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Gift Tote Trio in Small, Medium & Large: Christmas in July with Fabric.com

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No Christmas in July series worth its name would be complete without some sort of gift wrap solution. For this Series with Fabric.com, we've kicked it up a notch, making gift bag totes for the whole family in small, medium and large. These totes are done in bold, heavy weight fabrics that will look great from winter right through to spring. We picked strong graphics in colors outside traditional holiday reds and greens yet that blend with them beautifully. A sparkling bow or embellishment adds just the right touch of holiday pizzazz under the tree; remove the bow and you have a tote that's good to go for everyday use.  

Usually at Sew4Home, we make our projects in one size and you need to figure how to alter any cuts to change dimensions. This time, we're giving you everything you need to create three different sizes of totes, and we've done all the math for you... consider it our Christmas in July Christmas gift to you. 

Our thanks again to Fabric.com for sponsoring all five days of Christmas in July inspiration. Be sure to check out the special discounts on holiday fabric going on right now. Some people are reluctant to shop online because they can't touch the fabric and see it before they buy. Fabric.com offers "no-fear shopping." They stand behind their products 100%. All items purchased carry a 30-day, no-questions-asked, money back guarantee. 

We finish up this year's Christmas in July series with Fabric.com tomorrow, but that still leaves you 158 days to shop and sew.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

Supplies are shown for each size tote. Yardage recommendations are generous to allow for careful fussy cutting on both the main bag and the pockets. If you are new to fussy cutting, check out our tutorial.

The approximate finished sizes of the totes are as follows: 

Large: 17" tall x 12" wide with 4½" sides and base and an 8" pocket

Medium: 14" tall x 12" wide with 4½" sides and base and an 8" pocket

Small: 10" tall x 12" wide with 4½" sides and base and a 7" pocket

LARGE BAG

MEDIUM BAG

SMALL BAG

SUPPLIES FOR ALL BAGS

  • All purpose thread to match fabrics and webbing
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

LARGE BAG

  1. From the exterior fabric (Sydney Slub in Italian Brown in our sample), fussy cut the following:
    TWO 19¾" high x 17½" wide rectangles for the main bag panels
    TWO 9" high x 17½" wide rectangles for the pockets 
    ONE 10" x 14" rectangle for the bag base sleeve (This goes inside the bag to stabilize the base; cut to best match the direction of your motif.)
  2. From the fabric for the lining and binding (Dove Broadcloth in our sample), cut the following:
    TWO 18¾" high x 17½" wide rectangles for the main bag panels
    TWO 9" high x 17½" wide rectangles for the pockets
    FOUR 2" x 17½" strips for the bag and pocket binding
  3. From the interfacing, cut the following:
    TWO 19¾" high x 17½" wide rectangles
    TWO 9" high x 17½" wide rectangles
  4. Cut the webbing into TWO 54" lengths.
  5. Cut the plastic canvas into ONE 4" x 12" rectangle

MEDIUM BAG

  1. From the exterior fabric (Hourglass in Blossom in our sample), fussy cut the following:
    TWO 16¾" high x 17½" wide rectangles for the main bag panels
    TWO 9" high x 17½" wide rectangles for the pockets 
    ONE 10" x 14" rectangle for the bag base sleeve (This goes inside the bag to stabilize the base; cut to best match the direction of your motif.)
  2. From the fabric for the lining and binding (Army Broadcloth in our sample), cut the following:
    TWO 15¾" high x 17½" wide rectangles for the main bag panels
    TWO 9" high x 17½" wide rectangles for the pockets
    FOUR 2" x 17½" strips for the bag and pocket binding
  3. From the interfacing, cut the following:
    TWO 16¾" high x 17½" wide rectangles
    TWO 9" high x 17½" wide rectangles
  4. Cut the webbing into TWO 48" lengths.
  5. Cut the plastic canvas into ONE 4" x 12" rectangle

