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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Tote Bag Tutorial - Lesson 5: Boxing the Corners, Combining Outside Shell and Lining

Now that the Tote Bag Lining and the Tote Bag Outside Shell have been covered, and you know how to make the handles, the next step in making a functional tote bag is to Box the Corners. This step makes the bottom of the bag sit flat by squaring off the corners. It is a very simple step once you know how to do it, and makes such a difference in the look of a bag.

Boxing the CornersBefore boxing the corners, I folded the Black outside shell in half right sides together and stitched up both side seams. I also did the same for the Paisley lining.

Boxing the CornersI placed my tape measure on the bottom folded edge of the Black with the 3 inch mark even with the seam stitching. I placed a pin at the end of the tape measure to mark how far in from the corner I would be stitching my boxing line and also to mark the center of the bottom fold of the fabric.

Boxing the CornersI opened up the bag and stood it up to flatten the bottom so that the seam was lined up on top of the bottom fold of the fabric, forming a point. Then I let the rest of the bag collapse so I could finish this corner. I felt through the seam for the pin I had placed at the center of the bottom fold to make sure that the seam was even with the bottom fold. I adjusted the seam to line up with the bottom fold by just sliding it back and forth until it lined up, making sure to keep the point at the end of the seam.

Boxing the CornersI placed my tape measure on the seam line, with the 3 inch mark at the corner, and pinned through all layers at the end of the tape measure. This should match where the pin was on the underside. That pin should be removed at this point so you don't sew over it.

Boxing the CornersThen I placed the tape measure across the seam so that one end was on the new diagonal fold of the fabric and the 6 inch mark was on the opposite fold. The 3 inch mark should line up with the seam. I pinned along this line and stitched it, stitching back and forth a few stitches at each end to secure the ends.

Boxing the CornersThis is how it will look after the first corner stitching line is done.

At this point, I realized I was in such a hurry to move this project along that I had forgotten to sew the pockets and trim onto the outside of the bag. So I had to rip out both side seams and the corner seam you see in the picture above. That was not a fun project because black on black is so hard to see. Thank goodness for reading glasses and a good task light! But oh how frustrating! I did the outside pockets and trim that you have already seen, sewed up the side seams and the first corner stitching line, and then continued.

Boxing the CornersHere you can see in the side seam where the two horizontal trim pieces matched up with each other, and also all the stitching lines from the pockets and the other trim pieces. Now I'm back on the right track!

So after I stitched the first corner stitching line, I stitched another line about 1/4 inch away towards the point just to add strength and stability to the corner.

Boxing the CornersThen I cut the corner about 1/4 inch away from the second stitching line. And that is how to Box a Corner! I did the same for the other corner on the Black outside shell, and also for the two corners on the Paisley lining which already had the pockets sewn into it and the side seams sewn.

Combining Shell and LiningThe next step is to join the outside shell and the lining. Since this bag will have a zippered extension sewn onto the top edge, the outside shell and lining pieces will be put together with their wrong sides together, just as they will be when the bag is finished. The raw edge around the top of the bag will be hidden when the extension is added in a later step.

So to do this, I turned the outside shell so that the right side was out and slid the lining piece inside of the shell, poking the corners of the lining into the corners of the shell. I matched the side seams and raw edges and pinned around the top to hold everything in place. Then I stitched around the top.

At this point, you can get a pretty good idea of how your bag will look when finished and just how big it will be. So far, so good, don't you think? And not too difficult I hope.

In the next lesson, I will show you how to sew up the zippered extension piece. I have had some emails from readers who are following along with this tutorial and have expressed some concern about "putting in a zipper" but let me assure you that this is nothing like putting a zipper into a dress or pants. You will see that it is a very manageable process and really quite fun.

Make sure you sign up for my Whirl Into Winter Giveaway before Jan 15! I don't want you to be left out in the cold!

Happy Stitching!

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  • I'm still watching but haven't yet had time to cut out my fabric and start DOING this bag. I hope to be able to do that, perhaps, late in the afternoon TOMORROW. It sure looks easy enough...and I'm hoping pictures don't LIE. :)

    By Blogger Pat, At January 7, 2009 at 8:16 AM  

  • Hi Mary Grace, thanks for coming by for the giveaway and I love your instructions for the tote.
    Keep Stitchen'

    By Blogger Calamity Jane's Cottage, Bonnie, At January 8, 2009 at 1:00 AM  

  • Great tute instructions MG!! 8-)
    I will have to keep a link to them once I figure out the time to make one... which won't be soon at the rate I'm going! lol! My mind is taking a while to get into gear after all the festivities...
    Happy stitchings!

    By Blogger Myra, At January 8, 2009 at 8:07 AM  

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