Railfence Lined Zipped Tote Bag Pattern

Lined zipped tote bag

Lined zipped tote bag

I’ve made this lined zipped tote bag using the railfence quilt block and I’m really pleased with the finished bag.  I’ve plaited fabric strips for the straps which also makes the bag very individual.  The main body of the bag measures 16″ square and there isn’t a half square triangle in sight!  I have used 21″ of light blue fabric, 10″ of dark blue, 5″ of medium blue and just 3″ of the white ivory fabric, together with a 12″ zip.  You can buy these fabrics together in this week’s special offer.

Cutting requirements for the zipped tote bag

1.1/2″ strips:  three dark blue, three medium blue, three light blue, two white ivory

2.1/2″ strips:  four dark blue

16.1/2″ squares:  two light blue

One 12″ zip




Cut the squares

Cut the squares

Make the railfence quilt blocks

Sew together a 1.1/2″ strip each of dark blue, white ivory, medium blue and light blue.  Press the seam allowances all in one direction.  Cut this panel at 4.1/2″ intervals to make squares.  You should get nine squares from each panel of fabric so you need to make two panels.  You need to make eighteen of these squares.

Make the body of the bag

Make the body of the bag

Arrange the squares in three rows of three.  Alternate the squares with the stripes first horizontal and then vertical.  I have placed them so that the dark blue forms a staircase from the top left to the bottom left.  This forms the basic railfence design.  Sew the squares together across each row and then sew the rows to each other.  This panel now measures 12.1/2″ square and you need to make two of them.

Fold the strips lengthways

Fold the strips lengthways

Make the plaited straps

For the straps you need one 1.1/2″ strip each of dark blue, medium blue and light blue.  Fold the edges in towards the middle along the length of each strip.  Then fold the resulting folded strip in half.  This gives you a strip about 1/4″ to 1/2″ wide with no raw edges showing.  Sew along the length of the strip to hold the folds in place.

Plait the strips

Plait the strips

Pin the three strips together at one end.  Plait the three strips – simply take the right hand strip and place it over the middle strip and then take the left hand strip and place it over the middle strip.

Sew the ends and the middle

Sew the ends and the middle

Keep repeating this along the length of the strips.  My strip ended up about 32″ long.  Sew across the plaited strip at each end to make sure that the plait doesn’t come undone.  Find the middle of your plait and sew across it at two points about 1/2″ apart.  Now snip across the plait half way between these two middle rows of stitching.  This gives you two bag straps, each about 16″ long.

Pin the straps in place

Pin the straps in place

Assemble the body of the bag

I haven’t added the straps at the top of the bag because it would make the seam too bulky when I sew the zip in place.

Add the panel border

Add the panel border

Instead I have placed them on the railfence panel before I add the border.  Pin the ends of one strap either side of the central block.  Repeat with the second strap on the second railfence panel.  Now add the border: to each panel:  sew a 12.1/2″ by 2.1/2″ length of dark blue to the top and bottom.  Follow this with a 16.1/2″ by 2.1/2″ dark blue strip down each side.

Place the zip between the panels

Place the zip between the panels

Add the zip

Place one outer bag panel with right side up.  Lay the zip on it with right side down.  Add a light blue lining square with right side down.  The zip does not reach the ends of the two bag panels – it will be about 2″ short on each side.  I did this because I find that the corners of the bag can be very bulky if the zip reaches right into the corner.

Sew along the length of zip

Sew along the length of zip

Sew these three layers in place just along the length of the zip.  Your stitching is above the zip section.  If you have a zipper foot for your sewing machine then this will help you stitch close to the zip.  Open up the layers and press the two fabric panels away from the zip.

Add the second panel

Add the second panel

Now lay the second light blue lining  panel with right side up.

Place the zip on top of this with the right side of the zip facing upwards.  Now add the second railfence panel with right side down.  Once again the zip is sandwiched between a lining panel and a railfence panel.  Sew along the length of the zip.  Fold the bag panels away from the zip and press.

