After making flower and leaf shadow prints with fabric dye (see this post), I needed a project for all of my sample fabric blocks. Inspired by this blog, I sewed them together into a quilted tote bag. Here’s how I did it:
1. I pieced together the fabric blocks in random sizes and shapes, creating two larger rectangles, which I then trimmed to approx. 19″ x 20″.
2. I didn’t want the beautiful shadow prints hidden on the bottom of the bag, so I sewed a 3 1/2″ solid strip of fabric in a complementary color from my fabric stash onto the bottom of each larger rectangle. This solid-colored fabric would become the bottom of the tote.
3. I backed each of the larger rectangles (now 19″ wide x 23 1/4″ tall) onto similar-sized pieces of mid-loft batting, and quilted in the ditch around all of the seams where the shadow print block were pieced together.
4. For the lining I cut two 19″ x 23″ rectangles from the same color solid fabric as I sewed onto the bottom of the larger rectangles.
5. I also cut a 7″ x 8″ rectangle for an interior pocket – I sewed a rolled hem on one short edge (pressing it 1/4″ to the wrong side, then pressing down another 3/4″, then stitching down the hem) and zig zag stitched around the other three sides to created a finished border. Next, I pressed the three sides 1/4″ to the wrong side, and sewed the pocket on one lining piece, approx 3 1/2″ from the top edge and centered from left to right.
6. I sewed the two outer bag sides right sides together along three sides with a 1/4″ seam, leaving the top edge open. Then I boxed the corners at 5″ (see here for good instructions for boxing corners, and all of the steps in this post).
7. I repeated the process with the inner lining pieces, sewing them right sides together on three sides and then boxing the corners.
8. I pressed 1/4″ to the wrong side, then another 3/4″ to create a rolled hem along the top of both the outer bag and the lining (this gives the top of the bag a finished edge).
9. I put the lining bag inside the outer bag, wrong sides together, then pinned around the top, making sure that the lining is just slightly below the outer edge of the bag.
10. To make the handle, I cut four strips of the solid-colored fabric, each 2″ x 34″. Then I cut two strips of batting, the same size. I created a sandwich of batting, then solid strip (right side up) and then a second solid strip (right side down). I sewed on the two long sides and turned the piece, so that the two right sides were facing outward, with the batting sandwiched in between. I repeated this process for the second handle piece.
11. I inserted one end of a handle piece approx. 1″ into the space between the lining and the outer bag, 4″ from the side seam, and then did the same with the other end of the handle piece. I did the same thing with the other handle piece on the other side of the bag, and pinned the handles where they were inserted in between the outer bag and lining. Finally, I quilted two lines down the handle, to secure the batting and as decoration.
12. I marked the sides of the bag 4″ from each seam, on both sides – then I inserted the handles, with the outer edges of the handles at the 4″ mark, and the short ends of the handles at least 1″ in between the outer bag and the lining. I pinned these in place.
12. I sewed around the edge of the bag, as close to the top edge as possible while still catching the outer bag and lining (you might want to sew from the inside, with the lining side face up, to make sure you catch the lining). Then I sewed a second time around the edge, this time 1/4″ down.
The finished bag is approx. 20″ tall x 18″ wide. Done!