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Once the crocuses and daffodils poke through winter’s chill, it’s official. Spring has her new sandals on, her toenails painted, and she’s headin’ our way. With Spring comes the opening of local Farmer’s Markets. For the final project in our Mother’s Day week with Fabric.com, we have a sturdy tote specially designed to hold all that farm fresh bounty. It features cotton laminate inside and out and is strengthened with a Therm O Web® interfacing that can take moisture without distorting. A gathered front pouch holds extra green bags for your produce purchases. The finished bag is approximately 16″ tall, 15″ wide and 6″ deep, giving you plenty of room for everything from bouquets of spring tulips to sweet clover honey to farm fresh eggs. Long ribbon ties let you adjust the top closure to best fit your heavenly haul.

Our thanks to Fabric.com for sponsoring these past five days of Mother’s Day gift inspiration. They provided two different laminates for this project: a Kaffe Fassett for the exterior and a Tanya Whelan for the insets and interior. Laminate has become a very popular substate; many of your favorite designers are adding it to their current collections. Besides the ones we chose for today’s tote, Fabric.com offers an amazing selection of over 200 options from Amy Butler, Michael Miller, Tula Pink and Annette Tatum among others. 

If you’re new to sewing on this substrate, make sure you review our in-depth tutorial about working with laminates: Successful Sewing With Laminated Cottons (And Other Sticky Stuff)

Our thanks today as well to Therm O Web® for providing the interfacing and basting spray. We wanted to make sure our Farmer’s Market tote could be washable since fresh cut flowers and hand picked produce tend to be a bit wet and/or dusty. It needed to be able to handle getting wet and still keep its shape. We also wanted an interfacing that would provide a stand-on-its-own rigidity for the bag so you could set it down while picking out the perfect peppers. Therm O Web’s StitchnSew™ Non-Woven Craft Interfacing was just the ticket. It is 100% polyester so it resists absorbing liquid. The product comes in both firm and extra firm; we opted for extra firm. The fact that it is a sew-in interfacing also made it a good choice. Laminates are not a fan of heat and can dimple or wrinkle when adhered to a fusible interfacing. We used Therm O Web’s Super Stik Glue Stick to hold the pieces in place during construction. Another option would be Therm O Web’s SpraynBond™ Basting Adhesive.

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 bag’s exterior wrap-around side panels, the handles, the lining’s top border strip, and the lining’s pockets (Green Lake Blossoms in our sample), fussy cut the following:
    TWO 20″ high x 15″ wide rectangles for side panels
    ONE 43″ x 3″ strip for the lining border
    TWO 56″ x 3¼” strips for the straps
    TWO 15″ high x 10″ wide rectangles for the lining pockets
  2. From the fabric for the bag’s exterior front and back inset panels and the lining (Pink Falling Roses in our sample), fussy cut the following:
    TWO 20″ high x 8″ wide rectangles for the inset panels
    ONE 18½” high x 43″ wide rectangle for the lining
  3. From the Mesh, cut ONE 10″ high x 14″ wide rectangle.
  4. From the heavyweight interfacing, cut the following:
    TWO 20″ x 15″ rectangles
    TWO 20″ x 8″ rectangles
  5. Cut the cording into TWO 14″ lengths.
  6. Cut the bias binding into ONE 8″ length and ONE 12″ length.
  7. Cut the ribbon into TWO 24″ lengths and ONE 5″ length.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board


  1. Find the two 20″ x 15″ exterior wrap-around panels, the two 20″ x 8″ inset panels, and the four interfacing pieces.
  2. Using a glue stick or spray adhesive, generously coat the back of each laminate piece. Then do the same to each matching interfacing piece.
  3. Place the two glued sides together and apply firm, even pressure to adhere the layers. Make sure there are no wrinkles in the laminate as you smooth the layers together.

