Thank you again for all the good wishes on my birthday. They were such a wonderful gift!
And now I have a little gift for all of you, a fun little bag tutorial.
I was shopping at Joann Fabrics with my mom last week, thinking of making a few totebags for some teachers I adore. I was planning on making some like the ones I made last year
, but without the quilting, because that is the most time-consuming part. And, I thought if I could find some kind of nice webbing to use as straps (not the gymbag plasticy stuff), then that would eliminate the other most time-consuming part, the making of the straps.
So, I found some cute prints in the home dec department and some webbing that wasn't plasticy, but cottony like twill tape but a little stronger, and I was like, bingo! I am really cutting down the time it takes to make these!
After that, my mom and I went across the street to Crate and Barrel
to get a wedding shower gift. I was looking at all the cute kitcheny-gifty things, and I had switched my brain to the category of shower gift, but I guess I still had the totebags on my mind.
'Cause right then I saw the dishtowels....and I about had a conniption. Cute, sturdy cotton prints, already cut in the shape of rectangles. My tote-bag plan had already eliminated the quilting and the making of the strap, thereby cutting down the time needed to make them, but by eliminating the cutting out, I was also eliminating all the time it would take to clear a space on my table big enough to cut out! Whoo hoo!!!!
And thus was born my summery-floppy-dishtowel totebag.
So, here are the instructions:
You will need 2 co-ordinating rectangular dishcloths that are the same size, matching thread, and 1 yard of webbing. I used a twill tape style webbing. 1 yard makes standard handles, you would need 1.5 yard for longer straps if you want it to go over your shoulder. Also, a scrap of wonder under is optional.
Step 1: Press the dishtowels. They will probably have creases from being folded and it is much easier to press them now than after you have made the bag. Use a spray bottle with water to get those stubbon creases out, the finished bag will be much more polished, trust me.
Also, double check that the dishtowels are really the same size. It will save you a headache down the road.
Step 2: Trim off the hems on the long sides of both dishtowels. (I didn't do this on the first few, and they still came out fine. It just makes the top edge a little nicer at the side seam because it eliminates the bulk.)
Step 3: Fold the bag in half, right sides together, and sew the side seams--the sides that you cut. (Do this for the 2nd dishtowel too-total 4 seams.)
Step 4: Now you will make the gusset. The gusset is the bottom of the bag--it's what makes the rectangle three dimensional, like a cereal box, as opposed to a flat rectangle, like a file folder.
Hold the bag in your lap, right sides still together and with one of the side seams on top, so the hemmed open side is toward you and the fold is away from you. Pull up the sides to make a triangle out of a bottom corner of the bag. I don't know how to describe this, so if it doesn't make sense, just look at the picture.
For taller totebags I usually make the gusset about 4", but since this is more of an open, market bag, I made it 5". It doesn't matter too much, as long as you are consistent. You want to pinch and pull the triangle so it is even, and if you are making the gusset 5", measure across where it is 5" and you will know it is even if the seam is centered at the halfway point--2.5".
Mark the sewing line with a pencil and put a pin or two in the seam.
Sew across the marked line and cut away the excess triangle. Do this on the other bottom corner too. And the corners on the 2nd dishtowel.
Step 5: Press the side seams open. Don't worry about pressing the bottom seam, you just need to poke out the bottom corners with your fingers, you don't need to press it.
Step 6 (Optional): At this point, since I am at the ironing board, I like to iron a small scrap rectangle of wonder under to the bottom of one of the bags. Probably the lining one. But it's a completely reversable bag, so it doesn't really matter. The wonder under at the bottom of the bag will make the 2 layers stick together and the lining stay in place, instead of shifting around and getting sloppy. It's optional.
Now, you have 2 bag parts.
Step 7: Put the bag together. Pick one to be the outside and one to be the inside lining. Turn the lining piece with wrong-side out and stick it down into the outside part.
Match the 2 pieces up at the side seams. Put a pin on either side of the seam, using another pin to poke the edges of those seam allowances slightly downward inside the bag "sandwich" so they won't show after you've sewn the edge.
Match up the hems of the top of the bag, and put a pin in the middle. Add more if you need them.
Step 8: the strap. Cut your yard of webbing in half for 2 straps and you will stick the ends right down between the 2 layers. Stick it in about 1/2 inch, or a little less. Don't stress about it.
As far as where to position the strap, I measured in from the side seam about 4" and centered the strap there. Adjust it to suit your taste. I only put one pin in the strap, but I sewed very carefully over the strap to make sure it was perpendicular to the bag. It is easy to shift while sewing and then the strap comes out of the bag a little slanted, so you might want to put 2 pins in, to be sure it is stable.
Here you can see the first strap pinned in place. Make sure the straps are coming out of the bag nice and perpendicular, and that the handle isn't twisted! Pin the strap in place on the other side too.
Step 9: holding it all together. Now you are ready to sew around the top edge. Go slow and make sure you are catching both the outer and inner bag. I sewed a scant 1/8th of an inch from the edge. In the photo below, the stitching line on the left is the hem of the dishtowel that was already there. The line of stitching on the right is my stitching that secures both bags together and the strap in place.
I like to do 2 rounds of stitching to make sure it is nice and secure. Below you can see where I sewed my scant 1/8, and then sewed in between my sewing line and the hem of the towel, so it looks like 3 cute rows of topstitching.
Now that it is all together, if you used the Wonder Under in step 6, fluff the bag out, lining everything up as it should be, and lower a hot iron down into the bag bottom to fuse the 2 layers together. This makes a nice finish.
You are ready for the beach, the library, the farmer's market........
And I betcha can't make just one! Have fun!