Complete the side seams

Panels joined by the zip

Panels joined by the zip

All the sections of the bag are now joined along the sides of the zip.  Fold at the zip so that you have the two railfence panels right sides together and the two lining panels right sides together.  You need to fold the zip in half lengthways to do this.  But first open the zip partially so that you can turn the project right side out after you’ve sewn the seams.

Sew the outer panels together

Sew the outer panels together

Sew the outer panels together first.  With right sides together, you need to sew across the small remaining section of the top then down each side and across the bottom.  You have now created the pouch of the outer bag.

For the lining sections you need to sew the short sections at each end of the zip and the sides only.  Don’t sew across the bottom of the lining squares.  These now form a tube with an opening across the bottom.

Turn the bag right side out

Turn the bag right side out

Hem the bag lining

Working from the gap across the bottom of the lining, pull the bag through to turn the project right side out.  Now you can hem the bottom of the lining.

Turn under a hem

Turn under a hem

Turn under a small hem on both sections of the lining and pin the two edges together.  Sew across the seam to close the bottom of the bag lining.

Push the lining back into the body of the bag, pushing out all the corners of the bag.  Lined zipped tote bag complete!  I have to admit that I’m really thrilled with this bag.

Here’s the video:

Thank you so much for all the helpful comments last week regarding my scissors.  I am really grateful that so many of you took the time to share your thoughts on them.

Haden Hill House Museum

Haden Hill House Museum

My travels this week took me to Haden Hill House Museum, another hidden gem quite close to where I live.

The house is lovely but for me the wonderful part is that it is set in a huge area of parkland.  I couldn’t take advantage of this because it was raining when I went there, but I plan many return visits to explore the park.

To read more about it, click here or on the photo.

Haden Hill House Museum – Birmingham

Haden Hill House Museum

Haden Hill House Museum

Haden Hill House Museum is another delightful museum that is a hidden treasure very close to where I live.  As with the Oak House, it is free to visit, but this one sits in a magnificent park of 55 acres.  I didn’t see much of the parkland as it was raining but I will definitely return for a nice long walk in the summer.

There are two parts to it – an old hall which is probably seventeenth century but was damaged in a fire, and the Victorian house. This is on the right of the photo.




Sculpture in the lake

Sculpture in the lake

This lovely small lake was the only part of the park that I saw.  As it’s between the car park and the house I couldn’t really miss it!

The library

The library

Inside Haden Hill House

The first room that you come across downstairs is the library.  This was described as cosy although I felt that it was very dark.  I think that the curtains were drawn to protect the furnishings from sunlight.  The model of a lady embroidering was very realistic.  In every room I was really impressed by the many activities for children.  It must get packed during the school holidays!

Bed in the servants' quarter

Bed in the servants’ quarter

The servants’ quarters looked really comfortable.  This bed had both mattress and pillows.  There were many Victorian items of clothing displayed around the room.

Treadle sewing machine

Treadle sewing machine

And also a sewing machine!  We didn’t have one of these with a treadle when I was small, but the machine itself looks really similar to the hand operated Singer that we used for many years.

Quilt Inspiration

Floor tiles

Floor tiles

Obviously I was on the lookout for quilt inspiration and these floor tiles will definitely be appearing in a quilt some time in the future.  The overall design was very Victorian and I was particularly impressed with the border tiles.  In one of the rooms there was a huge amount of William Morris design in both the wallpaper and the furnishings.  What a treat.

There was one gorgeous stained glass window that would make a great quilt, but my photo looks too shaky for me to display it here.

Scrappy quilt?

Scrappy quilt?

I was delighted to find a quilt on one of the beds.  While we would describe it as a scrappy quilt, this one probably filled the original point of quilts – using up fabric from old clothes to provide warmth.

Wedding dresses

Wedding dresses

They are licensed to hold weddings in Haden Hill House and one room was taken up with wedding outfits through the ages.

These were fascinating.

Overall I was thrilled to have found Haden Hill House Museum and will definitely be returning there.

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