Wide wale corduroy seems to be popping up everywhere. Although many of the items we spotted were in the garment category, we knew this “It Fabric” would make a gorgeous soft yet structured tote. We’ve blended a solid ice white corduroy with bright cotton for the lining and striking webbing.
This is a beginner-friendly design but with some fun, possibly new techniques for you to learn along the way. You’ll get all the steps for inserting a continuous sidewall, how to bind interior seam allowances, and well as opportunities to practice your precision topstitching.
Our thanks to Janome America for sponsoring this project, and – as always – for providing the amazing studio machines that help make our project samples turn out so wonderfully. If you’re new to sewing, you may think a-machine-is-a-machine-is-a-machine. Nope! You need a quality, easy-to-use, reliable machine. Anything less can lead to frustration or even resignation. We’ve heard from many people who were convinced they were personally bad at sewing, but when we dug a bit further, we could tell it was their machine giving them fits. When you sew on a quality machine, like a Janome, with real power and precision, you’ll understand what it’s like to have a machine support your creativity… not undermine it!
For this project, you’ll be sewing thicker layers and over textured surfaces. If you’re just getting started on your sewing adventures, we have some additional S4H tutorials you may want to review prior to digging in. Take a look at How to Sew Thick Layers as well as Topstitching and Edgestitching Techniques.
Keeping layers moving correctly under the needle is a function of a machine’s “feeding system.” All Janomes have great fabric feeding systems, many have an included Even Feed foot (aka Walking foot), and some of the higher-end models feature their AcuFeed™ Flex and AcuFeed™ Flex Plus built-in fabric feeding system. The idea behind all of these is to make sure all the layers you’re working with are moving in unison across the needle plate with little to no shifting, resulting in smooth, straight, even seams.
You may have seen a lot of printed corduroy out there over the years; it’s traditionally a very narrow wale. That’s not the look we’re going for here nor is it what is so trendy at the moment. You want a beefy corduroy, 8 wale or wider, in a solid color. We selected a crisp white 8-wale, adding some color punch with a vivid cotton lining as well as eye-catching Tula Pink webbing for the single loop handles.
One of the other cool things about designing with corduroy, especially the more distinct wide wale corduroy, is the ability to use the nap as a subtle design element. Our front and back tote panels as well as the sidewall are all cut with the wale running vertically. We then switched the direction to horizontal for the front pocket.
As a fun add-on, we made a matching zipper pouch that clips to the tote’s interior lanyard. There’s a link below to this free tutorial, and with the exception of a few small scraps of cotton for the pouch’s lining, you’re likely to have enough fabric leftover from your main tote cuts to make your own optional drop-in pouch.
For more information about how a Janome machine can make your sewing adventures more fun – and frustration free – visit the Janome America website or contact your local Janome America dealer to see one and sew for yourself!
Our Clean Lines Corduroy Tote finishes at approximately 12” wide x 13” high x 4” deep with two continuous shoulder straps that have an 11” drop. The drop-in zipper pouch is optional. We have linked below to a full tutorial should you wish to create one.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing machine and standard presser foot
- Walking or Even Feed foot; optional, but makes handling the multiple, textured layers easier – you could also engage your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system, such as the AcuFeed™ Flex system we use on many of our Janome studio machines; it was our choice for this project
Fabric and Other Supplies
- 1¼ yards of 44”+ wide mid-weight wide wale corduroy or similar for the exterior; we originally used a 57” wide yarn dyed 8 wale cotton corduroy in white
NOTE: The amount shown above allows the sidewall to be cut as one piece with the wale running vertically as designed. If not following our exact fabric design or if using another fabric, you may be able to get away with less. Corduroy most often comes in wide widths (our sample fabric was 57”), however, this pattern can be made with 44” wide fabric. We recommend 8-wale or wider for the best look. Check your favorite online or in-store retailer for options or browse Etsy where we spotted wide wale corduroy in a wide variety of colors.
- 1¼ yards of 44”+ wide quilting weight cotton for the lining; we originally used a classic cotton from our S4H stash: Amy Butler’s Garden Fete from her Violette collection for FreeSpirit fabrics.
NOTE: The above yardage includes enough to facilitate a large motif fussy cut.
