I’ve been planning this post for ages – since I made some totes for my friends 2 years ago. I failed to take decent photos at the time, though, so when I decided to make a bag for one of my friends at work, I made sure to take plenty of step-by-step photos.
What you will need to make a tote bag:
2 42cm x 42cm (for the sides)
1 42cm x 10cm (for the bottom)
2 84cm x 10cm (for the straps)
I have decorated each of the bags I’ve made with things the person would like, such as a strawberry for my friend who loves…..well….strawberries:
or a car for my car-mad friend:
The bag I photographed was for one of my many, many friends who are obsessed with BBCs Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. The templates I used here are the same as the ones I used for the Sherlock-themed Kindle case I made for my aunt.
Pin your felt pieces to one of the sides. I don’t usually measure where the middle is, I just guess and make sure they look like they’re vaguely in the middle. If you do want to measure the middle, though, you can fold your fabric in half and in half again, then mark the point.
You then need to sew all around the edges of your shapes. This can be quite fiddly so I turn the needle by hand a lot and go very slowly when using the peddle. For going around any corners (of which there are loads for these silhouettes!), keep the needle down in the fabric, lift the foot and swivel the fabric, putting the foot back down before you carry on.
Make sure you take your pins out as you go around, so the needle doesn’t hit any and jam your machine. It’s especially important for a complicated shape like Sherlock, as you might hit the head of a pin on the other side of the shape if you don’t take them out.
I decided to sew ovals around each of my silhouettes – they look a bit bare without anything. It seems fitting since they’re Victorian-style silhouettes. I traced an oval shape onto some greaseproof paper and then put it pencil side down over each silhouette, then drew around the oval with pencil, marking the fabric. You could probably do this with a tracing wheel and something more fabric appropriate than a normal pencil, but since I knew I’d be sewing over these lines, I just used a normal drawing pencil.
I overlap the stitches a little bit at the bottom – it looks a tiny bit messy, but I’m willing to sacrifice that for the stitches not unraveling!
Pin the wrong sides together of one side (42cm x 42cm) and the bottom piece (42cm x 10cm).
To make the bottom of the bag square at the side seams, instead of flat as they are now, with the bag inside out open up the bottom piece and spread the side pieces at the side seam. Pin across the bottom triangle, where the 2 lines of stitching are from the bottom seams.
With the bag inside out, turn the top down 1.5cm twice, to make a hem of 3cm in total. Place the straps under the hem, 5cm in from the edge, facing down (towards the bottom of the bag). Place the straps hem down, like below. Each strap is sewn onto one side of the bag – they don’t go across the top of the back, they go along each side. Sew the hem, passing through each of the strap ends.
If you use this tutorial, let me know – I’d love to see your makes! Also, let me know if I’ve missed anything off or anything is unclear. And do let me know if you use this tutorial to make a tote bag, I’d love to see it!