Who says functional can't also be fabulous?! We're back with Week #2 of our Deck The Halls with Fabric.com series. Today's generously-sized tote is the perfect overnight carryall for the season's festivities, whether you're off to Grandma's garden cottage by the sea, your best friend's condo in the bustling urban jungle or points in between. We're keeping you on top of the trends, using bold chevrons as our featured print with metallic faux leather to inject a touch of glamour. This faux leather is buttery soft and very easy to work with, but is also durable enough to hold its own as the bag's base. Clever double handles out of wide cotton webbing allow you to grab and carry the bag with one hand or sling it over your shoulder. The top opening is secured with a pretty set-in zipper. Before you break out in a sweat hearing the words, "set in zipper" - take a deep breath; we give the detailed instructions you need to make it happen.
This bag's color combo is a classic that works well in any season: crisp white, navy blue and metallic copper. Plus, the blend of textures, from smooth faux leather to tough twill, is the mark of designer bags you find in the boutiques for top dollar. You can make it your own and make it for less. Pack up all the necessities for your holiday ramblings and look great doing it.
Both weeks of Deck The Halls projects are sponsored by the good folks at Fabric.com where US shipping is always free for orders of $35 or more, and Fabric.com always adds an extra inch to their cuts to insure they are accurate and you are never short. This is especially helpful when you're doing careful fussy cutting, like we did to match our chevrons along both sides and across the inset zipper.
Our bag finishes at approximately 15" high x 18" wide at the base and 23" wide at the top x 5" in depth with 15" shoulder straps and 10" handle loops.
Sewing Tools You Need
Fabric and Other Supplies
NOTE: Inventory shifts constantly, and some fabric may not be in-stock when you first visit. However, there are other color options as well as re-stock dates listed for each fabric. Above are our sample fabrics. Below are some alternate selections. Click on the swatches below for even more fabric options from which to choose.
- 1 yard of 54"+ wide medium-weight twill or similar for the bag exterior-top and zipper inset; we used 56" Zig Zag Twill in Navy Blue/White by Premier Prints (#EU-024) from Fabric.com
NOTE: Yardage shown allows for fussy cutting.
- ½ yard of 54"+ wide lightweight faux leather or similar for the bag exterior-base; we used 56" Soft Skin Faux Leather in Copper (#UI-054) from Fabric.com
- 1½ yards of 44"+ wide quilting weight cotton for the lining; we used 44" Kona Cotton in Khaki (#AM-037) from Fabric.com
- I yard (or one package) of craft batting; we used Warm & White Cotton Batting in the 34" x 45" Craft Size by Warm & Natural (#CBR-008) from Fabric.com
- 3½ yards of 1¼" - 1½" heavy cotton webbing; we used 1½" cotton webbing in white
- ONE 24" sport zipper; we used a Coats® 24" Separating Sport Zipper in Navy (#NR-2236) from Fabric.com
- All purpose thread to match fabric
- All-purpose thread to contrast with fabric for topstitching; we used a copper color for all topstitching on the navy/white chevron and straps and an off-white color for topstitching on the faux leather
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Iron and ironing board
- Straight pins
- From the fabric for the exterior-top and zipper inset (Zig Zag Twill in Navy Blue/White in our sample), fussy cut the following:
TWO 25" wide x 10" high rectangles for the main tote panels
TWO 25" x 2" strips for the top facing
FOUR 25" x 1½" strips for the zipper trim strips
NOTE: We carefully cut our zipper trim strips lengthwise to create the look of a chevron across the zipper
- From the fabric for the exterior base (Copper Faux Leather in our sample), cut the following:
TWO 25" wide x 9½" high rectangles for the main exterior-base panels
TWO 4" x 2½" rectangles for the zipper tabs
- From the fabric for the lining (Khaki Kona Cotton in our sample), cut the following:
TWO 25" wide x 17½" high rectangles for the lining
ONE 8" wide x 13" high rectangle for the lining pocket
- From the batting, cut the following:
TWO 24" x 17½" rectangles for the main panels
TWO 1½" x 1½" squares for the zipper tabs
- Cut the webbing into TWO 55" lengths.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Create inset zipper unit
- Find the zipper and the four 25" x 1½" zipper trim strips.
