Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Reusable Bag with Pouch Tutorial

I have a trunk load of reusable bags to take to the grocery store but these don't really work for the mall.  And I really did not want to come home with yet another Macy's paper bag or tiny Sephora bag which I couldn't really reuse.  So, I played around and made a tote bag which folds into a small pouch.  It fits perfectly in my purse.  The concept of this tote bag is very similar to a quillow, so let's get started.

3/4 yd cotton fabric (44" wide)
1.5 yd cotton strap

Step 1:  Make a tote bag.
From the cotton fabric, cut a piece measuring 20"W x 40" L and fold it in half lengthwise to make a piece 20 x 20.

Next, sew or serge down both sides.

Next, box the bottom of the bag.  To do this, match the side seam and bottom seam of the bag forming a triangle.

Pin it and draw a line perpendicular to the top of the triangle.  I wanted my bag on the roomier side so the base of my triangle is about 6.5" wide.  Draw a line.

Then sew or serge on the line.

The body of the tote bag is now complete.

Step 2:  Make the pocket piece.
Cut a piece of fabric 7 1/2"W x 12"L.  Fold one edge over 1/4" and fold over again and sew down this seam.

Next, take up the side with the finished seam up the other edge and leave about 1 1/2" allowance on top.  (Note:  In this photo, the top edge is quite huge.  I was still playing with the size and should have taken the photo after I trimmed the top edge to the right length).

Sew or serge both sides.  You may cover the seam with bias binding if you wish.

Turn the pocket inside out. Finished size is 7"W x 6.5"L.  Make sure you have a 1 1/2 inches above the finished edge of the pocket.

Step 3:  Make the top flap for the tote bag.
Cut a piece of fabric 41" x 2 1/2".

From the wrong side, fold up a 1/4 inch of fabric and iron it to form a crease.

Sew or serge the 2 short ends.  You now have a long continuous band about 2 1/4' x 40".

Step 4:  Putting it all together.
Find the midpoint of the tote bag and mark it with a pin.  Make sure you have the right side of the bag facing you.

Find the midpoint of the pocket and mark it with a pin.  Lay the pocket piece on top of the tote bag and match the pins.  Make sure you have the pocket facing towards the tote bag, not facing you.

Cut 2 straps 21"long each.  Pin to the left and right of the pocket piece.  (I realized I should have used a different fabric for the pocket so you can see it better but hopefully you can see the pocket piece in the center).

Pin the straps on the tote bag to the left and right of the pocket piece.  Make sure the straps are down towards the bottom of the bag and the ends are facing up and extending about 1" above the edge of the tote bag.

Next, lay down the top flap; wrong side of the fabric facing out.  Make sure the raw edge is pinned to the top edge of the tote bag, not the edge with 1/4" turned under.

Pin all around the bag and sew along the top edge, removing pins as you go.

Now flip the top edge over.  Top stitch along the edge.  Make sure the pocket piece is not stitched down.  Note that there is about 1 inch clearance from the edge of the tote to the opening of the pocket.

Turn your tote bag inside out and top stitch along the edge where you've got the 1/4 turned under.

You may reinforce the straps and sew them down if you wish.

Now, you're all done.  

Step 5:  Folding your tote bag.
Lay out your tote bag with the pocket facing up.

Fold in both sides towards the center. Lay the handles facing towards the bottom of the bag.

Take the bottom of the bag to the top edge then fold this piece again in half.

Now take the left bottom edge and tuck it into the left upper corner of the pocket.  Tuck the rest to form a rectangle.

Tada!  Here's your reusable tote bag with built in pouch.

You can always adjust the size of the tote bag and the straps but you get the concept.   I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.