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Stylish Monogrammed Weekender Tote: Weekend Wonders Returns with Fabric.com

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I love today's weekender tote because it combines some of my favorite types of fabrics: natural, nubby twill, soft faux suede, and happy gingham for a pop of color and pattern. As part of our Weekend Wonders Returns series with Fabric.com, today's tote is the first of a trio of travel storables in this fantastic blend of fabrics. It has the perfect soft feel, which also makes it extremely packable. Not so soft and slouchy that it puddles on the floor, but also not so stiff that it seems to stand at attention if you set it down. Fill it up for a weekend getaway. Take it with you on your weekend shopping excursions. Or use it to carry your sewing and craft projects. One of the things we love about shopping at Fabric.com is the ability to choose from so many kinds of fabric: from crisp cotton to cuddly fleece, wipe-clean laminates to dress-me-up silks.

Our combination of fabrics makes a wonderful transition to the tones and textures of fall. The elegant faux suede handles are soft to the touch with extra length to easily sling the bag over your shoulder. Clever fabric brackets help hold the straps in place and add an interesting detail. And of course, this week's signature monogram on the front personalizes and stylizes. The alphabet is a free download in the six major embroidery formats, courtesy of Fabric.com.

Our thanks to Fabric.com for sponsoring two weeks of projects designed to whip up in a weekend. We sometimes hear from people reluctant to shop online because they can't touch the fabric and really see it before they buy. Fabric.com offers "no-fear shopping." They stand behind their over 500,000 yards of fabric 100%. All items purchased carry a 30-day, no-questions-asked, money back guarantee. 

Click here to download our monogram alphabet and brackets. This free download is sponsored by Fabric.com and is available in all major embroidery formats.

Our tote finishes at approximately 17" wide x 20" high with a 6" base and sides and a strap drop of about 12".

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

          

NOTE: Inventory shifts constantly, and some prints 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.

Getting Started

  1. From the fabric the bag's exterior and the back of the straps (Eco Twill in Natural in our sample), cut the following:
    If monogramming, cut ONE rectangle at 18" wide x 21" high; cut ANOTHER rectangle big enough to hoop; it will be cut down after embroidery to 18" x 21"
    If not monogramming, cut TWO 18" wide x 21" high rectangles
    TWO 40" x 1¾" strips for the straps
    FOUR 2½" x 3½" rectangles for the strap tabs
  2. From the fabric for the exterior of the pockets and the front of the straps (Vintage Suede in Espresso in our sample), cut the following:
    TWO 18" wide x 8" high rectangles for the exterior of the pockets
    TWO 40" x 1¾" strips for the straps
  3. From the fabric for the lining of the bag, the lining's pocket and the lining of the exterior pockets (Small Check in Ivory/Charcoal in our sample), cut the following:
    TWO 18" wide x 21" high rectangles for the lining
    TWO 18" wide x 8" high rectangles for the lining of the exterior pockets
    ONE 8" wide x 11" high rectangle for the lining's pocket
  4. From the fusible fleece, cut TWO 18" x 21" rectangles.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Optional embroidery

  1. Download the free font collection in the proper format for your machine.
  2. Hoop the twill fabric and stabilizer, and monogram the letter of your choice surrounded by the brackets.
  3. Trim the finished fabric to 18" wide x 21" high, positioning the embroidery so it is centered side to side within the 18" width. The bottom-most curve of the brackets should be approximately 12½" up from the bottom raw edge, which will allow it to sit approximately 2" above the finished pocket.

Fusing

  1. Match up each exterior twill piece with its corresponding fusible interfacing piece. Following manufacturer's directions, fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of each fabric piece. 
  2. Set the fused pieces aside.

