This is a project I worked on before Christmas but hadn’t gotten around to writing up. Please excuse the quality of the photos…the light at that time of year made photographing as I went along tricky!
I bought half a metre of this black & white, cotton canvas alpaca fabric from a shop called Nomura Tailor in Kyoto when we were in Japan last July with the intention of making a tote bag out of it as a Christmas present for my brother.
To make a similar lined tote bag with a pocket, you will need half a metre of your main fabric…something like cotton canvas works well as it is pretty hard-wearing, but I have also made one of these bags from a shirt. You will also need half a metre of lining fabric…I used a polycotton lining that I picked up in Dunelm.
To make the bag:
- Cut 2 rectangles from your main fabric and 2 rectangles from your lining fabric measuring approximately 17” wide by 19” high.
- Cut a 2” square from each lower corner of both the main fabric and lining rectangles.
- With half a metre of fabric you may not have quite enough to cut the straps as one continuous length. I therefore cut 4 strips measuring approximately 16” long by 2.5” wide from the main fabric and 4 strips from the lining fabric, which I then pieced together to form 2 long strips of the main fabric and 2 long strips of the lining fabric.
- For the pocket, cut a 17” wide by approximately 10” high rectangle from the lining fabric.
- This step is optional, but if you have an overlocker you may wish to overlock all your raw edges to prevent fraying.
- Take the pocket rectangle and fold over the top edge by 1cm and press. Fold over again by another 1cm and press. Now stitch along this top edge.
- On a flat surface, place the pocket rectangle on top of one of the lining rectangles where you would like the pocket to be positioned. I positioned mine roughly halfway between the top and the bottom of the lining piece. Then fold the pocket rectangle forward so that the pocket is upside down with right-sides together and the bottom edge of the pocket is still lined up with where you want the bottom of your pocket to be and pin in place. Now stitch along the bottom edge. Fold the pocket back up and press along the bottom seam.
- If you wish you can add sections to your pocket. Here I have created 3 sections of different sizes to hold things like a notepad, pen & phone. To do this I placed a row of pins where I wanted to stitch to create the sections and then stitch as straight as I could following the pins.
- Take the 2 rectangles of main fabric and with right-sides facing, stitch the side seams and bottom seams leaving the 2” corners open. Do the same for the lining. I used at 1.5cm seam allowance. Press seams open.
- To finish the corners and create the base of the bag, line the side seam and bottom seam up and then stitch across.
- Put the main fabric bag inside the lining fabric bag so that right-sides are facing and lining up the side seams. Stitch around the top of the bag leaving an opening big enough to turn the bag right-side out.
- Once you’ve turned the bag the right-side out, push the lining inside the main fabric. Press around the top of the bag and then top stitch all the way round. I used a twin needle to do this.
- To create the straps, piece together the 4 strips of main fabric and 4 strips of lining fabric to create 2 long strips of the main fabric and 2 longs strips of the lining fabric.
- Fold over the raw edge on both long sides of each strip by ½” and press. Your strips will now be approximately 1.5” wide.
- With wrong-sides together pin and stitch 1 strip of main fabric to 1 strip of lining fabric. And do the same with the remaining 2 strips. I used my twin needle to top stitch down each side of the strap.
- Finally, position the straps where you want them to be on your bag and pin in place. Stitch the straps to the bag.
I finished my bag off with a free machine embroidered tag reading “Alpaca My Bags” 🙂
This is a variation I made, also for my brother. For this I picked up a shirt in Primark for £3 and refashioned it into a bag!