Craft #1: TOTE-ally Girly Tote

Hello friends!  I finally got around to blogging about my first craft of the year, a tote!  As this is the first tutorial I am posting, I hope it is sufficiently helpful and I don’t skip any steps.

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 pieces of fabric for the outside (I cut mine 13″ by 10″)
  • 2 pieces of fabric for the lining (same size as the outside pieces)
  • 2 long strips of fabric for the straps (mine were 2″ by 30″)
  • 2 long strips of fusible interfacing for the straps (1″ by 30″)
  • 1 piece of fabric for ruffle (10″ by 20″)
  • 1 strip of fabric for ruffle flower (1″ by 12″)
  • fabric for flower (I used a piece about 6″ by 6″)
  • Small bead
  • Needle and thread
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Sewing machine!
Okay, let’s all take a deep breath.  It’s not that hard, but it does take some time!  Here we go:
Cut all your fabric out and iron it so that there are no wrinkles.  I used my wonderful new rotary, which is like a pizza cutter for fabric and so easy to use (thanks mom!)

Fold the fabric for the ruffled portion in half (hotdog style!)  so that the right sides are facing in and iron it.  Sew down the long side opposite of the fold so that if forms a tube.  Turn it inside out so that now the good sides are on the outside.

Next, switch your sewing machine to the longest stitch length and sew down both sides of the tube, about a 1/2 inch away from the side.  When you are finished doing that, you make the ruffle by squishing the fabric together while holding onto one of the threads from each side.  That is a really bad explanation but I don’t know how else to say it… hopefully you can figure it out.

Pin the ruffle in place onto the front of one of your outer pieces of fabric.  Make sure that it is the same width as the outer fabric!

Disregard the fact that each end of my ruffle has a different colored fabric… I completely ran out of black thread so I had to switch to white for the rest of the project.  Don’t be a noob like me, make sure you have enough thread.

Switch your stitch length back to what you would normally use on your sewing machine, and sew down both sides of the ruffle.  I tried to line up the stitches with the stitches that were already on my ruffle, but it is kind of difficult because it’s… ruffled.

So, I went for the “purposely messy” look 🙂

On to the ruffled flower thing.  I did a very bad job of documenting this part, my apologies.  Basically what you do it, fold your long strip of fabric in half and pin it down where you want the center of your flower to be.  Twisting the fabric as you go, pin it down in a spiral.   I used a ton of pins, which helps because it holds it into shape.

With the pins in place, sew over top of the fabric in a swirl.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, but make sure you sew down every part of the flower to hold it in place.  I used a bright teal thread so that it would stand out.  Once you’re finished sewing it down, remove all the pins.

For the other flower, I used a really light, see-though fabric (I have no idea what it is though, sorry!)  Fold your fabric over on itself three times to make a square and pin in the middle.  Cut around the square to form a circle.  You should have three circles (alternately, you could trace them and cut them out individually, but I wasn’t going for precise circles)  Repeat this, folding the fabric over four times, so that you have four smaller circles.

You should now have three bigger circles, and four small circles.

After that, I decided I wanted the three bigger ones to be layered, so I trimmed them so they were different sizes.

Using a needle and thread, sew the three base circles onto your outer piece of fabric from underneath.

Next, take one of your smaller circles and fold it in half, then in half again.  If should look like this:

Sew the folded circle onto the others by sticking the needle into the point and arranging it onto the base circles.

Repeat for the other three, and then sew each of them onto the base more securely.

Lastly, thread a bead onto your needle and sew it in the center of the flower.  I sewed it down quite a few times so that it was super secure.

Ta-da!  You are now finished with the front of the tote.  You can change the look of your tote by altering the placement of one of the ruffle or flowers, or adding something different!

Next we’ll work on the straps.  Attach the fusible interfacing to one half of the strap, on the wrong side (the inside).  The interfacing makes it thicker and sturdier, so I would recommend using it.  Iron the fabric in half so that the right sides are together (this will make sewing it easier because the sides will be lined up nicely.)

Sew all the way down the side, pretty close to the side of the fabric (I did about 1/8″).  Make sure that when you are doing this, the tube is inside out!

Attach a safety pin to one end of the inside out tube and thread it through so that the tube is right-side out (this takes a bit of time and patience because the straps are long, and is a lot easier to do with a safety pin helping you!)

Hooray, you did it!  Follow the same steps for the other strap as well.  Iron them flat.

Pin your straps down so that they lie on the outside of the front of your tote like this.  Make sure they’re not twisted up as well, because you can’t fix it once they’re sewed on!  I put mine 2″ away from the sides.

Place the lining fabric on top so that the right sides are together.  Mine were two different sizes (oops) so I had to trim the outer piece at this point.  Make sure they’re the same size when you start and you won’t have to fix it like me!  Pin down the top.

Sew across the top.  When I went over the straps, I sewed it forwards and backwards a few times to make them extra secure.  Follow the same steps for the other side, pinning down the straps first and then sewing the outer piece and lining together on the top.  When you are finished with that, it should look like this!

Here is where I decided that, since I had been working on this for a long time, why not add a few extra minutes to add a pocket to the inside?!  To make the pocket, fold a piece of fabric in half so that the right sides are together, iron it, and sew around all the open sides, leaving a 2″ hole so that you can turn it back right-side out.  Then pin it to your inner lining fabric and sew around the edges of three sides to make the pocket.

I did a fancy zig-zag because I was feeling especially pizzazz-y, but you can do a regular straight stitch too 🙂

This is the home stretch, people!!  Lay the two sides together, with the insides of each piece facing inwards (so that it is inside out).  Pin all around the edges, making sure they are lined up!

Sew all the way around the outside of the entire bag, leaving a hole about 4″ big on the bottom of the lining so that you can turn it right-side out.

Turn it right-side out, and sew the bottom of the lining to close up the hole.  Push the lining into the bag and…

Voila!!  You made a tote!

I am sort of obsessed with this tote.  I’ve only used it once, but I love just looking at it.  It is delightfully girly.

Also very functional!  I made it big enough to fit a notebook or book.

I loooove fabric flowers and ruffles so much!

There you go!!  Craft #1 out of 52 for the year is complete!  Check back soon for Craft #2, which has already been completed and involves bright colors 🙂


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