Quilting · Sewing

Eclectic Elements Patchwork Tote Bag

After making my first bag, I decided I needed to make another. I had bought an Eclectic Elements charm pack a while ago thinking it would make a great tote bag. I love the colours and patterns of the fabric, and the whole denim feel. In fact, I love the look of this collection, I wish I had bought more than one charm pack. I was able to find an Eclectic Mix fat quarter bundle, which is now safely in my stash.

I decided to keep this tote bag simple, and just laid out the charm squares how I wanted them to look on the bag. I didn’t cut up the squares, just sewed them together as 5″ squares. I used 36 charm squares for this bag.

After sewing all my charm squares together, I attached medium weight fusible interfacing to the back. The interfacing helps provide some stability to the bag. There are different types of interfacing available. I had medium weight on hand so that is what I used.

After fusing the interfacing to the back, I quilted the patchwork piece with 1/4″ stitching on each side of the all the seams. I also stitched 1/2″ along the edges of the short sides of the piece, so that there would be 1/4″ stitching along the back seam.

For my lining, I used a solid grey cotton I had on hand. I was thinking of going for something that had a denim look to it, but didn’t find anything that had the look I wanted.

I decided I wanted to add an inside pocket to this tote bag, so after cutting the fabric to the size of my patchwork piece, I pressed a centre seam, and marked where I wanted to place the pocket.

I cut out two pieces of fabric for the pocket, and attached interfacing to one of the pieces.

I pressed a 1/4″ flap at the top of each of the pocket pieces, and stitched the fabric pieces together along three sides, keeping the side with the flap unsewn. Leaving the top open allowed me to turn the pocket right side out, putting the interfacing on the inside. To ensure the bottom corners would turn out flat, I cut out the corners from the bottom. Once I turned the pocket right side out, I stitched the top of the pocket flap closed.

I placed the pocket flap in the marked box I drew on the lining, and attached it by sewing both sides and the bottom.

I sewed both the patchwork piece and the lining into a tube, by sewing the short sides together, with right sides facing in. This creates a back seam in the bag. When sewing the lining, I left a 4-5″ gap so I could turn the bag right side out once everything is sewn together.

I laid each piece out with the seam centred, pressed the sides, and stitched the bottom of the bag closed. I did this for both the patchwork and the lining. After sewing the bottom, I cut out 2″ squares from each of the bottom corners. The cutout corners are opened up, the bottom seam is matched up with the press line along the side, and the bottom corners are stitched closed.

For my straps, to go with the denim feel of the patchwork, I used denim from an old pair of pants and cut two 6″ by 30″ strips. This worked out to be one leg of a pair of jeans, one strip from the front of one leg, and one strip from the bag. These strips were sewn into 1.5″ width straps by folding the 6″ strips in half and pressing to create a centre line. The strip is opened up, the sides folded into the centre line, and with the sides folded in, the strip is folded along the pressed line.

Once my straps were made, I put the bag together by turning the patchwork piece inside out, pinning the straps on the inside of the patchwork, and sliding the lining piece in with right side facing the patchwork and the back of the lining visible if you look in the bag. I stitched the patchwork, straps and lining together by sewing a 1/4″ around the top of the bag.

With the bag pieces sewn together, I turned the bag right side out, gently pulling the patchwork and straps through the 4-5″ opening that was left in the lining seam. Once the bag was fully turned right side out, I sewed the opening in the lining closed, pressed the top of the bag where the patchwork and lining were sewn together, and then I stitched around the top of the bag 1/4″ from the top seam.

This bag is bigger than a rail fence tote bag I made previously. I might use it as my day to day bag during work days. It could also be a good grocery bag. Hopefully some day soon I can use it.

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