Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Ultimate Tote Bag

I’m taking a short break from sewing clothes. I’ve been sewing like a fiend for months and I want a little respite before I burn out! I’m doing easy projects that don’t require much thought or fitting. One of my favorite projects is my Ultimate Tote Bag. I need a large, colorful tote bag to carry toys and materials when I work with children in their homes. I was walking through IKEA and spotted the canvas fabric used in this tote. Before cutting, the fabric had really huge (about 20” diameter) polka dots and semi-circles. I placed and cut my pieces to take full advantage of the colorful shapes.

Here are some of the features:

1. I wanted the sides to be stiff enough to almost stand on their own, so I fused craft-weight interfacing to muslin, then basted the muslin to the fabric as an interlining. The big roomy front pocket is not interfaced or lined.

2. To make the bottom stiff, I made a “sandwich” with two pieces of Peltex (or Timtex) and a piece of plastic needlepoint canvas. The plastic canvas is sewn between two pieces of Peltex. I placed the sandwich between the bottom fabric and lining. My intention was to use materials that would retain their stiffness after washing. When I make another tote bag, I’ll round the corners.

3. I added a separate piece for the zipper closure. I can pull it up if I need more room. The zipper closure piece is sewn to the body using a French seam so that the top will fold into the bag when the extra space is not needed.

5. Inside pocket for small items.

I won’t divulge how many of these tote bags I’ve made. Every time I think of ways to improve the design, I make another bag. But, that’s okay because my motto is “You can never have enough tote bags.”


  1. Love it! Great use of the ginormous polka dots! I like the way the zip drops down into the bag because of the french seam - very clever.

  2. It's great, and so useful. I love when something I make is actually useful!

    And I agree wholeheartedly...bags are like shoes in that you can't have too many! Why don't men understand that???

  3. great post! i love totes. i use them for everything!