Wednesday, 12 March 2014

How To... Make a fabric remnant Tote Bag

Welcome to my latest  How to..." How to make a fabric remnant Tote Bag! 

The inspiration behind creating this "How to..." has come through having numerous crafty projects on the go and carting them to and from work in various bags, ready to work on in my lunch hour. I thought how much more organised it would be to have a little cotton Tote bag to house each project and to keep them a little more stylishly than in the current bags for life!!! 

Also, one of my aims through this series is to show you how you can create something handmade and unique without having to spend much, placing emphasis on using what you have and Make Do and Mend. I had this fabric left over from when I made a rag doll for my niece, but this could also easily be made from an old top, dress, pillow case, etc. Think of it as a recipe that you can tweak according to the ingredients you have in the cupboard! So without further ado, let us begin...

1). You will need

A fabric remnant, fabric scissors, pins, sew-all thread to match your fabric, sheets of newspaper, sewing machine. 

2) Fold your fabric in half

Fold your fabric in half to give you a bottom edge and two layers of fabric

3) Pin newspaper pattern to your fabric

Using a single sheet of newspaper as your pattern, place the paper on the fold of your fabric in the bottom corner and pin this to your fabric, ensuring you pin through both layers of fabric. My newspaper pattern measures 47cmx31cm. You could make it bigger or smaller if you prefer

4) Cut around your newspaper pattern

5) Remove newspaper and pins to leave your basic bag shape

6) Create your top edge

Create a neat top edge for your bag by folding over one inch at the top of your fabric and pressing with an iron

Fold over by another inch and press again. Repeat these steps for the other side of your fabric

7) Tack along your top edge

8) Machine stitch your top edges

Using a straight stitch and the wrong side of your bag facing you (so you can follow the visible edge) machine two vertical rows of stitching to secure the turn over. The first should be aprox 1cm away from the edge, with the second row as close as possible to the edge. Repeat this for the other side of your bag and sew in your ends. Remove the tacking

9) Cut the bag handles

Cut a piece of newspaper (mine measures 52cm x 4cm) to use as your template and then pin this to your left over fabric. Cut four pieces

10) Turn over the ends

Turn up each end of the four fabric strips by 1cm. Press with the iron- this will give you a neat finish

11) Sew the handles

Pair up your fabric strips and with right sides together, tack and then machine a straight stitch down each long side, leaving a 5mm seam allowance and creating a tube. Repeat for the other strap. Remove the tacking

12) Turn straps through

Turn the fabric tubes back the right way (a knitting needle comes in really handy for this, or a Bodkin if you have one) to give you two handles. If you would prefer you could use webbing or ribbon for straps, if you have some to hand

13) Stitch your straps to the bag

Pin and tack your handles to your bag, lining them up with your top edge. Stitch a long rectangle to secure the handle. If, like me, you're not that neat on the sewing machine, you could always cover this stitching with buttons, beads or decorative stitching. Likewise you could cover your top edge stitching with ribbon or rick rack, which you could applique or use Bondaweb to hold in place

14) Almost finished! Stitch the side seams using a French Seam

Now all you need to do is sew up the sides of your bag. There are some options here- you could simply place the right sides of your fabric together and stitch a straight seam up each side, allowing a 1cm seam allowance. This would, however, leave you with raw edges to your seams.

The other option is to create a French Seam, which is great as it encloses your raw edges and is really simple (promise!)

To create a French Seam you will need to place your fabric with wrong sides together and stitch a straight seam down each side, allowing a 5mm seam allowance.

Next, trim away a couple of millimeteres from the seam allowance (see below). Press this seam open

Next, turn your bag through so the right sides of your fabric are together and press along the seam line.

Stitch a row of tacking very close to your first seam. 

Next, machine stitch 1cm in from your seamed edge- this encloses the raw seam

Remove the tacking and press the seam to one side. Turn through the right way and press again. Check out You Tube for some really helpful tutorials on this here

15) It's finished!

All ready to take my knitting project to work in! If you make one I'd love if if you could link a pic of it in the comments box!

Happy making!

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