We love the vintage vibe of this dual carry tote. The faux suede finish and slightly slouchy fold over is reminiscent of a newspaper carrier’s bag. You get extra points if you a) remember having a paper carrier, b) were a paper carrier, or c) still get a newspaper delivered on your porch rather than your digital device. Thicker fabric and topstitching detail work together to provide the perfect blend of softness and stability. It’s a great project to show off the power and precision of our Janome studio machines.
We prefer working with faux leather options for our bag and tote projects. They look and feel wonderful, and the color options are amazing. Here, we’re working with a home décor faux suede, pairing it with a lightweight cotton canvas for the lining. As pockets are added, corners boxed, and layers stacked, you will encounter quite a bit of thickness. No problem for the strong needle penetration of Janome machines! We selected the Janome Horizon Quilt Maker Memory Craft 15000 for this project. Although we didn’t use its embroidery capability on the design, we did rely on a variety of presser feet and stitches. And, it’s always a joy to choose and adjust stitch parameters on the bright 7.7” x 4.7” LCD Touchscreen.
One of the top questions we get here at S4H is about sewing with thicker fabrics and multiple layers. Thanks to our Janome machines, we never hit a road block, but we have put together some of our top tips and techniques for working with thick layers in this Janome Sponsored article: How to Sew Thick Layers, Best Presser Feet + Best Practices.
The center seaming on our bag’s exterior along with the topstitching detail to either side of that seam is done to mimic the look of real leather handbags. We show you our interfacing trick below for increasing stability across the seam and reducing any chance of the stitching pulling apart. This bag is meant for daily use!
As mentioned above, we do recommend working with mid-weight fabrics for this project to give the finished bag that perfect mix of stability and softness. If you substitute other substrates, you will need to experiment with your interfacing options for the best result.
We’ve added eleven rivets for both function and style. Metal hardware also adds to the overall vintage vibe, and rivets are a great choice at stress points – especially those areas that might be more challenging to tackle with a machine stitch.
Choose from three carry options: double handles with the tote at its full height, folded over with the adjustable strap shortened for an easy, over-the-shoulder fit, or lengthen the adjustable strap and wear in a casual crossbody style.
As with most commercial bags, for the longest life, this bag is meant to be spot cleaned with a water free agent or professionally dry cleaned. Spraying the outside with a stain repellant, such as Scotch Guard or similar is a good protective step.
Our Foldover Tote finishes at approximately 14″ wide x 18” high x 2” deep when fully upright, using the carry handles. When folded, it brings the height down to about 11” – although, of course, that fold is flexible. The carry handles have an approximate 4” drop and the shoulder strap is fully adjustable to a maximum of about 49”.
For more information about the Horizon Quilt Maker Memory Craft 15000 or any of the other amazing Janome models, visit the Janome America website or contact your local Janome America dealer to see it and sew with it yourself!
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing machine and standard presser foot
- Blind Hem foot; optional for precision topstitching
- Zipper foot; optional for stitching the carry handles in place
Fabric and Other Supplies
NOTE: As mentioned above, we recommend working with mid-weight fabrics for this project to give the finished bag the proper mix of stability and softness. If you substitute other substrates, you will need to experiment with your interfacing options for the best result.
- ¾ yard of 44”+ wide faux suede or similar mid-weight fabric for the lower bag exterior and exterior front pocket; we used 58” Signature Series Faux Suede Décor fabric in Chestnut
- ⅓ yard of 44”+ wide faux suede or similar mid-weight fabric for the upper bag exterior; we used 58” Signature Series Faux Suede Décor fabric in Blue
- 1 yard of 44”+ wide lightweight cotton canvas for the lining, lining pocket, and exterior front pocket lining; we used 45” Ethan & Indigo Plaid Cotton Canvas
- 2 yards of 20”+ lightweight fusible interfacing; we used 20” Pellon Shape-Flex
- 1½ yards of 1½” wide nylon webbing or similar for the adjustable strap; we used black
NOTE: Our design uses exactly 54”; if you feel you might want a longer strap, get a full two yards.
