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Happy Holidays with FreeSpirit & Rowan: All-Weather Tote in Amy Butler's Alchemy Laminate

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When the weather outside is frightful during the holiday season, chances are you simply can't spend all your time sitting in front of a fire that's so delightful. You have things to do, places to go, and people to see. You need a roomy shopping tote that can stand up to whatever the weather throws your way. Welcome to a new week of our Happy Holidays series with FreeSpirit and Rowan and a new designer collection: the amazing Amy Butler and her brand new Alchemy collection. Today's All-Weather Tote, features soft cotton laminate to whisk away the weather. We even used a weather-resistant zipper for the outside pocket. The inside is pretty cotton with a laminate facing. And with 5" boxed corners, this tote opens wide enough to handle a full load of last-minute power shopping. Beautiful cotton laminate is just one of the many substrates Alchemy offers and with which we'll be working over the next two weeks.

If you're new to working with laminates, check out our tutorial: Successful Sewing With Laminated Cottons (And Other Sticky Stuff). There are special considerations that will make both your sewing experience and the end result more satisfying, so if laminates are new to you, we do highly recommend you review the article prior to starting today's project.

Our thanks to the great folks at FreeSpirit and Rowan Fabrics for sponsoring so much holiday happiness! Each week, we've been bringing you a new collection from a different designer. During our first week, you met Melissa White of Rowan Fabrics and her new Amelie's Attic collection. For Week Two, we thank Ty Pennington Impressions for allowing us to feature Ty's new Fall 2012 Collection. During Week Three, you were surrounded by the sweet loveliness of Verna Mosquera's Pirouette. And to cap it off, we have two weeks of wonder in the new Alchemy collection from Amy Butler for Rowan Fabrics. 

For this busy time of year, we created a slate of fast and easy, "do-it-in-a-day" projects. Simple yet classic creations executed in gorgeous fabrics - perfect for holiday giving and decorating, but with a beauty that will last year 'round. Our All-Weather Tote has wonderful details, but - thanks to clear step-by-step instructions and photos - this is still an easy project we believe anyone can have success with. 

Alchemy will begin appearing next month, December 2012, at participating online and in-store retailers.

In addition, for all of the projects in our series, Westminster helped us put together a handy Where to Buy Retailer Locator, giving you a fast and easy way to source the fabrics we are featuring from both brick and mortar stores in your area (the page is broken out by state) as well as online options. 

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

This bag finishes at approximately 16" tall x 15" side x 5" deep.

Getting Started

  1. All our pieces were carefully fussy cut to make the best use of the beautiful motifs in Amy's Alchemy collection. If you are new to this technique, check out our tutorial on How To Fussy Cut.
  2. From the fabric for the bag top exterior and pocket (Amy Butler's Fairy Tale in Sky in our sample), cut the following: 
    TWO 21" wide x 11" high rectangles for the bag top exterior
    TWO 21" wide x 4" high rectangles for the bag top facing
    ONE 7" x 7" square for the exterior pocket base
    ONE 7" wide x 2" high rectangle for the exterior pocket top
  3. From the fabric for the bag bottom exterior and handles (Amy Butler's Imperial Paisley in Emerald in our sample), cut the following: 
    ONE 21" wide x 18" high rectangle for the bag base exterior
    TWO 5" x 41" strips for the bag handles 
    NOTE: Remember, as mentioned above, we cut our strips vertically, ie. 5" wide x 41" high/long.
  4. From the fabric for the bag lining (Amy Butler's Memoir in Pacific in our sample), cut the following: 
    TWO 21" wide x 16½" high rectangles  
    ONE 7" wide x 14" high rectangle for the lining pocket 
    ONE 16" wide x 11" high rectangle for the bottom insert 
  5. From the fusible interfacing (Pellon's Decor Bond in our sample), cut the following: 
    TWO 21" wide x 11" high rectangles
    TWO 21" wide x 4" high rectangles
    ONE 7" x 7" square
    ONE 7" wide x 2" high rectangle
    ONE 21" wide x 18" high rectangle for the bag base exterior
    TWO 21" wide x 16½" high rectangles
    NOTE: We chose not to interface our handles because we wanted them to be a bit more flexible. It you would prefer a more "stand-up-on-their-own" handle, also cut and fuse TWO 5" x 41" strips for the bag handles. It will also be more of a challenge to turn the handles right side out with interfacing.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

