Meg invited me to share a “Sewing 101” tutorial on her blog a while back. I share it here with you today.
I started sewing by machine when my first son was born, 18 years ago. My first project was a fabric doll for my niece. I hit some road blocks, but my mother-in-law was able to help me. Since then, I’ve stitched thousands of miles on my Singer and ripped out quite a few miles as well. I have learned perseverance and received much enjoyment from this wonderful hobby.
It is my hope that you will try this simple reversible tote and learn a few things along the way. The end result is a simple bag, perfect for carrying your library books. The teens love these to toss in their gym clothes or extra belongings for school or extracurriculars.
Reversible Canvas Tote Tutorial
- 1/2 yard canvas fabric, 45″ wide
- 1/2 yard coordinating canvas fabric for lining, 45″ wide
- 2/3 yard interfacing, Pellon 911 F or comparable
- tube turning tool
- apply interfacing
- make a fabric tube
Use 1/4″ seam allowance.
1. Cut Fabric: Fold fabric so that selvages meet at the top.
2. Mark the fabric at 13 1/2 inches wide.
3. Mark the fabric 16 inches from the fold. Connect marks to create a rectangle and cut out fabric.
4. Use this folded fabric piece as your pattern for the contrasting lining piece and cut. You should now have two rectangles, each 13 1/2″ x 32″.
Tip: If you plan to make a lot of these bags, make a simple pattern using pattern fabric (as shown in this photo), wax paper, or freezer paper.
5. Cut two rectangles for the handles: each 3 3/4″ x width of fabric (in most cases 22 1/2″).
6. Interface the handles. This provides stability for the handles so that they don’t crinkle up too easily. I use Pellon 911 F interfacing.
- Cut the interfacing using the handles as a pattern.
- Trim a 1/4″ from one short side and one long side of the interfacing. This will help prevent getting interfacing on your ironing board.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to apply the interfacing. I typically use a damp handkerchief and apply a hot, dry oven for 15 seconds. When the application is done I iron the handle pieces.
7. Sew handles: With right sides together, fold long edges of handle pieces together. Stitch long edge. Repeat with other handle.
8. Turn handles inside out. There are a number of products you can use to do this. I use this Clover product.
Press the handle. You can stitch along the long edges of the handle, if desired. Stitch close to the edges, approximately 1/8″ from the edge. Have your eye focus on the needle and edge of the fabric.
9. Sew bag: With right sides together, sew long sides of fabric. Press seams.
Tip: Pressing helps set your stitches and create a professional-looking seam. Use and up and down motion (not back and forth like ironing) to move along the length of the seam. Then press the seam to one side.
10. Repeat with contrast lining fabric.
11. Make a mock box bottom.
- Pull the fabric so that the seam is in the center and a triangle forms at the bottom of the bag.
- Find the point at which there are 3″ across the base of the triangle and draw a line. Sew along this marked line.
- Trim the triangle about 1/4″ from sewn edge.
- Repeat on the remaining bottom corners of both bags.
12. Pin handles to the bag front, right sides together, 3″ from each edge. Stitch in place.
13. Insert bag with handles into the lining bag, right sides together.
14. Start at the side seams and pin the fabric together around the top edge of the bag.
15. Stitch around the top of the bag, all layers together, leaving a 2-3″ opening for turning. I like to leave the opening where there is no handle. I start by back-stitching, stitch around the circle and then back-stitch at the point I stop.
16. Pull the lining fabric through the opening.
17. Push the lining fabric inside the main fabric.
18. Press around the entire top, pressing the seam allowances at the opening under. Pin the opening closed.
19. Top stitch around the top edge. First stitch 1/8″ from the edge and then repeat at 1/2″ from the edge.
20. Give the bag a final press and enjoy!
What a lovely tote and color combo!!
What an adorable tote! Fabulous tutorial, you always do a wonderful job with these. You are such a great sewer. Thank you for sharing your skills with everyone.
Have a great weekend,
This was so great, I can’t wait to make one for myself. (I just have to finish mastering sewing a straight line)
The tote is bright and pretty, and I can think of so many uses for it. But I have to say … sewing looks hard! Maybe some day.
How are you doing with your son away at college? I loved your post with the picture of him turning to look out the window of the van.
What is the fabric you used for the bag shown in your blog header–the pink floral one–love it!!
Looks like a great tutorial, very step by step, which I love (and need, as a non-expert sewer)! I’m going to make a little ballet bag for my daughter. Hope it goes well! 🙂
really lovely and I wish to have that in Template as I would really love to learn this Tote bag xx
The only comment I have is. Instead of leaving open a part at the top to turn . I usually leave an space at the bottom of the lining to turn. Very easy to hand sew it closed after you turn it to right side.
I agree. I usually, now, leave an opening on the side and machine stitch it closed.
I know it was published a while back, but I just found this tutorial and I LOVE it!
I am a confident beginner, and today I made 3 of these.
Two are for my girls bedrooms. I hang them on their door handle and they fill them with dirty laundry.
They love the bags, and I am really hoping they use them too 😉
I also made one for my daughter to take her music to her cello lessons in.
Thanks so much for sharing such a great (easy to follow!) tutorial.
Thanks so much Fiona! I love this basic tote. I made them for my kids, too. And I made and sold them at craft shows. I hopped over to your blog and see that you have a beautiful family! And similar to mine – with interest in music!
I’m glad that you found the tote easy to make. This is a good first project. I have used it to teach tweens and teens to sew. I always hated sewing or knitting classes that didn’t get me sewing or knitting the moment I walked in!
You described everything very well. Thanks for sharing. I have fabric with a book design p rinted on it which will be perfect for me.