Elementary Tote ~ A Tutorial

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

My son is going to a music camp this year at School of Rock. It’s the same camp my daughter attended a couple years ago – she loved it. Before she went, I made her a little tote bag that she could use to bring her ear plugs, notepad and snacks each day. My son has not forgotten about this, and told me that he cannot wait to see his bag for class.

I whipped up a little bag for him and I thought I’d share the tutorial with you. I think of it as “Elementary” sized – great for 5 to 10 year olds. (If you are looking for a mom-sized bag, check out my Farmer’s Market Tote tutorial.)

I personalized his tote bag with his name using my Cricut Explore Air (affiliate link). After much trial and error, I finally am successfully cutting fusible fabric with it! I plan on sharing a tutorial later this week with my tips. See my tips in this post!


Elementary Tote

Approximate size: 11-1/2″ x 11-1/2″

Elementary Tote Supplies : Fresh Lemons Quilts

Supplies
Cut (12) 3″ x 13″ rectangles for outer tote bag
Cut (2) 13″ x 15-1/2″ rectangles for lining
Cut (2) 13″ x 15-1/2″ rectangles from fusible interfacing, such as Pellon SF101
Cut (2) 20″ strips of cotton webbing, around 1″ wide

1. Lay out your 3” x 13” rectangles in 2 groups – 6 rectangles for the front of the tote and 6 rectangles for the back of the tote.

Note: The bottom rectangle on each side will end up being on bottom/underside of the tote bag, so you probably don’t want to use your favorite fabric in this location.

2. Using a 1/4″ seam allowance, sew each set of the 3″ x 13″ rectangles together along the long sides, resulting in (2) 13″ x 15-1/2″ outer tote panels. Press your seams as desired.

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

3. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, fuse your Pellon SF101 interfacing to the back of the outer tote panels.

4. Cut 2″ squares out of the bottom left and right corners of your outer tote panels, as well as your (2) 13″ x 15-1/2″ lining pieces. This is for your gusset later.

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

5. Place your outer tote panels right sides together. Using a 1/2″ seam allowance, sew down the sides and bottom of the fabric. ** Do NOT sew the cut out squares! **

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

6. Now it’s time to sew the gussets. If you have never done this before, this is probably the trickiest step.

“Open” up your bag in the corner where you cut the squares, and place the fabric back together matching up the side and bottom sewn seam, as shown.

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

7. Pin as shown.

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

8. Sew using a 1/2″ seam allowance.

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

9. Repeat on the other side to make the second gusset.

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

10. Flip your outer tote shell so the right sides are facing out.

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

11. Repeat steps 5 – 9 with your lining pieces, with the exception of leaving approximately 5″ open/unsewn along the bottom, for flipping the bag right side out later. Leave the lining wrong sides out.

12. Personalize your bag! (Circuit Explore Air Tutorial will be posted on Thursday ~ Stay tuned!) I posted my tips, just click over to this post!

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

13. Measure and mark the top center of the outer tote shell. Pin your cotton webbing straps approximately 2” to each side of the center marking. Take care not to twist your straps. Baste in place using a 1/4” seam allowance.

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

14. Place your outer tote shell right side out, into the lining wrong side out, as shown.

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

15. Pin along the top of the bag, and sew together along the entire top, using a 1/2″ seam allowance.

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

16. Flip your bag right side out through the opening in the bottom of the lining. Stitch the bottom of your lining closed.

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

Push the lining into the outer tote shell.

17. Press your bag and top stitch around the top.

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

You are finished! Gift your bag to your favorite person. 🙂

Elementary Tote : Fresh Lemons Quilts

Maker’s Tote Take Two : Star Wars Edition

Maker's Tote Take Two : Star Wars Edition : Fresh Lemons Quilts

I promise that it is a complete (happy) accident that I am sharing a Star Wars project with you on Star Wars day. Hopefully you all didn’t think you would escape the frenzy of the latest Star Wars movie coming out today by visiting a quilting blog. 😉 What can I say? I have a 6 year old boy who loves all things Star Wars. Did I also mention his favorite color is orange? Those two facts make me certain he is going to love his Maker’s Tote on Christmas morning.

Maker's Tote Take Two : Star Wars Edition : Fresh Lemons Quilts

This is the second Maker’s Tote (pattern by Noodlehead) that I’ve made, and it went much faster this time around. I made them back-to-back so I wouldn’t forget the pattern. On this tote, I made the same minor adjustments/personalizations to the pattern – you can find the details listed in this post. I did have an “opps” this time though. I accidentally put the zipper pocket on the outside 1″ too low. That’s what comes from thinking you have the whole thing memorized and moving too fast! Probably not a huge deal though, I am certain my son won’t notice.

Maker's Tote Take Two : Star Wars Edition : Fresh Lemons Quilts

For my fabric selections, I used a variety of Star Wars prints.

Outer Fabric : Star Wars Comic Strip by Camelot Fabrics
Inner Lining : Essex linen yard dyed in Black by Robert Kaufman
Pockets and Outer Sides : Star Wars, The Force Awakens, Logo in Orange by Camelot Fabrics
Binding : Star Wars, The Force Awakens, Logo in Stone by Camelot Fabrics

Maker's Tote Take Two : Star Wars Edition : Fresh Lemons Quilts

The outer print is…well…pretty loud. I joked that I felt like Chewie was yelling at me the entire time I was sewing this tote. Sometimes you just have to sew for the recipient though, am I right?

Maker's Tote Take Two : Star Wars Edition : Fresh Lemons Quilts

I attempted to calm down the “excitement” of the fabric by throwing in the Essex linen. I think that does help. Just like with my daughter’s tote, I made the small size and feel like it holds enough for kids – markers, coloring books, headphones, some games and toy figures. I mentioned last week that on this tote, I was planning on raising the inner zipper closure about 1/4″ so that it would better accommodate an 8-1/2″ x 10″ coloring book. I did that and it works great. If I were to make a third, I might get even more greedy and raise it another 1/4″. 🙂

Maker's Tote Take Two : Star Wars Edition : Fresh Lemons Quilts
Darth Approves

As a last minute idea, I also decided to make my kids little vinyl fronted zipper pouches to coordinate with their Maker’s Totes. I sort of just made this up as I went, clearly feeling confident after making a few Noodlehead bags lately!

Maker's Tote Take Two : Star Wars Edition : Fresh Lemons Quilts
Chewie still yelling at me

I used 16 gauge vinyl on the front. The fabric you are seeing is actually through the front of the pouch. It’s a bit easier to see on my daughter’s finished pouch, with the markers zipped inside.

Maker's Tote Take Two : Star Wars Edition : Fresh Lemons Quilts

I think they turned out pretty cute, and will be great additions to their Maker’s Totes. It’s something they can put a few markers inside and bring into restaurants (or any other “boring” location) when we go out.

Maker's Tote Take Two : Star Wars Edition : Fresh Lemons Quilts

I can’t wait to see their reactions – one more week!

Stitching Here and There

Crosses and Losses quilt blocks : Fresh Lemons Quilts

Only 10 days until Christmas, and I have only spent a bit of time here and there at the sewing machine. I did knock out a few more Crosses and Losses blocks. This has been a fun project on the last few rainy (but warm!) days. They certainly are bright!

Crosses and Losses quilt blocks : Fresh Lemons Quilts

I also have been working on Christmas gifts. Last week I shared my daughter’s Maker’s Tote with you (thank you all for your nice comments!!). This week I plan on taking pictures of my son’s tote. He’s a huge Star Wars fan, so the fabric choice was a no brainer.

Crosses and Losses quilt blocks : Fresh Lemons Quilts

Can I just say how much I love these Clover Wonder Clips for bag making? They hold thick layers together so easily. I first started out pinning all these crazy pieces together and after much frustration – and bleeding – I switched to the Wonder Clips. It made for a much more pleasant experience.

I’m planning on trying to make a couple zip pouches today to coordinate with these totes.

Are you making something handmade for the holidays? I’d love to hear what you have planned!

Maker’s Tote ~ A Finish

Maker's Tote, pattern by Noodlehead : Fresh Lemons Quilts

My first Maker’s Tote (pattern purchased from Noodlehead) is officially finished. I think my daughter is going to love it! Anna’s pattern comes with directions in two sizes, a small and a large. This is the small, but as you can see, it still fits a lot of stuff! I loaded it with things my daughter likes to take on trips – headphones, markers, a book, a sketchpad, a stuffed animal…no problem fitting it all and zipping it up. I also can just squeeze in an 8-1/2″ x 10″ coloring book. On my son’s tote, I’m raising the zipper 1/4″ to make it a bit easier to fit.

Maker's Tote, pattern by Noodlehead : Fresh Lemons Quilts

This was a fun pattern to make. I can always count on Anna to challenge me, in a good way. With this bag, I successfully completed two new-to-me zipper installations.

Maker's Tote, pattern by Noodlehead : Fresh Lemons Quilts

The first was this zipper in the middle of the outer panel. I was so nervous to cut into my fabric, as I had just spent a really long time getting it ready with all the quilting. But it worked!

The second was the top zipper, installed with zipper tape. It was much easier than I anticipated! One of the reasons I decided to do quilt-as-you-go on the outer fabric was I wanted to camouflage the two horizontal zipper tape stitching lines that appear on the outside of the tote. I think it worked – you can hardly notice them.

Maker's Tote, pattern by Noodlehead : Fresh Lemons Quilts

I left off the outer snap pocket on my Maker’s Totes. My kids seem genuinely confused by why they would need snap pockets on their Cargo Duffles. So I decided not to bother this time, even though I think they are adorable.

Maker's Tote, pattern by Noodlehead : Fresh Lemons Quilts

I mentioned a few details in my progress post earlier this week, but in case you missed that, here is a summary of the fabrics and minor changes I made to the pattern.

Fabrics
Outer : Carrie BloomstonPaint fabric line – Brushes in Inky
Lining : Carrie BloomstonStory fabric line – Stars in Hot Pink
Pockets : Carrie BloomstonPaint fabric line – Palette in Spackle
Trim : Carrie BloomstonPaint fabric line – Patina in Aqua

Modifications
1. Quilt as You Go for the outer panels. I quilted directly onto the interfacing specified in the pattern.
2. Added stitched lines 5/8″ apart on the inner flat pocket to create a marker holder.
3. Left off the outer snap pocket.
4. Finished the handles by stitching straight lines 1/4″ apart and leaving them flat.

Maker's Tote, pattern by Noodlehead : Fresh Lemons Quilts

This first tote probably took me about 8 hours total for cutting, quilting and assembling. This was my first time reading the pattern, so that always takes time. The quilt-as-you-go step that I added was a significant chunk of time, as was the stitched lines for the marker holder. The binding took an hour or so to stitch on as well.

I’ve made a second tote already for my son (will share next week), and it probably took 5 hours total So I’m getting faster! I definitely recommend the Maker’s Tote pattern if you have a few bags under your belt and are looking for a great handmade gift – for a friend or yourself!