NOTE: You will notice we used regular straight pins rather than the traditionally recommended clips for laminate. We were not worried about our finished product being 100% water-tight (like you might be for something like diaper covers). Plus, the quality of this Rowan cotton laminate was so wonderful, any of the tiny holes made during construction, disappeared when the bag was complete.

Fusing

  1. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse a piece of interfacing to the wrong side of each corresponding piece of cotton laminate, as well as to the wrong side of the two main lining pieces.
    NOTE: If you read through our Working With Laminates tutorial, you noticed we mentioned avoiding fusible interfacing, however, if you read really carefully, you also noticed we mentioned there are always exceptions to the rule. You don't want your iron on its highest heat, but if you use a pressing cloth, you can adhere the Decor Bond to each of the laminate pieces without any issues.

Make the handles

  1. Find the two 41" strips.
  2. Fold each strip right sides together and pin in place along the 41" side.
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch along the 41" side. 
  4. Turn right side out. Roll the seam to the back, centering your fussy cut motif on the front. Using a pressing cloth, press each strap flat.
  5. Set the handles aside.
    NOTE: As mentioned above, if you choose to use interacing, it will be hard to turn this "tube" right side out. Instead, you may want to follow the handle construction method we used for our Vinyl Color Block Tote

Pocket and zipper

NOTE: We were unable to find a 7" zipper in the color we wanted and so used a longer zipper, creating our own stop and cutting it to length when done. Our recent Zipper tutorial has more about this and other insertion tips.

  1. Find the interfaced pocket top and pocket base pieces and the zipper. On each of the pocket pieces, mark ½" in from both side edges. This mark is where the handles will overlap the pocket. The zipper should be centered between these marks - the zipper pull at one mark, the zipper stop at the other.
  2. Unzip the zipper. Place it right side up on your work surface with the zipper pull to your left. 
  3. Center the pocket top right sides together with the top of the zipper. Pin in place.
    NOTE: Because we had a longer zipper, we actually folded the bottom half of our zipper completely out of the way.
  4. Attach a Zipper foot. 
  5. Stitch the top edge of the zipper to the pocket top laminate piece, staying as close to the zipper as the foot will allow, removing the pins as you sew.

    NOTE: If you are working with a shorter zipper and are unable to move the bottom half of the zipper out of the way, you can stitch this step with the zipper half way closed. Stitch to the middle, where you can start to feel you're approaching the zipper pull. Stop with your needle in the down position. Twist your fabric around slightly and carefully close the zipper. Re-position your fabric and finish sewing to the end. 
  6. Repeat these steps, pinning and then sewing the bottom pocket piece to the bottom half of the zipper.
  7. On only the bottom half, fold the pocket base down into position, away from the zipper.
  8. Switch to a Teflon® type foot (we used our Janome Ultra Glide foot).
    NOTE: As we mention in our Laminates tutorial, if you don't have a Teflon® type foot, you can use wax or parchment paper between the presser foot and laminate.
  9. Topstitch approximately ¼" from the folded back seam across the pocket base
  10. Find the exterior bag front panel. Place it right side up on your work surface.
  11. Zip the zipper closed. Center the pocket on the front panel side to side. The bottom raw edge of the pocket base should be flush with the bottom raw edge of the panel. Pin or clip the pocket in place.
  12. Still using your specialty foot, edgestitch along both sides of the pocket from just below the zipper to the bottom edge.
  13. Fold the top half of the zipper down, revealing its back side. 
  14. Fold the top raw edge of the pocket top piece approximately ½". The raw edge of the laminate should meet the edge of the zipper tape.
  15. Fold the pocket top piece back up into position. Accounting for the original seam attaching this piece to the zipper and the folded back edge, your piece should now be about 1" high. Pin or clip it in place.
  16. Still using your specialty foot, topstitch along the top folded edge, approximately ¼" from the fold. 
  17. Then, topstitch along the bottom edge, approximately ¼" from the zipper teeth. As above, when you get to the zipper pull, you'll need to stop with the needle in the down position, lift your presser foot, then move the pull out of the way in order to finish the seam. 
  18. Because we used a longer zipper, we had one final finishing step. This was to stitch across the end of the zipper. Align this short seam with the previous edgestitching that secured the pocket bottom in place. If you have a zipper that fits exactly, you already have a zipper stop and so can skip this step. 
  19. If necessary, trim away the excess zipper. You have a finished pocket in position. 