Exterior pockets

  1. Find the two 18" x 8" pieces of faux suede and the two 18" x 8" pieces of cotton for the pockets.
  2. Pin a suede piece to a cotton piece, right sides together. You should have two pairs.
  3. Pin each pair together along the 18" sides.
  4. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch together. You now have two tubes. Press the seam allowances open and flat, pressing from the cotton side as the faux suede does not like the heat of the iron. 
  5. Turn each tube right side out. With the faux suede side facing up, press flat with your hands. The seamed 18" sides should be top and bottom.
  6. Gently roll the tube down, revealing about ⅛" of the cotton along the top seam line. Very carefully press this reveal in place.
  7. Thread your machine with thread to match the faux suede in the top and bobbin. 
  8. Topstitch along the top edge, staying as close to the seam line as possible. This will hold the cotton reveal in place, giving it the appearance of piping. The slight roll also hides the bottom seam behind a clean folded edge.
  9. Repeat to finish the second pocket.
  10. Find the interfaced front twill panel (if you did a monogram, this is the front panel; if not, either panel can be the "front").
  11. Place it right side up on your work surface. 
  12. Measure 3½" up from the bottom raw edge of the panel and draw a horizontal line with your fabric pen/pencil. 
  13. Place one pocket panel right side up on the main panel, aligning the bottom edge of the pocket with the drawn line. Pin in place.
  14. Measure to find the exact center of the pocket panel. It should be 9" in from each raw side edge. Mark with pins or a draw vertical line through the center of the pocket.
  15. If necessary, re-thread your machine with thread to match the faux suede in the top and bobbin
  16. Topstitch through all the layers along the drawn/marked vertical line, creating two sections for the pocket panel. 
  17. Edgestitch across the bottom of the pocket through all the layers.
  18. Repeat with the remaining pocket and the interfaced back twill panel.

Seam and box corners

  1. Place the front and back twill panels right sides together. Be very careful to line up the edges of the pockets.
  2. You want the pockets to look like a continuous line around the tote, so it's 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 6" sides and base. To create this width, we figured our corners at 3". 
  5. Measure and mark each corner. 
  6. Cut out the 3" corner squares along your drawn lines.
  7. Press open all the seams. 
  8. Flatten the corner and pin the sides together, lining up the side and bottom seams.
  9. Double stitch the corner.
  10. Repeat to create the opposite corner.
  11. 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.
  12. Set the exterior bag aside. 

Straps

  1. Find the two 40" lengths of twill and the two 40" lengths of faux suede. 
  2. Match up each twill strip with a suede strip. Place the strips right sides together, aligning all the raw edges. Pin in place along the 40" sides.
  3. Using a ¼" seam allowance (we used our Quarter Inch Seam foot), stitch the 40" long sides.
  4. Turn right side out and press flat from the twill side.
    NOTE: Take a look at our handy tutorial on turning tubes, using a hemostat.
  5. Still using thread to match the faux suede, edgestitch along both long sides of both straps. 
  6. Turn under the raw ends of each strap ½" and pin in place.
  7. Place one loop on the front panel. The outside edge of the strap should be 4" from the bag's side seam. The bottom end of the strap should be 5" down from the bag's top raw edge. Follow the same placement for the opposite side of the handle. Pin the straps in place.
  8. Check to make sure the handle loop is a smooth curve; you don't want it to have twisted on itself during your pinning.
  9. Stitch the each end of the strap in place through all the layers with a 1" box. The sides of the box should be stitched directly over the strap's side edgestitching. The bottom of the box should be ¼" from the bottom folded edge of the strap. The top of the box is 1" up from the bottom line of stitching. This top horizontal line will be hidden under the strap tab. 
  10. Repeat to place the remaining strap on the tote's back panel. 

Strap tabs

  1. Find the four 2½" x 3½" twill pieces. 
  2. Fold under each side ½" and press well. 
  3. Open up each corner to create a small faux miter. If you are new to this technique, we have a tutorial that can help. 
    NOTE: Yes, this is fussy work, but the strap tabs are an important design element and you want to get as crisp a point as possible out of the heavy twill. 
  4. Pin each mitered corner in place. Hand or machine baste in place.
  5. Repeat to create four tabs.
  6. Place a tab over one end of one strap. It should be positioned so the bottom edge of tab just covers the 1" horizontal seam line that secured the bottom end of the strap to the bag. Center the tab so it is perfectly perpendicular to the strap with ¾" extending beyond the strap on each side. Pin in place.
  7. Make sure your machine is threaded with thread to match the twill in the top and bobbin. 
  8. Very carefully stitch the tab in place with an "X-Box." You want the outer box to be as close to the edges of the tab as possible. The diagonal lines through the middle of the box should be straight and true. 
  9. We are using our Janome Satin Stitch foot with it's helpful red guide arrow. Our Janome machine also has an amazingly precise and powerful feeding system, so we never worry about stitching close to the edge - even through multiple layers. If you are concerned about your machine's abilities, practice first on some scrap layers. 
    NOTE: If you are worried about your free-form stitching ability, you can draw lines to follow for the diagonals. Just be sure to use a fabric pen or pencil that wipes away easily or vanishes with exposure to the air as you are working on the right side of the fabric. 
  10. Repeat to attach the remaining tabs, being extra careful that they are in perfectly matching positions on both the front and back. 
  11. Remove the basting stitches from all the tabs.
  12. Fold down the top raw edge of the tote ½" all around. Press in place.

