I started out with a couple pieces of painters canvas drop cloth that I had down there. One of those drop cloths would make enough tote bags for our whole family, then the relatives...I still have some left. Just sayin. I cut each piece 18 x16 inches.
I had some Avery T-shirt Transfers for Ink jet Printers that I found at a thrift shop for $2.00. The package had been opened but they were all there. There was a bit of a learning curve with these, so I'm glad that I tried it before I did the sewing on the tote bag. Just read the directions carefully and maybe try a little test one on your fabric first. Plus because these are t-shirt transfers they didn't want to adhere to the rough fabric quite as well. I grabbed my image over at the graphics fairy blog I really love the images over there and will be looking for more projects to do with them in the future. My transfer didn't turn out perfect, but it didn't do too bad either.
Well I had some of this cloth tape. Don't tell my husband. We have these discussions about hoarding and we've been trying to minimize. If he only knew that this came off of some fat quarter package way back when... Anyway, I decided that I wanted to make a little key loop for some future use like...clipping on my keys or library card. Maybe I'll never use it, but I added it into the seam here. Sew it in on the wrong side as you sew your tote side seam. I did mine about 5 inches down from the top but put it where ever you think it would be handy.
Yes, I stashed this. Reduce, reuse, recyle, right?
Next I sewed around the three sides of the bag with a 1/2 inch seam. Then I pulled out my serger and finished off the seam edges. I decided my serger needs a good going over but for the time being I decided not to mess with it too much.
Now I wanted to box the bottom of my bag, so I matched up the bottom seam with the side seam, forming a triangle. I measured in 2 1/2 inches and then marked and stitched across this line.
I cut off my excess and then I serged this also.
I turned my bag right side out. It was starting to look like a tote. I decided that I wanted a pocket to go in the bag, but I didn't want complicated. I took a rectangle piece of fabric, serged a short edge, folded up that edge and then serged the other three edges. It would fit in the top of the bag later when I finished off the top.
I had just a yard of handle material from Jo Ann Fabrics. Often times you can get single items at
40%-50% off with a coupon and if you go to the section with ribbons and trims they have some less expensive stuff than the web belting.
I didn't photograph this step, but lay the handles on the top of the outside of the bag, with the loop toward the bottom of the bag. Mine were about 6 1/2 inches in from the sides of the bag, but you can put them where you think will look right and be comfortable for you. I pinned them in place and then serged around the top to hold them and finish off the top of the bag. I wasn't going to do any complicated inside edge finishing because this was supposed to be a simple project. As I got to my pins I removed them and made sure my handles were perpendicular to the top of my bag.
Next I folded the top of my bag down 1 1/2 inches, flipping up the handles as if in use, and then stitched both near the top and bottom of that 1 1/2 inches of turned down top. Until this point I'd used natural colored thread. I switched to black to match my handles and set off the stitching a little.
In between the handles toward the front of the bag, I inserted my pocket that I had prepared earlier. You can see the pocket and my key loop here.
So now my bag is almost done. I checked it out with some books inside. Nice boxy bottom.
Something was missing yet. I forgot to add these vintage buttons I had picked up at a thrift store somewhere along the line. If it sounds like all I do is spend time and money looking for sewing notions at thrift stores, not really. Every now and then I check out the sewing notions at one local one and find some goodies. The $2.00 on the iron on transfers was a splurge. If I remember right the buttons were less than a quarter. I didn't have any red thread for the buttons but I did have some embroidery floss and so I grabbed a strand and threw them on. So here she is, all finished. Now off to the library.