Two-Toned Tote Tutorial

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I'm back with another tutorial for you today, and like my last one (the Christmas Apron Tutorial) this gorgeous fabric was kindly donated by Elephant In My Handbag (fancy 10% off your first purchase? Use the code 'salt' when you are checking out!). How cute is this doe and fawn fabric? I completely fell in love as soon as I saw them and thought they would make the sweetest bag or tote. So that's exactly what I did - read on to find out how to make your own:

This bag is made from canvas fabric, as opposed to cotton lawn or quilters cotton. You could make the bag in lighter weight fabric, but it won't be as sturdy and I would recommend interfacing the straps for extra strength. I've included features to strengthen the bag. The base is given extra support by layering the contrast fabric on top of the main fabric, and the sides and base are sewn with french seams.

What you will need:

  • Half metre of main fabric
  • Half metre of contrast fabric
  • Scissors and/or rotary cutter
  • If you are using a rotary cutter, you will also need a ruler and mat
  • Thread - there is a fair amount of top stitching so pick a colour that you would like for that.
  • Pins
  • Pencil or similar for marking
  • Sewing machine!

1. Cut Pieces

You will need the following pieces:
  • Tote Body: Cut 2 rectangles from main fabric 53cm x 48cm
  • Tote Base: Cut 2 rectangles from contrast fabric 53cm x 21cm
  • Straps: Cut 2 rectangles from contrast fabric 14cm x 110cm

2. Make Straps

a. Fold strap piece in half lengthwise, right sides together (RST) - sew along raw edge with a 1cm seam allowance
b. Iron open the seam allowance
c. Turn the newly created 'tube' the right way around
d. Iron flat with the seam to the middle of one side (which will be the 'back' of your strap)
e. Top stitch down both sides of 'front' (do this as many times as you like and at whatever distance you like - I just sewed about 0.5cm from both edges)
f. Repeat with second strap piece

3. Attach Straps and Contrast Pieces to Main Bag Pieces

a. Fold top of main fabric over 1.5cm and iron. Fold over again 5cm, iron and pin (see photo above). Sew 2mm from base of folded edge. On right side, top stitch 2mm from top of piece.

b. Position strap wrong side facing right side of main piece (make sure it's not twisted), with outer edges of strap 11cm from outer edges of main piece and both ends extending 24cm down from top of main piece (see photo A above). Pin in place.
c. Position contrast base piece RST with main piece 18cm from base of main piece (see photo B above). If your contrast fabric has a a directional pattern, make sure it will be the right way around when this piece is flipped over/down.

d. Sew down contrast base piece 1.5cm from edge (over strap ends). Fold over and iron. Top stitch 5mm from top of contrast piece.
e. Top stitch strap to focus, following original top stitching on strap.
f. Repeat steps a-e for other side of bag.

4. Sew Sides Together with French Seams

a. Place sides wrong sides together (WST), pin in place.
b. Sew around sides and base with 1cm seam allowance.
c. Turn bag inside out, press seams and trim to 0.5cm.
d. With RST, sew around sides and base again with 1cm seam allowance.

5. Make Gussets

a. With bag inside out, pull one corner apart (make sure you have caught contrast base fabric on either side) - see photo above.
b. Pin, ensuring seams are sitting directly on top of each other and french seams are facing in opposite directions (to reduce bulk).

c. Measure 5cm down from corner point and mark. Draw a line perpendicular to the seam (it will be about 5cm long on either side of seam). See photo above.
d. Sew along this line.
Repeat from other corner of bag. Make sure french seam on base is facing the same direction on both corners (ie. is not twisted and sitting up in the middle).
e. Turn bag right way around, iron and fill with books/flowers/groceries/sewing projects!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and I've inspired you to make your own two-toned tote. Please let me know if you try it out - and send me photos, I'd love to see your versions! Have you seen the other canvas fabric that Elephant in My Handbag have? How amazing would a bag made from this stallion fabric be (it has metallic gold details!)? Or how about a bag made out of this gorgeous grey fabric - very Orla Kiely!

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