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Monday, January 5, 2009

Tote Bag Tutorial - Lesson 4: Outside Shell Pockets and Trim

The outside shell of a tote bag provides a great opportunity to use your imagination and creativity, along with the knowledge of your own tote bag requirements, to come up with a fun design that also works for you. The tote bag I am making in this series is a gift for one of my sisters who is a teacher and also very crafty. I knew from the beginning that she would want lots of pockets inside and out, and roomy pockets too! I also knew that, although her color of the day -- every day -- is Basic Black, she would also like a little Fun, Pizazz even, on her tote bag. So the outside pockets and trim would be just the place to add that little bit of Spunk.

Here's how I summoned the Spunk...

Tote Bag Outside Pockets
I spread out the 21 x 36 inch piece of Black with the right side up. I folded the two 20 x 14 inch pieces of Paisley in half right side out so that they measured 10 x 14 inches. Keeping the folded edges facing away from each other and towards the raw edges of the Black, I pinned the 3 raw edges of each Paisley pocket to the Black. You can measure for exact placement if you like, but I usually just line the fabric up on my cutting mat and use the lines on the mat to help eyeball the placement of the pockets.

Here again, you can make the pockets just about any size you want or eliminate them altogether. You can also use a single layer of fabric and hem the top edge as I did for the inside pocket piece. You can embellish your pocket with trims or beads or buttons, or even embroider it with a design of your choice as I did on my Angel Swap Tote Bag. This, of course, would need to be done before pinning the pocket to the outside shell fabric.

Once the pockets were pinned in place, I stitched around the 3 raw edges. These edges will be covered with the trim as you will see next.

Tote Bag Outside Pockets and TrimNext I took the Gingham trim pieces and prepared them just as the Handle strips were prepared, by folding them right side out and stitching a seam about 1/4 inch from the raw edge, then pressing the strips flat, opening up the seam on the top. I pinned the strips over the side edges of the pockets, extending them to the top edge of the Black. I stitched close to both folded edges of each Gingham trim pieces.

Tote Bag Outside Pockets and TrimThen I pinned another trim piece over the bottom raw edges, extending those edges all the way to the side of the Black. When the bottom of the bag is boxed and the side seams are sewn, this bottom trim piece will look like it goes all the way around the bottom of the bag.

Do both pockets the same or stitch down the middle of one pocket through the Black shell fabric to make a divided pocket on one side. Again, make these pockets to suit your own needs, as big or as small as you want them to be. Change up the trim or embellish as you like. Be creative and make a one-of-a-kind piece of functional art. Try it -- it's fun!

The next lesson will be on Boxing the Corners which is a handy technique you can use, not only for tote bags, but for pillows and other projects as well.

Happy Stitching!

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  • I'm following along still (but not yet started) but will start after I buy my zipper. Hopefully, I'll be able to do that today. FORGOT to do it at Joann's yesterday and we live in an area that doesn't have many stores nearby (Joann's is 45 miles from us). I am hoping Walmart will have a suitable zipper as that is about all I have nearby with zippers. The two local quilt shops don't carry them although they carry a LOT of bag patterns.

    By Blogger Pat, At January 5, 2009 at 7:28 AM  

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