Mesh pocket construction and placement on front inset panel

  1. Find the 10″ x 12″ piece of mesh. 
  2. Along one 12″ end, run a long basting stitch for gathering. Pull the thread to gather the end from 12″ down to 8″.
    NOTE: If you are new to this technique, take a look at our step by step Gathering Tutorial.
  3. Find the 8″ length of bias binding. Open up the binding strip and slip in the gathered end of the mesh. Pin closed.
  4. Edgestitch to secure, being careful to catch both sides of the binding in your seam.
  5. To create the drawstring channel at the top of the pocket, find the 12″ length of bias binding. Place the binding strip along the top of the mesh, aligning the raw edges of the binding strip with the raw edge of the mesh. Pin in place.
  6. Edgestitch the binding in place through all the layers.
  7. Fold the bias binding around to the back of the mesh. You are folding it just far enough to hide the binding behind the mesh. Pin the binding in place. 
  8. Edgestitch across the binding, securing it in place and creating a channel for the cording.
  9. Find the two 14″ lengths of cording.
  10. Fold the mesh in half to find the center point along the top channel. Mark this point with a pin. 
  11. Attach the safety pin to one end of one length of cording. Feed it in through the side opening and out through a hole within the mesh itself at the center point. 
  12. Feed through until the end of the cord is flush with the side of fabric panel. Pin the end in place. Stitch the end in place to secure.
  13. Repeat to thread the second length of cording through from the opposite side.
  14. Gather up the top and trim the cording tails to approximately 6″.
  15. Slip the ends through the toggle and cinch.
  16. Place both raw ends of the cording into the “zipper pull thingy” and press closed.
  17. Find one 20″ x 8″ inset panel. This will be the front panel, so if you have one fussy cut panel you like better than the other, use it.
  18. Place the panel right side up on your work surface. Place the completed mesh pocket right side up on the panel. The bottom bound edge of the pocket should be 5″ up from the bottom raw edge of the panel. Align the sides of the pocket with the sides of the panel. The pocket will “blouse out” – this is correct; you want fullness in the pocket. Pin in place across the bottom.
  19. Edgestitch across the bottom of the binding to form the bottom of the pocket.
  20. Machine baste the sides of the pocket in place to keep them from flopping around during the rest of the construction. 

The bag exterior – part one

  1. Find the two exterior wrap-around panels. Place one panel right sides together with the front inset panel (the one to which you just stitched the pocket). Pin together. If you pin within the seam allowance, you can use straight pins. Or, you can use clips.
  2. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch together. Press the seam allowance open.
  3. Trim the interfacing back to the seam. You will trim off approximately ⅜”. This will make sewing the handles in position a bit easier. 
  4. Repeat to attach the remaining wrap-around panel to the opposite side of the front inset panel.

Make the handles

  1. Find the two 56″ handle strips. 
  2. On the wrong side of each strip, use your see-through ruler to draw a vertical line 2½” in from one long side edge.
  3. Fold the outer edge over, lining it up along the drawn line. Using a pressing cloth, press the fold in place. Repeat with the second handle.
  4. Fold the opposite side in, overlapping the first fold. As if you were folding a letter to mail.
  5. Attach the Teflon® type foot. We used our Janome Ultra Glide foot. Topstitch down the middle of the strap staying close to the cut edge.

    NOTE: There’s no need for any additional finish on this cut edge. It will not ravel or fray. If you take a look at some of the purses in your closet, you may see this exact same finish. It’s quite standard on leather, laminates and vinyl because it is very hard (if not darn near impossible) to turn a small leather or vinyl tube right side out… it will stick to itself!
  6. Repeat to fold and stitch the remaining strap.

Place the front handle

  1. Find your three-piece sewn exterior (wrap-around panel – front inset panel with pocket – wrap-around panel). Place it right side up on your work surface. 
  2. Place a strap along each inset panel seam. The bottom end of the strap should be flush with the bottom of the panel. The inside edge of the strap should lay just over the top of the seam with the outside edge within the wrap-around panel. 
  3. Loop the handle up and over and place the opposite end along the opposite seam. The raw ends of the handle should be flush with the bottom raw edge of the panel, and the handle loop itself will extend beyond the fabric. Carefully place the handle so the loop doesn’t twist on itself. 
  4. Pin or clip in place. If pinning, use a limited number of pins to avoid holes. You could also use the adhesive to tack in place.
  5. On each side of the handle, measure 3½” down from the top raw edge of the bag panel and draw a horizontal line or place a pin or clip across each strap. This is where you will stop sewing and turn to go across and back down the handle. 
  6. With your Teflon® type foot still in place, topstitch each side of the handle in place, staying as close to the edge as you can. We also lengthened our stitch. Start at the bottom, stitch up one side…
  7. … stop at the 3½” mark, pivot, stitch across…
  8. pivot, and stitch down the opposite edge to complete. 
  9. Repeat to stitch the opposite side of the handle in place on the front of the bag.

The back inset panel and second handle

  1. Find the remaining inset panel. Place it right sides together with the raw side of one wrap-around panel. Pin or clip in place.
  2. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch in place. Press the seam allowance open. 
  3. Place one end of the remaining handle strap in place over the seam you just sewed. Follow the same steps as above, including the stop point 3½” from the top raw edge, to attach this one end of the handle. The opposite end of the handle remains un-sewn at this point. 
    NOTE: We are doing this one section at a time to do as much work as possible with the layers flat. The final end of the handle will be stitched on the exterior after it’s a closed loop… a much trickier step. 
  4. Place the remaining raw edges of the back inset panel and the opposite wrap-around panel right sides together to create the exterior loop. Pin or clip in place. Stitch in place, using a ½” seam allowance. Press the seam allowance open.
  5. Place the remaining free end of the handle in position over the just sewn final panel seam. Pin or clip or use adhesive to hold it in place. 
  6. You will need to flatten the bag exterior, which is now a complete loop, under your needle in order to do the final topstitching of the handle. This will take a little maneuvering as you sew. Go slow and be patient. We know you can do it!