- 1¼ yards 20”+ wide lightweight fusible interfacing; we used 20” Pellon Shape Flex
NOTE: We recommend this type of woven fusible over non-woven for the best soft finish.
- Scrap or ¼ yard of mid-weight fusible interfacing (you need just a 9” x 7” cut); we used 45” Pellon Décor Bond
- 2 yards of 1½” wide coordinating polyester webbing; we used Tula Pink webbing by Renaissance Ribbons in Grey/Neon Yellow
NOTE: We are specifying polyester webbing to allow a clean finish to the ends with a simple straight cut and then light melting with a small flame, like a lighter. A hemmed end or in-the-seam end will not work as well with our construction steps.
- 3 yards (one package) of standard, packaged bias tape to best coordinate with the lining fabric; we used Wrights Extra Wide Double Fold Bias Tape in spring green
- ONE ½” swivel clip; we used nickel
- ONE double cap rivet with appropriate riveting tools; we used nickel
NOTE: The rivet is optional, but adds both a reinforcement point and a decorative hardware accent.
- All purpose thread to match fabric and webbing + one slightly darker thread for the topstitching; we used a light grey against our white corduroy
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Soft bath towel to use as an ironing surface for the corduroy; optional, but helpful to keep from damaging the wale
- Scissors and/or rotary cutter and mat
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
- Lighter or matches to melt/finish the ends of the polyester webbing
- Small hammer to set rivet; we recommend a ball peen hammer
- Heavy metal, stone or wooden block to use as a cutting and hammering surface for the rivet; we like to use a small granite block
If making the optional matching drop-in zipper pouch, you should have enough fabric left from your main lining cuts for the front and back pouch panels and the zipper end tabs – each main panel is just 8” wide x 6” high and the end tabs are each 1¼” x 2½”. In addition, you’ll need two 8” x 6” panels for the lining, one 15” x 10” panel of mid-weight interfacing, one 7” zipper, and one small D-ring. As mentioned above, simply click through here for all the steps.
- From the fabric for the exterior (the white wide wale corduroy in our sample), cut the following:
TWO 13” wide x 15½” high rectangles with the wale running vertically for the main front and back panels
ONE 5” x 43” strip with the wale running vertically for the sidewall
ONE 13” wide x 8” high rectangle with the wale running horizontally for the exterior pocket
NOTE: When cutting corduroy, it is very important that the wale is running straight on all the pieces, whether vertical or horizontal. When cutting vertically, it is best to cut between the wales.
- From the fabric for the lining (the Garden Fete in our sample), fussy cut the following:
TWO 13” wide x 13½” high rectangles for the main front and back panels
ONE 5” x 38” strip for the sidewall
ONE 13” wide x 8” high rectangle for the exterior pocket
ONE 10” wide x 15” high rectangle for the lining pocket; we fussy cut ours to perfectly match the back lining panel; click here for more on this technique.
- From the lightweight fusible interfacing, cut the following:
TWO 12” x 13” rectangles for the exterior panels
ONE 4” x 38” strip for the exterior sidewall
ONE 12” x 7” rectangle for the exterior pocket
- For the mid-weight fusible interfacing, cut ONE 9” x 7” rectangle.
- From the Webbing, cut TWO 30” lengths.
- From the bias tape, cut ONE 13½” length for the lanyard. Leave the reminder intact to bind the interior seam allowances.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
NOTE: When working with a napped fabric, like corduroy, it’s important to maintain the nap. The traditional method for pressing fabrics with nap is to use a needle board or Turkish towel. We are not sure if needle boards even exist anymore, and a Turkish towel is simply a heavy bath towel. Let’s go with that! Place a towel, folded in half, over your ironing board, using safety pins to hold it in place. One additional note; corduroy can shed a lot of lint. A lint roller or a roll of wide masking tape works well for controlling the lint and preventing it from working its way under the interfacing.
- Collect the exterior front and back panels, the exterior sidewall, and the coordinating panels of lightweight fusible interfacing.
- Place a fusible panel on each of the front and back panels, centering it with ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing along both sides and across the bottom and 2” of fabric showing along the top. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Place the fusible panel on the sidewall so there is 2½” of fabric extending at each end and ½” of fabric showing along each 38” edge. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Collect the 10” x 15” lining pocket and the 9” x 7” panel of mid-weight fusible interfacing.
