Saturday, July 18, 2015

Fabric Basket Tote Tutorial

As a crafter, you can never have too many bags, baskets or totes for supplies, right? I use them to stash a project to take with me when going out-or to organize WIP's around the house.

I had a paper shopping bag with a single handle attached like this one and thought it would be fun to recreate something similar from fabric.

it folds up just like so -press with an iron to help recreate the side folds of the 'basket'.
Would you like to make one? (I didn't take step by step photos because I think the directions are pretty (hopefully) straightforward if you've ever sewn a tote, especially). 
 Here's what I did:


I used a piece of freezer paper to create a template-you can do this too, it makes cutting the gusset corners (and making more bags) easier for me-or just cut the fabric pieces to the indicated sizes directly.
Finished bag size: about 7 inches wide x 8 inches tall x 4.5 inch gusset.

  • 2 pieces of exterior fabric cut 11.25 inches tall x 12.5  inches wide
  • 2 pieces of lining fabric cut 11.25 inches tall x 12.5  inches wide
  • 4 pieces of lightweight fusible interfacing cut 11.25 inches tall x 12.5  inches wide
  • 1 piece of twill tape 17 inches long. I used one that was 2 inches wide-you can use whatever you like, but I think a minimum of 1 inch wide works best.
  • Optional- a 2.5 inch square scrap of coordinating fabric for the tab
  • And of course, basic sewing tools

All seams are 1/2" unless otherwise noted
I chose a favorite Cotton and Steel print and paired it with a gingham lining. I added a twill tape handle and tab on the side in a coordinating cotton and steel print. 

  1. Begin by making a paper template 11.25 inches tall x 12.5 inches wide (or cut sizes directly from fabric pieces-if you do, skip step 2). 
  2. Using the template, cut 2 from the exterior fabrics, 2 from the lining fabrics and 4 from the lightweight fusible interfacing.
  3. Cut a 2.75 inch square from the 2 bottom corners of both exterior, lining and interfacing pieces.  To help make sure the gusset squares are exactly the same size I like to fold the fabric in half and cut the 2 bottom corners at the same time.
  4. Fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the exterior and lining fabric pieces according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  5. Stitch the left, right and bottom seams of the lining pieces. Press seams open.
  6. If making the tab, continue here or skip to step 7. Make the tab by folding the 2.5 inch square in half. Open it up and then press the 2 raw edges toward the pressed center crease. Fold it in half again on the crease. Stitch down the 2 longer sides with a narrow seam allowance. 
  7. Now fold the tab in half and pin it about 1 inch down from the top right side of the exterior front piece matching raw edges. Stitch in place.
  8. Stitch the left, right and bottom seams of the exterior pieces carefully going over the tab if you made one. Press seams open.
  9. Make the gussets by matching up a side to a bottom seam on one of the exterior pieces and pin in place. Make sure the 2 seams are facing opposite directions so they lay flat. You should be able to push the seams together until they are right up against each other. I like to stitch a narrower seam within the seam allowance for durability and  I also like to pink the edges with my pinking shears. Repeat for second exterior and both lining pieces. Press seams
  10. With right sides together place the lining inside the exterior piece and stitch all the way around the top leaving a 2-3 inch opening for turning. Pull the lining through the opening and push it down into the bag's exterior. Topstitch with a narrow seam allowance.
  11. To attach the handle: Fold the front and back of the tote in half to press a center crease. If wide enough, fold the end of the twill tape in half to find and mark it's center as well. Starting at the top of the bag, and on the center crease, measure down 4 inches and  mark  the 4" point with a water soluble fabric marker. Fold under 1/2" of one end of the twill tape. Center the twill tape's folded end on the center mark with the raw edge underneath, facing the bag. Pin on both sides of the twill tape up to the top of the bag. Make sure it is centered. Stitch around the pinned section of the handle and stitch a center 'x'. I like to start stitching on the topstitching stitches and then go around all of the handle section's stitches twice for reassurance. Repeat these steps to attach 2nd half of the handle to the bag's back.
  12. To create the side folds: press a crease from one bottom corner to the top parallel to the side center seam. Repeat with the other 3 corners.
 Your fabric basket tote is now ready to use

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