Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Handmade Christmas: Ruffle & Ribbon Tote Bag Tutorial

Finally I'm getting back to the Handmade Christmas tutorials!  Today I'm going to show you how to make this adorable tote bag!  


This is a fantastic Christmas gift because seriously...who couldn't use a cute tote bag?  Now that the girls are 20 months old, we're past the point of needing a huge diaper bag, so this tote was perfect for our recent travels.  When we'd stop to eat, I'd just stick in a couple diapers, wipes, bibs, cups and a changing pad and we'd be all set!  It has a small interior pocket to hold loose items and the bag itself is not too big and not too small.  Want to make it?  Let's get started!  (Warning: this post is picture heavy but I always figure it's better to have too many than too few!  As always, if you aren't sure about how I did something, just shoot me an email!)

Okay, to make this bag you will need:



3 coordinating fabrics (1/2 yard each is plenty and I actually used 5 fat quarters)
Lightweight fusible interfacing (just a few inches in enough)
Coordinating grosgrain ribbon (I used 3/8", but feel free to use whatever width you like best!)
Normal sewing stuff (thread, scissors or rotary cutter/mat, pins)

First we need to cut all our pieces.  Out of your main fabric (this is the brown small floral print on mine) you will need 2 pieces, each 9.5" high x 15" wide.  From your coordinating outer fabric (the hot pink on mine) you will need 2 pieces, each 4.5" high x 15" wide.



From your lining fabric (the white/brown diamond print on mine) you will need 2 pieces, each 13" high x 15" wide.  Also cut your pocket (I used one of my outer fabrics for this, but it's up to you).  The pocket piece will be 6" x 8". 


Finally you will need pieces for the handles and ruffles.  It's your choice what colors to use, but I used my coordinating outer for the handles and the main outer for my ruffle.  For your handle pieces, you will need 2 strips, each 26" long x 2.5" wide.  For the ruffles, you will need 2 pieces, each 30" long x 4.5" wide.


Alright, we have a lot of pieces...time to start putting them together!  I like to get the tedious stuff out of the way first, so let's make the handles.  Take your fusible interfacing and cut two pieces about 1/2 the width of your handles and just shy of the same length - so 2 pieces about 1.5" wide x 25.5" long.  It doesn't have to be perfect.  Following the manufacturer's directions, fuse the interfacing to half of the wrong side of each of your handles.



Now fold the handles in half lengthwise, right sides together, and stitch down the open side close to the edge (you may have to press it lightly with an iron to get a good center crease since the interfacing is stiff).



Using a safety pin or turning tool, turn each handle right side out and press flat.  Set aside.


Now we need to do almost the same thing to our ruffle pieces, only no interfacing.  Take your ruffle pieces and fold them in half lengthwise, right sides together.  Stitch down the open side, using 1/4" seam allowance.



Turn each piece right side out.  Take your seam and center it, so when you press it flat, the seam will run down the center of each piece, not down the side (see where I have marked it in the photo).


Press each ruffle piece flat with the seam in the center.


Now take each ruffle piece and run a gathering stitch (your longest stitch setting) next to your center seam.  Don't stitch right on top of the seam or it will be nearly impossible to gather your ruffle!  Leave a tail of threads at the start and finish and do not back stitch at the beginning or end.


Now gently pull the bobbin threads from one end and start gathering.  It may feel a little tougher to gather than when you just have a single layer of fabric, but keep at it and it will gather up.  If you feel like you may break your thread, you can always run two rows of gathering stitches about 1/4" apart.


Gather each ruffle until they are the same length as your main outer fabric pieces, 15".  Evenly distribute the gathers until you like how it looks.


Let's also prep the pocket before we start assembling the bag.  Take your pocket piece and fold it in half with the short sides meeting, right sides together.  Press in place.  Stitch up the 3 open sides, leaving about a 2-3" gap on one side for turning (see where I have marked the stitching in the photo).


Okay, all the little pieces are prepped, let's start assembling the bag!  First, take your main outer fabric and lay your coordinating outer fabric on top, along the bottom edge, right sides together.  Using a 1/2" seam allowance, stitch the two pieces together.  Do this for both the front and back outer pieces.


Next, lay your ruffle piece down on top, matching the center seam of your ruffle with the seam between your two outer fabrics.  Stitch the ruffle down, right over the center seam.


Now take your coordinating ribbon and lay a piece over the center seam of your ruffle.  Make sure whatever width of ribbon you choose is completely covering all your stitches!  Stitch the ribbon down, first going down one side close to the edge and then go back and stitch it down close to the other edge.


Now lay your outer bag pieces right sides together and stitch around the two sides and the bottom, leaving the top open.


Take one of your lining pieces and place pocket where you would like it on the right side of the fabric.  Stitch the pocket down around the 2 sides and the bottom, leaving the top open.


Now place your lining pieces right sides together and stitch around the 2 sides and the bottom, but leave an opening for turning along the bottom edge, about 4" wide.


Now we're going to "box" the corners of the bag to give it better shape and help it stand up.  This can get a little confusing, so check the photos carefully and please let me know if you have questions!  

First you want to make a 2" square on the bottom corner of the wrong side of your main bag pieces and your lining pieces.  Take your measuring tape and measure 2" in from the side and 2" up from the bottom.  Mark those with lines as seen in the photo.  Do this on both sides, on each corner of your main bag pieces and your lining pieces. 


Now pinch each corner so your lines meet up and go straight across.  


Pin in place and stitch straight across on the line.  Once you have stitched the line, remove the pins and cut off the excess fabric down to a 1/4".


Now it's time to put the main bag pieces and the lining pieces together.  Turn your outer bag pieces right sides out.  Position your handles where you want them.  Lay them flat on the right side of your main outer bag piece with the raw edges of the handles meeting up with the raw top edge of your bag.  Pin in place about 1.5" down from the top edge.


Tuck your outer bag piece into the lining, right sides together.  The top of your handles should be down inside the bag, near the bottom.  It seems weird, but trust me, it's right!


Stitch all the way around the top edge of the bag, about 1/4" down.  You may want to backstitch a few times over the handles for added strength.


Take the whole bag and pull the outer bag piece through the hole you left at the bottom of the lining.  Before tucking the lining in, stitch the turning hole closed.


Now tuck the lining down into the bag.  Press the top edge and then topstitch around the top of the bag, about 1/4" from the finished edge.


And you're done!  Here's the interior of my bag, with the little pocket.


And a closer view of the ribbon, ruffle, and coordinating bottom fabric.


I hope you enjoy making this fun little bag for a Christmas gift!  And it's so easy, make one for yourself too!  Have fun sewing!


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