitching facing up. Clip the corners and turn right side out. Press.

Pin the tab pieces right sides together and sew 1/4" seam around the edge leaving an opening for turning. Clip the corners and turn right side out. Press.

Slip the free end of the ribbon into the opening left in the tab and pin. Topstitch around the tab to secure the ribbon. Topstitch around the bookmark and you're done!

Monday, 21 April 2008

I was up way too late

Last night I sucked it up and pulled out the purple gingham. I got out the embroidery floss and went looking for patterns online. The lack of available patterns was disheartening, but I soldiered on with the plan that if I could at least find basic directions I could draw up my own patterns. What am I talking about, you ask?

Well, it's this.

Why, yes. That is Chicken Scratch, aka Depression Lace, Snowflaking etc.

Online there is a great little instructional .pdf from the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. I read through the instructions and plotted out the pattern (there is a large star pattern on the last page). I like stars. I sat back on my desk chair and started stitching, then I moved to another chair, and soon I was propped up in bed still stitching. It was nearly 3 a.m. when I finally put this little piece of gingham down.

I love the simplicity of the stitches partnered with the effects the shaded checks have on those simple little stitches. For a very long time it just looked like stitches and I worried that I was doing it wrong, where is the 3 dimensional-ness? Where is the lacey overlay? Why doesn't mine look like the image in my head? I was feeling cheated. Instead of throwing it into a drawer I just kept stitching.

You work the stitches in order: double cross, then running stitches, and finally woven circles. The double cross-stitches are alot of stitching and they take by far the longest. Once all these were stitched I sat back and was not impressed. So I went on to the running stitches, which were quick and satisfying. It was as I was repositioning my hoop that the stitches finally came to life.

Those running stitches lightened up the background just enough to make it look like I had sewn down a nearly sheer applique! It was so exciting, almost magical to watch how your stitches and the fabric affect one another.

Once the woven circles were added it was love. The only thing I might have done differently is used 1 more strand of embroidery floss for the woven circles. If you have ever thought about trying chicken scratch I highly recommend it. It is relatively fast, and the end product is totally worth the loss of sleep!

As I was browsing online some more I came across this site. It is french but the images are great. All the same stitches, different placement, and completely different results. Just thought it was interesting plus there are also a couple of free patterns as well.

Now I want gingham everything just so I can Chicken Scratch it.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Optional Box Pleat Tutorial

I forgot some of you liked the box pleats in the first crafty tool belt. It goes together just like the crafty tool belt tutorial just the math, and of course the pleats are different.

To figure out how wide to cut the apron and trim pieces:

Measure the width you would like your apron to be (e.g. from hip to hip or a little wider). If this measurement is less than 19 inches follow Option B. If it is 19 inches or more follow Option A.

**if you are unsure how much width you need, cut it wider. You can always trim off some of the width after you add the pleats and before you attach the double fold bias tape trim.

Option A - Add 8 inches to your measurement. Cut your apron and trim piece to this width.

Follow the directions for the original Crafty Tool Belt until it is time to pleat.

Box Pleats:

Mark the centre of the apron with a pin. Measure 2 inches and 6 inches from the centre pin and mark those places too. Now fold the fabric so the 2 pins meet and pin. The extra fabric should be on the wrong side of your fabric. Flatten the pleat and even it out so the same amount of fabric is on either side of the pin. Repeat for the other side.

Continue on with the Crafty Toolbelt Tutorial.

Option B

Add 6 inches to your measurement. Cut your apron and trim piece to this width.

Follow the directions for the original Crafty Tool Belt until it is time to pleat.

Box Pleats:

Mark the centre of the apron with a pin. Measure .75” and 3.75” from the centre and place pins at these points. Now fold the fabric so the 2 pins meet and pin. The extra fabric should be on the wrong side of you apron. Flatten the pleat and even it out so the same amount of fabric is on either side of the pin. Repeat for the other side.

Test fit and make sure you have enough fabric to attach the pockets (7.5” approx. on each side). If you don’t have enough you can make your pleat narrower. If your apron seems too wide, you can trim an even amount off each edge, just remember to maintain at least 7.5” on each side of the pleats to apply the pockets.