- Fold the lining fabric in half, wrong sides together, so it is now 10” x 7½” . Press well.
- Unfold the panel wrong side up so the center crease line is visible.
- Place the interfacing on what will be the front half of the pocket. If you pattern-matched the pocket as we did, you have a definite front side. If you did not, simply pick one side as the front.
- Center the interfacing so its top edge is flush with the fabric’s center crease line and there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing along the sides and across the bottom. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
Create the exterior pocket
- Find the exterior panel and the lining panel for the exterior front pocket.
- Place the two panels right sides together. All raw edges of both layers should be flush.
- Pin along the top edge only.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across the top edge only.
- Press the seam allowance open and flat.
- Fold the layers wrong sides together so the seam runs perfectly straight across the top.
- Press again front the lining side.
Place the exterior pocket and rivet
- Collect the finished exterior pocket and the front exterior panel. The front and back panels are exactly the same at this point; simply choose one to be the front.
- Place the the exterior panel right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Place the pocket right side up and flat on top of the exterior panel. The pocket and panel should be flush along both sides and across the bottom. The seamed edge is the pocket top. Pin the pocket in place on the front panel along both sides and across the bottom.
- Measure to find the exact vertical center of the pocket. The pocket is 13” wide, so the exact center is 6½” in from either side edge. Using a fabric pen or pencil, mark a center vertical line.
NOTE: As always, any time you are working on the right side of your fabric, make sure your marking tool is one that will easily wipe away or will vanish with exposure to the air or the heat of an iron.
- Re-thread the machine with the slightly contrasting thread in the top and bobbin (we used a light grey against our white corduroy).
- Re-set for a lengthened stitch or better yet, if it’s an option on your machine as it is on our Janome studio models, select a Triple Stitch for the best definition of the pocket’s dividing line.
- Stitch along the marked line through all the layers.
- For the cleanest look at the pocket top, use a lock stitch. If this is not an option on your machine, rather than a back stitch, leave the thread tails long at the end of the seam, pull them through to the back with a hand sewing needle, and knot to secure, trimming the ends flush.
- As both reinforcement as well as a decorative touch, we added one double-cap rivet at the top of the pocket’s center seam. This is optional, but is a nice finishing touch.
- Using the appropriate tools, cut a hole through all the layers. Insert the rivet top from front to back, snap on the rivet back, and gently hammer to set. When riveting, we recommend using a very hard surface, such as granite.
- If you are brand new to setting rivets, check out of our full tutorial on the technique prior to starting.
Make and place the lining pocket
- Find the fused lining pocket panel. Re-fold it in half (10” x 7½”), right sides together. Pin along both sides and across the bottom, leaving an approximate 3” opening along the bottom for turning right side out.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the lining fabric in the top and bobbin. Re-set for a standard straight stitch.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom, sharply pivoting at each bottom corner and locking your seam at either side of the 3” opening left for turning.
- Clip the corners and press open the seam allowance.
- Turn right side out through the opening. Using a long, blunt tool, such as a chopstick, knitting needle or point turner, gently push out as the corners so they are nice and sharp. Press flat, pressing in the raw edges along the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
- Find the back lining panel. Place it right side up and flat on your work surface. If you did a perfect motif match of the pocket to the panel, you have a definite back panel, if you did not, simply choose one panel to be the back panel.
- Place the pocket into position. It should sit 2” in from each raw side edge of the panel and 3” up from the bottom raw edge of the panel. Of course, if you’ve done a motif match as we did, that will direct your final alignment. Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom.
- Slightly lengthen the stitch and edgestitch along both sides and across the bottom, sharply pivoting at each bottom corner. This seam closes the opening used for turning. For the cleanest finish, use a lock stitch to start and end your seam. If that is not an option on your machine, do not lock the seam at the beginning or end; instead, leave the thread tails long and, when done, pull them through to the back with a hand sewing needle, hand knot and trim the tails flush.
Layer the front and back panels
- Collect the front and back exterior panels and lining panels.
