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Gift Tote Trio in Small, Medium & Large

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These terrific totes are as much of a present as the gifts they can carry inside. We've done gift bag projects before, but decided to really kick it up a notch, making generously-sized gift bag totes for the whole family in small, medium, and large. These totes are done in bold, heavy weight fabrics that will look great from the holiday season right through to spring and summer. We picked strong graphics in colors outside traditional holiday reds and greens yet that blend with these classic tones beautifully. A sparkling bow or embellishment adds just the right touch of holiday pizzazz under the tree; remove the bow and you have a tote that's good to go for everyday use.  

Usually at Sew4Home, we make our projects in one size and you need to figure how to alter any cuts to change dimensions. This time, we're giving you everything you need to create three different sizes of totes, and we've done all the math for you!

We selected from the one of our favorite manufacturers of heavier weight substrates: Premier Prints. The exact options we originally selected are not readily available at this time, but below are six new options to give you a similar look. Or as always, pick your own favorites. Both Fabric.com and ShopFabric.com carry great selections of Premier Prints. 

Click on a swatch below to see details.

    

    

The lining and binding for all the totes is a standard quilting weight cotton in a coordinating solid.

The approximate finished sizes of the totes are as follows: 

Large: 17" tall x 12" wide with 4½" sides and base and an 8" pocket

Medium: 14" tall x 12" wide with 4½" sides and base and an 8" pocket

Small: 10" tall x 12" wide with 4½" sides and base and a 7" pocket

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

Supplies are shown for each size tote. Yardage recommendations are generous to allow for careful fussy cutting on both the main bag and the pockets. If you are new to fussy cutting, check out our tutorial.

As listed above, approximate finished sizes of the totes are as follows: 

Large: 17" tall x 12" wide with 4½" sides and base and an 8" pocket

Medium: 14" tall x 12" wide with 4½" sides and base and an 8" pocket

Small: 10" tall x 12" wide with 4½" sides and base and a 7" pocket

LARGE BAG

  • 1 yard of 54"+ wide medium to heavy weight fabric for the bag exterior, pocket exterior, and base sleeve
  • 1 yard of 44"+ wide quilting weight cotton for the bag lining and binding
  • 1 yard of 45" wide medium weight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon 809 Décor Bond
  • 3 yards of 1" cotton webbing; we used 1" Natural Cotton Webbing
  • Plastic canvas for bag base; ONE 4" x 12" rectangle

MEDIUM BAG

  • 1 yard of 54"+ wide medium to heavy weight fabric for the bag exterior, pocket exterior, and base sleeve
  • 1 yard of 44"+ wide quilting weight cotton for the bag lining and binding
  • 1 yard of 45" wide medium weight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon 809 Décor Bond
  • 2¾ yards of 1" cotton webbing; we used 1" Natural Cotton Webbing
  • Plastic canvas for bag base; ONE 4" x 12" rectangle

SMALL BAG

  • ¾ yard of 54"+ wide medium to heavy weight fabric for the bag exterior, pocket exterior, and base sleeve
  • 1 yard of 44"+ wide quilting weight cotton for the bag lining and binding
  • ¾ yard of 45" wide medium weight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon 809 Décor Bond
  • 2¼ yards of 1" cotton webbing; we used 1" Natural Cotton Webbing
  • Plastic canvas for bag base; ONE 4" x 12" rectangle

SUPPLIES FOR ALL BAGS

  • All purpose thread to match fabrics and webbing
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

LARGE BAG

  1. From the exterior fabric, fussy cut the following:
    TWO 19¾" high x 17½" wide rectangles for the main bag panels
    TWO 9" high x 17½" wide rectangles for the pockets 
    ONE 10" x 14" rectangle for the bag base sleeve (This goes inside the bag to stabilize the base; cut to best match the direction of your motif.)
  2. From the fabric for the lining and binding, cut the following:
    TWO 18¾" high x 17½" wide rectangles for the main bag panels
    TWO 9" high x 17½" wide rectangles for the pockets
    FOUR 2" x 17½" strips for the bag and pocket binding
  3. From the interfacing, cut the following:
    TWO 19¾" high x 17½" wide rectangles
    TWO 9" high x 17½" wide rectangles
  4. Cut the webbing into TWO 54" lengths.
  5. Cut the plastic canvas into ONE 4" x 12" rectangle

MEDIUM BAG

  1. From the exterior fabric , fussy cut the following:
    TWO 16¾" high x 17½" wide rectangles for the main bag panels
    TWO 9" high x 17½" wide rectangles for the pockets 
    ONE 10" x 14" rectangle for the bag base sleeve (This goes inside the bag to stabilize the base; cut to best match the direction of your motif.)
  2. From the fabric for the lining and binding, cut the following:
    TWO 15¾" high x 17½" wide rectangles for the main bag panels
    TWO 9" high x 17½" wide rectangles for the pockets
    FOUR 2" x 17½" strips for the bag and pocket binding
  3. From the interfacing, cut the following:
    TWO 16¾" high x 17½" wide rectangles
    TWO 9" high x 17½" wide rectangles
  4. Cut the webbing into TWO 48" lengths.
  5. Cut the plastic canvas into ONE 4" x 12" rectangle

SMALL BAG

  1. From the exterior fabric, fussy cut the following:
    TWO 12¾" high x 17½" wide rectangles for the main bag panels
    TWO 8" high x 17½" wide rectangles for the pockets 
    ONE 10" x 14" rectangle for the bag base sleeve (This goes inside the bag to stabilize the base; cut to best match the direction of your motif.)
  2. From the fabric for the lining and binding, cut the following:
    TWO 11¾" high x 17½" wide rectangles for the main bag panels
    TWO 8" high x 17½" wide rectangles for the pockets
    FOUR 2" x 17½" strips for the bag and pocket binding
  3. From the interfacing, cut the following:
    TWO 12¾" high x 17½" wide rectangles
    TWO 8" high x 17½" wide rectangles
  4. Cut the webbing into TWO 40" lengths.
  5. Cut the plastic canvas into ONE 4" x 12" rectangle

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

NOTE: We are showing the medium bag in our construction steps below. The construction is the same for all sizes. 

Fusing

  1. Following the manufacturer's instructions, fuse the interfacing panels to the wrong side of both exterior panels and the pocket panel. In all cases, the raw edges of both layers (fabric and interfacing) should be flush all around. 

Pockets

  1. Place the exterior pocket panel and the pocket lining panel right sides together, aligning all the raw edges.
  2. Pin along the longer bottom edge only.
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch across the bottom edge only.
  4. Fold the lining and the main pocket panels so they are wrong sides together and press flat.
  5. Repeat to create the second pocket.
  6. Find two of the 2" binding strips.
  7. Fold one strip in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press to form a center crease. 
  8. Unfold so the crease line is visible. Press in each long edge to meet the center crease.
  9. Re-fold along the original crease line and press well again. The folded edges opposite the original crease line should now be flush.
  10. Slip the folded binding strip over the top raw edges of one pocket/lining. Make sure the top raw edges are right up against the center crease of the binding. 
  11. Pin in place. We also placed a few pins within the main body of the pocket to insure there'd be no shifting. 
  12. If necessary, re-thread your machine with thread to best match the binding in the top and bobbin. Slightly lengthen the stitch.
  13. Edgestitch the binding in place through all the layers. Go slowly and carefully to insure you catch both sides of the binding in this one seam.
  14. Repeat to bind the top edge of the second pocket. 
  15. Find the interfaced main front panel. Place it right side up on your work surface. 
  16. Measure 3" up from the bottom raw edge of the panel and draw a horizontal line with your fabric pen/pencil. 
  17. Place one pocket panel right side up on the main panel, aligning the seamed bottom edge of the pocket with the drawn line. Pin in place.
  18. If necessary, re-thread your machine with thread to best match the exterior fabric in the top and bobbin. Keep a slightly lengthened stitch.
  19. Edgestitch across the bottom of the pocket panel. 
  20. Repeat to attach the remaining pocket to the main back interfaced panel. 

Attaching the handles

  1. Find the two lengths of webbing. 
  2. Gently fold both the front and back panels in half to find the exact center or measure. 
  3. Place a pin at the center point along the bottom raw edge of each panel.
  4. Measure 3" to the right of center and place a pin. Measure 3" to the left of center and place another pin. 
  5. Place one loop on the front panel, aligning the inside edge of the webbing with the 3" pin mark. Follow the same placement for the remaining handle on the opposite exterior panel. 
  6. Pin the straps in place. Check to make sure the handle loop is a smooth curve; you don't want it to have twisted on itself during your pinning.
  7. Pull the straps up into place and pin in position, making sure the straps are perfectly straight up and down and the 6" middle spacing remains accurate.
  8. Place the last pin 1½" down from the top raw edge of the bag body. 
  9. Measure 1½" down from this last pin and place another pin. These two pins mark the top and bottom of the reinforcing "X Box" that will secure the top of each strap. 
  10. If necessary, re-thread your machine with thread to best match the webbing in the top and bobbin. Keep the slightly lengthened stitch.
  11. Edgestitch each side of the strap in place with an X Box at the top of each strap.
  12. To do this, start at the bottom, stitch up to the top 1½" pin mark (the top of the X Box) and stop.
  13. Pivot and stitch across the webbing. Stop at the opposite edge and pivot so you can stitch at a diagonal down to the second pin (the bottom of the X Box).
  14. Stop and pivot so you can stitch across the webbing, forming the bottom edge of the X Box. Stop at the opposite side and pivot to stitch an intersecting diagonal line to complete the X. 
  15. Stop at the stitching line, pivot, stitch back across the webbing, very carefully following in your original stitching line. 
  16. Stop at the opposite, pivot one more time, and continue down the opposite side of the strap to the bottom edge. 
  17. Repeat on the opposite side of the strap. 
  18. Then repeat all the steps to attach the remaining strap to the back panel.
    NOTE: The steps to create this securing box are detailed above, but if you are brand new to the technique, we have a full step-by-step tutorial on How to Sew an X Box you can review prior to starting. 

Seam and box corners

  1. Place the front and back panels right sides together. Be very careful to line up the edges of the pockets... 
  2. ... as well as the bottom of the straps. You want the pockets and the straps to look like a continuous line, so it's very important to take the time to make a perfect match.
  3. Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the fabric in the top and bobbin. Re-set the stitch length to normal. 
  4. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners.
  5. Our bag is designed to have 4½" sides and base. To create this width, we figured our corners at 2¼". 
  6. Measure and mark each corner. 
  7. Cut out the 2¼" corner squares along your drawn lines.
  8. Flatten the corner.
  9. Double stitch across the corner, using a ½" seam allowance.
  10. Repeat to create the opposite corner.
  11. Turn the bag right side out and push the corners out into place.

    NOTE: If you are new to boxed corners, check out our tutorial for step-by-step instructions.

Lining

  1. Place the two lining panels right sides together. Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom.
  2. Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the lining if necessary.
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners. 
  4. Following the same steps as above, measure for 4½" boxed corners, cutting out 2¼" squares from each corner.
  5. Flatten and double stitch, just as you did above. Leave the lining wrong side out.
  6. Slip the lining inside the main bag so the two bags are now wrong sides together. Align all the seams and the bottom corners. Pin the layers together around the entire top edge. Make sure the handles are folded down and out of the way of the top seam.

Top binding

  1. Find the remaining two 2" binding strips. 
  2. Place the two strips right sides together and stitch one end, using a ½" seam, creating one long strip. Press the seam open and flat.
  3. Press and fold this binding strip in the same manner as you did to create the pocket binding.
  4. Slip the binding over the raw to edges of the bag. Unlike the pockets, you do not have to insert the raw edges all the in against the center crease of the binding. Just gently slip the binding over the edges; this gives your binding a smoother finished look. Pin in place all around, centering the ends on one of the bag's side seams. 
  5. The machine should already be threaded with thread to best match the lining/binding in the top and bobbin and the stitch length shoud still be normal. 
  6. Pull the ends away from the bag. Unfold so both ends are flat. Measure ½" from the raw ends and pin the ends right sides together to complete your binding circle. Lay the binding back down against the back. If it is not a smooth fit, adjust your seam smaller or larger. 
  7. Pull the binding away again and stitch the ends, using a ½" seam allowance (or whatever seam allowance to which you adjusted above).
  8. Re-fold the binding, slip the final sewn portion into place over the top raw edges of the bag. Pin in place.
  9. Slightly lengthen the stitch. Edgestitch the binding in place all around the top of the bag. 

    NOTE: If you are new to working with binding, we have a great tutorial with lots of pictures.

Base insert

  1. Find the 10" x 14" fabric rectangle and the 4" x 12 plastic canvas insert. 
  2. Fold the fabric in half so it is now 5" x 14".
  3. Pin in place along one end and the long side. Leave the opposite end open. 
  4. If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to best match the exterior fabric in the top and bobbin. Re-set the stitch length to normal. 
  5. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch along the end and side, pivoting at the corner. 
  6. Clip the corners and press the seams open. 
  7. Turn the tube right side out and press flat. Insert the plastic canvas through the open end.
  8. Fold in the raw edges of the opening until they are flush with one another and pin together.
  9. Topstitch the ends closed through all layers.
  10. Insert the base into the bottom of the bag.
     
     

Contributors

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

Section: 

Comments (2)

ksmcquone said:
ksmcquone's picture

I have made so many of these totes...they're fast and easy!!  Love this pattern!

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

@kcmcquone - Thanks so much! We'd love to see some pics of your creations. If you follow us on social media, post a few so we can all be inspired. We are sew4home on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, and sew4home_diy on Instagram.