Continue with the Crafty Toolbelt tutorial.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Crafty Tool Belt Tutorial

For all coming over from Sew, Mama, Sew! Welcome! And I hope you stick around, there is always something going on here now. (I’m new and therefore obsessed with the whole sharing thing.) And for those loyal readers, I’m so very glad you’re still with me and I love the whole lot of you. The online crafty community is such a wonderful place!

I took pictures while the first Crafty Tool Belt was being put together, but somewhere along the way things went awry and the camera missed some steps so I made another one.

The inspiration for this was first blogged about here. I thought the idea was great and thought, ‘I can make that!’ A lot of thought and planning went into this and I took my cues from a tool belt, because it seems to be a perfect way to tote your junk with you without said junk getting in the way. But they aren’t very pretty, functional yes, pretty not so much. So I tried to come up with something that was both pleasing to the eye and would serve its purpose.

Okay, I’ve bored you enough with the background of this little guy and I’m sure many of you skipped the babble and just scrolled to the pics. So here is how it goes:

You know the rules. You can make these for personal use, gifts and charity. Do not produce them for profit. Please, credit this blog and link back if you make one. If you have any questions feel free to email me, my address is in my profile.

Crafty Tool Belt

You need:
¼ metre main fabric (you may need more if your hip measurement is over 46 inches. Just read the math section to make sure. Ditto for the accent fabric)
¼ metre accent fabric
1 pkg. SINGLE fold bias tape
1 pkg. DOUBLE fold bias tape

N.B. if you have the inexplicable fear of the bias tape go here. If you have already been there and still have the fear then just omit the tape, but you will have raw edges inside and you have to do the nasty hemming around the edges. Plus tape makes it pretty. No pressure, though!

Math for Accordian Pleated Toolbelt

You can find the math and directions for the optional Box Pleats over here.

I’m sorry but you have to do some math. Just a little bit.
Divide your hip measurement in 2. ____
You need 15” to apply both pockets. So subtract 15 from your number. The number you have left is the width after pleating. ____
Multiply this number by 3. ____This is the width of the material before pleating. **Remember this number, you need it later.
Add the 15” back onto this and if you would like your apron to wrap around your hips a little more add 4” or so. ____

This isn’t exact, it’s just to give you an idea of the width of the apron piece you need to cut. I could get the width I needed out of 40” wide fabric. If you need to make one wider than the width of your fabric just divide the number in two and instead of cutting one long apron piece, cut two halves of your apron and sew it up the middle. Repeat this for the bottom trim as well.

Just to make sure you got the right idea. My math looked something like this:
22-15=7x3=21+15+4=39 inch is the desired width of the apron piece.

**if you are unsure how much width you need, cut it wider. You can always trim off some of the width after you add the pleats and before you attach the double fold bias tape trim.

Fabric cutting:

  • Main Fabric: Apron - 8”x desired width. Cut 1
  • Accent Fabric: Waistband and Ties 4.5” x width of fabric. Cut 2
  • Bottom Trim 2.5” x desired width. Cut 1
  • Pockets 6” x 5”. Cut 4
  • Loopholes 1.5” x 6”. Cut 1

Getting Started:

Pockets X2

Place two pocket pieces right sides together and sew all the way around leaving about an inch opening on one of the long sides for turning.

Clip the corners and turn right side out. Push out the corners and turn the edges of the opening in. Press. Topstitch along the long edge that had the opening about ¼ inch in from the edge. I stitched a long, narrow rectangle because I thought it would look nicer. Set aside.


Run through a bias tape making tool or fold under ¼” on the long sides and press. Fold in half along the length and press. Sew along the edges. Cut into two pieces and set aside. You could just use some double fold bias tape if you like.

Waistband and Ties

Pin two of the short ends with right sides together and sew. Press seam open. Fold in half with wrong sides together along the length and press. Fold ¼” along all edges and press. Set aside.

Assemble the Tool Belt:

Attach the Bottom Trim

Lay out the apron piece and the trim piece with WRONG sides together. Open up the single fold bias tape and pin it along the edge. Stitch in the crease closest to the edge (approx 1/4”).