Stitch the handles in place

  1. Find your handles that are right side out, pressed and ready to go.
  2. Find both the front panel with the pocket and the plain fused back panel.
  3. On the front panel, place one handle so it overlaps the pocket edges ½" on either side. The inside edge on the left side should just touch the the zipper pull, and the inside edge on the right side, should just cover the zipper stop. The raw ends of the handle should be flush with the bottom edge of the panel, and the handle loop itself will extend beyond the top of the panel in a continuous loop. Carefully place the handle so it doesn't twist on itself. And remember, the seam of the handle is hidden to the back so the pretty fussy cut motif is showing on the front. Pin or clip in place.
  4. Repeat to attach the second handle to the plain pack panel. The positioning of this handle should exactly match the front handle. There should be 6" between the handle straps and 5½" from the outside edge of each to the side of the bag panel.
  5. On each strap, measure 1½" down from the top raw edge of the bag panel and draw a horizontal line or place a pin or clip. 
  6. Lengthen your stitch. 
  7. With your Teflon® type foot in place, topstitch each handle in place, staying ¼" from the edge. Start at the bottom, stitch up one side...
  8. ... stop at the 1½" mark, pivot, stitch across - stopping ¼" from the opposite edge, pivot, and stitch down the opposite edge to complete. 

Assemble the front and back to the bottom 

  1. Find the bottom exterior panel. The bottom is one piece (no bottom seam). 
    NOTE: This does mean if you have a directional print it will be right side up on one side and wrong side up on the other. Our print is directional, but the difference is subtle and so one piece worked for us. If you have something really noticeable, such a flying birds, you should probably cut two pieces, each slightly longer than half our piece (to account for the seam allowance) and complete the steps using a bottom seam so you can rotate the front and back panels to be facing the proper direction on each side. 
  2. Place one 21" side of the bottom panel right sides together with the bottom edge of the front panel. Pin or clip in place and stitch together, using a ½" seam allowance. 
  3. Place the remaining 21" side of the bottom panel right sides together with the bottom edge of the back panel. Pin or clip in place and stitch together, using a ½" seam allowance.
  4. Finger press both seam allowances toward the bottom panel and topstitch in place, staying ¼" from the seam within the bottom panel.
  5. You now have one long strip made up of three panels.
  6. Fold this three-panel strip right sides together, creating a fold along the bottom and aligning the top raw edges. Pin in place along both long sides. 
  7. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch both sides.
  8. With the bag still wrong side out, the next step is to box the bottom corners. Our bag is designed to have 5" sides and base. To create this width, we figured our corners at 2½".
  9. If you are new to boxed corners, check out our tutorial for step-by-step instructions. We recommend a double line of stitching to reinforce the corners in the cotton laminate.

