Working out a repeating pattern for my "Eat like an animal" series. Still very much a work-in-progress, but I sure am loving the bright colors. I want to turn this into a lunch tote and placemats, and maybe more.
This makes a really nice tote for any purpose, but I think it would be especially nice as a diaper bag, especially made in a fabric with the wee one's zodiac sign. It's roomy and functional with two large pockets and the quilt batting adds structure and makes the tote feel so soft and, well, kind of like a quilt!
1 yard each cotton poplin zodiac character and zodiac symbol fabrics
36 inch x 38 inch piece of batting
Small piece of Velcro or other closure if desired
plastic canvas (about 3-1/2" x 13") to reinforce the bottom of tote (kind of optional, but not really if you want your tote to be totally awesome)
Use a 1/2 inch seam allowance throughout and finish the edges as you see fit, or not (I zig-zagged mine - too lazy to figure out how to thread the serger I haven't used since God was a child).
My layout might seem a bit weird, but I set it up in a way that makes the most of the way the fabric design repeats (IMNSHO, anyway!). I used the outer fabric to line the inner pocket to make the most of the fabric, since Spoonflower only sells full yards and fat quarters. After you cut out the tote pieces, you can use the leftover fabric to make some small bags, either covered in iron-vinyl for a makeup or pencil case, or lined with PUL for snack bags (don't use the iron-on vinyl for the inside of snack bags - according to the manufacturer it contains phthalates and hasn't been tested for food safety; it's okay on the outside, though, if you want a bag that wipes clean).
Ok, let's get started!
Here are your cutting layouts:
Time to start sewing!
RS together, sew sides and bottom of outer tote fabric together.
RS together, sew BOTTOM SEAM ONLY of pocket lining.
Baste batting to WS of tote lining (the one cut from the zodiac symbol fabric), one of the pocket pieces, and one of the strap pieces. Fold the other strap piece in half lengthwise and iron to mark center with crease (note: I attached the batting to the lining instead of the outer fabric because the pockets are sewn to the lining and I wanted the extra strength of the additional layer for the pocket seams).
RS together, sew long edges of strap, and sew along both sides of crease 1/2 inch away from crease, leaving the short ends open. Cut down the center lengthwise along the crease, finish the edges, turn, and press. Zigzag open ends closed.
RS together, sew the pocket and pocket lining together (one of which has batting basted to it), leaving one side near the top open about 6 inches for turning. Clip corners, turn and press, then top stitch close to edges of SHORT ENDS ONLY.
Ok, look at the photo below for a picture of what this next long-@$$ explanation means:
Center the pocket on lining/batting 2-1/2 inches from long edges and 5-1/2 inches from short edges. Mark 4 inches at center of pocket to mark the bottom of the tote (about 8-1/2 inches from top edges of pockets). DO NOT SEW THIS 4 INCH SECTION OF THE POCKET TO THE LINING - this opening will hold the plastic canvas that will stiffen the bottom of the tote. Press side edges of pocket again before sewing. Starting at top of pocket, sew 1/4 inch from side edge, turn at the mark for the 4 inch opening, sew across to 1/4 inch from other edge of pocket and up to top edge; repeat for other side of pocket
RS together, Sew sides of lining.
Ok, a picture is going to have to be worth a thousand words here: look at the picture below to see how to flatten the bottom to form the corners, then hand-baste in place, making sure not to catch the edge of the pocket where the plastic canvas will go (you have to find the edge by feeling it through the fabric). Machine stitch close to basting stitches - just go slow so you don't accidentally catch the pocket in your seam or you won't be able to insert the plastic canvas later.
Turn right side out and press side seams smooth. You can insert the plastic canvas now if you like or save that til the end. Turn the lining WS out again.
Measure distance at bottom from corner seams to points of corners (it should be about 2 inches) and sew the outer fabric corners to match, aligning the side and bottom seams, and making sure the seam allowances are facing the same direction. Press seams smooth.
Trim corners of lining bottom to a 1/2 inch seam allowance and zig zag to finish; zigzag around top close to edge; press bottom corner seam allowances toward bottom of bag; for the outer fabric tack corners to bottom seam allowance.
RS together, pin straps to outer fabric with ends of straps about 2-1/2 inch above top edge of bag, about 4 inches from side seams (I made the zodiac symbol fabric the right side of my straps. I thought it was a nice contrast to the main fabric of the body of the tote).
Zig zag close to top edge all the way around to attach the straps and finish the edge.
With outer fabric RS out, insert outer fabric inside lining so RS face, with straps in between; match side seams, pin.
Backstitching at beginning and end of seam, start stitching between one side seam and strap, 1/2 inch from strap. Stitch around to 1/2 inch past last strap end (you want a pretty big opening here, at least 6 inches). Turn through opening, press.
Top stitch close to the top edge and around end of strap near top of bag for extra strength.
Sew a small piece of velcro, or other fastener, maybe a magnetic snap? near the upper edge of your tote
Pull lining out and insert plastic canvas in bottom if desired.
Ta da! Your awesome tote bag is done!