Quick mini-tote project

There’s something about the New Year that makes me want to organize. I’ve been going through my sewing room and identifying fabric that I need to use up. I’ve also been making quick tote bags to use as project organizers. They are great for keeping project materials all together in one spot, so it’s easy to grab and have everything you need all together.

My daughter has been sneaking these bags from me for the same reason. I often find my new makes in her play area. One bag will be all Paw Patrol characters. Another bag filled to the max with all her play kitchen items. I guess I should really focus on how organized she is and not that my newly made bags are missing. (Spoiler alert, she stole this bag as well… read to the end to find some pics of her modelling my, err, her, new tote bag.)

This is a great scrap buster project. The fabric and sizes used for this project is below, but I totally freestyle this tote depending on what size I want to make so you can easily adjust the size of this bag up or down.

  • Interior fabric: 11 x 12 inches, 2 pieces
  • Exterior fabric, large panel: 11 x 12 inches, 2 pieces
  • Exterior fabric, small panel for pocket: 16 x 12 inches, 2 pieces
  • Handles: 2.5 x 9 inches, 2 pieces

Also required: lightweight fusible interfacing for all of the above pieces, including the handles.

To begin, cut out all your fabric pieces to size and attach fusible interfacing to the wrong side of your fabric.

I like to lay out all my thread options on my fabric to choose what I want to use. This Madeira thread is really lovely to use. For this mini tote, I went with a contrasting colour that picked up the light blue in the exterior pocket fabric. It shows up nicely on the purple for the edge stitching.

The exterior pocket fabric is folded in half, wrong sides together to form an 8 x 12 inch piece. If using directional fabric, the fold will be at the top of the outside of the pocket.

Top stitch along the top folded edge to create a nice finish.

Have I mentioned before how much I love using the Janome Professional Grade HP foot and plate with my Janome Skyline S9? This sewing machine is so versatile! If I wasn’t using a pattern fabric for the front of my mini tote, I could have embroidered a design on it with this same machine. I’ve done similar projects like that here and here.

The exterior pocket is placed on top of the right side of the larger exterior piece. Line each up along the bottom. To create a divider so there are two pockets on each side the tote, mark the centre of the pocket and stitch from the top of the pocket to the bottom.

I love a wide, flat bottom tote. Something I can just set on a table or the floor and it stands up by itself. There are several ways to create this. My preferred version is to cut out squares on each side of the bottom of the interior and exterior fabrics. For this tote, I chose a 2.5 x 2.5 square which is cut into each of the bottom corners of the interior and exterior fabrics.

Next the handle loops are basted onto the exterior of the tote bag. Find the centre of the tote and then pin each handle strap an equal distance from the centre. Baste along the white line in the pic below. This extra step ensures the straps don’t shift when attaching the interior and exterior pieces together.

I forgot to take a picture of this step which is why I’m including this ‘mock-up’ photo! LOL!

Place the two exterior pieces right sides together and sew along the sides and bottom of the exterior pieces, shown on the diagram below. Do the same with the interior pieces sewing along the sides, but just the edges of the opening at the bottom, shown by the solid line in the image below, leaving an opening (the dotted line portion) so the bag can be turned right side out in a later step.

The bottom of the bag is finished next. For both the interior and exterior portion of the bag, open up the squares so they meet diagonally, pin and stitch.

With fabrics right sides together (I have mine with the exterior of the bag right sides out and the interior of the bag wrong sides out), place one into the other and line up the top section of the bag. Pin in place being careful to line up the side seams and that the straps are tucked in. Sew all along the top of the bag to close.

Turn the bag right side out using the opening of the bottom of the bag.

Topstitch along the top of the bag to finish neatly.

Press the seam in along the bottom opening of the interior of the bag and sew closed. Since this is on the interior of the bag, I just stitch with my sewing machine. You can also finish by hand with a blind stitch.

Remember how I said my little one liked to steal all my totes for her own use. Well, like I said, this one was nabbed up pretty quickly, as well. At least she was willing to let me take a few pics of her with it before she completely filled it up with her toys.

Does the new year make you feel like organizing your sewing room or are you organized all year round? Do you have someone in your family who claims your recent makes for their own?


Janome Canada Artisan, Trina Gallop
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1 Response to Quick mini-tote project

  1. quiltinggail says:

    Trina, your daughter looks so cute as she models her new tote! 🙂


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