Create the lining and its pocket

  1. Find the 7" x 14" pocket piece.
  2. Fold this piece in half right sides together so it is now 7" x 7".
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners. Leave an approximate 2"-3" opening along the bottom for turning. Clip corners. Press the seam. 
  4. Turn the pocket right side out through the bottom opening. Push out the corners so they are nice and sharp. A chopstick or long knitting needle works well for this.
  5. Fold in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam. Press flat.
  6. Find one 21" wide x 16½" lining piece. Place it right side up on your work surface. The pocket should be centered side to side (7½" from each side) and 1½" down from the top raw edge. Pin the pocket in place along both sides and across the bottom.
  7. Edgestitch the pocket in place along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners and with a generous backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam, ie. at the pocket top. This is a stress point for the pocket and it's smart to secure the seam well. We used our Janome Quarter Inch foot to keep a precise seam. 
  8. Place the lining piece with the sewn pocket and the second lining piece right sides together, aligning all raw edges. Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom.
  9. Leave a 8" - 10" opening along the bottom. We'll use this at the end to turn our finished bag right side out.
  10. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners. Remember to lock your stitch on either side of the 8" - 10" opening.
  11. Find the two 12" wide x 4" high facing rectangles. Place them right sides together, pinning along the 4" sides. 
  12. Stitch each side seam, using a ½" seam allowance, to create a ring. Press the seams open. Turn the ring right side out.
  13. Find the lining bag. It should be wrong side out. 
  14. With the facing still right side out, slip it into the lining bag so the two layers are now right sides together. Align the edge of the facing to the upper edge of the lining. Adjust the ring all around, matching the seams. The ring should lay nice and flat. 
     
  15. Sew the facing to the lining, using a ½" seam allowance.
  16. Finger press the facing ring up and away from the lining bag. The seam allowance should be pressed up towards the facing. 
  17. At the center of each side of the lining ring, place a mark or pin 1½" from the top raw edge. This will help later with placement of the magnetic snap.
  18. Finally, with the lining still wrong side out, the next step is to box the bottom corners of the bag. Follow the same steps as above for the exterior of the bag, referring again to our box corners tutorial if need be.

Attach the lining to the bag and insert the snaps

  1. With the exterior bag right side out and the lining bag wrong side out, place the exterior bag inside the lining bag so the two are right sides together. The straps are hanging down and sandwiched out of the way in between the layers. Also, make sure the interior lining pocket is on the opposite side from the exterior pocket.
  2. Align the top edges all around, carefully matching the side seams. Pin or clip in place.
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the exterior bag to the lining all around the top opening. 
  4. Pull the exterior bag through that 8" - 10" opening you remembered to leave in the bottom of the lining.
  5. Pull the lining out from the bag so the lining's facing is a single layer into which you'll attach the magnetic snaps.
  6. Following manufacturer's instructions, and using your those center marks/pins you made on the facing, insert the magnetic snap. If you forgot those marks, each side of the snap should be approximately 1½" from the top (giving you plenty of room for the final top stitching) and centered side to side. 
  7. You can use the opening in the bottom of the lining (the opening you used to turn everything right side out) to reach up inside and affix the back of each snap. 
    NOTE: We used a small scrap of cardboard to reinforce the back of the snap against the soft cotton laminate. You could also use a small circle of heavyweight interfacing. It won't be seen.
  8. Press the opening in the lining flat, so the raw edges are flush with the sewn seam. Pin and edge stitch closed. 

Finishing

  1. Push the lining down into the inside of the bag.
  2. Using your Teflon® type foot, topstitch around the entire top edge of the bag to finish.
  3. Find the 16" x 11" lining piece, which is the bottom insert sleeve. Fold it in half so it now measures 16" x 5½". Pin in place along one end and the long side.
  4. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch along one end and the long side, leaving the opposite end open.
  5. Clip the corners and press the seam.
  6. Turn the sleeve right side out and press flat, pressing in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
  7. Slip in the plastic canvas.
  8. Edgestitch or handstitch the opening closed.
  9. Place the insert into the bottom of the bag to give it a sturdy base.
     

