One project done three ways. It’s a fun and interesting challenge designed to show you the different looks that can be achieved using a variety of machines and features. We’ve developed this new series with our friends at Janome America, kicking it off with a big, bold tote made three ways on three different machines. We started with a basic bag, then added embellishment and embroidery, and now, we top it off with a third bag that features quilting, a zippered front pocket, and hardware extras to create a segmented handle and adjustable crossbody strap.
Finishing at a generous 16” x 16” x 7”, this tote has the size flexibility to be a perfect carryall for all kinds of outings and occasions. We turned down the color meter just a bit on this third variation, selecting a rich coral peach tone with an off white interior and a classic black and white stripe for the belting straps and handles.
The original bag’s basic design features clean lines and a layered structure that results in visible interior seam allowances. We show you how to bind them with strips of the exterior canvas for a pro finish and a little pop of color against the white interior.
Our featured machine for this advanced bag is the Janome Continental M7 Professional, a top-of-the-line powerhouse that has the largest sewing space available on any home use sewing machine. It was the perfect surface to smoothly and easily create the 1” straight line quilting that runs across the entire front and back of the tote’s upper panels.
The Continental M7 has a newly redesigned motor that provides the strength, reliability, and longevity you’ve come to expect from a Janome professional machine. That means the power behind the needle penetration is engineered to handle your toughest and thickest sewing challenges. A bag like this, with multiple layers of mixed substrates: canvas, ripstop, fleece, belting, could send you running for the hills. But the Continental M7, glides through every step – at up to 1,300 stitches per minute. We’re thrilled when there’s plenty of power!
Our tote is big – it’s tough – it’s bold, and it’s also water resistant, taking the usage options up another notch. Thanks to the incredible variety at Fabric Wholesale Direct (FWD), we were able to combine their Ottertex® Waterproof Canvas with Ottertex® Nylon Ripstop. A layer of fusible fleece is added for substance and structure. Because of that layer, we prefer the description, water resistant. For carrying damp items and repelling light to moderate splashes and sloshes, it’s perfect. Look at how the water beads up on the surface!
FWD is a direct manufacturer of almost all their fabrics, giving them better control of quality, selection, and inventory. And they do it all at wholesale prices without crazy minimum orders. Both the canvas and the ripstop we selected can be cut to order, starting at just one yard.
This bag features a host of extra hardware features that pop into place with ease thanks to the precision stitching on the Continental M7. You’ll add a handy zippered pocket on the front, rectangle rings to divide the front belting straps from the looped handles, and an adjustable, detachable crossbody strap that clips to tabbed D-rings tucked against the lining.
The last bit of hardware magic shows up on the 7” deep corners. You can see from the photos of our sample bags that we did not add traditional boxed corners. Instead, we show you the steps to create a reverse box held in place with a Chicago screw. These clever screws are longer than traditional rivets and easier to install when you’re dealing with thick layers.
Finally, we chose tough polyester belting for the straps and handles. Our samples feature 1½” Dritz Belting, which comes in dozens of colors, as well as multi-color stripes, like our black and white beauties. The straps are sewn through all layers so you can confidently load up the tote.
As mentioned above, our Bright Spot Weather Ready Tote finishes at approximately 16” x 16” x 7” with a 9” handle drop.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing machine and standard presser foot
- Walking or Even Feed foot; or use your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system, such as the great AcuFeed™ Flex system we use on many of our Janome models, including on the featured machine for this project: the Continental M7 Professional
- Quilt bar; optional to help with the straight lines of quilting
Fabric and Other Supplies
- 1 yard of 58”+”+ wide mid-weight waterproof canvas or similar for the bag exterior; we used 60” Ottertex® Waterproof Canvas from Fabric Wholesale Direct in Peach
- 1 yard of 54”+ wide ripstop nylon or similar for the lining; we used 58” Ottertex® Nylon 1.9oz Ripstop in Off White
- ¾ yard of 45”+ wide fusible fleece; we used Pellon Thermolam Plus one-sided fusible fleece
- 4½ yards of 1½” wide polyester belting; we used Dritz Belting in Black and White Stripe, which comes in 2 yard packages, so we purchased three packages
- FOUR 1½” rectangle rings; we used nickel
- ONE 1½” adjustable slider; we used nickel
- TWO 1½” swivel clips; we used nickel
- TWO 1½” D-rings; we used nickel
- ONE 7” zipper; we used a metal rainbow zipper from Etsy shop, Zipit Zippers
- TWO Chicago screws; you want a post depth of apx. ¼” (6mm) and a head diameter of apx. at ½” (13mm) – we used nickel
- All-purpose thread to match fabric and belting
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Pressing Cloth
- Rotary cutter and mat
NOTE: For the cleanest cut on both the canvas and ripstop, we highly recommend a rotary cutter over scissors.