- ¾ yard of 1” wide nylon webbing or similar for the double handles
- ⅛ yard of ½” wide nylon webbing or similar for the D-ring tabs
NOTE: We are specifying “nylon” webbing because it is softer, which matches best with this bag’s design. You can find this type of webbing online or at many outdoor stores. We sourced ours from The Rainshed.
- ELEVEN double cap rivets; we used gold
- Rivet setting tools for your rivets; we like to use Dritz Double Cap Rivets and their Rivet Setting Tools.
- TWO 1½” swivel clips; we used gold
- ONE 1½” slide adjuster; we used gold
- TWO ½” D-rings; we used gold
NOTE: All this type of hardware can be found from multiple sources online and in-stores. Brands can be mixed and matched, but it is important that all the finishes match.
- All purpose thread to match fabric and webbing
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors and/or rotary cutter and mat
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
- Lighter to melt/finish the ends of the webbing
- Small hammer to set rivets; we recommend a ball peen hammer
- Heavy metal, stone or wooden block to use as a cutting and hammering surface; we like to use a small granite block
- Black Sharpie® marker or similar in a color to match the webbing; optional to touch up the sealed ends of the webbing
NOTE: Suede has a distinct nap, make sure you cut your panels so the nap in running in the same direction on all the panels.
- From the fabric for the lower bag exterior and exterior front pocket (Chestnut Faux Suede in our sample), cut the following:
FOUR 9” wide x 13” high rectangles for the lower exterior panels
TWO 9” wide x 9½” high rectangles for the exterior front pocket
- From the fabric for the upper bag exterior (Blue Faux Suede in our sample), cut FOUR 9” wide x 10” high rectangles.
- From the fabric for the lining, lining pocket, and exterior front pocket lining (Ethan & Indigo Plaid in our sample), fussy cut the following:
TWO 17” wide x 19½” high rectangles for the main front and back panels
TWO 11” x 11” squares for the lining pocket
ONE 17” wide x 9¼” high rectangle for the exterior front pocket lining
NOTE: We fussy cut our plaid fabric so the front and back panels matched top to bottom and side to side when opening the bag. And, we matched the pocket to the back panel. If you are brand new to these techniques, you can review our general tutorial on fussy cutting as well as our specific tutorial on matching a pocket to a main panel.
NOTE: If you follow our suggestions for fussy cutting, it is very helpful to label the lining and pocket pieces to make final assembly even more precise.
- From the lightweight interfacing, cut the following:
TWO 17” x 12” rectangles for the lower exterior panels
ONE 17” x 8½” rectangle for the exterior front pocket
TWO 17” x 9” rectangles for the upper exterior panels
ONE 10” x 10” square for the lining pocket
- Cut the 1½” webbing into ONE 54” length.
NOTE: As mentioned above, this results in an adjustable strap that extends fully to about 49” in length. If you need/want a longer length, add as many inches as necessary for your best fit.
- Cut the 1” webbing into TWO 13” lengths.
- Cut the ½” webbing into TWO 2” lengths.
NOTE: With a lighter or a match, seal each end of each length of all three widths of webbing. To do this, simply pass the end of the webbing through the flame a couple times. It doesn’t take must to lightly melt and seal the nylon webbing. Some types of webbing can leave a slight whiteish edge after sealing. If this happens to you, use a Sharpie® style permanent marker in a matching color to touch up the ends.
- Here are our cuts organized and ready for assembly.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Prepare the lining with its pocket
- Find the two 11” x 11” fabric squares for the lining pocket along with the coordinating 10” x 10” square of lightweight interfacing.
- Place an interfacing square on the wrong side of one fabric square, centering the interfacing so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all four sides. The interfacing goes on the square you fussy cut; you want the interfaced side of the pocket to be facing out when stitched in place.
- Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Place the two squares right sides together. Pin around all four sides, leaving an approximate 3-4” gap along the bottom edge for turning.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch around all four sides. Remember to pivot sharply at each corner and to lock the seam at either side of the 3-4” opening.
- Clip the four corners.
- Turn right side out through the bottom opening. Using a long, blunt tool, gently push out all the corners so they are nice and sharp. A long knitting needle, chopstick or point turner works well for this. Press flat, pressing in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
- Place the back lining panel right side up and flat on your work surface.
NOTE: Both the front and back panels are essentially the same, but if you have carefully fussy cut the pocket to match one panel, and labeled it, pull out that appropriate panel.
- Place the pocket right side up on the lining panel.
- As mentioned, if you have fussy cut and labeled appropriately, you have exact marks where the pocket should sit. If not, simply center the pocket side to side with its seamed bottom edge (remember the opening used for turning is the bottom edge) 2½” up from the bottom raw edge of the main panel. Remember, the side of the pocket with the interfacing should be the outward facing side of the pocket.
- Pin the pocket in place along both sides and across the bottom.
- Edgestitch along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at each corner. This seam closes the opening used for turning.
- To keep a super precise seam, we switched to the Janome Blind Hem foot and moved our needle position all the way to the left, running the flange on the foot along the edge of the pocket.
- Measure and mark the exact vertical center of the pocket.
- If you changed presser feet, re-attach a standard presser foot and stitch down the exact center of the pocket, dividing it into two compartments. You are stitching through the pocket as well as the lining panel.
- We used the lock stitch function for the neatest start and finish to our center seam. If you do not have this function, leave your thread tails long, feed them through to the back, and hand knot to secure.
Finish the lining by boxing the corners
- Place the front and back lining panels right sides together, sandwiching the pocket between the layers.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch both sides and across the bottom, sharply pivoting at each corner. The top remains open. Press the seam allowance open and flat.
- The lining has 2” box corners that will match the exterior boxed corners.
- To create these corners, with the sewn fabric still right sides together, use both hands to pinch and pull apart the corner. As you pull, the fabric will begin to form a little peak with the corner point at the top and the seam lines running down the middle of the front and the back. Align these side and bottom seams.
- Mark the depth of the boxed corner with a fabric marking pen or pencil and a straight ruler, positioning your ruler so the desired depth is measured from side to side at the base of the “peak.” Our desired boxed corner depth is 2”. Slide the ruler down from the peak until you reach the point at which your “triangle” is the appropriate width. Draw a horizontal line at this measurement.
NOTE: Another measurement you can use to double check our corner is from the point of the triangle to your drawn line. This measurement should be half your desired finished box width or in our sample, 1”.
- Sew across the peak on the drawn line. Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam.
- We often recommend stitching across a second time for added reinforcement in the corner.
- Trim away the peak to ¼” – ½” from the line of stitching.
NOTE: If you are brand new to making box corners, we have a tutorial that shows you both this standard method as well as a cut-out method. Click for the full tutorial.
- Leave the finished lining “bag” inside out.
- Looking down inside our finished lining, you can get a good look at how well the plaid matches front to back, along the side seams, and on the pocket. Thanks fussy cutting!
- Set aside the finished lining
Create the upper exterior panels
- As mentioned above in the introduction, by first seaming our exterior panels and then overlaying the interfacing, you end up with a much more stable center seam. The interfacing holds open the seam allowance and provides an extra layer of strength for the final topstitching to either side of the center seam.
- Find the four 9” x 10” exterior upper panels and the coordinating two17” x 9” interfacing panels.
- Place the upper panels right sides together, so you have two sets of two. Pin together each pair along one 10” side.
- If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to best match the exterior fabric in the top and bobbin.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch the one 10” side of each pair.
- Press the seam allowance open and flat. You now have two 17” x 10” panels.
- Place an interfacing panel on the wrong side of each exterior sewn panel. The interfacing’s side edges are flush with the main fabric, but the panel should be centered so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing along the top and bottom.
- Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the interfacing in place. Be very careful that it is smooth and flat across the center where it is covering the flattened seam. It’s best to start pressing in the center, along the seam allowance, and then work outward.
- Select a stitch for the topstitching. You want a “chunky” stitch that stands out against the faux suede as this stitching is meant to be decorative. We used the Janome Triple Stitch with the stitch width at 9.0 and the needle moved all the way to the right (5.0).
- Select your favorite presser foot. We again attached the Janome Blind Hem foot with its center flange. This allowed us to run the flange along the center seam. Stitch one side, then rotate the fabric and stitch the second side. By rotating the fabric, the needle position stays the same.
Create the exterior lower panel
- The front and back lower panels are constructed in the same manner.
- Sew together the front and back pairs as above. Remember to change out your thread color as needed.
- Apply the interfacing across each of the sewn panels.
- Do not add the topstitching yet.
Create and place the exterior pocket
- Find the two 9” x 9½” exterior panels for the front pocket along with the coordinating 17” x 8½” interfacing panel.
- Seam together the two exterior panels and overlay the interfacing as you did above for the upper and lower main exterior panels.
- Find the 17” x 9¼” lining panel. This panel is cut just little bit shorter than the main exterior panel so when the pocket is sewn and turned right side out, the lining rolls to the inside of the pocket and is not visible from the front of the bag.
- Place the the pocket exterior and lining right sides together. Pin along the top and bottom. Remember, the lining panel is flush with the exterior panel on either side, but sits just a bit inside the exterior panel along the top and bottom.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along the top and bottom only. The side edges are open and raw.
- Turn the pocket right side out through the open sides. Press flat, allowing the lining to roll to the inside.
- Find the front bottom exterior panel. At this point, both the front and back bottom panels are the same; simply choose one to be the front. Place the panel right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Place the pocket right side up on the main panel. The bottom of the pocket should sit 1½” up from the bottom raw edge of the panel. The raw side edges of the pocket should be flush with the raw side edges of the main panel.
- Re-set for the same stitch as used for the upper panel topstitching. We used the Janome Triple Stitch. Make sure your thread is still a proper match to the exterior fabric.
- Edgestitch along the very bottom of the pocket all the way across. We continued to use the Janome Blind Hem foot for this stitching, with the needle moved to the right (4.0) and the flange running along the bottom seamed edge of the pocket.
- With the bottom of the pocket stitched in place, you’ll finish the vertical topstitching to either side of the center seam.
- Start at the pocket’s bottom seam and stitch up one side. Yes, you are going through ALL the layers – the main panel and all the layers of the pocket – with your topstitching. This creates a very strong seam and a very strong pocket.
- Rotate and stitch the opposite side in the same manner.
Attach top to bottom, pin D-rings in place, set front rivet
- Place each set of upper and lower exterior panels right sides together, aligning the bottom of the upper panel with the top of the lower panel. Pin together.
- Re-attach a standard presser foot and re-set for a standard straight stitch.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch horizontally across through all the layers.
- Press each seam allowance together and down toward the lower section.
- Re-attach your chosen foot for topstitching; we’re continuing to use the Janome Blind Hem foot, and re-set for the topstitching stitch. We are still using the Janome Triple Stitch with the width at 9.0 and the needle all the way to the right.
- Topstitch all the way across within the lower panel. Do this horizontal topstitching on both the front and back panels.
- Find the two 2” lengths of ½” webbing and the two ½” D-rings.
- Slip a length of webbing through each D-ring, bringing the webbing through so the raw edges are flush.
- Pin a tabbed D-ring at each side of the front panel. It should sit ½” down from the horizontal upper/lower seam. You can also hand or machine baste the tabbed D-rings in place for extra security.
- Find one of rivets and the rivet tools. Use the tools to cut a hole at the center top of the pocket – right over the pocket’s vertical seam. The center of the hole should be about ½” down from the top of the pocket.
- Set the rivet in place through all the layers.