Fold the bias tape down to cover the raw edges and topstitch.

*If you would like a rounded Tool Belt you can now fold the apron piece in half. Draw a curve along the corner and cut.

Accordian Pleats
Go to the optional box pleat tutorial

Mark the centre of your apron piece with a pin. Measure ½ of that measurement you were supposed to remember and mark it with a pin. Now measure 1.5” from the centre and place a pin. Pin every 2” after that out to the last pin. Work out from the centre in the other direction in the same manner. Fold the fabric so the 1.5” pin meets the centre pin, pin in place. Fold the next pin to meet the edge of the fold you just made and pin in place, continue to form all your pleats. Repeat in the other direction.

Now test fit your tool belt. If you like it continue on, if not you can add or remove pleats, or trim excess off the edges. This is the last fiddling you will ever have to do.

Baste the pleats in place.

Apply the Double Fold Bias Tape Edge

Open up the double fold bias tape and lay the apron piece wrong side up. Beginning at the top right hand corner pin the bias tape with wrong side up along the sides and bottom of the apron ending at the top left hand corner. Do not attach to the top of the apron.

Sew in the crease closest to the edge.

Flip the bias tape to the right hand side and topstitch as close to the edge as you can.


Open up the waistband piece and lay it with right side facing the wrong side of the apron piece. Sew in the crease. Flip the waistband so wrong sides are together. Turn under the pressed edge and pin in place on the right side of the apron. Pin the ties together as well. Starting at the top corner of the tie topstitch along the edge of the tie along the apron and the other tie ending at the top corner.

Attaching Pockets and Scissor Loops

Using one pocket and one loop pin the pocket at an angle on the side of the apron. Tuck the ends of the loop under the edge of the pocket and pin.

Sew around the edge of the pocket leaving the top open. Backstitching over the loops to secure them in place. Repeat for the other pocket.

Press your pleats and smile knowing you will never go searching for your sewing stuff again.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Go Win a Craft Apron

Over at Itching 2 B Stitching there is a great contest going on where you can win a Craft Apron. So for all you who know you need one go try your luck! All you have to do to enter is offer a name for her new dressform. So go and give the girl a name. Good Luck!

Thursday, 17 April 2008

I love mail!

I got these wonderful stitch markers in the mail yesterday from The Caffeinated Crafter and they made my day! Thank you so much! I needed some good light to get pictures of these little guys, they are so cute. I think my favourite is the rosebud in the front, but I can't decide. Until I start knitting on something again I guess I'm just going to have to use them as eye candy. Oh, woe is me. hehe

Thanks again!

Oh, and the card was too sweet. I loved the colours, I want to make something with that flower motif now.

Monday, 14 April 2008

And the Winner Is...

Greetingarts! who said:
I'd use the little bag for my take-along knitting, the handwork I schlep all over the place for all those spare moments in life.
So congratulations girl, there will be a little bag on its way to you very soon! What are the odds that number 1 would get drawn out of the bag?! It shocked me.

I want to say thank you to everyone else who took the time to comment. And while I'm sorry if you didn't win I have a sneaking suspicion that there will be another giveaway coming up again. (50th post is getting closer everyday.) So stick around, hopefully I can entertain you a while longer and maybe you'll have a chance to win something Kerri Made!

Gee, I love this blogging thing, you all make it so enjoyable.

While I'm posting, what do you all think. Should I write up a little tutorial for the Crafty Tool Belt?

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Crafty Tool Belt

Tracey over at Itching 2 B Stitching made a craft apron last week and I thought, "I need one of these!" No more wandering all over looking for my fabric scissors, or the seam ripper, or a spare bobbin. It can all be right at my fingertips all the time. So I sat down to figure out what a craft apron for me would need. First it needed some great fabric. This is some of Sandi Henderson's Ginger Blossom line that I got from Sew, Mama, Sew! I paired it with some chocolate coloured 100% cotton and a little cream bias tape. I wish I had some matching rick rack or lace, but no luck.