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins and or clips; we used Wonder Clips with good success
- Awl and/or small scissors to create holes for Chicago screws
- Small flat head screwdriver for final tightening of Chicago screws
- From the exterior fabric (Ottertex® canvas in Peach in our sample); cut the following:
TWO 24” wide x 13½” high rectangles for the exterior front and back upper panels
TWO 24” wide x 7½” high rectangles for the exterior front and back lower panels
ONE 7” wide x 2¼” high rectangle for the exterior front pocket TOP
ONE 7” wide x 5¼” high rectangle for the exterior front pocket BOTTOM
ONE 10” wide x 10” high rectangle for the hanging lining pocket back panel
ONE 10” wide x 8½” high rectangle for the hanging lining pocket front panel
THREE 1” x 24” strips for binding the interior widthwise seam allowances
TWO 1” x 20” strips for binding the interior lengthwise seam allowances
NOTE: This is our recommended finish for all the interior seam allowances, however, it is optional; you could choose another machine sewn finish if desired.
ONE 1⅝” x 47”strip for binding the top of the finished bag
TWO 1¼” x 3” strips for the hanging tabs that hold the adjustable strap – you could substitute twill tape or grosgrain ribbon
NOTE: As mentioned above, we strongly recommend using a rotary cutter for the cleanest cut on both the canvas and the ripstop.
NOTE: The Ottertex® Waterproof Canvas does not ravel when cut, so you will see several instances below where we’ve left edges raw. This is a possible finish when you’re not concerned about raveling edges, however, if you choose a fabric that does ravel, you will need to finish the edges of the binding strips, the D-ring tabs, and the hanging pocket. Take this into consideration when cutting as you will likely need additional width and/length to accommodate folding back edges for a clean finish.
- From the interior fabric (Ottertex® ripstop in Off White in our sample); cut the following:
TWO 28” wide x 17½” high rectangles for the exterior front and back upper panels
TWO 24” wide x 7½” high rectangles for the exterior front and back lower panels
NOTE: The upper lining panels are cut larger than the exterior panels for this bag because the narrow quilting causes the thin ripstop to shrink up. By starting with a larger panel, the shrinkage is accounted for and the panel will be trimmed to size when the quilting is completed.
- From the fusible fleece, cut the following:
TWO 23” wide x 13” high rectangles for the exterior front and back upper panels
TWO 23” wide x 6½” high rectangles for the exterior front and back lower panels
- From the belting, cut the following
FOUR 12½” lengths for the front/back straps
TWO 24” lengths for the handles
ONE 54” length for the adjustable strap
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Layer the panels
- Find the upper and lower fabric and fleece panels for both the front and back of the bag. Layer the canvas and ripstop panels wrong sides together with the fleece sandwiched between.
- On the upper panels, the fleece is centered on the canvas so there is ½” of fabric extending beyond the fleece along both sides and across the bottom. Across the top, the fleece and fabric are flush. On the lower panels, the fleece is centered so there is ½” of fabric extending beyond the fleece on all four sides.
- On the upper panels, the ripstop will extend beyond theater layers by about 2” all around. As mentioned above, the ripstop layer is cut larger to compensate for shrinkage during quilting. It will be trimmed flush when done. On the lower panels, the ripstop is flush with the canvas.
NOTE: You can try fusing the fleece to either the canvas or the ripstop prior to layering. You will need to use a cooler setting and a pressing cloth is a good idea. We testing all three options: fusing to the canvas, fusing to the ripstop, and not fusing at all. We found that very light fusing of the fleece to the canvas was the best option, then pinning/clipping all three layers to prevent shifting. Second best: no fusing at all.
- You should end up with FOUR layered/sandwiched sets: front upper, front lower, back upper, and back lower. Pin or clip all four sets securely, don’t be afraid to use plenty of pins/clips.
Quilting the upper panels
- Find the two layered upper panels.
- Ripstop can be quite slippery, so we opted to stitch with the ripstop layer facing up. We felt this provided the smoothest finish on both the lining side and the exterior side.
NOTE: Our Janome Continental M7 produces an incredible stitch from both the top and the bobbin, so although it’s the bobbin stitching that is visible from the exterior – it is as smooth and even as top-thread stitching. Test the layering and stitching with scraps to determine the best method with your machine.
- Thread the machine with thread to best match the lining in the top and to best match the exterior in the bobbin (see note above). Slightly lengthen the stitch.
- We also inserted a Quilt Bar to set a perfect 1” distance with each line of stitching.
- The Continental M7 has an extra wide bed space, which makes quilting the wide panels so much easier. We stitched across the front panels first. Starting at one side (we started from the right raw edge), stitch a straight line every inch, moving all the way across the panel.
- Repeat to quilt the back panels.
- On both the quilted front and back panels, flip over the panel so it is exterior side up and trim the lining flush with the exterior on all sides.
Prepare the exterior zipper pocket
- Find the two pocket pieces, one at 7” x 2¼” and one at 7” x 5¼”, and the 7” zipper.
- Place the zipper wrong side up and flat on your work surface.
- Pin the top pocket piece to one side of the zipper and the bottom pocket piece to the opposite side of the zipper. These pieces are wrong side up. There should be about ¾” between the two pieces, giving the zipper teeth plenty of room to freely open.
NOTE: The Ottertex® canvas does not ravel, so there is no need to finish any of the edges of the two pocket pieces. If you choose a fabric prone to raveling, you’ll need to fold or otherwise finish your raw edges.
- Flip the pocket right side up (both the fabric and the zipper should now be right side up).
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the zipper tape in the top and to best match the exterior fabric in the bobbin. Re-set for a wide zig zag stitch. Open the zipper about half way.
- Using the edge of your presser foot as a guide, zig zag along one side of the zipper through both layers (zipper tape and exterior fabric).
- Repeat to stitch along the opposite side of the zipper in the same manner.
NOTE: As noted above, the zipper should be about half way open. Stitch to the middle, where you can start to feel you’re approaching the zipper pull. Stop with your needle in the down position. Twist your fabric around slightly and carefully close the zipper, moving the pull out of the way. Re-position, drop the foot, and finish sewing to the end.
Position the front zipper pocket
- Find the front upper panel layered set, which should have already been quilted. Place it exterior side up and flat on your work surface.
- Find the prepared front zipper pocket.
- Position the pocket on the upper panel, right side up, centering the pocket side to side (8½” from each raw side edge of the layered panels) and with the bottom raw edge of the pocket flush with the bottom raw edges of the layered panels.
- Pin the pocket in place.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the exterior in the top, and thread to best match the lining fabric in the bobbin. Re-set for a slightly lengthened stitch.
- Along the top of the pocket, edgestitch along the top raw edge.
- Then run another line of stitching ¼” below the first.
Add the belting straps front and back
- Find the four 12½” lengths of belting and the four 1½” rectangle rings.
- Slip one end of each length of belting through one ring, pulling the belting back on itself about 1”. Pin the end in place, securing the ring.
- Starting with the front upper layered/quilted set, with the pocket in place, place one strap alongside each side of the pocket. The raw ends of the belting should be flush with the bottom raw edge of the layered fabric panel. The belting covers the raw edges of the front pocket.
- The straps should 6” apart at the center, across the pocket. Pin the belting in place along both sides from the bottom up to just below the ring.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the belting in the top, and thread to best match the lining fabric in the bobbin. Keep a slightly lengthened stitch.
- Starting on one side of the strap, edgestitch up the outer edge.
- Get as close to the ring as possible (about ½”) then stop and pivot to stitch across.
