Pleated Tote Bag – Free Pattern

Pleated tote bag

Pleated tote bag

I made this pleated tote bag because I feel that it is more secure than some of my tote bags.  The opening at the top is narrower than the rest of the bag.  It’s also very pretty and is very easy to make.  The body of the bag measures roughly 16″ wide at the bottom and about 10″ wide at the top.

The bag is 14″ long.  I made the first prototype 18″ long, but it didn’t look right.  That’s why I went for 14″ long.  I’ve used 1/4 yard of lilac fabric with 1/2 yard each of blue and of the lining fabric.  I’ve also added an applique butterfly peeking out from within the pleat.  You can buy these fabrics and the butterfly at a discount in this week’s special offer.




Use as a handbag

Use as a handbag

Or a shoulder bag

Or a shoulder bag

The bag can be used as a hand bag or as a shoulder bag.

Cutting requirements for the pleated tote bag

14″ by 6″ rectangles:  four blue, two lilac

14″ by 17″ rectangles:  two in the lining fabric

2.1/2″ strip cut across the width of fabric:  one blue for the strap, one lilac for the binding

Make two panels

Make two panels

Make the body of the bag

Sew together two panels of blue, lilac, blue rectangles.  Lay them with right sides together.  Line up the edges and sew round three sides to create a pouch.  This will be the body of the bag.

Sew the bag lining

Sew the bag lining

Lay the two lining rectangles with right sides together.  Once again line up the edges and sew them together on three sides to create a pouch.

Turn the outer bag right side out but leave the lining bag wrong side out.  Push the lining inside the outer bag.

Push the lining inside the bag

Push the lining inside the bag

Line up the edges around the top of the bag and baste all round to secure the outer bag and the lining fabrics together.

Make the pleat

Make the pleat

Create the pleats

Make a mark half way across the lilac strip.  This should 2.3/4″ from either side.  Take the blue/lilac seam on the right hand side and pull it across until it rests on the mark.  Put two pins in to hold the layers together.

Now grab the blue/lilac seam on the left side and pull it across to the midway mark.  The two seam lines will now rest against each other, covering the lilac at the top of the bag.  Pin in place.  Repeat on the other side of the bag so that you have a pleat on the front and the back of the bag.  Sew all round the top of the bag to secure the lining and the outer bag together and to secure the pleats.

Sew the strap

Sew the strap

Make the strap

Cut the 2.1/2″ strip of blue in half to make two lengths about 21″ long.  Place these with right sides together and sew a 1/4″ seam down each side to create a tube.

Turn the tube right side out by pulling one end down over the tube until the whole strip is right side out.  Press and sew a 1/4″ seam down each side again to hold the strap in place.

Pin the strap

Pin the strap

Pin one end of the strap to each side of the bag.

In order to do this, place the raw edges of the strap in line with the raw edges of the bag top.  At this stage the strap will be lying down the side of the bag on each side.

Make the binding

I often use facing at the top of a bag.  This doesn’t show on the outside of the bag.

Add the binding

Add the binding

For this pleated tote bag I decided to use binding instead.  That gives a good finish to the top of the bag.

Fold the 2.1/2″ lilac strip along the length and press.  Lay around the top of the bag with the raw edges of the binding and the bag together and the fold of the binding lying on the bag itself.

Sew all the way round, taking care to catch all layers of fabric in the stitches.  Join the two ends of the binding as for any quilt binding.

Flip the folded edge of the binding to the inside and sew it to the lining.  As an embellishment I sewed an applique butterfly to the lilac rectangle so it seemed to be emerging from the pleat.  That completes the pleated tote bag – I hope you like it as much as I do.

Here’s the video:

Unusual scissors

Unusual scissors

Last week I found a lovely museum not far from here.  It’s in a beautiful 17th century building and is called Oak House Museum.  These unusual scissors were among many delightful treasures within the house.  You can read more about my trip by clicking on the photo or click here.

Tote Bag With Outside Pockets

 

Tote bag with outer pocket

Tote bag with outer pocket

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

Layout for the front bag panel

Layout for the front bag panel

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.

 

Sew the 2.1/2" blue rectangle to it

Sew the 2.1/2″ blue rectangle to it

Open out the panel

Open out the panel

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.

Add the final blue rectangle

Add the final blue rectangle

Press the white fabric flat with your fingers

Press the white fabric flat with your fingers

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.

Pin the overlap of white at the bottom

Pin the overlap of white at the bottom

Lay the blue square on top

Lay the blue square on top

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.

Sew the strips together down the sides to form a tube

Sew the strips together down the sides to form a tube

Press and top stitch the sides

Press and top stitch the sides

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.

Pin the straps to the outer bag

Pin the straps to the outer bag

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.

Pull the lining over the outer bag

Pull the lining over the outer bag

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 away from the outer bag

Pull the lining away from the outer bag

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.

Rose