Sometimes I need an extra large tote to carry things from one place to another. Nothing fancy, no need for pockets, just a bag that will let me carry largish items easily. Today I'll show you how I made my No Frills Extra Large Tote. It's a super quick and easy make.
When recently packing for a holiday, I realised I didn't have a bag large enough to put my pillow in, other than heavy, bulky suitcases. My pillow was only going to sit on the back seat of the car, but packing it in a light bag meant I could pop other things in with it and that would leave my hands free to carry other things when we reached our destination. So, I made my new bag large enough to fit a pillow.
- 2 pieces - 29 inches x 21 inches (74cm x 53cm) - home decor weight exterior fabric
- 2 pieces - 29 inches x 21 inches (74cm x 53cm) - lining fabric
- 2 lengths cotton webbing - 68 inches x 1.5 inches (173cm x 3.8cm) - straps (handles)
- 2 pieces grosgrain ribbon - 13 inches (33cm ) - tie for the top of the bag
When cutting exterior and lining fabric:
- 29" (74cm) = Width
- 21" (53cm) = Height
- All seams are 3/8" (1cm), unless otherwise indicated.
- If using a home decor weight fabric, neaten the edges of all cut fabric before you sew it.
- When pressing, be careful to stay well away from the ribbon, as it will melt easily. If using webbing that is not cotton, keep it away from the iron also.
- If using home decor weight fabric, use a needle for thicker fabrics, such as a denim or jeans needle.
Sew straps to exterior fabric:
Each 68" piece of webbing forms one handle. I used cotton webbing which is very easy to sew. I have never sewn with synthetic webbing, but I feel it is probably harder to sew.
- Starting at the bottom of the exterior fabric, pin the strap 9" (23cm) from the side of the bag.
- Take the other end of the same strap and pin 9" (23cm) from the other side.
- Baste the straps in place (hand sew with a long running stitch), stopping 1" (2.5cm) away from the top edge.
- Remove pins.
- Topstitch 1/8" (3mm) from either edge of the straps, stopping 1" (2.5cm) away from the top edge. I increased my stitch length to 3 for the topstitching and used a contrasting coloured thread.
- Find the midpoint and sew ribbon to the top edge of the exterior, sewing 3/8" (1cm) from the edge. Sew a couple of times to secure and zig zag the top edge. (I used 2" wide ribbon, but I think a narrower ribbon would tie more easily.)
Baste straps to exterior fabric.
Mark 1" from the top edge, baste and then sew on either edge of the strap to that point.
Confession time... I measured incorrectly and cut each strap to the wrong length. I wasn't wasting the webbing, so I joined it. When I'm carrying the bag, I don't notice the join, but I can see it clearly in every single photo. Do as I say, not as I do... measure twice and cut once, then your strap won't look like this.
- With right sides together, sew the side seams and bottom seam.
- Sew the two side seams first, each time starting at the top.
- If you didn't neaten the edges at the very beginning, do so now. Do NOT sew the sides of the seams together. Sew each side separately.
- Press seams open. Don't worry that you can't press the seams open at the corners. You are going to cut these off later.
Making the box corner:
- Measure 3" (8cm) from the bottom corner seam in both directions. (Measure from the seam. Don't measure from the edge of the fabric.)
- Put a mark to show where 3" (8cm) is. You will have four marks, all 3" (8cm) from the bottom corners.
- Pull out the sides of your bag.
- Place one seam on top of the other seam.
- Put a pin through the top mark. If the pin comes out through the mark on the other side, your boxed corner will line up.
- If the pin is not coming out through the mark on the other side, reposition the fabric until it does.
- Make sure the seams are open.
- Holding the fabric in place, take the pin out and re-pin away from the marks.
- With a ruler, draw a line across the fabric, at right angles to the seam and through the mark you made.
- Remove the pin. If you would like, hand sew to hold in place.
- Sew across the line. I sew a couple of times for reinforcement.
- Cut the fabric and neaten.
- Repeat for the other side.
- Turn the exterior right side out and press.
Measure 3" from the corner seam.
Line up the seams using a pin.
Rule a line to stitch along.
Sew boxed corner.
Finished boxed corner.
Sewing the lining:
The two lining pieces are joined in the same way as the exterior fabric, except that an 8" (20cm) gap is left in the bottom seam, to allow turning later on.
I used a thin cotton fabric for the lining and I neatened the seams after I had sewn the two lining pieces together. Neaten either side of the seam separately and press seams open. Make boxed corners the same as for the exterior fabric.
Attach the lining to the exterior fabric:
- Place the exterior inside the lining. ie: the right side of the exterior is next to the right side of the lining.
- Line up the top edges of the lining and the exterior. Tuck the straps and ribbon in between the exterior and the lining.
- Match the seams on either side, making sure the seams are open.
- Baste (hand sew) the top edges of the lining and the exterior to hold in place.
- Sew a 1/2" (1.3cm) seam to join the top edges of the lining and the exterior, making sure you DON'T catch the strap in the seam
- Zig zag around the top edge.
Place exterior inside the lining.
Baste the top edges and then sew.
Turn the exterior right side out:
- Put your fingers through the hole in the bottom of the lining.
- Pull the exterior out through the lining.
- Close the gap in the lining by sewing a row of stitching near to the edge.
Pull the exterior out through the lining.
- Push the lining back into the bag.
- Press the top edge of the bag, making sure the iron doesn't come in contact with the ribbon (or with any synthetic webbing). Place a damp cloth over the sections with the ribbon to press. I used a damp cloth when ironing over the cotton webbing, too. If you would prefer, you could finger press instead of using an iron.
- Topstitch 1/8inch (3mm) from the edge, around the top of the bag. You will topstitch through the straps.
- Sew a box with a cross in the middle, to secure the straps to the bag.
Topstitch around the top edge.
Secure the strap by sewing a box and a cross.
That's it... you've finished. With all the photos, this might look like a long project, but it's not. The tutorial is taking way longer than making the actual bag.
I've made my bag to fit a pillow, but I know I'll be using it for carrying other largish, but not too heavy, items.
It had just begun to sprinkle lightly with rain, as Mr TMW was taking the photos yesterday. Just as well we took them yesterday, because it's been raining ever since. Mind you, I'm not complaining, as we BADLY needed the rain. And it's been good, soaking rain. Great for the garden and it will have been welcomed by the firefighters working in many areas of NSW.
Just in case you were thinking I changed outfits mid photo shoot, the first photo was taken the day before the others.... a bad hair day and lots of really dorky looking photos I wasn't prepared to share. Perhaps I'm too vain... LOL!!! But I know lots of you feel like I do... very awkward in front of the camera!!! I'm slowly learning to relax a little and Mr TMW is generally very patient taking photos for my blog.
If you make a No Frills Extra Large Tote using this tutorial, I'd love you to share pics in the Threading My Way ~ Sewn by YOU Flickr group or leave me a link in the comments.