Bottom seam and boxed corners

  1. Turn the bag exterior loop wrong side out. 
  2. Flatten the bag, matching up the handles front to back.
  3. Our bag is designed to have 6″ sides and base. To create this width, we figured our corners at 3″. 
  4. Mark and cut out the corners. Since our bag does not have side seams, it helps to make a small snip at the bottom edge of the side cut out. This mark can then be aligned with the bottom seam when doing the final corner seam
  5. Stitch across the bottom of the bag from corner cut to corner cut.
  6. Flatten and double stitch the corners.
  7. If you are new to boxed corners, check out our tutorial for step-by-step instructions
  8. Turn the bag exterior right side out, push out the corners.
  9. Find the two 24″ lengths of ribbon. 
  10. Find the center point of each inset panel. Place the end of a ribbon length at each point. The raw end of the ribbon should be flush with the top of the panel with the opposite end hanging down across the front and back of the bag. Pin in place. Hand or machine baste in place to secure. 
  11. Set the exterior bag aside.

Create the bag lining and inside pockets

  1. Find the two 15″ x 10″ pocket pieces. 
  2. Fold each piece in half right sides together so it is now 7½” x 10″.
  3. On each folded pocket piece, using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners. Leave an approximate 2″-3″ opening along the bottom for turning. Clip corners. Press the seam
  4. Turn the pockets right side out through their bottom opening. Push out the corners so they are nice and sharp. A chopstick or long knitting needle works well for this.
  5. Fold in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam. Press flat.
  6. Find the 18½” x 43″ wide lining piece, the 3″ x 43″ top lining band, the 5″ length of ribbon, and the key hook. 
  7. Place the lining piece right side up on your work surface. 
    NOTE: The right and left notes below are based on the lining being right side up and you looking down at the lining. 
  8. Measure and mark the following: 1) measure 3½” in from the right side, place a pin along the top and bottom at this point; 2) measure 3″ in from this first point and again place a pin along the top and bottom; you are now 6½” from the right side, 3) place one final pin 1″ to the LEFT of the second mark – this is for the key hook. 
  9. Place one pocket in place, aligning the pocket’s right side with the second set of pins (the 6½” mark). The top of the pocket (the folded edge is the top of the pocket) should be 2″ down from the top raw edge of the lining panel. Pin in place.
  10. Thread the 5″ length of ribbon through the key hook and pin the raw ends of the doubled ribbon in place at the top mark.
  11. Repeat to mark and position the second pocket, but you will now be working from the left side in, and you don’t need another key hook… unless you really want one!
  12. Once both pockets are pinned in place, decide if you want any additional dividing line seams on either pocket. We decided to split one pocket into two sections, and so drew a vertical line down the center of the left hand pocket. You could make any size and number of pocket sections you’d like or simply leave the pockets wide open.
  13. Machine or hand baste the key fob ribbon in place along the top edge.
  14. Lengthen your stitch, and following your drawn vertical line(s), topstitch all pocket divisions. 
  15. Edgestitch each 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.
  16. Find the 3″ x 43″ strip. Place it right sides together along the top edge of the lining. Pin or clip in place.
  17. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch in place all the way across.
  18. Press the seam allowance up towards the binding strip. Pull the key hook down into position
  19. Topstitch along the length, within the binding strip, staying ¼” or less from the seam line. 
  20. Fold the lining right sides together, aligning the raw side edges. Pin in place. Stitch together, using a ½” seam allowance. Press the seam allowance open. You now have a completed loop.
  21. Flatten the lining, aligning the pockets front to back against one another, and following the same steps as above for the bag exterior, box the bottom corners of the lining
  22. As we mentioned above, if you are new to boxed corners, check out our tutorial for step-by-step instructions.

Final assembly

  1. Find the exterior bag. It should be right side out. 
  2. Find the lining. It should be wrong side out. 
  3. Slip the lining inside the exterior bag. Line up the bottom corners. The lining pockets should be positioned right behind the front and back inset panels. Our key hook is against the back panel. 
  4. Fold down the top raw edge of both the exterior and the lining ½”, adjusting slightly wider or narrower to create a perfectly flush top edge. 
  5. Clip in place all around. Make sure you pull out the long ribbons at the center of the front and back inset panels. The ribbons should be pulled up and away so they are clear of the final seam.
  6. Topstitch through all the layers all around the bag, removing the clips as you go. Your seam should be ¼” from the top folded edges.

    NOTE: With laminate top and bottom, you really need a Teflon® type foot for this final seam. If you don’t have this type of foot, place a piece of wax or parchment paper under your regular presser foot. You need just a thin strip. This will help the foot move across the vinyl. When done, simply tear away the paper. For more tips on working with laminate, be sure to check out our tutorial: Successful Sewing With Laminated Cottons (And Other Sticky Stuff).


Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild

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