A frequent sewer, I often have remnant fabric…1/2 yard of this, a yard of that. Not wanting it to go unused, I’m always glad when I find a way to create something with my remnants. I was especially happy to come across a tutorial for a tote bag that not only used what I had lying around, but was aesthetically pretty stylish with the panels.
I do recommend that you use a heavier, more durable fabric for the bottom panel such as a canvas. Also, if you don’t have a serger (I don’t have one), I do recommend using a French seam as it will give your tote bag a more professional look and completely hide all the raw edges.
- I followed the tutorial exactly, except as I don’t have a serger I used French seams. Directions for a French seam will have you sew a 3/8″ (1 cm) seam allowance, and then trim the seam allowance to 1/8″ (3 mm). To save time, I just sewed a 1/8″ seam allowance. Also, steps #10, 11 & 12 are kinda tricky with the French seams, so I’ll walk you through those steps here.
- Remember with a French seam, you sew wrong sides together first and then right sides together. When you get to step #10 in the tutorial, you’ll be sewing the middle panel to the top panel, but you also be adding the straps. It’s important that you do not pin the straps between the fabric. Rather, you’ll want to pin the straps to the outside of the middle panel, onto the right side of the fabric as show below.
- Then pin the wrong sides of the middle panel and upper panel together. Sew together with a with a 1/8″ seam allowance, press open, then finish the French seam by folding the right sides together and sewing with a with a 1/4″ seam allowance.
- Press open, and voilà, the straps should be in the right place. 🙂
The finished tote bag measures, 15″ wide x 16″ tall. Should you want a smaller/larger, skinnier/wider or shorter/taller bag, simply adjust the pieces that you cut (perhaps cut the panels 18″ wide instead of the 16″ recommended if you want it to be wider).
As always, please let me know if you have questions.
Over the past year, I’ve been into making aprons. I’ve not bought a pattern; through trial and error, I’ve figured out how to do it. The inspiration for my aprons mostly comes from the adorable ones on Anthropologie. The apron I’ll show you how to make today is fairly easy, but does require a some knowledge of sewing as it does involve ruffles. You should be able to finish it within 4 hours, a great weekend project!
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1/2 yard of the apron fabric (43″ wide) – I love using feedsack fabric from the early 1900′s and for cheaper fabric go to Goodwill and buy old curtains or other interior fabrics
- 1/2 yard of accent fabric (43″ wide)
- Sewing machine
- Double fold bias tape (optional)
- Cut the fabric you will be using for the apron. I made a pattern out of wrapping paper. As it’s a half circle, it’s easy to do. It should be 16″ from the top to the bottom of the curve. The width should be 30″. The easiest way to make the pattern is to fold the paper in half, mark 16″ along the fold, mark 15″ from the fold and draw an arch connecting the two marks. Adjust measurements to body type.
- Cut the accent fabric. I cut four 4″ wide strips.
- You’ll sew the waistband/ties onto the apron first. Take two of the 4″ wide strips and connect so that you have one strip that is about 90″ long. Fold edges in and iron.
- With right sides of both fabrics together, sew the waistband/tie onto the top of the apron.
- Fold fabric over the seam and match edges of the waistband/tie. I basted the waistband/tie before going back over with a permanent stitch. Get creative on the stitch! I choose to use an accent color (black) and a zigzag stitch.
- Now for the ruffle! Take two of your 4″ wide strips and sew together to make another 90″ strip. Hem one edge by turning the fabric under 1/4″ and another 1/4″. You can use a color of thread different than the fabric if you wish (I used the same color as the fabric).
- To create ruffle, you’ll need to gather the fabric. My recommendation is to sew a long straight stitch (the highest stitch length on your machine). Hold onto the end of one thread and gently pull the fabric away. This should start to gather the fabric. Keep pulling the fabric until you have “shrunk” it to fit the bottom of the apron. Be sure to make the ruffle even throughout. Pin the ruffle to the bottom of the apron (right sides together).
- When stitching the ruffle down, I find it best to make a temporary stitch with a long straight stitch 1st and in a different thread color (easier to see). I’ve found that I usually have to take out stitches and resew. Ruffles can be tricky. Once I’m happy, I’ll go back over with a permanent stitch.
- I recommend making a top stitch to help keep the ruffle in place.
- The final step is aesthetic and where you can get creative. I like putting pockets on the aprons I make, but the finishing touch is all you! If making a pocket similar to the one I did, it’s a 4″x6″ rectangle, with the bottom edges rounded. Turn the edges under and sew onto the apron. I add a bow which I make out of double fold bias tape.
Please do let me know if you have questions on any of the above steps. If you want an actual pattern, the most similar is McCall M5284.