I'd love to give you a supply list, but it would be meager--you need a yard of fabric. If you're using directional fabrics be mindful of the pattern. If you're a newbie you may want to use a fabric where direction doesn't matter. Two things to note from the get-go: backstitch at the beginning and end of every seam, and all seams are 3/8" throughout.
Press your fabric so you get nice even cuts (wrinkles make things go wonky). Then fold your fabric selvage to selvage (the way it came off the bolt), and then fold it in half the other way, raw edge to raw edge. Your fabric should now be four layers thick.
Trim your selvage, and then neaten up the other raw edges. You should now have two edges that are folds, and two that are nice and neat raw edges.
Line up your ruler 5 inches from the selvage edge. Give it a slice. Since that nifty fold is at the top you'll now have two 5-inch lengths of fabric to use as your straps. Trim those so that they are 5 by 26 inches (longer or shorter if you'd like, but 26 inches ends up as a nice comfy length).
Take your remaining fabric, and very slightly trim the folded edges, enough to get rid of the fold, but not enough to matter much for measurement purposes. If you like you can leave this to be the width of your bag (though I trimmed mine to measure about 17 inches). Trim the bottom until it's 15 inches high. You should now have your handles, and 4 pieces of fabric that are each 15 by 17 inches.
First we're going to do the handles. Fold your handles in half loooooong edge to long edge and press.
Open it up, fold each long edge towards the center fold you just made, and press.
Fold it in half once more along your original fold, and press it one more time. Hop on over to your sewing machine. Stitch along the edges, as close to the edge as you feel comfortable (I shoot for 1/8 inch). This time I decided to add a couple extra rows of stitching, just because--but it's not necessary.
Put those babies aside. Get on back over to where you left your bag pieces. If you're using directional fabric now is the time to make sure everything is right side up as we're going to do a trim job on the bottom edge. On each of your 4 pieces, measure (on each side) 2 inches from he bottom and 2 inches from the edge, drawing a bit of a square:
Trim those squares. Be careful, as these will form the flat bottom of your bag and you don't want them to look too crazy. You should have 8 squares snipped off. You don't need these--stick them in your scrap bin. Unless you're normal, and then you could just toss them :)
Your four layers should now each look like this, with your short edge at the bottom. I even added some handy-dandy lines to show you where you're going to stitch--
Take two pieces, right sides together, and sew along the bottom. Press the seam open. Then sew the side seams and press those open as well. Keep this inside out. Now comes the flat bottom part. This is a bit of a modification of the smashed-triangle version (which we'll get to next week) but gives the same results. Take the side seam and the bottom seam and match them up. Slide in a few pins.
Sew across that bit. Do the same for the other side of the bag. When you turn it inside out to see what's going to happen (unless you already know, in which case--don't ruin it for the others, guys :) you'll see some nice tidy boxy corners:
Now grab those handles you made. Measure in 4 inches from each side seam, and pin your handles in place on the right side of the fabric, making sure they're not all twisty--
Stitch your handles down 1/4" from the top edge. I go over them a few times as the handle join is a stress point in bags.
Take your other two pieces of fabric (the lining) and sew those together as you did the outer shell above. The only difference (and a critical one) is that you leave a gap of about 5 inches in the bottom center. This is for turning the bag in a few steps. You should now have your outer shell with the handles, and the lining with no handles, but a nice little gap in the bottom--
Sew all around the top. Then reach through the gap you left and gently pull the bag through.
Once everything is pulled out the proper way pin the gap in the lining shut (tucking the raw edges inside) and stitch it closed, either by hand or by machine. Shove the lining down inside the bag. Pin or press the top edge (I like to pin) so that all is neat, and then top-stitch around the edge, about 1/4" away from the edge.
Give it a bit of a press, and there you have it--a tote made out of one yard of fabric, with a wee bit left over (enough to try a change purse if you fancy giving one a go). It folds up flat--nice and handy to keep tucked in your purse.
I made a bunch of these a few years ago for a few craft fairs. They're quick and easy, and make nice little gifts, especially when folded nice and neat and tied with just the right bit of ribbon.
As ever, if something isn't clear please ask away. And if you make one I'd love to see it--give it an old ploppity-plop in the Flickr pool. Have fun!!
Next week: we'll be sewing a traditional drawstring bag--perfect for kiddos to tote their goods around. Hope to see you then!
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