Got another finished project for y’all today. I’ve been on a tote-bag-making streak lately, partly because I’ve been making a bunch for my Etsy site, The Delicate Tension. It’s totes amazing….(I mean, c’mon, how could I let that one just slip by??)
The fabric the tote bag is made from is very special to me. I bought it almost ten years ago when I spent three months in Monrovia, Liberia in West Africa. Working on a hospital ship for three months was a profound and beautiful experience for me, and dramatically increased the worldview of my 19 year-old self. See pictures below:
Ahh, sweet memories. Anyways, the fabric I bought was from a local market and I had a purse made out of it. I had tons leftover, and I’ve kept the rest of it for years, waiting to figure out what to do with it. I finally decided that reusable market bags would be just the thing 🙂
These bags are pretty simple to make, so I’ll give you a quick overview if you’ve got a sewing machine, some ambition, and want to make reusable shopping or tote bags for grocery shopping, beach adventures or whatever tickles your fancy. These measurements are flexible, and if you want a bigger or smaller bag, you can definitely make your way ;-). I fully lined this bag for a little extra hold, but you certainly don’t have to do that if you want to save on time. And now, on to the bag!
First, I folded my fabric in half and cut a piece that was 16 inches in length and 19 inches in height:
Then, I used my serger to serge two of the open edges together, leaving the third open. If you don’t have a serger, a French seam would be a great alternative. There’s a great tutorial here.
Then, I pinched out the bottom two corners until they formed a triangle. I then serged across those triangles to create a boxy shape for the bottom of the bag:
I did this a second time to create a lining for the bag from the same fabric. Next I cut two strips 23 inches long by 4 inches wide for the straps. I serged each strip wrong sides together, and then flipped them inside out to hide the seams, and press the straps flat:
Here’s the slightly tricky part: Leave the outer fabric inside out but turn the lining fabric right sides out. Put the lining down inside the outer bag. Insert the strips in between the two layers of fabric, pin, and stitch almost all the way around, leaving a three inch opening:
Once you’ve sewed the edges, leaving a small opening, remove the pins and flip both pieces of fabric inside out. Push the inner lining into the outer fabric. Press the seam line nice and flat, then topstitch (stitch very close to the edge of the fabric) all the way around the top of the bag. This will close the opening that you used to turn the bag. I topstitched twice around because I like the way it looks. Then, voila! A new bag all ready to go:
If you don’t have a sewing machine, I have a few more bags like this with some pizzazz in my Etsy shop, but more on that project soon. If you’re still reading, thanks for hanging on with me! Have a wonderful holiday weekend, friends!