I could see one possible problem with a craft apron. It seemed probable that with many or large pockets I would just end up stuffing them full so when I stuck my hand in to grab my handy seam ripper I'd pull out some scrap fabric wrapped in thread unwinding from that ever so handy spare bobbin. That would annoy me as much as not being able to find my scissors so I thought it would be a good idea not to have huge pockets that could be crammed full. I could also imagine having my scissors quickly poking a hole through the corner of one of the pockets. Lining a pocket with leather could keep this from happening or the other option was to make a place to hang my scissors much in the same vein as a tool belt having a loop for a hammer. So this was the beginnings of my crafty tool belt.

I also decided to place the pockets as far on the sides of the apron as possible so that when sitting at the sewing machine I would still have access to the needed tools in my pockets. The scissors loop was also sewn to the edge of the apron so I wouldn't be stabbing myself in the thigh every time I sat down to sew. The pleats were also added so that when sitting it would splay out rather than flip up and possibly dump stuff out of the pockets.

I really do try to think this stuff through, though sometimes I do make mistakes. I'm not left-handed and yet somehow the loop ended up on the left side. Oh well, nobody is perfect. Now I wish my scissors matched my crafty tool belt. It's just a first run, more are needed. Must have one to match every outfit.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

The little corset that could

There are a couple of things I'm working on. The biggest one was the Burda 7938 Corset Bodice or whatever it's called. Light, flimsy or drapey fashions don't usually find their way into my closet because, well, I don't look good in them. There is that and the fact that I Hate static cling, just the way fabric feels like it is trying to touch me makes my skin crawl. So I also hate clingy fabric. This cuts down on my fabric choices immensely, but it doesn't bother me.

The Burda Corset is a pretty pattern, princess lines, zippered closure, piped seams, long flowy sleeves. I have sewn it 4 times now, 3 muslins and then one to actually wear. There were issues with general fit, sway back alterations, raised neckline (who do they think I'm trying to impress?? and with what??), wierd cup sizes (I think they hijacked those pattern pieces from some old timey football helmet) as well as the usual Burda crappy instructions. With most patterns - this one included - I read all the way through the instructions, I stare at the pictures and think, 'uhh wha? Why do I do that? That makes no sense, that is slow' etc, etc (and there is usually cursing). So I put the instructions away. And I made this.

Does the fabric look familiar? It is the stretch cotton I fell back in love with while making my mom's bag. I found it to be sturdy enough to make it unlined, which would have created a problem with the piped seams if I had chosen to make them, but I didn't. My option, and a much nicer option on this fabric was flat-felled seams like those found on jeans. They are really easy to do and make a nice clean seam because all the raw edges are enclosed (I'm all about clean seams). Each bust piece was sewn to the front bodice first using just a regular seam. All of the bust was lined so the raw edges were hidden inside there. All horizontal seams were just plain seams. All the vertical seams were flat-felled seams. It worked out just the way I anticipated. The little bit of stretch in this cotton makes it form fitting without feeling restrictive, I am so loving this cotton! This top is so comfortable to wear, the fact that this pattern was compulsively altered may have something to do with the fit.

There were two options for sleeves on the pattern, short or long belled sleeves. The short looked too casual and the long looked too princessy, plus in this fabric long sleeves would have given it a very short wearable season. I opted for sleeveless with the rationale that a tight long-sleeved shirt can be worn under it in the fall/winter and can be worn on it's own in the warmer months. The only worry for this shirt is the length. In the picture it looked short, but I didn't bother to add any length to it. I'm only 5 feet tall and they were showing it on a tall, thin model so surely it would be longer on me. Well, in some mystical pattern drafting twist of fate this shirt is so short that if I hem it, this poor shirt will become a bellytop....umm no. I need to finish the edge with bias tape so I don't lose any of the length.

Next up on the sewing list is another revamp of this pattern. I'm going to draft it into a dress using some black and white polka dot stretch cotton. It's going to be great!

Friday, 11 April 2008


For me this time, not for you.

I checked the mail today and there was one of those little 'Parcel' cards. I hadn't ordered anything so I didn't know what to expect. But wee! I was so happy when I found this waiting for me at the counter! I ran home to open it, well I didn't run, but I got back to the house in a hurry.

