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Skinny little carryalls getting you down? Then it’s time to go big and bold with today’s jumbo tote! With its 6″ base and sides, you can fill it with lots o’ stuff. Throw it over your shoulder to transport your latest project wherever you need to go. When you’re back home, it’s pretty enough to sit next to your favorite chair and hold all your in-progress supplies. We made ours to hold knitting, but it would be equally wonderful for any jumbo job. As with all the projects this week, our bag is made in Malka Dubrawsky’s gorgeous Simple Marks collection for Moda Fabrics. We chose a large motif with a bit of a random pattern and didn’t want to make any unecessary cuts through it that would chop up the design. So, we came up with unique wrap-around sides. Rather than the seams going directly down the sides, the main body of the bag joins in the front and back with inset panels. This allows the sides to be single beautiful pieces that really showcase the motif.

Malka Dubrawsky is a contemporary fiber artist who loves the engaging process of piecing things together, cutting them apart, and sewing them back into different designs. Her Simple Marks collection came out last month, November 2012, and can be purchased now from many of your favorite online and in-store Moda retailers. We found a great selection at Sew4Home Marketplace vendor, Fat Quarter Shop. Simple Marks Summer will be available in April of 2013.

Our thanks to Moda Fabrics for sponsoring this month’s series. We have over three weeks of projects and how-to tutorials to get you through the holidays and thinking about those 2013 sewing resolutions.

This bag finishes at approximately 14″ wide x 12″ tall with a 6″ base.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

Our fabric cut recommendations are generous to allow for fussy cutting.

Getting Started

  1. From the fabric for the bag’s exterior wrap-around panels (Brick Red Pools in our sample), fussy cut TWO 16″ x 16″ squares.
  2. From the fabric for the bag’s exterior front and back inset panels and the two interior pockets (Gold Furrows in our sample), fussy cut the following: 
    TWO 6″ wide x 16″ high panels 
    TWO 13″ wide x 8″ high rectangles 
  3. From the fabric for the bag’s lining and binding (Brick Red Speckled Dots in our sample), fussy cut the following:
    TWO 21″ wide x 16″ high rectangles 
    ONE 3″ x 41″ strip for the binding
    ONE 15″ x 13″ rectangle for the bottom insert sleeve (optional)
  4. From the batting, cut ONE 41″ x 16″ rectangle.
  5. From the fusible interfacing, cut the following:
    TWO 15″ x 15″ squares
    TWO 15″ x 5″ rectangles
    NOTE: We did not interface our interior pockets because this bag is designed for soft knitting materials. If you would prefer stiffer pockets, cut interfacing for each pocket piece. 
  6. Cut each of the webbings into TWO 28″ lengths.
    NOTE: The handle length can be shortened or lengthened based on how you prefer to carry a larger bag like this. We wouldn’t recommend going much shorter; at the current length the top of the bag sits at about bust level.  

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board


  1. Find the two exterior wrap-around panels, the two exterior inset panels, and the interfacing pieces.
  2. Center the corresponding interfacing piece side to side and top to bottom on the wrong side of each exterior piece. You should have ½” of fabric showing all around. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the interfacing in place.

Create the bag exterior

  1. Find one exterior inset panel and one exterior wrap-around panel. Place the two panels right sides together along one 16″ edge to create a vertical seam. Pin in place. 
    NOTE: The photo below was taken prior to adhering the interfacing. You should apply the interfacing first as listed above. 
  2. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch together. Press the seam allowance open.
  3. Find the remaining wrap-around panel and the remaining inset panel. 
  4. In the same manner, attach the second inset panel to the remaining raw edge of the sewn warp-around panel. Then, attach the second wrap-around panel to the remaining raw edge of the second inset panel. 
  5. You should now have one long strip: inset – panel – inset -panel. Leave the final raw edges of the second wrap-around panel and the first inset panel un-sewn for now. 
  6. Press all the seams flat.
  7. If necessary, re-thread your machine with thread to best match the wrap-around panels. 
  8. Topstitch along each of the three seams, staying ¼” from the seam within the side panel fabric. 
  9. Place the batting flat on your work surface.
  10. Place the sewn exterior panel right side up on top of it.
  11. Pin in place all around and lightly across the center. Quilting is next and you don’t want your layers to shift. across the cross, 
  12. Starting at one end, mark quilting lines at approximate 2″ intervals across each of the wrap-around side panels only – the inset panels are not quilted. We based our spacing on our fabric’s motif. The lines run between each column of “pools.” If you use a different fabric, use your own motif to determine the exact width or use the 2″ default.
  13. You can draw in the lines with a fabric pen or pencil (make sure it is one that will wipe away or vanish with exposure to air as you are working on the right side of the fabric). You can also use painter’s tape as guide lines. Or, if you have a Walking foot with a Quilt Bar, you can use that. 
  14. For more tips and techniques on straight line quilting, you might want to read our tutorial from our friend, and extraordinary quilter, Heather Jones.
  15. When the quilting lines are complete bring the final raw edges right sides together to form a tube. Pin in place. Stitch this final seam, using a ½” seam allowance. Press the seam open.
  16. Turn right right side out, and stitch the final line of topstitching to match your other three topstitching seams. We pinned our layers in place to keep them super flat. 
  17. Press the exterior “loop” one more time, then turn wrong side out. Carefully align all the panel seams, then pin along the bottom edge.
  18. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along the bottom edge. 
  19. With the bag still wrong side out, the next step is to box the bottom corners. Our bag is designed to have a 6″ base and sides. To create this width, we figured our corners at 3″.
  20. If you are new to boxed corners, check out our tutorial for step-by-step instructions
  21. Turn the bag exterior right side out and set aside. 

