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Summer Tote Bag ~ How to make your own Summer Shopper Bag with free tutorial

May 13, 2012

My parents have got new curtains. Not normally of interest (unless you’re that way inclined!), but they kindly donated their old ones to me and they are begging to be ‘upcyled’. And they are a gorgeous stripey blue, cream and purple thick cotton fabric to boot. (You can tell I’m still a bit useless when it comes to labelling the weight of fabrics, but these are what I think are called duck cotton?). Either way, they’re perfect for big happy summer shopper bags, so I got me a-cutting…

As usual, I made it up as I went along and went back a couple of steps a couple of times. It was a lovely fabric to work with as it stayed folded when I folded a hem, and stripes are always easier to work with because of the given straight lines 😀

Here’s what I made and how I made it  ~ free tutorial with step-by-step instructions and step-by-step photos which I’ve numbered in [ ] for ease of reference with the relevant steps.

  1. Cut and iron your fabrics to size. See the first picture [1] for how much fabric you’ll need for each piece.
  2. Place handles right sides together [RST] and sew lengthways, leaving ends unsewn. Turn (using a safety pin to help ease it through), and press again.
  3. Repeat with the little straps and attach magnetic clasps. [2 & 3]
  4. Fold in the hem of the short end near the magnetic clasp and press. Sew the end of each little strap closed (I sewed this by hand as my clasp was too near to the end of the strap fo rthe machine’s foot to fit past, even with a zipper foot).
  5. Take the raw ends of one little strap and both raw ends of one handle, and lay them, raw edges matching, together with the top of the front panel of your bag, making sure they are central to the bag’s width. [4]
  6. Fold down a 1cm hem, incorporating the strap edges, then fold down again and pin in place. This way, all your raw edges are concealed. Stitch in place.
  7. Press 1cm hem for the bottom width of the bag.
  8. Line up the long edges of the base of the bag [WST] with the front of your bag. Fold again, pin and sew along the length of the bag near to the bottom of the bag.
  9. For extra support at the base, sew another tram line onto the outer edge of the hem onto the base of the bag. [5 & 6]
  10. Repeat steps 5-9 with the back side of the bag so you now have the handles, front and back and base in one piece.
  11. If your edges aren’t completely straight, trim them down now so that they are. Fold twice and sew a hem along the full length of the bag on each edge. [7]
  12. Take both side panels and fold twice and sew a hem on the two long edges and one short edge.
  13. Draw a rounded corner on the un-hemmed edge [8] and repeat on the other side to match. I did this by sight so can’t give precise measurements, but work with a smaller cut-off to start with if you’re unsure and you can cut off more if you see it doesn’t quite work.
  14. Fold twice and pin the curved hem [9 & 10] and then hold it up against the bag and see if you like the curve you’ve created. If you do, go ahead and stitch in place. If not, unpin, cut a bit more off and try again.
  15. With hem edges facing outwards together, pin the middle of the curved edge into the centre edge of the base, and work your way up on either side, pinning as you go. Your side panel should stop a couple of inches from the top of the bag.
  16. Sew in place. [11]
  17. Repeat steps 13-16 with the opposite side panel.
  18. I’m most proud of this next nifty little step: sew a popper/press stud onto the top of each side panel so that the bag, if bulging with beachwear and towels, or French baguette and cheeses, can be unpopped to cram even more in! Love it more than I should 😀
  19. Ta daaah! Made By Yours Truly. You’re done ~ now stuff your bag full of wonderful things and sashay down to the park for a picnic.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. May 13, 2012 21:33

    Love those colours 😀 Good boxy shape too!

  2. lyndellmaree permalink
    May 14, 2012 21:46

    excellent – I have some material I wanted to make a bag from and didn’t know where to begin 🙂

  3. Kelly permalink
    May 15, 2012 21:47

    Cute bag, thanks for the tutorial and great instructive pictures too!


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