     

Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas   
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild

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Comments (23)

jzsunshine61 said:
jzsunshine61's picture

I made this tote using decorator and regular fabrics for my daughter's sister-in-law's bridal shower.  I included a makeup bag to match.  She absolutely loved it!  She started using it immediately after she received it.  It matches her wedding colors so it will be a perfect addition and help her carry all the things she needs on her big day!  I'm sure she will use it long after the wedding.  Thank's so much Sew4Home!  I love your site!

kari r said:
kari r's picture

would it be very dificult to add a zipper the close the main bag instead of a snap.

SA said:
SA's picture

I made this bag this morning. I completely love it. The directions were perfect...I got it right the first time! Thank you!

Anonymous said:
Anonymous's picture

I love this bag & want to start on it right away.  I might have missed it, but I need a BIG bag.  What are the dimensions of this bag?  Thanks.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

This bag finishes at approximately 16" tall x 15" side x 5" deep.

asrflys said:
asrflys's picture

I made this bag and love it! Thank you so much for posting this pattern! I recently used the bag as a beach bag for a week in Maui. I filled it with lunch, towels, snorkel gear and more and it held up great and still looks brand new! 

Jacky said:
Jacky 's picture

I am sewing this today but had to go and get another 1/2 yard more of interfacing,wondering if I did something wrong when I was cutting it out? Thanks.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Jacky - So sorry for the extra trip. You are right - you ned 1-1/2 yards of the 45" interfacing. We do our best to keep track of everything as we work through the projects but sometimes things change along the way and something can get lost in the shuffle. Again, our apologies, but thanks for calling it to our attention. We've fixed it above.

Beautiful pattern and perfect directions said:
Beautiful pattern and perfect directions's picture

I love your instructions, they are perfect! I can't tell you how often I get frustrated by ambiguous directions and a lack of photos for the process where it is difficult to describe.  You have done a wonderful job. Thank you very much! I made a super cute (mostly oilcloth) tote for my mother inlaw. Also, the even feed food worked well in lieu of a teflon foot, though I can see where it would have come in handy :D

DottiV said:
DottiV's picture

I love your choice of fabrics and will definitely make this tote! I have made several laminate totes and love working with laminates. The Teflon foot is a must! Thank you Sew4Home for your wonderful projects! They are so inspirational!!

Gwen T said:
Gwen T's picture

Lovely bag!  great instructions.   I'll put it on my "after Christmas" project list.

Gwen T said:
Gwen T's picture

Lovely bag!  Straight forward instructions.  Looks like a winner to me.  I'll put it on my "after Christmas" project list.

Thanks

Allison said:
Allison's picture

This is a really cute tote bag! I love all the visuals you post, so even a beginner can make it. :)

Bethany Howe said:
Bethany Howe's picture

My Daughter and I just made matching bags. We chose to use oil cloth instead of laminated cotton - we love how they turned out. She just started sewing 2 years ago and I have been sewing for 40 years and we really enjoyed the project!

MarciaFlorida said:
MarciaFlorida's picture

Thanks for the post - a good "file it away" that sew4home covers such. This tote pattern could work for other fabrics too, perhaps with more interfacing to "stiffen" it.

Gma D said:
Gma D's picture

What a fun tote. I haven't used laminate before.  Any good tips and tricks to share??

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Gma D - We sure do. As we mention above: 

If you're new to working with laminates, check out our tutorial: Successful Sewing With Laminated Cottons (And Other Sticky Stuff). There are special considerations that will make both your sewing experience and the end result more satisfying, so if laminates are new to you, we do highly recommend you review the article prior to starting today's project.

GloriaLavVonne said:
GloriaLavVonne's picture

beautiful bag and the directions read easy.  Thanks Sew4Home another hit to put on my make it list.

Evy Michael said:
Evy Michael's picture

Instructions looks simple enough, I will definately try this.

Best Regards,

Evy

KatyS said:
KatyS's picture

I cannot wait to get the goods and get started with this project. The directions look superb. Thank you!

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