SMALL BAG

  1. From the exterior fabric (Zig Zag in Orange in our sample), fussy cut the following:
    TWO 12¾" high x 17½" wide rectangles for the main bag panels
    TWO 8" high x 17½" wide rectangles for the pockets 
    ONE 10" x 14" rectangle for the bag base sleeve (This goes inside the bag to stabilize the base; cut to best match the direction of your motif.)
  2. From the fabric for the lining and binding (Natural Broadcloth in our sample), cut the following:
    TWO 11¾" high x 17½" wide rectangles for the main bag panels
    TWO 8" high x 17½" wide rectangles for the pockets
    FOUR 2" x 17½" strips for the bag and pocket binding
  3. From the interfacing, cut the following:
    TWO 12¾" high x 17½" wide rectangles
    TWO 8" high x 17½" wide rectangles
  4. Cut the webbing into TWO 40" lengths.
  5. Cut the plastic canvas into ONE 4" x 12" rectangle

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Fusing

  1. Following the manufacturer's instructions, fuse the interfacing panels to the exterior panels and the pocket panels. 

Pockets

  1. Place one pocket panel and one pocket lining piece right sides together, aligning all the raw edges.
  2. Pin along the bottom 17½" edge only.
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch across the bottom edge only.
  4. Fold the lining and the pocket so they are wrong sides together and press flat.
  5. Repeat to create the second pocket.
  6. Find two of the 2" x 17½" binding strips.
  7. Fold one strip in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press to form a center crease. 
  8. Unfold so the crease line is visible. Press in each long edge to meet the center crease.
  9. Slip the folded binding strip over the top raw edges of one pocket/lining. Make sure the top raw edge is right up against the center crease of the binding. 
  10. Pin in place. We also placed a few pins within the main body of the pocket to insure there'd be no shifting. 
  11. If necessary, re-thread your machine with thread to matching the binding in the top and bobbin.
  12. Edgestitch the binding in place through all the layers. Go slowly and carefully to insure you catch both sides of the binding in your seam.
  13. Repeat to bind the top edge of the second pocket. 
  14. Find the interfaced main front panel. Place it right side up on your work surface. 
  15. Measure 3" up from the bottom raw edge of the panel and draw a horizontal line with your fabric pen/pencil. 
  16. Place one pocket panel right side up on the main panel, aligning the finished bottom edge of the pocket with the drawn line. Pin in place.
  17. If necessary, re-thread your machine with thread to matching the exterior fabric in the top and bobbin
  18. Edgestitch across the bottom of the pocket panel. 
  19. Repeat to attach the remaining pocket to the main back interfaced panel. 

Attaching the handles

  1. Find the two lengths of webbing. 
  2. Gently fold both the front and back panels in half to find the exact center or measure. The center point should be 8¾" in from each side. 
  3. Place a pin at the center point along the bottom raw edge of each panel.
  4. Measure 3" to the right of center and place a pin. Measure 3" to the left of center and place another pin. 
  5. Place one loop on the front panel, aligning the inside edge of the webbing with the 3" pin mark. The outside edge of the webbing should be 4¾" from the raw side edge. Follow the same placement for the opposite side of the handle. 
  6. Pin the straps in place. Check to make sure the handle loop is a smooth curve; you don't want it to have twisted on itself during your pinning.
  7. Pull the straps up into place and pin in position, making sure the straps are perfectly straight up and down and the 6" middle spacing remains accurate.
  8. Place the last pin 1½" down from the top raw edge of the bag body. 
  9. Measure 1½" down from this last pin and place another pin. These two pins mark the top and bottom of the reinforcing "X Box" that will secure the top of each strap. 
  10. If necessary, re-thread your machine with thread to match the webbing in the top and bobbin.
  11. Edgestitch each side of the strap in place with an X Box at the top of each strap.
  12. To do this, start at the bottom, stitch up to the final 1½" pin mark (the top of the X Box) and stop.
  13. Pivot and stitch across the webbing. Stop at the opposite edge and pivot so you can stitch at a diagonal down to the second pin (the bottom of the X Box).
  14. Stop and pivot so you can stitch across the webbing, forming the bottom edge of the X Box. Stop at the opposite side and pivot to stitch an intersecting diagonal line to complete the X. 
  15. Stop at the stitching line, pivot, stitch back across the webbing, very carefully following in your original stitching line. 
  16. Stop at the opposite, pivot one more time, and continue down the opposite side of the strap to the bottom edge. 
  17. Repeat on the opposite side of the strap. 
  18. Then repeat all the steps to attach the remaining strap to the back panel.

