Dritz Leaderboard_2019_Visit Dritz_new logo

Facebook Twitter Sew4Home RSS Feed Follow Me on Pinterest Instagram


Haunted Halloween: Ruffled & Reflective Tote Bag

Printer-friendly versionPDF version

Click to Enlarge

Why must Halloween totes only come in the shape of big plastic pumpkins? Surveys say ghosts, ghouls and well-dressed witches overwhelmingly prefer a beautiful bag. Whether you're carrying magic pumpkins and eye of newt, a few spell-binding books, or oodles of Halloween candy, this tote is the perfect choice. Raw-edged ruffles made from Jelly Roll strips decorate both sides along with a bright strip of reflective tape to catch the beam of a headlight or flashlight. Fully lined, it's just as pretty inside as out.

All our 2010 Haunted Halloween projects are all made from pre-cuts; we used Haunted Mansion by Sanae for Moda Fabrics . The actual pieces we chose are listed in the instructions below. Our friends at Fat Quarter Shop have a good selection of Haunted Mansion in stock now in both pre-cuts and yardage.

For more information on pre-cuts, check out our article: Jelly Rolls to Layer Cakes: A Lesson in Fabric Pre-Cuts.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

Click to Enlarge

  • FOUR Fat Quarters; if you are not using pre-cut Fat Quarters, you will need four pieces of fabric 18" x 22"
  • TWO Charm Squares; if you are not using pre-cut Charm Squares, you will need two pieces of fabric 5" x 5"
  • SIX Jelly Roll Strips; if you are not using pre-cut Jelly Rolls, you will need six strips of fabric 2½" x 44"
  • 1½ yards of ½" sew-on reflective tape
  • ¾ yard of lightweight batting
  • Scrap or ¼ yard of lightweight fusible interfacing, you only need enough to cut TWO 2" x 22" strips
  • All-purpose thread in color to match with fabric: we used dark gray
  • See-through ruler
  • Seam gauge
  • Fabric pencil, pen or chalk
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Straight pins
  • 1 skein of embroidery floss to contrast with fabric: we used black
  • Large-eye hand sewing needle

Getting Started

  1. From the four Fat Quarters (or the four 18" x 22" pieces):
    Cut the main bag Fat Quarter (Forest Gray in our sample) into TWO 22" wide x 9" tall rectangles.
    Cut the main lining Fat Quarter (Black Stripe in our sample) into TWO 22" wide x 9" tall rectangles.
    Cut the edge highlight Fat Quarter (Black/Gray Dots in our sample) into FOUR 22" x 3" strips.
    Cut the exterior/interior base Fat Quarter (Gray Spider Web in our sample) into TWO 22" x 6" strips.
  2. The TWO Charm Squares (or 5" x 5" fabric pieces) require no cutting; we used Green Wallpaper and Orange Wallpaper .
  3. Cut each of the TWO handle strap Jelly Roll strips (or 2½" x 44" fabric strips) into TWO 2½" x 22" strips, giving you FOUR 2½" x 22" strips total; we used Black Campfire .
  4. The remaining FOUR Jelly Roll strips require no cutting; we used Green Wallpaper, Purple Wallpaper, Green Trick and Purple Trick .
  5. Cut the reflective tape into TWO 22" strips.
  6. From the lightweight batting, cut ONE 22" x 25" rectangle.
  7. From the fusible interfacing, cut TWO 2" x 22" strips.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Assemble the bag exterior and lining

  1. Align one exterior main panel with one base panel along the 22" edges. Pin in place.
  2. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the two panels together. Press seam open.
  3. Align the remaining exterior main panel with the opposite 22" edge of the base panel. Pin in place.
  4. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch these two panels together. Press seam open.
    NOTE: If you use a fabric with a directional print as we did, make sure to position the first panel running up and the second panel running down. You will fold the bag in half to finish it, so the bottom piece must start upside down in order to finish right side up.
  5. Align one edge highlight strip to the top 22" edge of your just-assembled three-panel unit and one edge highlight strip to the 22" bottom edge.
  6. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch both strips in place. Press seam open.
    Click to Enlarge
  7. Repeat steps 1-6 to create the lining.  
    Click to Enlarge
  8. Both the finished exterior piece and the finished lining should now measure 22" wide x 25"-26" high.
    NOTE: By strict math, the finished panel should be 26", but pre-cuts are not always 100% nor are our seams (well... at least my seams). The most important thing to remember is to keep everything nice and straight and square and make sure the front, the batting and the lining are all identical so they lay flat and smooth when assembled.
  9. Place the batting on the wrong side of the finished lining. Align all the raw edges, being very careful to make sure both pieces are super flat. Pin in place all around. Check again that both layers have stayed flat.
  10. Machine baste the two layers together along all four sides, staying about ¼" from the raw edges. Press well.
    Click to Enlarge