- Place the exterior back panel wrong side up and flat on your work surface. Place the lining back panel (with its pocket in place) right side up on top of the exterior back panel. This means the two panels are wrong sides together.
- The lining panel and exterior panel should be flush with one another along both sides and across the bottom, however, the lining panel sits 2” down from the top raw edge of the exterior panel, which puts it in line with the top of the exterior panel’s interfacing.
- Pin together the layers along both sides and across the bottom.
- Re-set the machine for a wide zig zag and stitch along both sides and across the bottom, through all layers, to secure the layers throughout the rest of construction.
- Repeat to layer the front exterior and lining in the same manner.
Create and attach the sidewall
- Find the fused exterior sidewall and the lining sidewall.
- Place these two panels wrong sides together. The width of the two panels is the same, but similar to the main front and back panels, the lining panel for the sidewall sits back from either end. In this case, the lining stops 2½” both from either end of the exterior.
- As you did above with the main front and back panels, run a wide zig zag along both long sides of the sidewall through all the layers.
- With the layers of each of your three main elements zig-zag-basted together (front, back, and sidewall), you can pull everything together into its final shape. We started with our front panel because of the pocket’s handy center line, but the choice is yours – front or back, it doesn’t matter.
- First find the exact vertical center of the sidewall – it’s easiest to just fold it in half to find this center point. If you’d rather measure, the full starting length of the sidewall is 43”, so the center point is at 21½”. Place a marking pin at the top and bottom of this vertical center line.
- Place the exterior panel right side up and flat on your work surface (remember, we started with our front panel). Align the marked center line of the sidewall with the center dividing line of the pocket. The sidewall and the exterior panel should be exterior sides together – corduroy sides together.
- Pin the sidewall in place from that center point out to the right side and then from the center point out to the left side.
- At both the left and right corner, clip into the sidewall ½” in from the corner. Your clip should be within the seam allowance, about ⅜” is good. This small clip allows the sidewall to ease around the corner.
- Continue pinning around each corner and all they way up each side. You are pinning all the way to the top of the exterior panels, which means you continue pinning past where the lining stops.
NOTE: When pinning (and also when stitching), it is most important that the lining stop point on the sidewall aligns with the top of the lining on the panel. If there is a bit of extra sidewall that extends beyond the top of the panel, that is okay and was accounted for in the length of the sidewall. We show you below how to trim away any excess.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch the sidewall in place against the front panel. Remember to pivot at each corner.
- In the close-up photo below, you can see how we pivoted and very gently pulled at the corner to turn smoothly.
- Continue stitching all the way up the side to the top of the panel/sidewall.
- You now have one free edge of the side wall remaining. You will pin this free edge right sides together with the remaining exterior panel (the back panel in our sample).
- You should still have a center line marking pin along the free edge of the sidewall
- Find the back layered panel. Measure and mark the center along its bottom edge.
- Align the sidewall marking pin and the panel marking pin. The panel and sidewall should be right sides together – corduroy sides together.
- As above, from the center pin points, continue pinning to the left side and then to the right side. Stop at each corner and make that same small clip into the sidewall, ½” in from each bottom corner of the panel.
- Continue pinning around each corner and up each side. Remember, you are working exterior sides together, which means the lining is facing right side up.
- As mentioned above, the sidewall lining and the panel lining should align at the top, but there may be a bit of excess exterior sidewall fabric extending beyond the panel. You can see in the photo above that we had a bit of excess. That’s okay.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch the sidewall in place against the back panel.
- Just as you did with the front panel, remember to pivot at each corner.
- With the front and back panels in place, trim away any excess fabric so the sidewall is flush with both the front and back panels.
Bind the interior seam allowances
- This style of construction gives a very flat finish to both the exterior and the lining of a bag. However, it does leave exposed seam allowances on the interior of bag. No worries… you’re going to finish them with bias binding.
- Keep the body of the bag wrong side out.
- Find the packaged binding and cut two 34” strips – one for the front panel seam allowance, one for the back panel seam allowance.
- Unfold the outer fold of one strip wrong side up so the crease line is visible.
- Starting at the top edge of the lining, place the strip right sides together against the sidewall seam allowance. Remember, you are working only with the seam allowance itself. You will not be stitching on the body of the bag. The outer raw edge of the binding strip should be flush with the seam allowance.
