Color block is the fashion statement this spring. We've spotted the style on everything from pretty pillows to darling dresses to terrific totes... like this one. In order to give you two trends for the price of one, we executed the signature color block style in one of the popular new laminated fabrics, choosing bold black and white patent leather vinyls from Fabric.com. Stylish and sophisticated, our tote design is actually very easy to make, even with its posh cotton lining and double shoulder straps. The bag was sitting on the end of my work table for a couple days, and every single person who walked by had to pick it up, admire it and try it on for size... even the guys!
Just last week, we posted an in-depth tutorial about working with laminates: Successful Sewing With Laminated Cottons (And Other Sticky Stuff). If you are new to sewing on this substrate, make sure you review the article prior to starting today's project
Fabric.com has a wonderful selection of laminates.
This bag finishes at approximately 15" tall x 13" wide x 5" deep.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome Memory Craft 6600P)
- Walking or Even Feed foot - optional, but very helpful for these tricky layers
Fabric and Other Supplies
- ½ yard of 54" wide patent leather vinyl for the the bag top exterior and handles; we used Patent Leather Vinyl in White from Fabric.com
- ¼ yard of 54" wide patent leather vinyl for the the bag bottom exterior; we used Patent Leather Vinyl in Black from Fabric.com
- ¾ yard of 54" wide medium weight fabric for the the bag lining; we used Carrie Stripe in Black & White by Premier Prints from Fabric.com
- 1 yard of medium weight fusible interfacing; we use Pellon Decor Bond
- All purpose thread in colors to best match both fabrics; we used both black and white
- Wax or parchment paper
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pencil
- Seam gauge
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Clips to hold layers together (don't forget to review the Working With Laminates tutorial mentioned above for notes on these clips and other helpful supplies)
- From the fabric for the bag top exterior (Patent Leather Vinyl in White in our sample), cut the following:
TWO 25" x 2½" strips for the straps
TWO 14" x 11" rectangles for the main front and back panels
TWO 6" x 11" rectangles for the side panels
- From the fabric for the bag bottom exterior (Patent Leather Vinyl in Black in our sample), cut the following:
TWO 14" x 8½" rectangles for the bottom front and back panels
TWO 6" x 8½" rectangles for the bottom side panels
- From the fabric for the bag lining (Carrie Black & White Stripe in our sample), cut the following:
TWO 19" wide x 18½" high rectangles
ONE 7" wide x 11" high rectangle for the pocket
NOTE: Our cuts were made so the stripes run vertically
- From the fusible interfacing, cut the following:
TWO 14" x 11" rectangles
TWO 6" x 11" rectangles
TWO 14" x 8½" rectangles
TWO 6" x 8½" rectangles
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse a piece of interfacing to the wrong side of each corresponding piece of vinyl.
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 this heavier vinyl with its soft cotton back is an exception 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 vinyl pieces without any issues.
Construct the upper and bottom portions of the bag
- Find the four upper panels (the white panels in our sample).
- Align one side panel, right sides together with the front panel.
- Clip in place if need be, however, the vinyl sticks to itself, so you really don't need any additional help to keep the layers in place.
- Thread the machine with thread to match the upper panels in the top and bobbin.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the two panels together. We used our Walking foot for the entire construction of the bag.
- Repeat to sew the remaining side panel to to the opposite side of the front panel.
- Align the back panel, right sides together, with the remaining raw edge of the right side panel. Stitch in place, still using a ½" seam allowance.
- Leave the final seam unsewn at this point, giving you a long strip rather than a tube.
- Press seams towards the center panels.
- Place a piece of wax or parchment paper on top of the vinyl. You need just a thin strip the length of the panel. This will help the foot move across the vinyl.
- Topstitch the length of each seam to hold that pressed seam allowance in place. Your topstitched seam should be about ¼" from your original seam.
- Simply tear away the strip from the finished seam.
- When your three seams are topstitched, place the remaining raw edges together to form a tube.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch this seam as you did the others. Then, turn the tube right side out and topstitch this final seam.
NOTE: When you topstitch this seam, you'll notice the vinyl is not super pliable; you'll need to futz with it a bit to get it to lay flat under the needle. This is why we stitched the other three seams with the vinyl flat!
- Re-thread the machine with thread to match the bottom panels in the top and bobbin.
- Repeat the above steps to construct the bottom part of the bag in the black vinyl.
Assemble the top and bottom portions
- One of the beauties of this bag is how perfectly the seams match. When you have strong color blocks like this, rather than busy prints, the accuracy of your seams is very important.
- Place the upper and bottom tubes right sides together. Match up all four seams exactly. You can clip the layers together if you'd like, but as mentioned above, the vinyl really sticks together without moving.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the two tubes together all the way around.
- Press the seam allowance DOWN towards the bottom panels.
- Before you turn the bag right side out to topstitch, you will need to clip the seam underneath at the intersections where the side seams were topstitched. Otherwise it will be too thick to fit through the machine.
- Turn the bag right side out, and with the machine still threaded with thread to match the bottom bag panels, topstitch the seam allowance in place within the bottom panel. As above, place wax or parchment paper down and stitch approximately ¼" from the original seam.
- Turn the bag inside out. Carefully align the seams, and flatten the bag in order to sew the bottom seam. Clip in place or simply stick the layers together.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, sew across the bottom of the bag. Stitch across again to reinforce it.
- With the bag still wrong side out, the next step is to box the bottom corners.
- Using both hands, pinch and pull apart one bottom corner.
- As you keep pulling, the fabric will begin to make a little peak with the corner point at the top and the side seam line running down the middle of one side. Repeat for the opposite corner.
- Our bag is designed to have 5" sides and base. To create this width, you need to figure your boxed corner seam at half that finished width. Therefore, in our sample, we measured 2½" from the tip of each corner peak.
- Draw a horizontal line at this measurement across the peak.
- Clip your folded 'peaks' to hold them in place, and stitch along the drawn lines.
- Stitch back and forth along the line two or three times to reinforce. Trim away the peak on each side to about ¼" from the seam line.
- Turn right side out and push out to form the boxed corners.
Create the lining and its pocket
- Find the 7" x 11" pocket piece.
- Fold this piece in half right sides together so it is now 7" x 5½".
- 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. 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 flat.
- Pin the pocket in place on one 19" x 18½" lining piece. The pocket should be centered side to side and 5" down from the top raw edge. Adjust slightly if needed in order to match the stripes on the pocket with the stripes on the main lining piece.
- 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.
- 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.
- Leave a 8" - 10" opening along the bottom. We'll use this at the end to turn our finished bag right side out.
- 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
- We pinked the edges of our seam allowances as our finish choice.
- 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.
- Find the two 25" x 2½" handle strips.
- Lay them right side down and flat on your work surface.
- With ruler and pencil measure 1" in from the right side and draw a line all the way from one end to the other. Then, measure ½" in from the left side and draw a second line from one end to the other.
- Fold in the right side along the drawn line. Finger press in place.
- Fold in the left side along the drawn line, overlapping the first fold. As if you were folding a letter to mail (remember when you used to mail letters?!). Finger press in place. Clip in place.
- Repeat to fold and clip the remaining strap.
- Cut a strip(s) of wax or parchment paper the length of the strap. Place the paper UNDER one handle with the fold facing up. Place the handle and paper under the presser foot; the paper will be against your machine's feed dogs.
NOTE: If you are not using a Walking or Even Feed foot, you may also want to place a layer of wax or parchment paper on top, between the vinyl and the presser foot.
- Sew down the middle of the strap staying close to the cut edge.
NOTE: There's no need for any additional finish on this cut edge. It will not ravel or fray because of the vinyl. This is the inside edge. If you take a look at some of the purses in your closet, you may see this exact same finish. It's quite standard on leather and vinyl because it is very hard (if not darn near impossible) to turn a leather or vinyl tube right side out... it will stick to itself!
- With the bag body right side out, measure 2½" in towards the center from each side seam. Do this on both the front and the back panel. Mark these four points with a clip.
- Place one handle on the front and one on the back, aligning one raw handle end at each clip point. The right side of the handle should be against the right side of the bag. This means the handle seam will be facing up. You can align the seam itself with each clip point.
- Edgestitch each handle in place.
Attach the lining to the bag
- Place the vinyl bag inside of lining so the two are right sides together.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the vinyl bag to the lining all around the top opening.
- Pull the vinyl bag through that 8" - 10" opening you remembered to leave in the bottom of the lining.
- Press the opening in the lining flat, so the raw edges are flush with the sewn seam. Pin and edge stitch closed.
- Push the lining into the inside of the bag.
- Topstitch around the entire top edge of the bag to finish.
NOTE: We did not use wax paper for this final topstitching because the lining was against the machine's feed dogs. Going slowly, our Walking foot's feed dogs were able to move across the vinyl. If you are not using a Walking foot, you will want to add a layer of wax or parchment paper.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild
Other machines suitable for this project include the Baby Lock Symphony and the Elna eXcellence.