Free Tote Instructions

Posted by on 6 March 2018 | 2 Comments

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Last week I had the Black-eyed Susan block "under the needle" so this week I decided to revisit the previous Spring Life BOM block - the clematis. In my BOM program, I used the design to decorate a corner of a block so I could demonstrate Echo quilting and now I have decided to turn this block into a small tote to hold a book I made for a friend. Today I want to share with you the instructions on how to make this tote..... and it's easy to adapt if you need to!

tote with book

Learn to make this tote (left) in this free tutorial

My design block was squared up to at 13" square - I'll use this for the front. I cut another square the same size and sewed the two together around three sides leaving the top edge open.... you could make another design block for the back if you wanted or use the design block for a pocket.

I determined I wanted the tote to be about 2-1/2" thick thus the front/back would be about 10" square when finished. To create this you make boxed corners on the bottom. It's a little difficult to explain so I thought I'd show you how in a video instead. The thing to remember is, the larger your triangle box is, the thicker the tote will be so you can adjust it accordingly.

Creating a Boxed Base on tote

With both corners boxed, we are almost complete. All that is required now is to finish the top edge. There are a number of ways to do this. Handles can be made if you want or you can simply bind it off and form a casing to thread a cord through.

I added a lining to mine by repeating the procedure above with a lining fabric with one exception, I left a gap in the base seam so that I can turn it inside out. This is sewn closed later.

But before adding the lining I added a closing tab as well which is one way that handles can be also made. Very simple - two pieces of fabric the length you want and one layer of thin batting. Stitch them all together leaving one end open (or both for handles). These ends will be included in the seams. Once stitched, I usually trim the seam allowance close to the stitching too, to reduce bulk.... then turn inside out and top stitch along the seamed edges. 

tab for tote

tab for tote

The tab was stitched to the right side of the main section, then with lining inside out, I pop the bag (which is right side out), into the lining so both right sides are facing each other. Make sense? Then I stitch around the top raw edges. Now the trick is, did I leave a big enough hole in the lining base seam so I can turn it all in the right way? Yes! A 3-4" gap should be enough.

Once it's in the right way, remember to stitch up that hole you left in the lining! I added an extra feature of piped edges. This helps keep the tote square shaped as well as being a design feature - I pressed in the fold then stitched less than 1/8" from the folded edge.

piped edge of tote

piped edge of tote

To finish I topstitched around the top, pulling the lining out a 1/4" as another design feature. Then added a velcro dot to the tab.

top edge of tote

decorative edge around rim using the lining turned upward

I hope you will use this tutorial to make your next tote.... and I'd love to see a photo of it too!

If you would like to know more about the Design Block, you can find the pattern here: BOM Clematic Block


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  • Great idea for orphan blocks. (All those demo’s we do for classes) or UFO’s

    Posted by Barbara, 20/03/2018 11:45am (3 years ago)

  • Nice bag, thanks for sharing your process.

    Posted by Sue Smith, 20/03/2018 11:28am (3 years ago)

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