Make and attach the ruffles and reflective tape

  1. Find the four Jelly Roll strips (or 2½" x 44" fabric strips) you have selected for the ruffles. Split the four strips into two pairs and layer wrong sides together. (We paired Green Wallpaper with Purple Wallpaper, intending for the Green to face out and the purple to face in, and paired Green Trick with Purple Trick, intending for the purple to face out and the green to face in.)
  2. With your two pairs pinned wrong sides together, run one line of machine basting down the middle approximately 1" from one raw edge. Then run a second line of machine basting 1/8" from the first line.
  3. Gather each stitched strip from 44" down to 22" to fit the width of the bag. You will end up with gathered strips that are slightly shorter on top than on the bottom.
    Click to Enlarge
    NOTE: If you are new to gathering and ruffling, take a look at our great tutorial on using this foot. I simply did these ruffles by hand since there were just two and they only reduced from 44" to 22".
  4. Place one gathered strip at the top of the bag exterior piece and one at the bottom. To position, center the two lines of machine basting over the seam line of the highlight strip. The shorter edge of the ruffle should be facing the highlight strip top and bottom. Pin in place.
    NOTE: The edges of the ruffles are raw so they can ravel and fray for a tattered, 'witchy' look.
  5. Place a reflective strip along each ruffle strip, covering the lines of machine basting. Pin in place.
    Click to Enlarge
  6. Edgestitch the reflective tape along both long sides, securing both the tape and the ruffle.
    NOTE: There's no need to stitch the ends as these will be caught and secured in the side seams of the bag.
    Click to Enlarge

Attach front 'hobo patches'

  1. Press under the raw edges of the TWO Charm Squares (or 5" x 5" pieces of fabric) ¼".
    Click to Enlarge
  2. Position on the bag as shown (or as you'd like) and pin in place.
    Click to Enlarge
  3. Re-thread the machine with thread to match the Charm Squares in the top and bobbin.
  4. Topstitch around all four sides approximately 1/8" to ¼" from the folded edge.
    Click to Enlarge
  5. Thread a large-eye hand sewing needle with embroidery floss. I used all six threads... just as it comes off the skein, for a nice thick look.
  6. Hand-stitch twelve large 'Xs' around the four sides of each patch (three on each side) so they look like hobo patches.
    NOTE: I took the time to measure and mark my nine stitch points with pins so they would be even all the way around.
    Click to Enlarge

Side seams and boxed bottom corners

  1. Re-thread your machine with thread to match your main fabrics in the top and bobbin.
  2. Fold the lining piece right sides together, matching seams along the raw edges. Pin in place.
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch both sides together from the bottom up to the top.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 with the exterior bag piece, being super careful that your bottom seams and the raw edges of the ruffle/tape strips align. You want a nice straight wraparound across your side seam.
  5. With the lining still wrong side out, the next step is to box the bottom corners of the bag.
  6. Using both hands, pinch and pull apart the bottom corner.
  7. As you keep pulling, the fabric will begin to make a little peak with the corner point at the top and the side seam line running down the middle of one side.
  8. Measure 2" from the tip of the peak and draw a horizontal line.
    Click to Enlarge
  9. Pin your folded 'peak' and stitch along this drawn line.
  10. Stitch back and forth along the line two or three times to reinforce. Trim away the peak on each side to about ¼" from the seam line.
    Click to Enlarge
  11. Turn right side out and push out to form the boxed corners.
    Click to Enlarge
  12. Repeat steps 4-11 to form boxed corners on the exterior bag piece.

Handles and finishing the top edge

  1. Find the FOUR 22" x 2½" handle strips.
  2. Center a 2" x 22" piece of fusible interfacing on two of the strips and fuse in place following manufacturer's directions.
  3. Layer the two interfaced strips with the two remaining place strips right sides together. Pin in place, matching all raw edges.
    Click to Enlarge
  4. Using a ¼" seam allowance, stitch along both long sides of both handle pairs. The ends remain open and raw.
  5. Turn right side out and press flat with the seams running along the sides.
    Click to Enlarge
  6. Turn under the top raw edge of the exterior bag and lining ½" and press in place.
  7. Turn the lining wrong side out and and slip it inside the bag so the lining and the bag are wrong sides together.
    Click to Enlarge
  8. Align the side seams of the lining and the bag and the top folded edges. Pin the lining to the bag along these top folded edges all the way around the opening of the bag.
  9. Find the center point of the bag and place a pin to mark it.
  10. Measure 3" to each side of center and and place a pin to mark both points.
  11. Insert the raw edges of the handle so the inside edge of the handle aligns with the 3" points you just marked with your pins.
    Click to Enlarge
  12. Repeat to insert the other handle on the opposite side.
    NOTE: Check to make sure both straps make a smooth loop and are even with one another so you can place one over the other and carry as a tote.
  13. Stitch all around the top opening of the the bag ¼" from the folded edges, attaching the lining to the bag and securing the handles.
  14. Stitch a second seam all the way around, 1/8" from the first seam.


Project Design: Alicia Thommas   
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Liz Johnson



Comments (3)

Cynthia M said:
Cynthia M's picture
This is such a cute and chic idea. And those directions are very inspiring, as this project doesn't look overwhelming. Thanks for the lift!!