African Fabric Tote Bag

 

African fabric tote bag

African fabric tote bag

African fabric

African fabric

This African fabric tote bag is the first project that I have made with the fabric that I brought back from Zimbabwe.  I agonised for ages before I cut it, but in the end I decided to cut the individual designs and sew them as separate blocks.  This also means, of course, that I can make the fabric last longer!

The bits that I cut are about 7″ wide, but there’s no point me giving a detailed tutorial here because obviously you are likely to have different sized blocks of any fabric that you wish to showcase.

Sew black strips between the designs

Sew black strips between the designs

Sew black strips down the sides

Sew black strips down the sides

What I did basically was sew 2″ black strips above and below the designs and 4″ strips of black on the sides.  I was aiming to get two panels the same size so that they could be the front and back of my African fabric tote bag.

I ended up with two panels 15″ by 16.1/2″, so I cut two lining panels the same size.

Sew the bag straps with right sides together

Sew the bag straps with right sides together

Turn the straps right side out

Turn the straps right side out

The bag panels I placed right sides together and sewed the sides and the bottom to make a pouch.

The lining panels I placed right sides together and sewed the sides only to make a tube.

Make the straps for the African fabric tote bag

Cut a 2.1/2″ strip each of black and of lining fabric across the width of fabric. Place right sides together and sew a seam down each side to create a tube.  Cut in half to create two straps.  Pull the straps down over themselves to turn them right side out.  Press and then topstitch down each side of each strap to hold the layers in place.

Pin the straps to the tote bag

Pin the straps to the tote bag

Check the straps are the right way round

Check the straps are the right way round

Assembling the African fabric tote bag

Turn the black bag panels right side out and press.  Pin the straps to the top of the bag with right sides together.  On the right you can see how to check that you have the straps positioned correctly.

I find it best to pin each part of the strap with two pins pointing vertically up.  This helps stop the straps from moving when you are sewing them.

Pull the lining over the bag and straps

Pull the lining over the bag and straps

Pull the lining away from the bag

Pull the lining away from the bag

With the lining still having right sides together, pull the tube down over the top of the bag and straps and line up all the raw edges at the top.  Sew all round the top – I find it safest to use a 1/2″ seam here to ensure that all the layers are caught in the stitching.

Pull the lining out away from the bag.  You’ll see that what will be the bottom of the lining is still open.

Sew the bottom of the lining

Sew the bottom of the lining

Turn under a small hem all the way round the bottom of the lining and sew a small seam across it to close the gap (this was the other end of the tube created by sewing only the sides of the lining).

Push the lining back inside the bag, gently pushing the corners out.  Top stitch around the top of the bag to hold the layers in place.

That completes my African fabric tote bag – I still have plenty more fabric and will try to be a little more adventurous with the next project!

Here’s the video:

Thanks for visiting my blog.

I hope to see you again soon.

Rose

Print Friendly
About Rose

Comments

  1. Bonni Feltz says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. My boss brings me back fabric each year from his trip to Ghana and this would be a wonderful project to use up some of it with. I totally understand about not wanting to cut the fabric. 🙂

  2. Thanks for this Rose. It is lovely. OH worked in west Africa for a bit and so I’ve got some African clothing but no fabric as such. May have to do a bit of cutting. Thanks again. You are such a talented lady.

    All best to you.

    • Thanks, Janny. I felt that perhaps I was playing it too safe with the tote bag, but I can’t be sure when I will get any more African fabric. You probably feel the same about your African clothes.

%d bloggers like this: