My Totally Reversible Tote Tutorial

Friends of mine have just opened a fabric, haberdashery and craft shop in my home town and being such wonderful people they agreed to stock some of my little bags. You can find them online on Facebook or Twitter.  Share the love and give them a wee like or a follow!

Being even more amazing they have asked me to come down to give some classes for beginners so I’ve made up a tutorial on how to sew a lined tote bag that would be perfect for a bit of shopping, going to the library or if you make a wee bit smaller perfect for a kiddie to carry whatever random things they like to carry around!  I know my two love carrying stuff around in bags!!

So here you go, my first ever bag making tutorial.  I hope you can follow it.  Let me know how you get on!  For my bag I used quilt weight cotton.  You could use heavier fabric but your machine might struggle a bit with some of the thicker seams like over the straps.

Materials

  • 2 x Rectangles Patterned Fabric 14 x 15 inches
  • 2 x Rectangles Plain Fabric 14 x 15 inches
  • 2 x Rectangles medium weight fusible interfacing 13.5 x 14.5 inches
  • 2 x Rectangles Fabric 4 x 22 inch (either matching or contrasting)   OR  2 x 22 inch lengths webbing

Method

Attach the interfacing to the patterned fabric following the instructions given with the interfacing.  You can get away without the interfacing but I like a little bit of structure in my bags!

  • Ensure you apply the interfacing to the WRONG SIDE of the patterned fabric so the interfacing will be on the inside of the bag
  • Also be sure that the gluey side of the interfacing is facing the fabric before applying the iron or you risk fusing the interfacing to the iron or the pressing cloth (if you are using one). The gluey side is the rough side due to all the little dots of glue impregnated in it!
  • It is helpful to have the interfacing a bit smaller than the fabric you are applying it to so that you do not fuse the interfacing to the ironing board beneath
  • Once the interfacing has been applied to the fabric it should not be sewn for at least 20mins to give the glue time to cure/dry. If you do not do this you risk getting a sticky needle and broken thread.

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Construct the straps (if not using webbing)

  • Take one of the two 4 x 22 inch pieces of plain fabric
  • Fold it along the middle of the long edge wrong sides together (WST) and press along the fold
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  • Open it rectangles out and fold one edge towards the middle crease WST and press along the fold
  • Repeat this on the other side
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  • Fold both sides towards each other along the original middle crease and press again
  • You should now have a length of material that is folded over on itself four times and measures 1x 22 inches
  • Pin along the length of the strap and topstitch along the length on each side
  • Repeat this with the other length of fabric
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Construct the main body

  • Take each of the pieces of patterned fabric and cut a 2 inch square from each bottom corner
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  • Place the patterned fabric right sides together (RST) and sew along the side seams and the bottom seam. DO NOT sew around the edges of the cut out squares
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    Obviously this is the plain fabric sewn together, but you get the idea!

  • Press along the length of the seams you have sewn then press the seams open
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Seams pressed open

  • Pinch one of the cut out corners at the bottom of the bag, match the raw edges together and make sure the centre of the side seam lines up with centre of the bottom seam.
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  • Press this if necessary, pin it and sew along the raw edge
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  • Repeat this with the plain fabric

Attach the straps

  • Turn the bag made from the patterned fabric right side out (RSO)
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  • On both sides mark four inches in from each end of the bag
  • Line up the end of the strap with one mark. Match the raw edge of the bag with the raw edge of the strap.
  • Pin in place.
  • Line up the other end of the strap with the other mark on the same side of the bag
  • When the strap is pinned in place it should be pointing towards the bottom of the bag.
  • Either machine or hand tack the strap in place close to the edge and remove the pins
  • Bar tack the straps for strength 3/8 inch from the raw edges. To bar tack set the sewing machine to zig zag stitch, middle stitch width and very short stitch length, nearly at zero.

Join the bags

  • Insert the patterned bag RSO into the plain bag wrong side out (WSO) and match the raw edges
  • Make sure the side seams line up for a professional finish and pin around
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  • Sew the two bags together with a 5/8inch seam and leave a three inch gap for turning

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Turn the bags RSO through the gap

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Press the bag & pin the gap closed

Topstitch the bag to close the gap

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And TA DAH! You have a totally reversible tote bag with box corners for a bit of room in the bottom. All your raw edges and seams are hidden inside the bag too so it’s nice and neat. Perfect for a bit of shopping, or your latest work in progress.

I hope you can follow my tutorial and please let me see any bags you make! Plus I’m here or on Twitter @jubublian to answer any questions you have!

I had my first two students this morning and they had next to no sewing experience. They both managed to make their bags within two and a half hours (and that included a bit of practicing on scraps before we got stuck into the bags) so this is the perfect beginners project!

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No Sweat! My very first crochet jumper!

For Christmas I got a book that had been on my wishlist for a while. Everyday Crochet by Doris Chan.  It had popped up on Amazon as something recommended for me based on the other 500 craft books I’ve bought! First of all I wasn’t too sure if it would suit me because I wasn’t that great at crochet yet but I did want a book on how to crochet clothes for myself so it went on the wishlist.

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When I looked through the book I knew it was a good choice. There are loads of great patterns and I definitely think there’s something for everyone. I loved all the pullovers but my favourite was No Sweat. This winter I have been all about cosy jumpers and this looked perfect.

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My favourite is the green sweater

In the book Doris goes into loads of detail about the different types of yarn you can use and gives examples of what she used for each garment. I had fallen in love with Stylecraft Special Aran with wool in Blue Heather some time ago and had been waiting for the perfect project to use this gorgeous yarn. Also it was at the chunkier end of yarn weights recommended so I knew I’d get a nice snuggly jumper!

It took a lot of reading and re-reading the pattern to work out what I was supposed to do but once I had it figured out I found it quite easy to follow. All Doris’ patterns in this book are worked top down in differing patterns of shell stitch. It’s definitely not the easiest method of construction for a noob crocheter but thankfully I’ve come on somewhat since I added this book to my wishlist and after I got the hang of it I was able to follow the pattern with very few problems. I don’t think I’d recommend it to a beginner though! Saying that there is a Ravelry group dedicated to Doris Chan and her patterns and it’s a great place to get help with any issues you might have.

The absolute best thing about this method of construction is being able to try your garment on as you go to see how well it fits at various points and you can lengthen or shorten as needed. As a curvier girl I also loved the addition of short bust rows to give a bit more room in front!

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All in all I loved making this jumper and I can’t wait to make something else out of the book! There is something immensely satisfying about wearing clothes you have made yourself. I think 2015 will see my homemade wardrobe increasing & multiplying 🙂 Do you make any of your own clothes? Would you like to? Let me know!

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Oaty Banana Pancakes

I love a sweet and bread based breakfast, whether it’s toast with chocolate spread, pancakes, croissants, pastries… Mmmm! The list could go on and on! I am a big fan of carbs, sugar & caffeine in the morning despite knowing how unhealthy it is.

Recently I have got into the habit of making crepes for breakfast at the weekend and we will all sit down as a family and eat. I really love this but I’m pretty sure all that butter, whole milk and white flour can’t really be good for me so I’ve been thinking about going back to fluffy pancakes filled with fruit and oats.  My favourite recipe was a simple one by Jamie Oliver. I’d usually make it with wholemeal flour, grated apple, blueberries or mashed banana and a handful of oats thrown in. I reckoned that made it healthy enough to use as an easy breakfast for the kids! Unfortunately it seemed that I enjoyed them more than anyone else in the house so I ended up having to eat them, ye know, because I couldn’t possibly waste them!

Anyway I fancied trying to make some really quick and easy, healthy pancakes with a minimum of weighing and whisking and after a bit of searching I came up with these oaty banana pancakes. They are light and delicious and super quick to make!

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Perfect with a little maple syrup!

OATY BANANA PANCAKES

This recipe makes enough for me! Scale up as necessary. I’d say treble the amount if you were going to make enough for two small kids and two adults.

INGREDIENTS

1 large, very ripe banana
1 egg
1/3 cup of porridge oats
1tsp almond butter – totally optional, I added it because I’m an addict!
1/4 tsp baking powder
A small amount of oil or butter for frying

METHOD

Put all the ingredients into a suitable jug or bowl and blend until smooth. You can use a blender if you’re making a lot!

Heat a frying pan with a bit of oil or butter and add a dollop of the batter. I use an icecream scoop so my pancakes are similar sizes!

Fry for a few minutes on each side until they are cooked through.

Serve warm with your favourite toppings!

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As you can see these pancakes went down a treat with the littlest member of our family and her big brother was a fan too. They were received a lot more favourably than my usual offerings so I’ll definitely be giving them another go!

Edited to add :

I just made this with a drop of vanilla essence and some chopped up chocolate mixed into the batter before I cooked then. It was amazing! It only took a tiny bit of chocolate (I used one square of Lindt 70% dark chocolate) to make them really chocolatey and the wee hint of vanilla really sweetened them up.