Who doesn’t want a handmade tote bag, right?
This simple craft tutorial was taught to me by the lovely ladies at R&B Designs and organised by the awesome Laura Ashley team at The Manor (the Laura Ashley hotel in Elstree.)
For the first time I used the ‘french seam’ to create a neat bag and even tried out some decoupage with added embroidery. We were given a few hours to design and craft a tote bag and a few ladies never sewn before either, so it’s definitely a good sewing project for beginners!
What You Will Need:
- Fabric – I used Laura Ashley fabrics
- Sewing machine
- Needle & threads (threads for embroidery as well as for sewing machine)
- Scissors, markers and pens etc
- Fabric glue or iron-on bond (I used a light bond iron-on adhesive)
How to Sew a Tote Bag – Step by Step Tutorial
Cut up your material. You will need two pieces of fabric, either identical or I used 1 flower patterned and one bold red. Cut these into rectangles measuring 25 inches by 27 inches.
Choose your design. Use online or get creative and think of the design that will go on the front. I decided to create a circle in the centre (which looks a bit like a Ying Yang) and added flower fabric using iron-on bonds and then embroidered it, adding ‘Once upon a time’ quote at the top. Note: it might be easier if you sketch something out beforehand using a pen and paper so that you know what it might end up looking like.
Tip: Remember to add your design the right way up. The longer length needs to be vertical.
Sew the rectangles. Once you’ve finished with your design it’s time to make the tote bag. Use a french seam to sew three sides of your rectangle, leaving your design the right way up and only one short side open. To french seam you will need to sew the fabric together with wrong sides together, then cut the seam in half leaving 0.5cm all around. Now turn it inside out and sew a cm around the edges again. Once you’ve done that, turn it inside out again and you will find that the seam is covered up. Neaten the edges if need be with scissors (if you have visible frayed bits coming out.)
Neaten the top of your tote bag. Fold the top edge of your bag twice (1cm each fold) and sew. I used a fun stitch as it’s visible on the exterior.
Create two straps. Cut 2 pieces of fabric, measuring 3 inches by 27 inches. I chose material that matches my design. Then, lengthways fold 0.5 cm of both edges, then put the two together, doubling up the material and so you are left with a strap that’s an inch thick. Roughly tack or pin.
Now sew two straight lines on either edge (0.5cm from edge) of the strap’s length.
To sew the straps onto the bag, simply fold twice (1cm each fold.) Take care to sew where your other seam is for a neat finish. I measured about 3 inches from the side of the tote bag to sew my straps for comfort. Tip: one strap for one side, and don’t forget to check that it isn’t twisted.
Once that’s done it’s time to enjoy your tote bag or gift it!
This sewing idea makes a perfect Christmas gift or birthday present 🙂
Will you be making your own tote bag?
And if you are, what design would you have at the front?
Many thanks to Laura Ashley for inviting me and offering more sewing ideas to keep my hands busy. #LAcrafting