Yay presents for me! and look where it's from.

ooo...International Presents. What could it be?

I carefully removed the wrapping paper and inside was another layer of packaging and as I was pulling that open this little bony face popped out at me to say, 'Arrgh, me matey. And a happy birthday to ye'. Okay well he didn't actually talk, but that's what I heard in my head. Don't judge me.

Isn't it too cute?? For those who don't know me well, I have a love of containers - all sizes, all types, all shapes - I love having them around. Why? Because you can put stuff in them. But wait, this little pirate lunchbox is a little hefty because all of this was in it too!

Ohhh. Invader Zim. How I love these cartoons which rarely air here now. The story is about Zim, an Irken screw-up who is sent to take over Earth (really they are just trying to get rid of him) assisted by his handy reject robot G.I.R (who often disguises himself as a dog). And in that box is the Complete Invasion! Gir makes me giggle like you would not believe. I have heard, more than once, that I am a little bit like Gir. I take it as a compliment. You don't know Invader Zim? Created by the genius that is Jhonen Vasquez? Shame on you. Go watch Gir now and come back. Isn't he great?

Okay you crafty people I was holding out on the yarn in an attempt to broaden your tv watching habits (life is not all reality tv, you know). The yarn was already mine, it got left behind when I came back to Canada. It is Lanett Superwash in my favourite (Hallowe'en) colours. And besides being useful for making stuff it also makes excellent padding! What should I make with this now?

So thank you, D, for an awesome birthday present! (Yes, I know it isn't until Monday, but it came today and there was no one here to stop me from opening it! So there.) I'm going to go watch Invader Zim now.

Oh, and here is a parting shot for you. This is Libby making her blog debut. Loves: Crinkley paper and cat treats. Hates: flowers, apparently.

And for those of you who haven't noticed yet I'm doing a giveaway to celebrate my 25th post. Go comment and win something!

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Random-y Me

I was tagged by Jenaveve to share 6 random things about myself. I'm nothing if not random so let's see what I can come up with.

  1. One of my guilty pleasures was watching Xena.
  2. I know how to make chainmail.
  3. When I was little my cousin and I were swinging like Tarzan in her backyard. I got called home and on my last swing I fell onto the ground. I got up and started home. Halfway there someone stopped me and asked if I was okay. I looked down and there was blood streaming from my knee. I fainted on the corner.
  4. I like to play MUDs (not in mud) and I'm a damn good xp'er. Why do I still play these text based games with the plethora of 3-D graphics games on the market? 3-D games give me motion sickness.
  5. When Xena ended I bought one of the costumes from the set. It was a Valkyrie costume, not the one Lucy Lawless wore though. *pouts*
  6. I've lived in Yemen.

25th Post and A Giveaway!!

It's post #25! I can't believe I have already babbled my way through 24 posts. This has been an enjoyable couple of months already, great people have been met, things have been created, and tons of time has been spent online. So to celebrate I am giving away something kerri made!

I took inspiration from some antique beaded Mohawk pieces. It was the shape that interested me most, it was to be structural, yet collapsible. I wanted to create a bag that you could throw your lunch or small crafty project into. I wanted to use up some of the leftover frog fabric. The little bag has become all that I wanted it to be and soon it will be whisked off to some exotic locale because I made this for one of you! Umm it still needs handles, but this post had to get put up because the giveaway is going to run until my birthday, April 14th.

So to get in on the giveaway all you need to do is comment on this post and tell me what you'd use this little bag (7" at the widest x 9" tall) for. The contest will close at noon on April 14th. I will draw a name and contact the winner so make sure there is an email address so I can get in touch with you. I will ship internationally. The best of luck to everyone!

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Kitty Legwarmers

I think it's safe to say that spring is here. The birds are singing, the grass is finally getting a green tint to it (there was snow all over the place just a few days ago so that's saying something), and people are starting to go outdoors again. Needless to say, I got very little craftiness done today. I did wear my frog skirt all day today. Love it! I'm really jumping into this skirt only summer. My cats though got a bit confused by the naked legs and kept attacking me, I'd like to think Libby was just trying to keep my legs warm but she is lacking in claw control.

After a day of just enjoying the day I watched a few reruns of Supernatural (Dean Winchester, uh huh) and got to working on a project that has been bouncing around in my head. Nothing like a little demon hunting to get my creativity into gear. Hopefully my new project will be photo worthy by tomorrow.

And speaking of tomorrow my 25th post is coming up so I am planning something special. So stick around, there might be something in it for you. I suck at keeping secrets.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Part 2: Tote Bag Tutorial

So the exterior of the bag is done so on to the interior. First up is the Zippered Divider Pocket.

Zippered Divider Pocket:

12" zipper
2 9x15 zippered divider pocket pieces
zipper foot

Lay one divider pocket piece right side up. Centre the zipper along one 15" side and line up the edge of the zipper fabric to the raw edge of the pocket. Sew along the edge with a 1/4" seam. Lay the piece right side up and fold the zipper so it is also right side up which will turn the raw edges to the wrong side. Pin the fabric so it just touches the edge of the teeth. With a zipper foot sew along the edge of the teeth. One side of the zipper is attached. Now repeat these steps for the other side.

With the zipper attached lay the pieces flat with wrong sides together and pin. Sew a scant 1/4 inch seam along the three open sides. Clip the corners.

Unzip the zipper and turn the bag inside out. Press the edges and sew another slightly larger seam but this time begin and end about 1/4" from the stopper on the zipper.

Turn the pocket right side out and set aside.


Sew the lining of the bag the same way you sewed the exterior but don't attach the bottom yet. Leave the lining so the wrong side is facing out.

Place the Zippered Divider Pocket inside the lining placing the edge of the pocket centred along the uninterfaced channel of the Lining Sides. Pin and sew a 1/4" seam to attach the pocket inside the lining. Make sure to sew all the way along that edge, not only the part where the pocket is or your lining won't fit properly.

Now it should look like this.

Now attach the bottom of the lining the same way you attached the exterior bottom.

Assemble the Bag:

If you would like to add a sturdier bottom in the bag cut a piece of plastic to fit (I used one of those hard plastic sheets out of a binder) and place it in the bottom of the exterior. Slip it under the seam allowances to help keep it in place and the slide the lining bag into the exterior bag. Line up the side seams and pin the two bags together. I've made this bag three times so far and every time the lining ends up a little too long so don't worry if it pokes out above the top of the exterior bag. It's more important that the inside be smooth and fit snugly rather than those top edges meet exactly.
Sew all the way around the top edge of the bag to hold everything in place and trim whatever excess lining is peeking out of the top.

Attaching the Top Trim:

If you would like you can add a magnetic snap to keep the bag closed. I finally did this on this last bag and I love the results, but it isn't necessary. Just attach it on the insides of the Top Trim pieces.

Open the Top Trim piece so it lays flat. Stand the bag up and slide the Top Trim piece over the bag so the raw edge of the Top Trim matches up with the top edge of the bag. Pin all around the top of the bag. It will look like this:

N.B. If you opted for the magnetic snap make sure the side where they are attached is not the side that you are pinning to the bag or else you will have little magnets on the outside of your bag.

Carefully sew a 1/2" seam all around the top of the bag. Pull up the Top Trim piece and turn the inside to the inside. Pin the inside of the Top Trim piece along the inside of the bag turning under approximately 1/2" to cover up your stitching line. Carefully top stitch all around the bag again and you're done!

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Part 1: Tote Bag Tutorial

Okay, this is my first tutorial so go easy on me. If something doesn't seem to make sense I will try to explain it better. I tried not to get too wordy with it and used pictures where it seemed useful. Of course, the usual restrictions apply, don't pass this off as your own pattern, link to this tutorial and give credit if you do make this. Do not make this for profit, though if you get in contact with me and explain the situation an exception might be made. Please make this for charity and gifts, send me a pic if you do - I would love to see them!