Create the bag lining and inside pockets

  1. Find the two 13″ x 8″ pocket pieces. 
    NOTE: This is a slightly different way to make a pocket, which we thought it would be fun for you to learn. 
  2. Fold back the 13″ long raw edges ½”. Press in place.
  3. Fold the pocket, wrong sides together, bringing one raw edge over until it is 1¼” from the opposite raw edge and the folded-in side edges are flush. 
  4. Fold in the extending raw edge ¼” and then fold an additional 1″. You are making a small double fold hem. Bring the hem over the top of the pocket, encasing the raw edges within the folds. Pin in place.
  5. Topstitch the hem in place across the width of the pocket. Yes, the sides are still open; they be closed when you stitch the pocket in place.
  6. Repeat to create the second pocket. 
  7. Find the two 16″ high x 21″ wide lining pieces.
  8. Place each lining piece right side up on your work surface. Place a pocket on each piece, positioning it 7″ in from each side and 4½” from the top.
  9. Edgestitch the pocket in place along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners and with a generous backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam, ie. at the pocket top. This is a stress point for the pocket and it’s smart to secure the seam well. This stitches closes the side openings used for turning.
  10. Place the two lining pieces with their sewn pockets right sides together, aligning all raw edges. Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom.
  11. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners.
  12. With the lining still wrong side out, the next step is to box the bottom corners of the bag. As above, we measured and cut 3″ squares to yield a 6″ final corner. 
  13. As we mentioned above, if you are new to boxed corners, check out our tutorial for step-by-step instructions

Optional bottom insert 

  1. If you want your bag to have a more stable bottom, create a bottom insert from plastic canvas. You need a 5¾” x 13¾” rectangle. 
  2. Find the 15″ x 13″ lining piece, which is the bottom insert sleeve. Fold it in half so it now measures 15″ x 6½”. Pin in place along one end and along the long side.
  3. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along one end and the long side, leaving the opposite end open.
  4. Clip the corners and press the seam.
  5. Turn the sleeve right side out and press flat, pressing in the raw edges of the open end so they are flush with the sewn seam.
  6. Slip in the plastic canvas. Stitch the open end closed.
  7. If you choose this method, you will place the sleeve into the bottom of the bag as the final step – after the lining, handles and binding.
  8. If you don’t plan to launder the bag, you can simply place the plain cut of plastic canvas into the bottom of the exterior bag prior to inserting the lining. Adhere the canvas to the batting side of the exterior bag with fusible seam tape or a fabric spray adhesive. Once adhered, the canvas will be hidden between the exterior and the lining


  1. Find the 28″ lengths of webbing – either two single lengths or two sets of two. 
  2. If you chose to use an accent strip, center it within the wider strip and zig zag in place, using thread to match the accent strip. 
  3. Finish both ends of each length of webbing with a tight zig zag stitch, stopping and changing thread color if you have an accent strip. 
  4. Our handles are attached with three rivets. The first rivet is approximately ¾” up from the end with approximately ¼” between the first and the second as well as between the second and third. 
  5. Make a hole with a rivet tool. We actually ended up just using scissors to poke an initial hole because the jute was quite soft. 
  6. Place each end of each handle onto the bag exterior (remember – the lining is not yet in inside the bag)
  7. The top rivet hole should be approximately 1″ below the top raw edge of the bag. The inside edge of each handle is 1″ from each inset panel seam. Also make sure your handle loops are not twisted.
  8. Pin in place and then attach the rivets. If you are new to this technique, check out our step-by-step tutorial: How to Attach Metal Rivets On Sewing Projects
    NOTE: You can add a small square of interfacing to the wrong side of the bag to further secure the rivets. We found our two layers of jute plus the fabric, interfacing and batting had enough stability to handle the rivets quite well without interfacing. 


  1. Find the 41″ x 3″ binding strip. Fold the strip in half, wrong sides together, so it is now 41″ x 1½”, and press to form a center crease. 
  2. Unfold, wrong side up so the center crease is visible. 
  3. Fold in each raw edge so it meets in the middle at the crease line.
  4. Re-fold the binding strip wrong sides together so the folded edges align. Press.
  5. Find the bag lining. It should be wrong side out. Slip it inside the exterior bag, aligning the bottom boxed corners and the top raw edges. The interior and exterior are now wrong sides together and the back of your rivets are hidden by the lining
  6. Fold down the bag handles so they are out of the way. 
  7. Starting at the center of one side of the bag, slip the binding over the top raw edges of the bag. Pin in place all around. When you get back to your starting point, tuck under the raw edge to create clean edge and overlap to finish.
  8. Lengthen your stitch and topstitch the binding in place, staying approximately ¼” from the lower edge. 
  9. Your topstitching will run quite close to the handles. If you are unsure of your skill level at maintaining a straight seam, you could lower the position of the top rivet to 1½” from the top raw edge instead of 1″. 
    NOTE: It’s little notes and options like these that are why we always suggest reading completely through instructions once or twice prior to starting a project!


Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Aimee McGaffey

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