NOTE: Riveting is easier than you might think, especially with the right tools. If you’re brand new, check out our full Metal Rivets Tutorial.
Seam front to back and create the reverse box corners
- Place the front and back panels right sides together. All raw edges of the layers should be flush.
- Pin along both sides and across the bottom. Be especially careful to make sure your upper/lower horizontal seams align. Our D-ring tabs are simply pinned in place; as mentioned above, you can choose to hand or machine baste for additional security.
- Re-attach a standard presser foot and re-set for a standard straight stitch.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at each corner. The top remains open.
- Clip the corners.
- Turn the bag right side out. Firmly push out the corners, with your finger or a blunt tool, so they are as flat as possible.
- Find the point across the corner where the width equals 2”, which is our finished corner depth.
- Fold up each corner at this point, aligning the point of the corner with the side seam. Pin in place.
- Using the same steps as above for the pocket, add a rivet at the point of the corner on each side.
NOTE: You are going through quite a few layers at this point, which is why a rivet is your best option to secure the thickness. As mentioned above, having a strong, hard surface on which to work when riveting is important. We like to use a small granite block. We have summarized the corner steps here. If you’d like to review some other bags on which we used this technique, take a look at our Sturdy Summer Tote or our Bright Spot Tote (this super-duper thick tote used Chicago Screws rather than rivets, but the steps are very similar – and these screws are another option to try on this project should you have any issues with the rivets).
Drop in the lining, finish the top edge, add the carry handles
- Fold down the top raw edge of the finished exterior bag ½” all around.
- Find the lining, which should still be wrong side out.
- Drop the lining into the exterior so the two layers are now wrong sides together. We designed our bag with the lining pocket against the back of the exterior.
- Push the lining all the way down into the exterior so the box corners are aligned. The top raw edge of the lining will sit about 1½” below the top of the exterior.
- Fold down the exterior an additional 2”. This means the folded edge of the exterior should completely cover the raw edge of the lining. If it does not, adjust the fold of the exterior as needed, but make sure that fold remains even all around the top of the bag. Pin in place.
- Re-thread the machine so there is thread to best match the upper exterior fabric in the top and bobbin. Re-set for a slightly lengthened straight stitch.
- Topstitch all the way around approximately 1⅞” from the upper fold. If your machine has a free arm, now is a good time to use it. You want your seam to fully catch the inner fold all the way around, but to be as close to the edge of that fold as possible so you don’t create a “flap” of fabric around the inside edge.
- Find the two 13” lengths of 1” webbing. The ends should already have been sealed with the lighter.
- Pin a webbing loop to the top of both the front and back of the bag. The bottom ends should sit just below the upper topstitching and there should be 4” between the ends. Make sure the front and back loops are a match to one another.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the webbing in the top and to best match the exterior fabric in the bobbin.
- We opted to attach the Janome Zipper foot for this precision stitching with the needle moved to the left position and a slightly lengthened standard straight stitch. This gave us a narrow foot with which to work for better visibility while being able to maintain a very straight seam.
- Stitch down one side, across the bottom, and up the opposite side at each end of each handle. Do not stitch across the top; you are creating a three-sided box with an open upper side.
- Find the eight remaining rivets and the rivet tools. Center and insert a pair of rivets at each end of each handle. Our rivets are 1” apart on center and the center of the bottom rivet sits ¾” up from the bottom end of the webbing.
NOTE: Again, if you’re brand new to riveting, check out our full Metal Rivets Tutorial.
Add the adjustable strap
- Collect the 54” length of 1½” webbing along with the two 1½” swivel clips and the 1½” adjustable slider.
- We continued to use our Janome Zipper foot to attach the swivel clip to the webbing.
- In all other ways, this is a standard adjustable strap with double swivel clips. If you are brand new to the ins-and-outs-overs-and-unders of adjustable straps, check out our full step-by-step tutorial.
Project Design: Anne Adams
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Kathy Andrews, What Sew Ever