Tote with side loops

Tote with side loops

Everyone has at least one ordinary tote bag at home as they are without a doubt the most useful bags. This stunning bag is just a plain tote bag with added loops at each side to give it a more interesting shape. Polka dot fabric is the ideal choice as it complements the covered buttons, but of course, it would work in all sorts of fabric. If you prefer a tote with long handles to go over your shoulder, simply measure the length required and cut the strap fabric slightly longer.

50 cm (1/2 yd) of 142-cm (56-in) wide blue spot fabric
50 cm (1/2 yd) of 90-cm (36-in) wide white linen, for the lining
Knitting needle or rouleaux turner
Two 19-mm (3/4-in) self-cover buttons

Seam allowances are 1.5 cm (5/8 in) and machine stitch is straight stitch.

tote with side loops 1

Cut two 45 x 46-cm (173/4 x 18-in) panels from blue spot fabric. With right sides together, machine stitch the sides and bottom seams and press open the seams. To shape the bag, open out the bottom corner, line up the bottom seam with the side seam and insert a pin through the two seams to line them up. Measure 6 cm (23/8 in) in from the point and draw a pencil line perpendicular to the seam. Machine stitch along the line, reverse stitching at each end for strength. Repeat with the other corner then turn the bag through.

Tip: To give the bag more stability, you could make a base panel from acrylic or stiff card to fit in the base before fitting the lining.

tote with side loops 2

To make the rouleaux for the side loops, cut two 5 x 50-cm (2 x 20-in) strips of white linen. Fold each in half lengthways and machine stitch down the centre of the folded strips and across one end. Turn the strips through with the help of a knitting needle or rouleaux turner. Pull the inside seam allowances from each end to straighten and press with the seam down one side.

tote with side loops 3

Fold the rouleaux from Step 2 in half widthways, open out to form a point and press. Machine stitch across the base of the triangle to secure. Machine stitch back and forwards several times across the rouleaux 2.5 cm (1 in) from the previous stitching to make a buttonhole. Turn under the ends of the side loops so that they measure 20 cm (8 in) from the fold to the point. Measure 13.5 cm (51/4 in) in from the side seams on both sides of the bag and mark with a pin. Measure down a further 11.5 cm (41/2 in) and pin the folded ends at these marks on the back of the bag. Machine stitch in a square, going over the stitching a second time for strength.

tote with side loops 4

Measure 8 cm (3 in) from the folded end of the side loops and pin at this point to the side seam, 11.5 cm (41/2 in) down from the top edge. Stitch up and down the side seam to secure. Following the manufacturer’s instructions cover the two buttons with blue fabric. Stitch the buttons at the pin marks on the front of the bag and fasten the side loops.

Tip: take care when cutting out bag pieces from large spot fabric so that the spots are straight and match where possible.

tote with side loops 5

To make the handles, cut two 6 x 45-cm (21/4 x 18-in) strips of blue spot fabric. Fold each in half lengthways with right sides facing and machine stitch with a 6-mm (1/4-in) seam allowance, stitching across one end. Turn the strips through with a knitting needle or rouleaux turner. Press the straps with the seam down one side. Measure 13.5 cm (51/4 in) in from the side seams on both sides of the bag and mark with a pin. Pin the straps at the top of the bag with the raw edges together.

tote with side loops 6

To make the lining, cut two 10 x 45-cm (4 x 18-in) strips of blue spot fabric and two pieces of white linen, 38 x 45 cm (15 x 18 in). Machine stitch the spot fabric to the white linen to make two panels and press open the seams. Leaving a gap on one side seam for turning, make up the lining in the same way as the bag in Step 1. Mark the loop points with pins and work two rows of gathering stitches between the marks. Pull up the gathers to measure 20 cm (8 in) and tie off securely on the reverse side.

tote with side loops 7

With right sides together, pin the strip of spot fabric from Step 6 on the white linen lining. Pin this in turn to the bag around the top edge and machine stitch. Turn the bag through and slip stitch the gap. Press the top seam.

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