Two-Hour Tote Bag
As the song says, “Summer’s here, and the time is right” (for hitting the beach!) And what better beach accessory than a roomy tote that can hold a book, towel, sunscreen and sunglasses? Another song says, “It’s too darned hot!” (to spend too much time in the sewing room), so here’s an easy project that you can make in less than two hours, start to finish!
What you’ll need:
1/2 yard of denim or canvas (60 inches wide)
2 7/8 yards of 1-inch-wide nylon or cotton webbing
Thread to match
1. Cut it out!
Okay, it’s time to make an easy tote! To start, cut two rectangles, 19 inches wide by 15 1/2 inches high from your denim or canvas fabric. These will be the front and back of your bag. Next, cut one square 11 inches wide by 11 inches high. This will be your outside pocket.
It takes just a few rectangles and some webbing straps to pull this terrific tote together.
2. Hem the tops
Next, hem the tops (and only the tops) of your tote bag pieces. First, fold under the upper edge of one large rectangle 1/2 inch and press as shown.
Press a double-folded hem at the upper edge of the tote front and back panels.
Turn under the top edge another 1/2 inch and press, so you have a nicely finished, 1/2-inch-wide hem. Using a 3mm stitch length, stitch close to the fold, as shown.
Repeat this step for the other rectangle and the 11-by-11-inch square.
Edgestitch along the fold of the hem to secure.
3. Finish the raw edges
Using a zigzag stitch set to 3mm wide and 2mm long, zigzag all around the three unfinished edges of the front and back, as shown. (You don’t have to finish the pocket edges.)
Finish the raw edges of the bag front and back with a zigzag stitch.
4. Attach the outside pocket
Attach the pocket to the front of your bag. To do this, align the bottom centers of the pocket and the bag rectangle, with the pocket’s wrong side against the bag’s right side. Baste the pocket in place close to the raw edges of the pocket.
Add an outside pocket to the front of the tote–perfect for keeping your sunscreen at hand on the beach.
5. Attach the shoulder straps
Cut two lengths of webbing, each 50 inches long. Position one end of the first strap at the bottom of the bag front, centering the strap over the raw edge of the pocket piece. Pin the strap in place, extending it from the lower edge of the bag to the upper hem.
Pin one strap to the bag, centering it over the pocket edge.
Starting at the bottom of the bag, stitch close to the edge of your webbing up one side. When you reach the top of your bag, drop your needle into the fabric and pivot the bag. Continue stitching across the top of the bag to the other edge of the webbing.
Edgestitch the webbing strap in place, sewing up one side, across the top, and back down the other side.
Once again, drop your needle into the fabric, lift your presser foot and pivot. Lower foot and continue stitching back down to the bottom. Loop the free end of the strap over, aligning it at the bottom of the bag on the other side of the pocket. Be sure the strap isn’t twisted. Stitch the strap as for the first end.
Stitch the remaining end of the strap to the other side of the pocket.
Now put the straps on the back of the bag. Since you don’t have the pocket to use for placement, I have a neat trick that I use to make sure the straps on both sides line up: Lay out the bag front and back, bottom edge to bottom edge, as shown, and line up your straps. You’ll have perfect alignment with little effort!
For perfect strap alignment on front and back, lay the two pieces out as shown, and match up the strap position for the bag back.
6. Put it together…and what have you got?
Now it’s time to assemble your bag. Lay the bag front and back on top of one another, right sides together. Starting in the top corner, stitch, using 1/2-inch seam allowances. When you get 1/2 inch from the lower edge of the bag, drop your needle into the fabric, lift your presser foot and pivot your fabric. Lower the presser foot and continue, pivoting again at the other corner. Make sure you backtack to start and finish. Ta-dah!
With right sides together, join the bag front and back.
Now, if you want, you can create box corners on the bottom of the bag. To do this, bring one side seam of your bag to the bottom seam and pin. This will make your corner come to a point. Sew across the bottom of the bag, at a 45 degree angle to the sides of the bag, about 1 to 2 inches away from the point. Trim the point and finish the raw edges.
Sew boxed corners to help your tote stand up on its own.
Turn your bag right side out, stock it with your beach essentials, and head out to enjoy the sun.
Fill your bag with towel, sunscreen and reading material, and you are ready for a lovely day at the beach!
Cut your fabric for the tote.
Hem the tops of your tote.
Don't get too worried if your rectangles are not exactly the same size. We will even them out when we sew the sides.
Use a zigzag stitch to finish the edges.
An outside pocket is easy to add and will be great for carrying your sunblock this summer.
Center one piece of webbing for your strap over the basted sides of your pocket.
Stitch on sturdy webbing straps.
The strap outlines and secures the side pocket...smart and strong!
Lay your bag sides next to each other to line up the straps on the side without a pocket to use as a guide.
Assemble your bag with the right sides facing each other.
Add shape to the bottom of your bag.
Turn your bag right side out and enjoy the sun.
This two-hour tote is a great carryall for the beach this summer.
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