Monday, March 21, 2016

basic tote {a tutorial}

In my last post I shared a simple pouch made of Kraft Tex and I mentioned I wanted to make a tote bag using this interesting, slightly intimidating material.
And, that's just what I did when I had a little bit of uninterrupted sewing time over the weekend. I decided to make a super basic tote, just two simple exterior panels, two linings, and leather handles attached with nickel rivets.

The tote finished at 11" wide x 11" tall x 6" deep. I think it's a great size for an everyday tote and I wrote up a tutorial in case you'd like to make one of your own.

Before I start, let me talk a bit about the materials needed. As I already mentioned, I used Kraft Tex for the exterior and regular quilting cotton for the lining of my tote. You could, however, make this tote using any material you fancy (home decor fabric, quilting cotton, denim, or even leather). Just make sure to fuse interfacing to wrong side of your material (especially if using quilting cotton) to make it more sturdy.
Also, you could skip handles altogether and make yourself a lovely storage bucket instead.

♥ ♥ ♥

Here's what you'll need to make your tote:
1/2 yard exterior fabric (I used Kraft Tex)
1/2 yard lining fabric
1/2 yard SF101 interfacing (optional, I didn't use it as Kraft Tex is sturdy enough)
two 14" long 3/4" wide leather handles
four rivets
Wonder Clips (avoid using pins if using Kraft Tex or leather)
leather hole punch

1. Cutting
a) from exterior fabric cut: two 18" wide x 15" tall panels
    from lining fabric cut: two 18" wide x 15" tall panels

b) Mark a 3” square along both left and right bottom corners on both lining and exterior panels. Cut the squares out using fabric scissors.

2.  Exterior
a) Place both exterior panels right sides together on a flat surface. Align all four edges. Pin the panels together and stitch along the two side and bottom seams backstitching at the beginning and end. Press the seams open.

b) Align one side and bottom seam over each other to stitch the gusset (corner of your tote) closed.  Clip/pin to prevent shifting and stitch along the raw edges using 1/4” seam allowance. Stitch the second gusset closed following the same directions.


UPDATE: After a bit of trial and error I found out it's much better to press Kraft tex to just one side instead of pressing the seams open.

c) Turn your bag exterior right side out. (If you're using Kraft Tex like I did, this step will be quite stressful, just go slow to make sure you don't tear the material or the stitches). 

3. Lining 
a) Place both lining panels right sides together on a flat surface. Align all four edges. Pin the panels together and stitch along the two side seams backstitching at the beginning and end. Make sure to leave a 6" opening in the bottom seam (as shown in picture below). Press the seams open.

b) Follow step 2b to stitch both corners closed. 

4. Final assembly
a) Insert finished exterior of the tote (right side out) into the lining (lining is wrong side out).

b) Align top raw edges as well as side seams of the exterior panel and the lining. Clip all the way around the top of the bag keeping both exterior and lining aligned.

c) Stitch all the way around the top of the bag, taking the clips out as you go. Press the top seam open and turn the bag right side out through the opening in the lining. Stitch the hole in the lining closed and gently push the lining inside the bag.

d) Smooth the top edge with your fingers clip through both exterior and lining layers to hold them in
place and topstich along the top of the tote using 1/4” seam allowance.

5. Handles
a) Find the middle of both top edges of exterior panels, mark 2 1/2” along each side of the middle point. Now mark 1/2" down from the top edge along the 2 1/2" marks (this will be the placement of your rivets).

b) Use leather hole punch to make a hole through both exterior and lining through the marks from previous step. 

c) Make a centered hole 1/2" from each short edge on leather handles as well.

d) Attach your leather handles using rivets. (my rivets were slightly longer than needed so I added a little leather square to lining side of the tote as well to make them nice and snug)

All finished. You're now ready to take your new tote out for a spin :).

Hope you give this simple tote a try.  And, as always, if you make a project using any of my tutorials please add it to my Flickr group or use #sotakhandmade if posting on Instagram. I love seeing all your amazing creations.
Happy Monday. Svetlana


  1. Very nice! I found a pattern I want to try with mine when I get a chance!

  2. I've been hoarding a meter of krafttext waiting for the best project! I loved your idea of screen printing it. I must commit and do something. You are encouraging me!! Thanks!

  3. Love your tutorial, thank you. Where do you get the leather straps for handles???

  4. Thank you so much for these Kraft Tex tutorials. I've been looking at this product in a local shop for a couple months now. Every time I visit the shop I look at the stuff and the books & patterns, but have been too chicken to actually carry it to the cutting table.

  5. Very nice project. Where do you buy your rivets?

  6. I just put the book Krafttex Style in my wish list on Amazon. I was doing some research on the Krafttex to see exactly what it was. Well you solved that for me. I can't wait to get the book and the Krafttex to make this pouch. Thanks for such a great tutorial.

  7. Another cool project, this is such an interesting look with the Kraft Tex! I do have to ask how durable this one is for you? Any issues with seams if you weigh down the tote?

  8. Just watched a YouTube tutorial this morning by "Man Sewing" and he was using this product. It was quite informative!

  9. What a fascinating material, used so well! I'd also like to know where you got the leather handles! Thanks!

  10. Right! I've pinned this tute and I'm off to find myself some Kraft Tex! Thank you :)

  11. Svetlanko, to je opravdu zajimavy material, taska vypada moc pekne a mas pravdu, takovy box do interieru by byl take super. Mej krasne dny! Jola

  12. Thanks for a great tute - I tried it out this weekend. You are right about the stress of turning the bag inside out!!! Got there in the end though. I hadn't heard of this product and have always wanted to try rivets so knocked off two new things to try! I have put some photos on Facebook
    Thanks again so much for sharing.

  13. Hi, I'm Dzung Mac, nice to meet you :x
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    There're some video clip about handmade tutorial step by step here:
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    Thank you God bless u :x
    my youtube

  14. Great tutorial! Mine turned out very nice. Next time I will use interfacing and add a pocket to the indide.Thanks for sharing!

  15. Your bag is so pretty. I may have to try it, since I have a few mini charm packs and always get a bit "stuck" in thinking of how to use them. Thanks for the ideas! For more info :- Cotton bags Suppliers India

  16. I have found that just before turning a lined kraft tex project right side out, misting the kraft tex with water to get it damp makes it much easier to turn. And it doesn't hurt anything!


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