NOTE: It is not necessary to bind the seam allowance at the very top, which is just the exterior – just the corduroy. This 2” will be folded down to create the top edge and interior facing of the bag, so that part of the seam allowance will be hidden and you certainly don’t want any added bulk behind the fold. This fold also conceals the starting raw edge of the seam allowance binding. Way to go, top fold… you are very helpful!
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best matching the binding in the top and bobbin.
- Stitch in the ditch (right along the crease line) of the outer fold. Remember, you are just sewing through the binding and the seam allowance.
- Fold and pivot at the first bottom corner.
- Then continue stitching in the ditch to the second bottom corner.
- Fold and pivot again and continue to the top of the lining at the opposite side.
- Stop and lock your seam, trim away and excess binding so the tape is flush with the top of the lining.
- Wrap the binding around the seam allowance, bringing the free folded edge into position on the opposite side of the seam allowance, concealing the seam allowance within the binding. Pin in place from the top of the lining…
- … down the side, across the bottom and up the opposite side.
- Stitch around once again, this time through all the layers to create your bound seam allowance.
Create the lanyard
- Find the 18½” length of bias binding. Stitch along the “open” edge to seal it and create a solid “ribbon” of bias binding. Both ends are raw.
- Find the ½” swivel clip.
- Slip one raw end through the swivel clip. Fold back the raw end ¼”, pull through ½”, and pin in place.
- Stitch this tiny hem.
- Place the lanyard into position against the lining side of the front panel. It should sit about 2” in from side seam as shown on the drawing below. The top raw end of the lanyard should be aligned with the top of the lining. Lightly hand baste in place just through the lining so your stitches don’t show on the exterior of the bag. The final topstitching around the bag is what holds the lanyard in place, so if a few stitches do end up showing through, you can simply snip them away when done.
Finish the top and add the handles
- Fold down the top raw edge of the tote ½” all around. Then fold an additional 2”, bringing this folded edge down against the lining, covering the top raw edge of the lining all around. Pin in place all around.
- Re-thread with the slightly contrasting thread (the same thread you used for the exterior pocket division) and re-set for either a lengthened stitch or a Triple Stitch. We used, and recommend, the Triple Stitch.
- Topstitch 1¾” from the top folded edge of the bag all around.
NOTE: Our Janome studio machines have great plate markings that reach quite a ways to the right of the needle, making it easy to find a guide line for a deep hem such as this. If you have trouble finding a guide line, you could draw in a line to follow with a fabric pen or pencil.
- Find the two 30” lengths of polyester webbing.
- Using a lighter or match, melt each end of each length. It doesn’t take much heat; just a few passes through the flame should be enough to seal the cut ends.
NOTE: As mentioned above, we specified a polyester webbing so the handles could be added at the very end of the process. This is much easier from a construction standpoint and keeps bulk at the top of the tote to a minimum.
- Refer to the drawing above for the measurements: the ends are centered on the inside of the tote, 2” in from each side seam and with 5” between. Make sure there are no twists in your handle loops. Securely pin each handle end in place.
- The handle ends are each secured with an open box stitch.
- The webbing is 1½” wide, so your box should also be approximately 1½” square. We say “approximately” because you want to draw in the box on the front of the tote (using a fabric pen or pencil), using the wale of your corduroy as a basic guide. As best you can, you want the vertical lines of the box to run between the wale of the corduroy. These boxes are very visible and are actually a design element. Make sure each box is the same size and in the same position within the top hem of the tote both front and back.
- Keep the contrasting thread in the top with thread to best match the webbing in the bobbin. Re-set for a standard, slightly lengthened straight stitch.
- Carefully stitch each box, sharply pivoting at each corner. As with your other topstitching, use a lock stitch is possible to start and end the seam or leave the thread tails long and pull through and hand knot at the back.
- We added a Sew4Home label to the top right of our exterior pocket.
- And we completed a drop-in zipper pouch in matching fabric, following this tutorial. Our zipper pouch features the corduroy on one side, the lining cotton on the other side, and a coordinating cotton for the pouch lining.
Project Design: Anne Adams
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild