I’m kind of a closeted Vera Bradley fan (seriously, who doesn’t love a pretty quilted print?). I just can’t work myself up to actually pay for one. I’m kind of matchy-matchy, and tend to gravitate towards more practical solid colors for my everyday purse. But with a tote, I feel like I can get my statement on, and try something a little more daring for a change.
The tote itself is constructed in much the same way as the Princess Purse, but with a little less frill, and a little more grown-up common sense. Each 14″ X 15″ tote is made of quilted fabric, lined and accented with the patterned fabric of your choice, is both washable and reversible (for my braver, more fashion-forward friends), and is simple enough for a beginning seamstress to complete on their own.
What you need
- 22″ cut of quilted fabric (off the bolt)
- 15″ cut of patterned fabric (also off the bolt)
- Thread to match your quilted fabric
How to Make it
1. Pattern and cut your fabric.
Out of the quilted fabric, cut one piece 39″ long X 14″ wide for the body of the bag (hint: create a pattern for a rectangle 19.5″ long X 14″wide and place it on the FOLD before cutting), and cut two pieces 36″ X 3″ for the handles.
Out of your patterned fabric, cut one piece 23″ X 14″ for the liner of the bag (hint: create a pattern for a rectangle 11.5″ long X 14″wide and place it on the FOLD before cutting), and cut two pieces 6″ long X 14″ wide for the bag accent.
2. Pin & seam all fabric pieces.
You will pin fabric in this step with the “right side” of your fabric facing “in” for all steps except C. If you’ve purchased double sided quilted fabric it won’t matter which way you pin :).
A. Pin along the right and left sides of the patterned fabric (which should measure 11.5″ X 14″, with the fold along the bottom), and seam.
B. Fold each quilted shoulder strap in half long-ways, pin the open edges of the fabric together towards the right (which should measure 36″ X 1.5″ with the fold to the left), and seam.
C. Pin 1/2″ along the top and bottom of each rectangular patterned fabric accent piece (so as to finish the edges) and seam.
D. Turn the seamed patterned fabric, and both quilted shoulder straps right-side out.
E. Seam along both edges of the shoulder straps to flatten and strengthen straps.
3. Attach patterned accent fabric and shoulder straps to tote body.
Place the finished patterned accent fabric 7″ from the bottom fold of the tote body on each side and pin (hint: take care that they match correctly on each side before continuing).
Slipping the edge of one shoulder strap 1/2″ underneath the top of the patterned accent fabric, pin in place 3-1/2″ from the side of the tote body. Do the same for the other edge of the shoulder strap on the opposite side of the tote body. Complete this step again for the second shoulder strap on the back of the tote body.
Seam the pinned patterned accent fabric and shoulder straps to the tote body following the guide left by the finished seam of the patterned accent fabric (completed in step 2C).
4. Seam the inside of the tote to the outside.
Pin and seam the tote body together (taking care to match the patterned accent fabric – right side in – and avoid the shoulder straps) on either side.
Pin and seam tote body (with patterned accent fabric and shoulder straps still facing in) to the patterned fabric (turned right side “out”). Seam, leaving space to turn the entire tote right side out.
Once the tote is turned, finish off the hole by tucking the unfinished ends “in,” pinning, and seaming to close.
5. Finish off the tote.
After you’ve smoothed out the fabric for both the insides and outsides to lay flat, finish the tote by running a seam along the top.
Measure 3.25″ from each side seam of the finished tote and pin straps in place. Sew straps to bag (following the seams that are already in place) and you’re done!
These totes are great for everyday use – think library, thrift store, coffee shop, gym bag – but are also great for personalized gifts. By changing out the patterned fabric and/or adding a few extra items you’ve got yourself a very unique, very thoughtful gift.
- Swap in holiday patterned fabric and add some corresponding goodies like DIY Christmas Cocoa + mugs, a Thankful Jar + stationary, or Halloween candy.
- Pick a new momma’s favorite color, or correspond the accent fabric to match the gender of the baby she’s having. Include a few diapers, a box of DIY baby wipes, and the instructions she needs to keep making her own.
Back-to-School / Book Lover
- Print and bind a 2014-2015 (FREE) planner and toss in one of this summer’s best-sellers or a gift-card to their favorite bookstore.
- Include a hot drink sampler mug (or two), a pound of coffee, or their favorite K-cups.
- Throw in a manicure/pedicure kit, some matching colored polish, bath salts, and a few facial treatments to give a friend the spa treatment at home.
The possibilities (as I’m sure you can guess) are pretty endless :).