January 13, 2012

Preschool Tote Bag

Over the Christmas/semester break we decided to switch our daughter to the preschool where our son attend's school. She was very excited about it :) 

The back pack she had been using was a few years old from the nursery years of her life and at her new school they encourage tote bags so the children can pack up their own things a little easier/faster.

And honestly, I totally wanted to make a cute tote :)

Isn't it fun??

And of course I'm more excited about it than Lainey is :) Isn't that how things always seem to go?!

Anyways, I'm no expert on sewing and if you were to inspect it in person you'd surely find some flaws, but it is cute and functional and with some more practice I'll be able to keep my seams a bit straighter!

To get started I looked up tote bag tutorials to get a basic idea of the construction of a bag. The one I ended up liking the most can be found at The Long Thread.

I used some of their techniques but also added my own style and size to it :)

SO! To get started you will need: outer bag fabric, inner lining
fabric, coordinating pocket and stripe fabric, and twill tape for the straps (you can find it near the ribbon at the fabric store).

(pocket and straps not pictured)

The Measurements are:
Main Fabric: 14 1/2 x 15 (x2)
Lining Fabric: 14 1/2 x 17 (x2)
Stripe: 14 1/2 x 3 (x2)
Pocket: 8 1/2 x 15
Strap: 18 inches (x2)

To make cutting my fabric easier I made myself a cutting mat out of poster board from Hobby Lobby. I already had the poster board, the opposite side was a score board for my son's birthday party last summer. 

I just marked 1 inch increments all the way down each side and used a yard stick to connect them. It only has 1 inch marks and no 1/2 inch or smaller, so it's not the best solution, but better than spending $50 on a big one at the store!

Once you have everything cut take one piece of main fabric and one stripe and pin them together right sides facing each other.

Once you've sewn across the top with a 1/2 inch seam iron the seam down.

Repeat this with the 2nd piece of main fabric and stripe. 

 Next make your pocket. Take your pocket piece and fold it over with right sides facing in and pin up the sides. (sorry no pics) Sew up each side with a 1/2 inch seam. Turn it right side out and iron it. Fold up the bottom, unfinished edges about a 1/4 of an inch and iron.

I wanted my daughter's name embroidered on the pocket so I took this piece as is to an embroidery shop and had them add it. After that you should attach it to one of your main fabric pieces. I made the mistake of making the rest of the bag first, don't do what I did, attach the pocket first :) 

Pin the pocket to the front of the fabric wherever you'd like it to be placed, I just pinned it to the middle then took out my ruler and moved it around a bit making sure it was centered and straight.

The edges that you folded under and ironed should be the bottom of the pocket. 

Then sew it in place along the sides and bottom. I sewed it about 1/8 of an inch from the edge. This is where I get a little crooked at times and hope that practice will make perfect :)

Then take your 2 pieces of main fabric and pin them together right sides facing in.

Sew around sides and bottom with a 1/2 inch seam.

Do the same with your lining. It would look really cute to use fun coordinating fabric for your lining, I used some white curtain lining for mine because I had it on hand and was trying to keep costs down :)

When finished take one of the bottom corners of your lining and fold it onto itself lining up the bottom seam with the side seam.

Iron it in place. Measure from the corner (exactly where the seams meet each other) down 1 1/2 inches and mark.

Sew along your line, trim off excess leaving about 1/4 inch, then zig zag stitch along the edge. This will make it nice and strong.

Now do the same thing to the other corner of the lining and again to both corners of the main fabric.

Next turn your main fabric inside out and your lining right side out. Slip the lining into the main fabric lining up the seams.

Take one strap and slip it in between the lining and main fabric making sure it's not twisted. Pin one end 3 inches from the side seam and the other end 3 inches from the opposite side seam. Do this on the other side with your other strap as well. Finish by pinning the lining and main fabric together around the rest of the bag.

Start sewing, using a 1/2 inch seam, right before one of the straps, go over the strap and then all the way around the bag, stop right after you've sewn over your last strap, leaving a space between the 2 front straps. Pull the straps and bag through that space (it will take some maneuvering). 

Once you have it all pulled out iron the top seam that you just sewed and fold under the fabric in the opening. Iron it in place. Then sew about 1/8 seam all the way around the whole bag. 

And you're done! Whew! I think it took me longer to write the tutorial than it did to make the bag! :)

Now I just have to wait 4 more days until she has school again to use it!!

Linking up to:


  1. Hi Heidi,

    I found you from a link on the blog of my sister-in-law, Kris. First, do you remember me? My sister Heather and I spent our summers swimming with your family at the Villa Park Pool! :) Second, I'm so happy to have discovered your blog because I LOVE and would use or decorate with every project you've posted about. Think I'll go find you on Pinterest now...:)

    Looking forward to more inspiration!
    Jen VM

  2. So cute! I just got a sewing machine for Christmas so always looking for fun craft ideas.

  3. Great tutorial!
    You should join me for Handmade 52

  4. Cute bag; my teenager would even like something like that to carry things to church. Found you on Junkintheirtrunk's linky party. Thanks for sharing

  5. That is the cutest thing ever! I love it! Thanks for the tutorial. I am a new follower. I found you at Junk in their Trunk.
    Would love if you stopped by and said Hi:)

  6. Hi Heidi!
    Great job on the tote bag! I don't sew much and I find it impressive that you lined the bag too! You did an excellent job on the tutorial...I think I could make this now! I also love that you made your own cutting mat!! You go girl!! :) Thanks so much for sharing!

  7. Great tutorial. All the photos are so helpful! I've found you through the blog hop and I am now one of your loyal followers! :) Would love for you to follow my new blog, Home is Where my heart is at http://cathhasablog.blogspot.com/

  8. Hi, new follower from blog hop. Lainey's tote looks great. Hope you stop by for a visit and follow back. Have a great day. http://mavesfaves.blogspot.com/

  9. Those cutting boards are so expensive, this is a great alternative. Love the tote!

    I'm your newest follower!

  10. Very cute!! Such a great tutorial. I'm visiting you from the Mingle with Us Blog hop.

  11. What a fabulous tutorial and such a cute end result for Lainey. Lucky girl. I am definitely going to make this. I stumbled upon some pretty fabric that I wanted to use to make a crochet tote for all my stuff. Pinning this. Thanks SO much for sharing at our Link It Up Thursday party. :)

  12. What a fabulous tote. I love the fabric you choose as well! I am having a Feature Friday Linky Party and would love for you to link up!


  13. I know I already commented on this, but I just wanted to say thank you for also linking this up at Thursday's Temptation. It means a lot:)

  14. This is such a cute bag Heidi. I need to make one for my son for a library book bag. He just started school for the first time yesterday. Thanks so much for linking up to "Thriving On Thursdays" last week. We'd all love to see what you've been up to this week. Hope to see you again soon.

    Anne @ Domesblissity xx

  15. Just wanted to let you know that I loved your tote so much that it is one of the features at our Link It UP Thursday party tomorrow. So if you want a featured button, please stop on by and grab one.