Thursday, 8 July 2010

The dinky zip-away tote tutorial - Part 2

Welcome back! Thanks for joining me in Part 2.

Making the body of the tote

OK, the body of the tote is next. Take the 12.5 inch x 28 inch rectangle and fold it in half, wrong sides facing so the two shorter ends meet. We now want to create a French seam.

Pin and sew using a 3/8th seam allowance. Then trim your seam allowance down to about 1/8th. Turn the body of the tote inside out so that the right sides are together. Fold the fabric on the seam and iron it down. Stitch another seam at 1/4 inch. Iron the seam so that the flap you’ve created sits flat. Then finally stitch the edge of the flap down.

There is a great tutorial here which illustrates this perfectly.

After making your French seam, turn the body of the tote right sides out. Along one of the top edges, mark the middle point of the piece. Then make a mark 3 inches to the left and another one 3 inches to the right of your middle point. Do the same for the other side. Set the body aside for now whilst you prepare the handles.

Making the handles

If you are using twill or webbing, you can skip this bit. If on the other hand you are making fabric handles from plain cotton, you’ll need to read this bit. Take your 4 inch x 21 inch rectangles of plain fabric and fold them in half lengthways and press. Open it up and press each side in half lengthways again.

Then fold it up so you get a folded strip which is an inch wide and 21 inches long. Kind of like a long piece of folded bias tape. Stitch down each long side of each strip. Voila – handles!

Take one of your handles and pin each end to the little marks you made along the top edge of your tote body 3 inches to either side of the mark in the middle of your piece on one side. Do the same for the other handle on the other side of the tote body. You want to baste the handles to the tote body as close to the top edge as you can. Here's a sketch of what I mean.

Now take the facing strip (in photo below), put the short ends together right sides facing and sew using a 5/8th seam allowance. You’ll now have a loop of fabric. Press the seam open.

Place the facing over the outside of your tote body, right sides together. Line the top edge of your facing with the top edge of your tote body. Pin the facing to the tote body. You'll see that your handles are now sandwiched between the facing and the tote body. Stitch using a 1/2 inch seam allowance all the way around. Backstitch a couple of times when you get to each handle end to strengthen that point. When you’re done sewing the facing to your tote body, pull the facing up and press the raw edge of the facing under by 1/2 inch. It should look something like this.

Now fold the facing over onto the wrong side of your tote body and press the top edge of the bag.

I did one row of stitching just inside the edge of the facing. This secures the facing down and neatly hides the ends of your handles. I then top-stitched a couple of rows along the top edge of the tote. This will further strengthen the handle points.

OK - this is the end of Part 2. In the next part, I'll show you how to attach the body of the tote to the oblong base. Thanks for sticking with me on this one. See you soon for Part 3.

Get the PDF pattern for the base here.

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