- Stop at the inner edge of the belting, pivot, and edgestitch back down to the bottom. Go slowly and carefully past the zipper.
- Repeat to edgestitch the second strap in place on the opposite side of the pocket.
- Then, repeat to place and stitch the two remaining lengths of belting/rings to the back upper layered/quilted set matching their position exactly to the front.
Attach the lower panels to the front and back and bind the seam allowances
- Find the two lower panel layered sets.
- Place a lower panel right sides together along the bottom of each upper panel, sandwiching the webbing between the layers. Pin or clip in place.
- Checking from the right side, remember that the upper panels are quilted and the lower panels are plain.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the lining fabric in the top and bobbin. Re-set the stitch length to normal
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across the panels through all the layers.
- Find two of the 1” x 24” strips. Fold each in half, wrong sides together, and finger press to set a center crease, creating a simple binding strip.
- Slip a binding strip over each of the front and back horizontal seam allowances. Securely pin or clip in place.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the binding in the top and bobbin. Re-set for a slightly lengthened stitch. Consider switching to a Walking Foot or engaging your machine’s fabric feeding system, which was our choice on the Continental M7.
- Stitch all the way across, then repeat to bind the seam allowance on the remaining main panel. We used a straight stitch. You could also opt for a zig zag stitch.
- On both the front and back panels, press the seam allowance down towards the lower panel.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the exterior in the top and to best match the lining in the bobbin. Keep the slightly lengthened stitch.
- On both the front and back panels, edgestitch just below with seam within the lower panel.
- Stitch across again ¼” below the first seam.
Stitch front to back and bind interior seam allowances
- Place the front and back panels right sides together. All edges should be flush. Take the time to make sure the belting matches up front to back and that the horizontal upper/lower panel seams are aligned. Pin along both sides and across the bottom.
- Re-thread with thread to best match the lining in both the top and bobbin. Re-set for a standard stitch length.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting sharply at the two bottom corners.
- Find the remaining three binding strips. As above, fold each in half, wrong sides together, and finger press to set a center crease line.
- The two 20” lengths of binding slip over each side seam allowance. The 24” length of binding slips over the bottom seam allowance, overlapping the sides at each corner. Pin or clip in place.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the binding in the top and bobbin and re-set for a slightly lengthened stitch.
- Stitch the binding in place all around. Again, we engaged the AcuFeed™ Flex Fabric Feeding System on our Continental M7. You could opt for a Walking foot and/or switch to a zig zag stitch.
NOTE: As mentioned above, we felt clips held the binding more securely than pins.
- Remember to sharply pivot at each corner.
- Clip the corner. Because of the thick layers we clipped a bit further down each side in order to get as sharp a turn right side out as possible.
Turn and create the reverse box corners
- Turn the bag right side out. Using a long, blunt tool. push out the corners to get as sharp a point as possible at each of the bottom corners. Press each corner flat, using a pressing cloth.
- The bag’s depth should finish at 7”, which means the corner turns up half that amount or 3½”.
- From the point of each corner. Measure up 3½”. Using a fabric pen or pencil, draw a line at this measurement horizontally across the corner.
- The machine should still be threaded with thread to best match the exterior in both the top and bobbin and the stitch should still be slightly lengthened.
- Stitch across the corner along the drawn line.
- Keeping the thread and the stitch length the same, edgestitch along both diagonal sides of each corner point.
- Find the awl (or small, sharp scissors) and the two Chicago screws.
- Make a hole in one corner approximately ½” from its point.
- With the hole in place, fold up each corner along the horizontal stitch line. Mark onto the body of the bag where the hole should continue through to the inside. In general, it will be just above the horizontal seam where the upper and lower panels come together and slightly to one side of the side seam line.
- Because most rivets would be too difficult to set through all the thicknesses on this type of fabric, a Chicago screw is playing the part of a rivet. If you insert it with the back of the screw facing out, it’s a perfect look.
- With both holes open and aligned, insert the hallow half of the screw all the way through until it just emerges at the inside of the bag.
- Screw the top into place from the inside of the bag. Finger tighten and then finish to secure with a flat head screwdriver.
- Repeat on the opposite corner.
Create and place the lining’s hanging pocket
- Find the 10” x 10” and 10” x 8½” panels in the exterior fabric.
