Home of the Bellingwood Series – Nammynools

Diane’s Tote Bag

These tote bags are fun! And they’re pretty simple to make. The best part for me is that they use up some of my stash, opening up space for more fabric!

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The frogs in the first picture are another favorite pattern of mine. You can find that pattern here.

To make a tote, you’ll need: width=

Two (2) Fat Quarters
Sixteen (16) 5″ squares
Fusible Interfacing

Four fat quarters and most of a charm pack will make two tote bags. I use nearly a full package of 20″ x 1 yard Heat n Bond Fusible Interfacing for a single tote bag.

From one fat quarter, you will cut:
2 – 2.5 x 18″ strips
3 – 3.5 x 18″ strips (1 for base, 2 for the handles)
1 – Leftover strip (for the base of the lining)

After you’ve chosen the 5″ charms for the body, sew them together (1/4″ seam allowance on everything). For this, I used the Island Batiks and decided to do a ROYGBIV (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet) theme with grey stripes. I love the bright colors! Be sure to iron all of your seams as we sew along.

IMG_5248Sew a 2.5 x 18″ grey stripe between the two charm strips you’ve just assembled, for both the back and the front of the bag. Sew them together with one of the 3.5 x 18″ grey stripes.

If you’ve done the math, you’ll notice immediately that 4 – 5″ charms sewn together (with seam allowances) equals 18.5 inches and your fat quarter stripes are only 18 inches. Don’t panic. It’s not a crisis.

Cut fusible interfacing to fit and iron it to the wrong side of the bag. Fold the bag in half, right sides together and sew outer seams (1/4″ seam allowance).

If you want to trim the excess before sewing the outer seam, do it for a cleaner look (that no one but you will ever know is there).

(Now that you have your fusible interfacing on the cutting mat, you might as well cut out the pieces for the handles. You need 2 – 2.5 x 18″ strips.)


Cut the second fat quarter in half – approximately 10″ x 18″ pieces. Now, this is where you need to do some fuzzy math calculations. You need to end up with a 25.5″ x 18″ piece. Fat quarters are rarely an exact size. The leftover strip from the outside fat quarter is probably six inches wide and that will more than likely work just as it is. Sew it to the two panels as the base of your lining.

Fold the lining in half, right sides together, and sew outer seams (1/4″ seam allowance).


If you haven’t done these before, they are amazing. There are a couple of ways to do them, but this is my way.

IMG_5254After ironing open the seam, I fold the corner so the outer seam is centered, then sew a straight line 1.5″ from the tip – edge to edge.

Snip the corner off, being sure not to cut into the stitching you just did. Voila. You have a nice straight edge for the base of your tote bag. Do this on both the outside and the lining of the bag.


Iron a 2.5 x 18 piece of fusible interfacing to the center of each of the 3.5 x 18″ fabric strips.

IMG_5257Press a half-inch hem on each side of the interfacing, wrong side to interfacing, then fold the fabric in half for a 1.25 x 18″ handle.

Top stitch (over stitch, whatever you like to call it) close to the hem, then top stitch the opposite side, just so it looks pretty. Leave the ends open (they’ll be tucked into the bag).


Turn the outside of the bag right side out. Tuck it into the lining (still inside out) so right sides are together.

Match up the side seams of the outside and the lining (maybe pin them together to keep things straight), and match up your top.

IMG_5258Tuck the handles in on each side. I pin them at the outside edges of the inner two 5″ squares.

Sew around the top (1/4″ seam allowance), leaving an opening for turning. Be sure that at the beginning and at the end of the seam, you run a few stitches back and forth as an anchor, so it doesn’t pull apart when you turn the bag inside out. I like to start on the inside of one of the handles and sew all the way around to the inside of the other handle.

IMG_5260Pull the bag through the hole and once you’ve done that, stuff the lining inside and iron the top flat. You’re making sure that the hole edges are ironed down.

Then … top stitch around the top of the entire bag. These stitches will also help anchor the handles in place.

Believe it or not, you’re finished!

These are wonderful tote bags. Enjoy!




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