Lining

  1. Find the 8" x 11" pocket rectangle.
  2. Fold in half, right sides together, so it is now each 8" x 5½". Pin along all three sides, leaving an approximate 3" opening along the bottom for turning.
  3. 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 and press open the seam allowance. 
  4. Turn right side out. 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 well.
  6. Find the two lining panels.
  7. Place one panel right side up and flat on your work surface. Measure to find the exact center of the panel. 
  8. Pin the pocket in place on the right side of the lining panel. The pocket should be centered side to side, and the top of the pocket should be 3" down from the top raw edge. 
  9. 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.
  10. Place the two lining pieces right sides together, sandwiching the pocket between the layers. Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom.
  11. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners.
  12. Following the same steps as above for the exterior tote, measure for 6" boxed corners, cutting out 3" squares from each corner.
  13. Flatten and double stitch.

    NOTE: Again, If you are new to boxed corners, check out our tutorial for step-by-step instructions.
  14. Fold down the top raw edge of the lining ½" all around. Press in place.

Final assembly

  1. Find the exterior tote. It should be right side out. 
  2. Find the lining. It should be wrong side out. 
  3. Slip the lining inside the main tote 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. 
  4. The top edge of the lining should extend above the twill by ⅛" all around. If the folded edges of the twill exterior and the lining do not line up to create this ⅛" reveal, adjust the folds as necessary. It is easier to refold the cotton lining. As with the pockets, this ⅛" reveal creates a faux piping treatment. 
  5. Make sure the handles are folded down out of the way of the top seam.
  6. Edgesgtitch ⅛" from the top folded edge of the twill, staying on the twill not the gingham. Go all the way around the top of the tote. This secures the ⅛" reveal and keeps the lining from shifting. 
     

Contributors

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

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Comments (18)

Gutted :( said:
Gutted :('s picture

Got too carried away, misread the instructions and screwed up my bag. Lined the suede pockets up with the bottom of my front and back pieces, so most of them are swallowed up by the box corners. Can't undo it all as I hacked the corners off. What a shame. Luckily I bought enough fabric to make more, but stupidly used my favourite colours first. Bummer.

Oh well. For my next one, can anyone suggest an easy way of cutting out and measuring the big fabric pieces? I have a 6"x 24" quilting ruler and really struggled to cut accurately.

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

@Gutted :( - sorry you missed some steps in the instructions. Sometimes I like to read through the project one or two times and "make it in my head" prior to cutting. Your 6" x 24" ruler should work well for this project. Especially if you have a gridded cutting mat. If you don't have a nice large cutting mat with a grid, that would be a great place to start. We also have a tutorial on cutting very large panels - although it is for panels much larger than this. I've linked this below. You might also look in to the Gypsy Gripper products to help hold your ruler steady. There's a link for that below as well.

http://www.sew4home.com/tips-resources/sewing-tips-tricks/rotary-cutting...

http://www.sew4home.com/tips-resources/buying-guide/products-we-love-gyp...

jerseygirl said:
jerseygirl's picture

I'm using a Brother SE-400 embroidery machine (PES) I have downloaded the monogram and the brackets. Since they are separate files, I get the horizontal framing lines embroidered in 3 separate places! On your finished bag, I don;t see these framing lines at all. What am I doing wrong.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
@ jerseygirl - We use Janome machines in our studios, and so do not have specific step-by-step troubleshooting information for other brands. You should be able to find instructions on using the edit screen in your instruction booklet. Or, you could contact your local Brother dealer. Additionally, the 'borders' are placement lines so the designs line up; they don't need to be stitched out, just skipped when the embroidery is in progress. We believe this is one of the Brother machines with a 4" hoop size;  the brackets and a single letter should easily fit within the hoop.
jerseygirl said:
jerseygirl's picture

Thanks! I didn't know I could edit out those borders--as you can see I am fairly new to embroidering on my machine! I just looked further into my instruction booklet, and it works! Thanks so much. I can't wait to get going on this tote. I'm also making the key ring/purse for my daighter for Christmas.

