I made this tote bag with outside pockets partly because I haven’t shown one on the website before and partly because tote bags are going to be the Quilt Guild’s tombola prizes at this year’s Festival of Quilts. They are hoping to get 3,000 tote bags sent to them so that they can give away lots and lots of them at the Festival. The rules are that they must be no bigger than 21″ square, must have firmly attached handles and must lie flat. That last stipulation is totally understandable when you think of the piles and piles of tote bags they are going to end up with.
They can be made any way you wish and quilted, embroidered or appliqued as much as you like. So if anyone in the UK has some spare fabric hanging around (as if!), do get tote bag making. They need to be in by the end of July and if you email me I’ll give you the address to send them to.
So back to my tote bag with outside pockets pattern. I’ve made it absolutely plain so that it will be more easy to see what I have done – blue for the outside, yellow for the lining and white for the pocket.
Cutting requirements for the tote bag with outer pocket
Blue fabric: two 7.1/2″ by 16.1/2″ rectangles, one 2.1/2″ by 16.1/2″ rectangle, one 16.1/2″ square, one 2.1/2″ strip cut across the width of fabric
Yellow fabric: two 16.1/2″ squares, one 2.1/2″ strip cut across the width of fabric
White fabric: one 3.1/2″ by 11.1/2″ rectangle – this is what I actually used, although I would recommend a 4.1/2″ rectangle – see below
Making the outer tote bag
Hem one 3.1/2″ edge of the white rectangle by turning under a small hem twice to bury the raw edges and sew in place. This will be the top of the pocket.
Lay out the blue rectangles: one 7.1/2″ panel on each side with a 2.1/2″ strip in the middle.
Place the white rectangle along the right hand side of one of the blue 7.1/2″ rectangles, right sides together, lining up the bottom edges.
Flip the 2.1/2″ blue rectangle on top with wrong side up.
Sew along the right hand edge to secure the three layers.
Press the seam and open out the panel. As you can see the white extends beyond the blue. This is so that the pocket isn’t tight against the blue, giving you room to put things in the pocket. Hindsight being a wonderful thing, I wish that I had made the white rectangle 4.1/2″ wide to make the pocket a bit bigger.
Lay the final blue rectangle on the panel with wrong side up. Make sure that the right hand edge of the white fabric is in line with the right hand edge of the panel – it will pouch up a bit, but that is intentional.
Sew down the right hand edge to join all the layers together. Press the seam and open out the panel. Flatten the white rectangle out with your fingers. It will extend a little beyond each seam line.
Flatten the sides of the white fabric down the length and pin in place along the bottom edge.
That’s the front panel of the tote bag complete. The 16.1/2″ blue square is the back panel. Lay this right sides together on the front panel and sew together on three edges – the two sides and the bottom – to make a pouch. Turn right side out and press.
Making the tote bag straps
Place the blue and yellow strips with right sides together and sew along both long edges to form a tube. Cut in half so that you have two equal lengths for the two straps. Turn the top down and pull through to turn the tubes right side out. Press and top stitch the sides. This holds the layers straight and also gives a little strengthening to the tote bag straps.
Assembling the tote bag with outside pockets
Pin the straps to the outer bag with right sides together. I’ve pinned mine so that each one is about 1″ from the central strip of the front panel. Then do the same with the other strap, pinning it to the back panel of the bag.
Sew the two yellow squares of the lining together along the sides only to form a tube.
With right sides together, pull the tube of lining down over the outer bag.
Line up the top edges, pin and sew around the top of the bag to secure the outer bag, lining and straps together.
Pull the lining up and away from the outer bag. The bottom of the lining (at the right of the photo) is completely open which is obviously not very useful in a bag. Turn under a small seam across this edge and sew the two sides together to close the gap.
Push the lining back inside the bag and top stitch around the top of the bag to hold the layers in place. That’s your tote bag with outside pockets finished and ready for use.
Here’s the video:
Thanks for visiting my blog.
I hope to see you again soon.