We show you how to make a bag with this simple step-by-step guide to sewing and embroidering your own sturdy tote bag.
Never mind adult colouring books, the use of just one stitch — stem stitch — to embroider this design gives you room to focus on the simple pleasure of pulling a needle and thread through fabric in a rhythmic manner. It’s a fairly quick design to embroider, but uses at least two skeins of thread, so make sure you have enough to finish before getting started.
If you’re worried that sewing a bag will be difficult, don’t be! This guide on how to make a bag is so simple, soon you’ll be making them for friends and family. The tote bag is a good size, with sturdy handles and a squared-off base, making it roomy enough to use for groceries, books, needlework supplies or even as an overnight bag. The bright, patterned lining adds a surprise detail in contrast to the simplicity of the bag’s exterior.
To sew your bag, you will need
- 0.5m grey cotton
- 0.5m cotton voile backing fabric
- 0.5m patterned cotton, for the lining
- 2 skeins of DMC six-stranded cotton thread: 517 Dark Wedgewood blue
- Embroidery: size 7
- 2m webbing, 40mm wide, white
- White or grey sewing thread to match your fabric
How to make a bag
- Draw a 102 x 48cm rectangle on the grey fabric — these are your cutting lines. Mark the fabric on each of the longer sides at 18cm and 41cm.
- Position the embroidery design between these two marks, about 5cm in from the side of the rectangle, and transfer it to the fabric.
- Overlock or tack the cotton voile to the back.
- Check that the cutting lines haven’t distorted during stitching and redraw them if necessary before cutting out the tote.
- Cut the bag lining from the patterned fabric: 95 x 48cm.
- Cut two 86cm lengths of webbing for the straps.
- Embroider the design according to the instructions on the embroidery template.
- When you’ve finished embroidering, iron the fabric face down on a towel. Iron the rest of the fabric well before cutting out the rectangle.
- Now that your fabric is embroidered, we show you how to make a bag.
- Iron a 0.6cm hem into the top of each short end of the embroidered panel. Then make another 2.5cm fold and iron in place.
- Stitch the side seams together, hems unfolded, using a scant 1cm seam. Press both side seams so they lie against either the back or the front of the bag and iron a fold into the bottom seam of the bag.
- With the bag inside out, line up the side seam with the bottom fold to form a triangle. Measure 5cm from the top point, along the side seam/bottom fold, and stitch across the bottom of the ‘triangle’ at the 5cm mark, perpendicular to the side seam and bottom fold. This creates the squared-off base of the bag.
- For the lining, stitch the side seams using a generous 1cm seam and press both to either the front or the back of the bag lining. Stitch the bottom corners in the same way as the bag.
- Slide the lining into the tote, seams facing and bottom corners lining up. Make sure the bottom corner flaps are folded towards the base of the bag and your bag and lining seams lie in opposite directions to avoid bulk (if not, rotate the lining 180 degrees inside the bag).
- Match up the seams of the lining and the tote and pin in place along the top edge. The lining should reach the lower ironed hem fold of the tote, 3.25cm from the top.
- Fold the pressed hem down again, over the lining, and pin in place.
- Stitch a double row around the top edge of the bag to attach the lining to the tote.
- Overlock or zigzag stitch the ends of the straps to stop them fraying.
- Make a 7.5cm fold in each end of the webbing straps. Pin one strap to the front of the bag and the other to the back, 9cm from the side seams and so the raw edges of the webbing are about 0.6mm below the lip of the bag.
- Sew the handle ends to the bag using white sewing thread, but keep your bobbin grey. Stitch a rectangle and then an elongated cross inside it for strength and added detail.
Now that you know how to make a bag and you’ve mastered some basic embroidery skills, try this cute embroidered cat doorstop.
This embroidery project was taken from Embroidered Home by Kelly Fetcher, Kyle Books, R465