- The machine should still be threaded with thread to best match the exterior fabric in the top and bobbin and the stitch should still be slightly lengthened.
- Across the top of the 10” x 8½” panel, run a line of stitching ⅜” down from the raw edge. Then run a second line of edgstitching right along the raw edge, mimicking the look along the top of the front zipper pocket.
NOTE: This Ottertex® waterproof canvas does not ravel and so the top edge can be left raw with just the two lines of stitching that match the other topstitching on the bag.
- Place the 10” x 10” pocket panel right side up and flat on your work surface. Place the stitched 10” x 8½” panel on top of the 10” x 10” panel, also right side up. The two panels should be flush along both sides and across the bottom, which means the back panel extends 1½” above the front panel.
- Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom.
- Keep the machine threaded with thread to best match the exterior fabric in the top and bobbin and re-set the stitch length to normal.
- Edgestitch along both sides and across the bottom of the layered pocket panels, sharply pivoting at the bottom corners.
- Find the bag. Place the hanging pocket into position at the back of the bag, centering it against the lining, spanning the straps. The top raw edge of the pocket should be flush with the top raw edges of the bag. Pin the pocket in place.
Create and place the D-ring loops for the crossbody strap
- Find the two 1¼” x 3” strips and the two 1½” D-rings.
- Slip a loop through each of the D-rings, pulling the fabric through until the ends are flush.
NOTE: As with many of our other cuts, there is no finishing needed along the raw edges as the Ottertex® canvas does not ravel. If you use a fabric prone to raveling, you will need to finish the edges. You could also substitute a twill tape or ribbon for these loops.
- Place a loop at the upper left of each panel – upper left looking at the front and back panels from the lining side. The innermost edge of each loop should be 4” from the bound side seam. Pin each loop in place.
- NOTE: When the loops are pinned in place against the lining, hold up the bag and squeeze the top raw edges together. The two loops should be opposite one another when you do this. They are opposite one another in order to create the crossbody design when the adjustable strap is clipped in place.
- Machine baste all the way around the top of the bag through all the layers, staying close to the upper raw edges.
- This basting helps secure the lining pocket as well as the D-ring tabs in place prior to the final binding.
Bind the top
- Find the 1⅝” x 47”strip. Fold in half, wrong sides together, and finger press to set a center crease. Just as you did above with the binding strips.
- Starting at the center back, above the hanging pocket, slip the binding over the top raw edges of the of the bag. Clip in place all the way around the top of the bag. For this step in particular, we recommend clips over pins.
- At the center back, overlap the ends about ½”. Remember, the canvas we used doesn’t ravel so it isn’t necessary to create a folded edge to overlap. If you choose a fabric prone to raveling, you will need to finish all the edges of the binding.
- Keep the machine threaded with thread to best match the exterior fabric in the top and bobbin and re-set the for a slightly lengthened stitch. We continued to use the AcuFeed™ Flex Fabric Feeding System on our Continental M7. You could opt for a Walking foot should you have any issues with shifting.
- Stitch all the way around the top of the bag.
- Go slowly and carefully to insure you are catching both the front and back of the binding in this one seam. The broad bed of the Continental M7 makes it easy to keep the fabric flat as the binding is stitched in place.
Create the adjustable strap
- Find the 54” length of belting, the two swivel hooks, and the adjustable slide.
- Feed one raw end up and over the center bar of the adjustable slide.
- Pull the end back on itself about 1” and pin in place.
- Stitch the end in place around the center bar through both layers. You may want to double or triple stitch this seam for extra security.
- Feed the free end of the belting through one of the swivel hooks.
- Then continue pulling the free end, bringing it up and over the center bar of the adjustable slide, going over the top of the previous layer of belting. This creates the adjusting loop.
- Finally, feed the free end through the open end of the remaining swivel hook, pulling it back on itself and stitching to secure the end in the same manner as you did above when securing the opposite end around the center bar of the slider.
NOTE: We’ve summarized the steps of this technique here, but if you are brand new to making an adjustable strap, we have a full step-by-step tutorial you can review prior to starting the project.
Project Design: Anne Adams
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild