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French Market Tote with Chanel Style Chain Handles

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High end boutique style you can make yourself! Our French Market Tote will make a bold fashion statement as you stroll the open air markets of Provence, France or the aisles of your local farmer's market and specialty grocer. Load it up with fresh baguettes and bouquets of bright flowers. The pièce de résistance is the great Coco Chanel style chain and leather (faux leather in our case) handles. It's the perfect synergy of unique trim and dramatic fabric blended to achieve a designer look. We love to show you how to look at combinations from a new angle, to mix textures, and experiment with unexpected pairings. 

Successfully creating the trendy look of this bag is all about the right fabric and the awesome chain trim is a must. We used a classic ticking by Waverly with jet black side and top accents. 

The damask appliqué that distinguishes the front of the bag is fussy cut from a coordinating Waverly mid-weight print. Home décor prints are great options when you're looking for a large, interesting motif. Balance your cut to create a bold shape – always more fun than a simple square or circle.

We used a skinny satin stitch in black to give our appliqué a distinct outline. For a more rustic look, you could try a raw-edge effect and allow the fabric to fray slightly. If you're new to either technique, check out our tutorial: How to Appliqué Like a Pro.

Our thanks to Fabric.com for supplying all the fabric. Their huge and varied selection gives you endless combinations. A great way to see how everything looks together is to use the Fabric.com Design Wall function. It's easy to add and delete swatches. You'll see an "Add To Design Wall" button accompanying each product description. The first time you click on it, you create your Design Wall; additional items are then added from there.

To mimic a set of Coco Chanel style handles, we used ½" Silver Tone Chain with Black Faux Leather from Simplicity's Project Runway Trim Collection. The single loop chain slides smoothly through two pairs of Dritz Home Grommets.

The finished size of the tote is a generous 17" high x 20" wide  x 5" deep. The soft-sided construction allows the bag to gently expand to fit contents of varying shapes and sizes. Yet, because the chain handle is a continuous circle, it's easy to keep the top cinched closed so nothing topples out.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

Getting Started

  1. Download and print the French Market Tote Template-1 and French Market Tote Template-2.
    IMPORTANT: Each pattern consists of ONE 8½" x 11" sheet. You must print the PDF files at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guideline on the page to confirm your printout is to scale.
  2. Cut out each of the pattern pieces along the solid lines.
  3. Butt together the pattern pieces, using the printed arrows as your guide. Do NOT overlap. Tape in place to create the full side panel pattern.
  4. From the fabric for the exterior and interior side panels, fussy cut following:
    TWO 21" wide x 18" high panels for the exterior
    Using the assembled pattern, cut TWO side panels
  5. From the fabric for the lining and pocket, exterior side panels, and top accent band, cut the following: 
    Two 21" x 18" panels for the lining
    One 10" x 16" rectangle for the lining pocket 
    TWO 3½" x 26" strips for the top accent band
    Using the assembled pattern, cut TWO side panels 
  6. From the mid-weight fusible interfacing, cut TWO 3½" x 26" strips.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board


  1. Figure out the motif you want to cut from your fabric. It can help to trace the various motif options onto tissue paper, roughly cut out the paper, then place the tissue options on the exterior bag panel to see which size and shape works best. 
  2. From the fusible web, cut a piece larger than the motif you've chosen.
  3. Following manufacturer's instructions, apply the fusible web to the wrong side of the fabric. Remove the paper backing.
  4. Trim around the motif. 
  5. Your cut line should be close to the edge of the motif, but leave enough fabric beyond the design to allow for the appliqué stitching. 
  6. Center the motif on the bag. Remember to account for the top account band that will be sewn to and then folded over the top. We recommend the top of your applique be at least 4½" from the top raw edge of the panel to be sure it will fall below the accent band with a bit of "breathing room." We also simulated the ¾" that will be taken up by the flat felled seam at the bottom of the panel to test this distance as well. When everything is placed correctly, lightly pin the appliqué in place. 
  7. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the appliqué in place.
  8. Thread the machine with your chosen appliqué thread color (we used black) in the top and bobbin thread in the bobbin. 
  9. Select a small tight zig zag stitch or adjust for your preferred appliqué setting (we used 0.2 mm width, 2.5 mm length). 
  10. Position the appliqué under the foot so the right swing of the needle is off the edge of the fabric and the left swing of the needle is into the appliqué. 
  11. Stitch all the way around. Slow and steady wins the race here. As you move around trickier curves and points, stop as often as needed, with your needle in the down position, to slightly reposition the fabric. 
  12. As mentioned above, if you're new to appliqué, check out our tutorial: How to Appliqué Like a Pro.

Complete the exterior panels

  1. The exterior panels are joined at the bottom with a flat felled seam, which is the kind of seam you often see along the side of your favorite jeans. To make this seam, place the two exterior panels WRONG sides together and pin in place along the bottom edge. 
    NOTE: If you are using a directional motif, be sure the two panels are both facing the same way: bottom edge to bottom edge, and top edge to top edge! It may seem silly to make such a big deal about this, but you want to be sure your motif is facing right side UP on both sides of your finished bag. Nothing is sadder than to finish a flat felled seam and then open up your panel to find one design upside down. Well... there are things that are sadder, but this mistake is right up there. Take your time and check your work before you stitch.
  2. Using a ¾" seam allowance, stitch the front and back exterior panels along the bottom edge only.
  3. Press the sewn seam flat (ie. not open). Trim ONE side of the seam allowance back to ¼". 
  4. Fold the un-trimmed side of the seam allowance over the trimmed seam allowance, matching the raw edge to the seam line. Press. 
  5. Fold this "wrapped" seam once again, fully enclosing and hiding the raw edge. Press. 
  6. Edgestitch the folded-over seam allowance in place. This nicely finished seam is not only strong, which makes it a good choice for the bottom of the bag, it actually becomes a pretty accent across the base.

    NOTE: If you are new to this technique, we have a complete Flat Felled Seams tutorial


  1. Find the two 21" x 18" lining panels. Place them right sides together and pin in place along the bottom edge.
  2. Using a ¾" seam allowance, stitch the panels together.
    NOTE: You are using a ¾" seam so the size of the lining matches the size of the exterior panel, but you aren't creating a flat felled seam in the lining. 
  3. Trim the seam allowance back to ½" and press open and flat.
  4. Find the 10" x 16" pocket rectangle.
  5. Fold the rectangle in half so it is now 10" x 8". Pin along the three raw-edged sides, leaving a 3" opening along the 10" raw edge.
  6. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch around all three sides. Remember to pivot at the corners and lock your seam on either side of the 3" opening.
  7. Press open the seam allowances and trim the corners at a diagonal. 
  8. Turn the pocket right side out. Press flat, folding in the raw edges at the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
  9. Lay the sewn lining flat on your work surface, right side up.
  10. Place the pocket on one end of the lining piece so the pocket is centered side-to-side and 4" down from the upper raw edge. The top of the pocket is the folded edge. 
  11. Edgestitch along the two sides of the pocket and across the bottom, leaving the upper folded edge open. This edgestitching closes the opening used for turning.

Assemble the main body

  1. Place the exterior panel and the lining panel right sides together. Pin the pieces together along both long sides. 
  2. The pocket and the appliqué are sandwiched between the layers; they should be at opposite ends of the long panel.
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch both sides. Turn the panel right side out and press flat.

Assemble the side panels

  1. Find the exterior side panel pieces and lining side panel pieces.
  2. Place one exterior piece right sides together with one lining piece. Pin together along both long sides and around the curved end. Leave the top (the flat end) open.
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the pieces together.
  4. Clip the curve, being careful to not clip through your seam.
  5. Trim the seam allowance back to approximately ¼"
  6. Turn the side panel right side out through the top open edge. Press well.
  7. Repeat to create the second side panel.

Insert the side panels into the main panel

  1. Fold the exterior bag panel lining sides together. Do not make a hard crease along the bottom; it should be slightly bowed. The flat felled seam should be at the exact bottom.
  2. Place one side panel into position, aligning the finished edge of the side panel with the finished edge of the exterior panel. It's as if you are placing a lid onto a carton. Remember the exterior/lining fabrics are reversed for the side panels. For our sample, this meant the black was the exterior and the ticking was the lining. 
  3. It's best if you start by matching the center point of the curved bottom of the side panel with the flat felled seam of the exterior panel, then work up each side toward the top, pinning as you go. Don't be afraid to use plenty of pins. 
  4. Re-thread your machine with thread in the top to match the exterior panel (natural in our sample) and thread to match the side panel of the bag in the bobbin (black in our sample). Slide the aligned and pinned seams under your presser foot so you are stitching with the exterior facing up. 
    NOTE: We chose the to stitch with the exterior panel facing up, but you can do this edgestitching with either the exterior panel facing up or the side panel facing up. Simply remember to thread the machine with top and bobbin thread to best match the position of the panels. 
  5. Edgestitch in place, approximately ⅛" from the edge.
  6. Repeat to create the second side.

Top band

  1. Find the two 3½" x 26" top band strips and the matching 3½" x 26" strips of interfacing.
  2. Following manufacturer's recommendations, fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of each strip.
  3. Place the interfaced strips right sides together. Pin along both short ends.
  4. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch each short end, creating a loop. Press both seams open.
  5. Fold back one edge ½" (folding to the wrong side) all around the loop. Press well. 
  6. Turn the band right side out and slip the band inside the top of the bag. The right side of the band should be against the lining of the bag. 
  7. The seams of the band should be aligned with the top center point of each side panel. The raw edge of the band is facing up; the folded edge is facing down toward the inside of the bag. Pin the band in place all around. 
  8. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the band in place all the way around the top of the bag.
  9. Press open the seam allowance.
  10. Bring the band up from the inside and fold it over the exterior of the bag. The seam you just sewed now becomes the top finished edge of your bag. Make sure this seam line is even all the way around. Press the folded edge of the band into place against the exterior of the bag. 
  11. You should have a 2½" band showing all around. Take the time to measure the band at several points to make sure this reveal is even. You can slightly adjust the folded edge if needed to maintain a straight line.
  12. Press again and pin in place.
  13. Edgestitch close to the lower folded edge., re-threading if necessary with thread to match the band in the top and bobbin.
  14. Then edgestitch around again, this time close to the upper seam to keep that top edge nice and flat.

    The four side seams of the panels will be thick to stitch across. Go slowly, stopping and hand-cranking over the thick parts if necessary.

Grommets and chain handle

  1. Following manufacturer's instructions or our own Sew4Home tutorial on the subject, mark the position of the four snap-on grommets. Ours are centered within the band; the center of each grommet is 6" from the each outside edge of the exterior panel. Looking at it another way, the inside edges of the grommets are 6" apart on center.
  2. Again, following manufacturer's instructions and/or our tutorial, place the four grommets.
  3. Measure your desired length of chain. We used 40" of chain. Mark the link closest to the measured length.
  4. Using two pairs of needle-nose pliers, twist the link open and separate the chain.
  5. Un-weave the faux leather so there is an extra 1" for an overlap to finish. Clip the faux leather at this point.
  6. Thread the chain through the grommets to form a continuous handle on either side.
  7. Match the link ends and rejoin, using the pliers again to twist the open link back to a closed position.
  8. Overlap and secure the leather strand with a dot of craft glue.
  9. We have more information, as well as additional photos, describing this and other trim techniques in our tutorial: Tips for Working with Metal Trims.


Project Design: Alicia Thommas 
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild


Comments (2)

Marcy Leonard said:
Marcy Leonard's picture

I would really like to make this. I don't know where to get a chain since it is no longer available on the simplicity site. Any suggestions?

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Marcy - Sorry to hear it's been discontinued. We never know when something may disappear. I would do exactly what you are doing: searching online by the name. If that doesn't yield anything, you could buy the two elements separately: a length of chain and a thin piece of leather. Then you can weave the leather through the chain to create your own. 

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