Jsandas1 said:
Jsandas1's picture

Is it possible to make this without the fusible fleece.  I'd like to use all 100% organic cotton and notions; canvas for the exterior and maybe twill for lining but not sure if that combo would be stiff enough.  Could I use a flannel, muslin or other material to put in between layers and skip the synthetic stabilizers or interfacings.  I'm new to sewing so not sure how important these elements are in the final product.  Love the entire weekender collection.  Thank you!

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

Jsandas1 - this bag really does require interfacing of some sort in order to hold its shape. You'd need to do a bit of research to see what you can find that will meet your criteria. Pellon does offer Shape Flex, which is a woven 100% cotton fusible interfacing, but I can't guarantee organic. You could try an bamboo batting but would need to adhere it to the fabric in some way. Again, you'd have to research what options are available in the glue and adhesives category that would meet your desire for all organic. If the stabilizer isn't fused to the fabric, it's not as likely to hold the correct shape. Without testing, we really can't guarantee the final results will be perfect. You'll need to do some experimenting. For cleaning, as with most commercial totes and bags, this is meant to be spot cleaned. 

mrc60 said:
mrc60's picture

Yes, this tote certainly caught my eye; however, when reading through the instructions ~ I would like to ask: under Fabric and other Supplies - 1/3 yard of 45+ wide fusible interfacting - should this be 1/2 yard (?) because I cannot get pieces of 18" x 21" (1/3 of a yard is 12") and under Embroidery Options #3 - you have the dimensions as 18" high X 21" wide; should it be 21" high and 18" wide?  Thanks - I love looking at this site "daily".

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

@ mrc60 - You are correct on the 1/2 yard. We have changed -- on the other, yes -- the height and width was correct in all the listings above -- one miss there. Thanks.

Leslie_LFstudio said:
Leslie_LFstudio's picture

Nice tote! Lots of ways this can be customized to make it your own.

Diana Nelson said:
Diana Nelson's picture

Love all your tutorials and patterns.  I'm definitely going to be making these.

SUSAN ALDEN said:
SUSAN ALDEN's picture

I tried to download the alphabet file, but when I extract it from the zip it comes up a corrupt file.  This was in PES.  I then tried HUS and it is still corrupt file.  Any ideas?  Thanks

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

@ Susan Alden - We have tested all the files and find no issues with corruption. You could try to download the zipped file to your Desktop, Extract All, Open a folder for your jump drive, open the folder for the files, Select All, and drag and drop. If you still have issues, please contact us directly via info@sew4home.com

crescentcity1 said:
crescentcity1's picture

Thank you for the tutorial and the monogram download. I love sewing with different textures of fabric in one project. It makes the product more interesting, epecially suedes and twill! The tote is beautiful.

Tkessler19 said:
Tkessler19's picture

Love the bag--is it possible to get the pattern/instructions for the other two pieces pictured in the "Trio"?  It would make a perfect set!

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

@ Tkessler19 - both of the other "trio" items are coming up during the next 10 days of Weekend Wonders Returns with Fabric.com. Stay tuned 

cathymichels said:
cathymichels's picture

I ordered some beautiful laminates and other fabrics from Fabric.com.  All of the fabrics arrived promptly and the quality was superb.  The laminates were shipped on a roll so they wouldn't crease but the shipping was still at their low rates.  I knew my sister would love the laminates (a Paris theme) so I gave them to my sister for her birthday and reordered for myself.  The second time they sent the wrong fabric.  When I called, customer service told me to keep the fabric or donate it to a charity and they would send me the correct fabric.  They shipped it right away and I had it in a couple of days!  I was very pleased with their service and will definitely order again.

babs4008 said:
babs4008's picture

Love this tote!  Thanks for the monograms.  I've downloaded them and will find lots of uses for them.

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