Sunday, June 29, 2008

Summertime Mother Load Tote

Occassionally I feel a desperate need to shop. I don't know if its what little money I've got burning a hole in my pocket or just the need to avoid a morning of cartoons and housework, but about once a week I like to get out. Most of the time I just take care of my shopping needs at Walmart or the grocery store and feel satisfied treating myself to a cute magazine or new kind of tortillas (our local Kroger makes scrumptious Cinnamon tortillas). Sometimes I feel the need for a little more adventure than Walmart though.

This past Tuesday morning I felt the urge to go out and do a little bargain hunting. I loaded the kiddos in the mini van and we headed out to do a little shopping. I love hitting the cheap retail stores like Ross and Tuesday Morning. And since it was Tuesday morning, that's where we headed.

I've been really inspired by all the totes and purses that I've seen in blog world so when I saw some cute watermelon kitchen towels, I snatched them up and decided to get crafty. The fabric is almost canvas like and seems to be really sturdy so I thought they'd be great as a tote bag.


Its hard to tell from this picture but the finished tote is about 20x20 inches. I wanted it to be big enough to carry beach towels, snacks, sunscreen and whatever else we need for summer time excursions. I'm so happy with how my first bag ever turned out. I think I'm hooked and need to make some more!


I'm sure no one will want to copy these instructions because I was just making this up as I went. But in case you are interested, here's what I did.

Basically I unpicked the hem on the 2 towels so I could gain a little more fabric to work with. Then I ironed them, stacked them on my cutting board and sliced into them. I cut two big squares that were roughly 20x18 inches. Then, forgetting that I had stacked my fabric, I goofed and cut four strips for handles instead of two. Oh well.

I put the two large pieces together (right sides together) and sewed around the sides and bottom. Then I folded the bottom corners with the bottom and side seams together and sewed diagonally. I didn't think the handles were going to be quite long enough so I started doing crazy stuff. I placed the handles about where I wanted them and then used a plate as a guide to cut out a little more in the armhole opening. Once I had that curve cut, I started realizing that I couldn't just do a simple rolled hem anymore. (or could I? I needed to clip the curves. ) Anywho, I got out some muslin and played with it to figure out how to make some facing for the curved area. And then I didn't want to have the raw edge of the facing showing so I got some matching ribbon and sewed it down over my zigzaged raw edge. I like how it looks, but was a little unsure about what I was doing there for awhile. Then I finished the top edges of the tote with a simple rolled hem. Last of all, I finished the handles with a rolled hem on both sides and anchored them down with a secure X within a box. Can you see that?

Now, I realize that this is a very juvenile attempt at bag making compared to all the beautiful totes, bags and purses I've seen on others blogs. But its my first try and I'm quite proud of it.

And that's about it. I call it the Summertime Mother Load Tote.

13 comments:

Jacquie said...

Very cute Erica...Love totes like this for summer. So fresh and practical too!

Purple and Paisley said...

wow, nice job! and from dish towels? i love it! and i'm glad i'm not the only one who accidentally cuts through forgotten stacks of fabrics! =)

dot said...

Oh so cute. I like it and what a great summer tote. Very clever idea.

Cheryl said...

What a great idea and wonderful instructions. So nice of you to share with us. It is really cute!

Penny said...

its adorable! You should be very proud! I love the way you chose to finish the hem! Thank you for the tut!

Stephanie said...

When I saw it I was wondering what pattern you used and then I kept reading. Awesome job and professional looking! Great tutorial too.

Julie said...

Love it.

Jen@The Cottage Nest said...

What a clever idea! I love the way it turned out.

Jo-Anne said...

This is incredible...nice work! Now I am going to have to be on the lookout for cut dishtowels!!
have a happy day...

Miranda said...

So cute!

Tara said...

Awesome step by step instructions with pictures! I think this is VERY cute and practical at the same time and I need to make one too!

Carin said...

Who makes your watermelon fabric? My sister would love it.

Zannah said...

Fabulous! I can't believe how straight forward you've made it seem!