Seam and box corners

  1. Place the front and back panels right sides together. Be very careful to line up the edges of the pockets... 
  2. ... as well as the bottom of the straps. You want the pockets and the straps to look like a continuous line, so it's very important to take the time to make a perfect match.
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners.
  4. Our bag is designed to have 4½" sides and base. To create this width, we figured our corners at 2¼". 
  5. Measure and mark each corner. 
  6. Cut out the 2¼" corner squares along your drawn lines.
  7. Flatten the corner.
  8. Double stitch the corner.
  9. Repeat to create the opposite corner.
  10. Turn the bag right side out and push the corners out into place.

    NOTE: If you are new to boxed corners, check out our tutorial for step-by-step instructions.

Lining

  1. Place the two lining pieces right sides together. Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom.
  2. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners. 
  3. Following the same steps as above, measure for 4½" boxed corners, cutting out 2¼" squares from each corner.
  4. Flatten and double stitch, just as you did above. Leave the lining wrong side out.
  5. Slip the lining inside the main bag so the two bags are now wrong sides together. Align all the seams and the bottom corners. Pin the layers together around the entire top edge. Make sure the handles are folded down and out of the way of the top seam.

Top binding

  1. Find the remaining two 2" binding strips. 
  2. Place the two strips right sides together and stitch one end, using a ½" seam, creating one long strip. Press the seam open and flat.
  3. Press and fold this binding strip in the same manner as you did to create the pocket binding.
  4. Slip the binding over the raw to edges of the bag. Unlike the pockets, you do not have to insert the raw edges all the in against the center crease of the binding. Just gently slip the binding over the edges; this gives your binding a smoother finished look. Pin in place all around, centering the ends on one of the bag's side seams. 
  5. Pull the ends away from the bag. Unfold so both ends are flat. Measure ½" from the raw ends and pin the ends right sides together to complete your binding circle. Lay the binding back down against the back. If it is not a smooth fit, adjust your seam smaller or larger. 
  6. Pull the binding away again and stitch the ends, using a ½" seam allowance (or whatever seam allowance to which you adjusted above).
  7. Re-fold the binding, slip the final sewn portion into place over the top raw edges of the bag. Pin in place.
  8. Edgestitch the binding in place all around the top of the bag. 

    NOTE: If you are new to working with binding, we have a great tutorial with lots of pictures.

Base insert

  1. Find the 10" x 14" fabric rectangle and the 4" x 12 plastic canvas insert. 
  2. Fold the fabric in half so it is now 5" x 14".
  3. Pin in place along one end and the long side. Leave the opposite end open. 
  4. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch along the end and side, pivoting at the corner. 
  5. Clip the corners and press the seams open. 
  6. Turn the tube right side out. Roll the seam to center back and press flat. Insert the plastic canvas in the open end.
  7. Fold in the raw edges of the opening until they are flush with one another and pin together.
  8. Topstitch the ends closed through all layers.
  9. Insert the base into the bottom of the bag.
     

     

Contributors

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

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Comments (8)

rmweber01 said:
rmweber01's picture

I had some old upolstry fabric hanging around and scraps of things, so I decided to try the small tote pattern. IT'S GREAT!!! I love that this pattern has deep pockets around the outside for the little stuff that tends to get lost at the bottom of my bag. This little treasure is now my favorite tote!

wendy said:
wendy's picture

These are fabulous.  I was thinking about making these as end of year gifts for teachers.  How long does it take you to make one large bag?

Thanks again!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:

@ wendy - we rarely give time estimates as there are so many variables when it comes to machines, supplies and most importantly, skill level. In general, you should be able to make one of these bags in an afternoon.

silvigusiluz said:
silvigusiluz's picture

Good morning,

Thanks very much for all your projects! They are fabulous!

I have some doubts that may be you can help me :)

When you are sewing cotton webbing and heavy weight cotton, what type of needle you should use? thicker than the normal you use? and the thread should be thicker?

Thanks in advance!

Silvia

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:

@ silvigusiluz - we used a Universal needle and all-purpose polyester thread. No special requriements. Some of that has to do with the quality of the machine, however, so if you have had trouble with your machine before when sewing through thick items, you could try a denim needle and a heavy duty thread, but really -- neither is a requirement for this project.

Oz Chris said:
Oz Chris's picture

thanks for a great tutorial, especially loved the links to the fabrics used!

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