I like a bag that is sturdy and looks just as nice when it is empty as when it is full. But this pattern does still look nice even if the lining isn't interfaced, or if it is interfaced with a mediumweight interfacing instead of heavy. Guess I'm just trying to say it is a flexible pattern.


1/2 yard cotton for exterior
3/4 yard cotton for lining
1/2 yard cotton for handles and trim
2 yards heavyweight fusible interfacing
12" zipper to match lining fabric


1 magnetic snap
1 14 x 4 inch piece of plastic (for bottom)


Fold the fabric selvage to selvage to cut it. If you are a visual person I snapped these pictures to show all the dimensions.

Bag Exterior


* that red text I tried to highlight came out unreadable, it says 5 1/2 inches.


Once all the pieces are cut you will have:

  • Front & Back 11x15 inches
  • 2 Sides 5x11
  • 1 Bottom 5x15
  • 2 Pockets 6x5
  • Front & Back 11x 15 inches
  • 2 Sides 5 1/2 x11
  • 1 Bottom 5x15
  • 2 Pockets 6x5
  • 2 Divider Pocket 9x15
  • 4 Handles 2x21 inches
  • 4 Top Trim 5x19
There will be a few pieces left over. Make them into small pockets if you're feeling ambitious.


Now that all the pieces are cut out cut your interfacing for each piece. I cut all of my pieces 1/2 inch smaller on each side to minimize on bulky seams.

A couple of exceptions are the Lining Sides. Cut a 4x10 inch piece of interfacing for each and then cut each one in half so you have 2 2x10 inch strips. Fuse each strip with the same half inch seam allowance so that there will be a 1/2 inch gap left unlined. This is where the Zippered Divider Pocket will be sewn in later.

I also did not interface the Divider Pocket pieces, or the Lining for the side pockets, and only interfaced half of the handles. For the Top Trim cut 4 18x4 inch rectangles of interfacing and we'll shape those next.

Top Trim:

To shape these pieces draw the pattern onto one Top Trim Interfacing piece that has been folded in half. Measure in 3 7/8 inches from the folded edge and 1 1/2 inches down. Draw a curve to remove the sharp angle and cut out this piece. Use the discarded piece as a template to draw the rest of the curves.

Now measure over 1 3/4 inches from the top of the curve (this is where the handle will be attached) and use your template to trace the curve again. Cut out the curve and then trace the pattern onto the other 3 pieces of interfacing.

Now fuse all the interfacing to your fabric pieces and cut the Top Trim fabric with a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Now it's time to sew!


Pin two handle pieces (one interfaced and one plain) right sides together. Sew along the long edges leaving the ends open with a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Repeat for the other handle. Turn the handles right side out, press and top stitch.

Top Trim:

Pin two of the Top Trim pieces with right sides together. Place each end of one handle strip into the spaces for them letting them stick out about 1/2 inch or so beyond the end on the Top Trim piece. Make sure the handle is not twisted. Sew along the top edge of the pattern pieces and clip the curves.

Turn right side out and repeat for remaining pieces. Open the Top Trim pieces and lay them right sides together. Pin the short sides together on each end and sew.

Now turn right side out. Topstitch all the way around the upper edge of the Top Trim, pull the stray threads to the inside and knot. Trim and set aside.

Assemble the Exterior:

Pin one exterior pocket and a lining pocket right sides together. Sew across the top edge then flip so the wrong sides are together, press. Topstitch along the top edge you just sewed. Repeat for the other pocket.

Layer the pieces as shown in the image and sew along the turquoise line. With the other pieces layer them the same as the picture except sew the Pocket and Side pieces to the other edge of the fabric so you will end up with a pocket on each end of your bag. Open up both sets and lay them with right sides together. Pin and sew each end to create a tube.

Cut a small square out of each corner of the bottom piece to make sewing in this piece easier.

Line up the fabric so the corner of the interfacing points into the side seam. Repeat for each corner. Pin along the long sides of the bag.

Sew up these sides beginning and ending at the corners of the interfacing to preserve the shape of the bag. Line up and pin the short sides together on each end and sew them the same way.

You're done with the exterior part of the bag! Now I think I should divide this tutorial in two posts because it is getting pretty long.