- On each zipper trim strip, fold back each end ½" and press in place.
- Place one trim strip right side up on your work surface. Place the zipper right side up on top of the trim strip. The trim strip should be centered on the zipper. Make sure the folded ends of the fabric clear the zipper stops both top and bottom. The raw edge of the strip should be flush with the edge of the top zipper tape.
- Find a second trim strip, but place this trim strip wrong side up against the zipper. You have sandwiched the top side of the zipper between the two strips. The two trim strips are right sides together and their folded ends are flush with one another. Pin in place through all the layers.
- Stitch through all the layers along the one side. As with most zipper insertions we do here at S4H, start with the zipper about half way open. Stitch to the middle, where you're approaching the zipper pull. Stop with your needle in the down position. Lift up your presser foot. Twist your fabric around slightly in order to be able to carefully close the zipper. Re-position your fabric and finish sewing to the end.
NOTE: We used our regular presser foot and shifted our needle position as close to the zipper teeth as possible. You could also use a zipper foot, but with the "chunkier" sport-type zipper, we wanted to be a bit farther away from the teeth (about ¼" from the teeth) than with a more standard zipper, and we found using the edge of our regular presser foot was a good guide to run along the edge of the zipper teeth.
- Fold the two trim pieces away from the zipper teeth so these two pieces are now wrong sides together. The remaining long raw edges should be flush as should be the folded-in ends. Press flat.
- Repeat to attach the remaining two zipper trim strips to the opposite side of the zipper, taking care to make sure the ends of this second set of trim strips are exactly aligned with the first set.
- Re-thread with contrasting thread for topstitching; we used copper.
- Edgestitch across the folded ends, then pivot and edgestitch along the zipper seam. You can see in the photo below how our careful fussy cutting of the zipper trim strips creates the effect of a pretty chevron across the zipper.
- Repeat to topstitch the opposite side.
- Find the two 4" x 2½" zipper tabs, and the 1½" x 1½" batting squares.
- Place an batting square on the wrong side of each zipper tab. It should be ½" from one short end and centered side to side.
NOTE: The batting is grippy enough to stay in place against the wrong side of the faux leather for the tab construction steps. However, you could use a small piece of seam tape to hold it more securely.
- Place one tab wrong side up at one end of the zipper. The tab should be centered within the zipper strip and the end of the tab should be flush with the extending end of the zipper tape. Pin in place.
- Flip over to sew the tab to the end of the zipper. Run the seam right below the folded and edgestitched ends of the zipper trim strips. You are just stitching across the width of the zipper itself.
- Fold up the tab then fold in the sides of the tab so they are aligned with the width of the zipper. Pin in place.
- Fold down the top raw edge of the tab to create a final finished edge, then fold the tab in half. The folded-down edge of the tab should sit just beyond the folded and edgestitched ends of the zipper trim strips, as shown below in the photo. Adjust the fold of the tab as necessary to create this placement. The folded side edges of the tab should also be flush. Pin in place.
- Edgestitch around all four sides of the tab to secure.
- Repeat to attach the remaining tab to the opposite end of the zipper, trimming away the excess zipper tape as necessary.
- Find the two faux leather panels and the two exterior chevron twill panels. Place one faux leather panel right sides together with one chevron panel, aligning them along one 25" edge. Pin in place.
NOTE: If you are using a directional print, you would align the bottom of the chevron panel to the top of the faux leather panel.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch together each pair of panels. Finger press the seam down toward the faux leather.
- Re-thread with contrasting thread for the faux leather (we used off white). Topstitch ¼" away from the seam within the faux leather.
- Place each sewn exterior panel right side down and flat on your work surface. Center one rectangle of batting over each panel and lightly press flat.
- Using a ¼" seam allowance, machine baste in place around all four sides of each panel.
NOTE: Fusible fleece/batting is not appropriate for this project because the faux leather does not do well with the high heat required for fusing.
- Find the two 55" lengths of webbing.
- Create a loop from each length of webbing. To do this, butt together the raw ends and join with a tight zig zag stitch. We used our copper thread so you could see the joint we made. Even though the joint will be hidden, you should probably use thread to match the webbing.
