We’ve done totes and we’ve done yoga mat carriers, but – until now – we hadn’t combined the two in such a stylish way. Collect all your gear into a generously sized tote, then use the handy wraparound straps to secure your mat to the front of the bag. All-in-one and ready to head to class and back again. Pulling it together for both fashion and function is 1½” Dritz Belting for the handles, accent straps, and wraparound straps.
Our exterior fabric is a décor weight option with a soothing, Asian-inspired cherry blossom motif. We felt the serene design was an excellent choice for our yoga and meditation destination. We recommend staying with a home décor weight, a lightweight canvas or similar for the exterior. A quilting weight cotton would not be the best choice for this design.
The interior is hard-working ripstop nylon, which is water-resistant so you can carry slightly damp workout clothes and towels. Even our exterior panel pocket and interior hanging pocket have ripstop linings.
And, let’s talk about that hanging pocket! Does a fully-finished pocket unit with a center zipper look too tough to tackle? Not for you! It’s easier than you might think, certainly easier than a standard garment zipper insertion, and with our classic S4H step-by-step instructions and photos, you’ll be a hanging zippered pocket expert in no time. And yes, there is such a distinction as being a Hanging Zippered Pocket Expert. Put it on your resume!
There’s also a Dritz Swivel Hook on a handy leash on the inside of the tote, right next to your cool hanging pocket. Clip the Swivel Hook to your keys, making it super easy to simply grab onto the leash and pull them out. No more digging.
The tote panels are layered wrong sides together with the lining panels, with fusible fleece between, then sewn together to produce visible interior seam allowances that are bound for a clean finish. This makes construction easier and produces very smooth sides on the inside of the bag. A tight, smooth finish is always nice for the inside of a tote, but when you have a wipe-clean surface, like ripstop, it’s particularly important. If your lining is loose and baggy it’s pretty hard to wipe anything unless you have three hands!
Dritz Belting and Hardware, in the unique 1½” width, has become our new go-to here at Sew4Home. It’s perfect for bag making, when 1” can be too narrow and to 2” too big. It’s the Goldilocks of webbing width… just right!
The Belting lengths specified below, as well as the positioning of the Velcro® that holds the wraparound straps is place, is based on a standard yoga mat that rolls to approximately 5” in diameter. If your mat is 1” or more smaller or larger when rolled, see our notes below on how to attach the front straps one at a time to get the best fit.
The handles are long enough so you can choose to carry the tote by hand or slip it over your shoulder.
The look and feel of Dritz Belting is very similar to a natural fiber, although it’s actually tough 100% polyester. One of our favorite things about the product is the variety. No more limitations to only white, natural, or black! Dritz 1½” Belting comes in 13 colors and 4 stripe combinations, and the Hardware options are available in both matte black and nickel.
As always, we send a huge shout out to Dritz for providing us with access to their great new products and sponsoring these project instructions. Dritz always has wonderful ways to keep your sewing easier and more creative. To find out more, we invite you to visit their website or blog; or follow them on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
Our Yoga Tote finishes at approximately 15” wide x 15” high x 4” deep. The front strap length and Velcro® placement is sized to wrap around a standard yoga mat, which rolls to about 5” in diameter.
Love the look of the Dritz Belting used on this project? You may also love the other projects we’ve done with both the 1” Belting and the 1½” Belting: Unisex Belted Half Aprons, Slim Crossbody Shoulder Pouch, Fast and Easy Gym Tote, Washed Canvas Tote with Belting Handles and Drawstring Lining, and Feed Sack Big Bag.
Sewing Tools You Need
Fabric and Other Supplies
- 5 yards (three packages) of 1½” Dritz Belting/Strapping; we used Stone
NOTE: The packaged Dritz Belting comes in 2-yard lengths, we recommend three packages in order to insure each of the required pieces can be cut as a full length
- FOUR 1½” Dritz Rectangle Rings; we used nickel
- ONE ½” Dritz Swivel Hook; we used nickel
- Dritz Fray Check seam sealant for the cut ends of the belting
- 1 yard of 45”+ wide home décor weight print fabric for the exterior panels, exterior pocket, and lining pocket; we used 45” Dewdrop Blush Multipurpose Décor Fabric by Richloom
- ¾ yard of 54”+ wide ripstop nylon or similar in a coordinating solid for the lining panels and the lining of both the exterior pocket and interior hanging pocket; we used 59” Ripstop Nylon in White
- ⅝ yard of 45”+ fusible fleece; we used Pellon Thermolam Plus
- ½ yard of 45”+ mid-weight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon Decor Bond
- ½ yard of ¾” sew-in Velcro®; we used beige
- ONE plastic canvas panel for the base; you need a minimum 15” x 4” rectangle
- ONE 7” polyester zipper in a color to match the hanging pocket (lining pocket); we used gray
- TWO packages of extra wide double fold bias tape in a color to match the ripstop lining; we used white
- All-purpose thread to match fabric and belting
- See-through ruler
- Measuring tape
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Rotary cutter and mat
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
- Cut the Dritz Belting into the following lengths:
TWO 27” lengths for the handles
TWO 36” lengths for the front wraparound straps
TWO 18” lengths for the back straps
Seal both ends of each length with Dritz Fray Check
- From the exterior fabric, fussy cut the following:
TWO 16” wide x 19” high rectangles for the exterior front and back panels
TWO 5” wide x 19” high rectangles for the exterior side panels
ONE 16” wide x 5” high rectangle for the exterior base
ONE 6” wide x 10” high rectangle for the back exterior pocket
ONE 11” x 3” strip for the swivel hook leash
ONE 9” wide x 22” high rectangle for the interior hanging pocket
NOTE: When working with a directional fabric, it can be helpful to mark each of your pieces with an arrow indicating which way is up so you can keep track of everything throughout construction. We often add additional notes to keep track of Front and Back. Painter's tape is a good option for this.
