You get the picture -- BAGS! I love them! I've even made a few which you might have seen here on my website.
My favorite pattern to use is the expandable zippered tote bag which I made for my eldest sister for Christmas using some funky black and white paisley and checks, and solid black fabric. She just loves that bag and comments on it every time I see her. Now she is dropping hints for a pin cushion bag made with the leftover fabric from her tote bag! I'll be working on that soon since her birthday is coming up in June!
I also used the same tote bag pattern for the bag I made for the Stitcher's Angel Swap last fall, using denim which is my very favorite fabric to wear and use. It's so perfect for tote bags too since it is strong and durable.
Upholstery fabric is also wonderful to use for tote bags. I made oodles of them last fall from fabric donated to my son's school and they were sold at the school fair for $35 each.
For the bag I am making now, using red corduroy and some very cute striped apple fabric, I have changed up the outside pocket a little bit from what is shown in the tutorial of the black bag. Take a look and see what you think of this new version of the outer shell of the expandable zippered tote bag...
Instead of making the pocket and sewing it onto the outside shell of the bag, I decided I wanted to sort of imbed the pocket into the shell. So I did some calculations and made a few drawings and came up with the required sizes of fabric pieces to cut.
For the bottom of the bag, I cut a piece of corduroy 21 x 12 inches, with the lines of the corduroy going across the short way so that they would run across the width of the bag bottom and up the sides of the bag. You can see that piece at the top of the picture above.
Then I cut 4 more pieces of corduroy, each 7 x 12 inches with the lines of the corduroy running the length of the pieces. These pieces will be on each side of the pocket pieces.
For the pocket, I cut 4 pieces of the apple fabric, each 8 x 16 inches. Two of these pieces will be folded in half to form the outside of the pocket, and the other two pieces will be the background of the pocket. There will be some extra length on these two background pieces which will be trimmed off later.
To form the pocket, I took one piece of the apple fabric and folded it in half so it became an 8 x 8 inch square.
Then I placed it on top of another piece of apple fabric with the three raw edges even at one end. It also just happened to work out that the stripes of the fabric matched up from the outside of the pocket to the background. If I had thought about it before cutting the pieces, I would have made sure of this, but it never occurred to me until the fabric was cut that it would look funny if the stripes did not line up! Something to think about if you are using striped fabric! I got lucky this time!
To assemble the three sections of this side of the bag, I took one of the corduroy side pieces and placed it, right sides together, on top of the pocket piece with a short end even with the triple layer of the apple fabric. I stitched a half inch seam through all layers along the long side. Then I did the same for the other side piece, stitching it to the opposite side of the pocket piece.
This is what it looked like when I finished stitching the side pieces. I will go back and top stitch just inside the long edge of the corduroy along each side piece, through all layers, to give the pocket extra strength.
Notice the extra apple fabric sticking up from the middle of the piece. I just used my straight edge and rotary cutter and trimmed that even with the edges of the corduroy.
With the other pieces of apple fabric and corduroy that were cut, I made another piece exactly the same as this one...
...and stitched them both to the large corduroy piece, making sure the pockets were in the correct position, to form the outside shell of the bag. I had not taken into account the seam allowances for the side pieces, so I had to trim the large corduroy piece even with the side pieces.
I should also note that, when using a fabric like corduroy which has a nap to it, you should be careful how the pieces are assembled so that the nap of the fabric is always going in the same direction. Otherwise some pieces of the fabric will look darker or lighter depending on how the light hits them.
The remainder of this bag will be made exactly as in the black tote bag tutorial, adjusting the sizes of the other pieces to fit. The beauty of a pattern like this is that you can make it any size or shape that you want, and construct the pieces of the bag in any way that you like or that will serve your purpose. Once you know the basics of bag construction, pretty much anything goes!
Have fun trying different pocket styles and trims and see what you can come up with. I'll share pictures of the finished apple bag soon, and of course I'd love to see your creations too!
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