- Measure and mark two points along each loop. One should be ½" from the joint. Place a pin at this first mark. Then, measure 33" from the first mark and place a second pin. Fold the webbing at each mark to create the double loops (one for a handle carry and one for an over-the-shoulder strap). Pin the folds so you don't lose your place.
- Flip one sewn exterior panel to the right side. Find the exact center point along its top edge.
- Measure 2½" to the right of center and place a pin at this point. Then measure 2½" to the left of center and place a pin at this point. You should end up with 5” between the two pin points.
- Measure 4” down from the raw upper edge at each of the upper pin marks. Place a horizontal pin at each of these new measurement points.
- Place one folded end of the handle/strap loop at each marked intersection (2½" from center, 4" down). Take the time to double check that the webbing is straight and the two ends are even with one another. Pin each end in place. Also, be sure the webbing joint is against the exterior panel. The longer loop of webbing is to the outside, the shorter length to the inside.
- If necessary, re-thread with contrasting thread. We used copper.
- Stitch through all the layers with a 2" "X-box", securing the handle ends to the exterior panel.
- Repeat to attach the remaining handle loop to the remaining exterior panel.
Seam and box the corners of the exterior bag
- Place the front and back exterior panels right sides together. Be very careful to line up the horizontal seams and the pattern of the upper fabric.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners.
- Our bag is designed to have 5" sides and base. To create this width, we figured our corners at 2½".
- Measure and mark one corner. Stitch along the drawn line and trim away the excess. We recommend a double line of stitching.
- Repeat to create the opposite corner.
NOTE: If you are new to boxed corners, check out our tutorial for step-by-step instructions.
- Fold back the upper edge ½" all around and press well.
- Turn the bag right side out and push the corners out into place.
- Set the exterior bag aside.
Lining and upper facing
- Find the 8" x 13" pocket rectangle.
- Fold in half, right sides together, so it is now 8" x 6½". Pin along all three sides, leaving an approximate 2-3" opening along the bottom for turning.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners. Lock your seam on either side of the 3" opening. Clip the corners.
- Turn right side out. Push out the corners so they are nice and sharp. A chopstick or long knitting needle works well for this.
- Fold in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam. Press well.
- Fold the pocket in half and press lightly to set a vertical center crease line.
- Find the two lining panels.
- Place one panel right side up and flat on your work surface. Measure to find the exact center of the panel.
- Place the pocket on the right side of the lining panel. The pocket should be centered side to side and 4" down from the top raw edge. Pin in place.
- 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. This edgestitching closes the opening used for turning.
- Stitch along the vertical crease line to divide the pocket in half into two pockets.
- Find the zipper unit. Place it right side up on the right side of the lining/pocket panel. The zipper unit should be centered side-to-side on the lining panel with one side of the zipper unit flush with the top raw edge of the panel. Pin in place.
- Find one of the two 25" x 2" facing strips. Place it right side down over the zipper unit. The top raw edges of the lining, facing and zipper unit should be flush. Re-pin in place through all the layers.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch across through all the layers.
- Repeat to attach the remaining raw edge of the zipper unit to the remaining lining panel, sandwiching the zipper unit as above with the remaining facing strip.
- Fold the two lining pieces right sides together, sandwiching the pocket and zipper unit between the layers and matching the ends of the facing as well as the sides and bottom edges of the lining. Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners.
- Following the same steps as above for the exterior tote, measure for 5" boxed corners.
NOTE: Again, If you are new to boxed corners, check out our tutorial for step-by-step instructions.
- Fold down the top raw edge of the lining facing ½" all around. Press in place.
- With the lining still wrong side out, find the exterior bag, which should be right side out.
- Slip the lining inside the exterior bag so the two are now wrong sides together. Smooth the lining all the way down into the exterior bag so the bottom boxed corners are aligned.
- Carefully align the top folded edges of both the exterior and the lining facing. If they are not perfectly flush, re-fold as necessary and re-press. Pin the layers together around the entire top opening.
- If necessary, re-thread with contrasting thread. We used copper, and we lengthened our stitch.
- Topstitch around the entire top opening two times. The first time you are stitching approximately ⅛" from the top folded edges. Make sure the handle/strap loops are folded out of the way of your stitching.
- The second time around, you're stitching approximately ⅛" from the facing seam.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Michele Mishler