It would be an understatement to say we love the handmade gift here at Sew4Home. But even we run short on time during this busiest of seasons. So, how about a store-bought treat in a handmade tote? Of course, we'd still vote for homemade inside handmade (like a riddle wrapped in an enigma), but these tiny, two-tone felt totes are so cute, they'll make anything you put in them just as adorable.
I've carefully written these instructions and included a lot of step-by-step photos, but until you actually try this project, it's probably still going to look like a brain teaser. But I promise it's really easy. You just gotta try. Will you try? You're essentially sewing a box. What makes it cool is that you're turning two-dimensional pieces into a three-dimensional finished project! Once you've mastered this, we'll move on to spinning straw into gold.
Sewing Tools You Need
Fabric and Other Supplies
- Wool felt sheets (9" x 12" minimum sheet size): one color (one sheet) for front and back, one complimentary color (one sheet) for sides
- Pipe cleaners in colors to compliment your felt: two pipe cleaners per bag
- Scapbooking embellishments for front decoration (optional)
- Contrasting color thread for topstitching
Note: You can use a heavier decorative thread for a more ‘rustic' look
- Matching thread (to front/back felt) to sew pipe cleaners in place
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
Note: for precise cutting, we suggest a rotary cutter and mat over scissors
- Straight pins
- Hand sewing needle
- From the wool felt sheet for the front and back cut one 4" x 11½" rectangle.
- From the wool felt sheet for the sides cut two 2¼" x 4 5/8" rectangles.
Note: In order for the tote to come out square, it is very important your cuts are precise with clean 90˚ angles.
- On the 4" x 11½" rectangle, measure in 4 5/8" from each end and draw a line with your fabric pen. You should end up with two parallel lines 2¼" apart.
- Make a fold at each line and press.
At Your Sewing Machine
This project uses an overcast stitch, which is a stitch that makes a seam and overcasts the edge in one step. Most machines, even basic models, offer this stitch. Some machines may offer several more decorative options to choose from, such as a Parisian stitch or Blanket stitch.
Before starting, test sew some stitches on a piece of scrap felt to practice your overcast stitch and make sure all your machine tension settings are correct. You can also experiment with stitch width settings to get the look you want. For example, if you’ve chosen to use a heavier decorative thread as mentioned above, you may need to increase the stitch width.
- Take your large rectangle with its two pressed folds to your machine. Line up the first fold under your overcast foot and stitch along the fold.
- Repeat along the second fold.
- Place one side piece under the front/back piece just sewn, lining up the top and sides.
- Stitch down the side.
- Stop when you come to the first fold with your needle in the DOWN position. Pivot the top piece while simultaneously pulling/pivoting the bottom piece around so the two edges align. You are lining up the short little side.
- Stitch across the bottom to the other fold line. Again, stop with your needle in the DOWN position. Pivot the top piece while simultaneously pulling/pivoting the bottom piece around so the two edges align. You are now lining up the longer side so you can stitch back up to the top.
- Stitch from the corner to the top. You’ve created one side of the tote.
- Repeat to create the other side. You’ll be working in a slightly smaller space since one side in already complete, but felt is easy to work with and slightly stretchy, so you can still maneuver.
- Stitch around the entire top of the completed tote.
- Curve your two pipe cleaners into a pleasing shape and insert one on each side of the tote. Adjust to get a handle height you like, and pin in place to secure. Hand stitch in place.
- If you’d like, add a fun decoration to the front of the tote. I used paper embellishments I found in the scrapbooking section of my local craft store. You could also use buttons, appliqués or even a tiny ornament. If you have an embroidery machine, you could embroider a design prior to assembling the tote.
Other machines suitable for this project include the Bernina activa 210 and the Elna 2300.