Some fabrics come with markings within the selvedge. When a fabric is subtly directional, such as our floral, this helps insure you start your cuts with the fabric properly positioned.
- From the lining fabric, cut the following:
TWO 16” wide x 15½” high rectangles for the front and back panels
TWO 5” wide x 15½” high rectangles for the side panels
ONE 16” wide x 5” high rectangle for the base
ONE 6” wide x 10” high rectangle for the back exterior pocket
ONE 9” wide x 22” high rectangle for the interior hanging pocket
- From fusible fleece, cut the following:
TWO 15” x 15” rectangles for the front and back panels
TWO 4” x 15” rectangles for the side panels
ONE 15” x 4” rectangle for the base panel
- From fusible interfacing, cut the following:
ONE 5” x 9” rectangle for the back exterior pocket
ONE 8” wide x 4” high rectangle for the hanging pocket top
ONE 8” wide x 16” high rectangle for the hanging pocket bottom
- From the plastic canvas, cut ONE 15” x 4” panel.
- Cut the Velcro® into FOUR 3” lengths.
- The seam binding will be cut to fit during construction.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Find the five pieces of fusible fleece along with the four main exterior panels (front, back, and sides) and the plastic canvas panel.
- Place a fusible fleece panel on the wrong side of the four main exterior panels. Center the fleece so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the fleece along the sides and across the bottom. Along the top there should be 3½” of fabric showing beyond the fleece. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- The final piece of fleece is fused directly to the plastic canvas. Yes, we did test this, and yes, it can be done without melting the plastic canvas. The idea is to adhere the fleece to the canvas to create a solid, stable base that will then be sandwiched between the exterior and lining layers.
Create the hanging pocket
- Gather up all the elements for the hanging pocket: the 9” x 22” fabric and ripstop panels, the 8” x 4” and 8” x 16” pieces of fusible interfacing, the zipper, and a package of bias binding.
- Place the exterior and ripstop panels wrong sides together, all edges should be flush all around. Measure 5” down from the top raw edge and draw in a horizontal line. Cut along this drawn line through both layers to create one 9” x 5” upper section and one 9” x 17” lower section. We also placed a small piece of painter's tape at the exact center along our 5” line and sliced right through it in order to give ourselves an easy way to insure the motif matches across the zipper.
- Place an interfacing panel on the wrong side of the upper and lower exterior panels. Center each interfacing piece so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Arrange the panels to either side of your zipper. If working with a directional fabric, make sure everything is positioned properly.
- Place the zipper right side down along the top of the right side of lower exterior section.
- Place the lower lining section right side down on top of the exterior panel, sandwiching the zipper between the layers. Pin along the top raw edge through all the layers. All edges should be flush.
- Attach a Zipper foot. Stitch across the top through all the layers, running the seam close to the zipper teeth.
NOTE: As always, when working with zipper insertion, you’ll need to start with the zipper about half way open. Stitch up to the zipper pull, then stop – with the needle in the down position – raise the presser foot and gently twist the fabric to access the pull. Move the pull out of the way of the foot. Straighten the fabric, drop the presser foot, and continue stitching to the end of the seam.
- Press the panels down and wrong sides together, allowing the remaining free edge of the zipper to extend up.
- Place the smaller exterior top section right sides together with the top free edge of the zipper tape. Pin in place. This means your two exterior panels are right sides together.
- Flip over so the lining is now facing up.
- Place the smaller lining top section right sides together along the top free edge of the zipper. This means your two lining panels are right sides together. This is the same process you used for the bottom section, but because you are working with an already-sewn-in-place bottom section, the upper section panels (exterior and lining) are indeed right sides together – just on either side of the bottom section.
- Stitch across the top edge of the zipper through the layers. Press the panels up and away from the zipper so they are wrong sides together. And there you have it: exterior and lining to either side of a center zipper… yay!
- Fold the bottom raw edge up to align with the top raw edge, exterior layers right sides together. Pin along the sides.
- Cut a length of seam binding to match each pinned side edge. Your folded pocket should measure approximately 11”.
- Slip the binding over each raw side edge and stitch in place. Trim the top edge flush with the top of the pocket. Clip the bottom corners at a diagonal.
- Turn the pocket right side out through the open top. Using a long blunt tool, such as a knitting needle, chopstick or point turner, gently push out the bottom corners. Press the pocket flat.
- Unzip the pocket to check out your pretty finished interior with its water-resistant rip stop lining.
- Set aside the finished pocket.
Create the swivel hook leash
- Find the 11” x 3” fabric strip and the Dritz Swivel Hook.
- Fold the strip in half, wrong sides together, so it is now 11” x 1½” and press well to set a center crease line.
- Unfold wrong side up so the crease line is visible.
- Fold in both long raw sides edges to meet in the middle. Tuck in the raw edge of one end ½”. The opposite end remains raw. Press well.
- Edgestitch along both sides and across the folded-in end, pivoting at the corners.
- Loop the finished end through the Dritz Swivel Hook, bringing it back on itself about ¾”. Pin in place.
- Stitch across the end through all the layers to secure the Hook in place.
- Set aside the finished swivel hook leash.
Create the exterior back pocket
- Find the 6” x 10” exterior and lining panels and the 5” x 9” panel of interfacing. As you’ve done above, place the interfacing on the wrong side of the exterior panel, centering it so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Place the fused exterior and the lining panels right sides together. Pin along the top edge only.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across the top edge only.
- Flatten the layers. With the seam allowance pressed toward the lining, understitch across the panel.
- If you are brand new to understitching, check out our full tutorial. When the layers are re-folded into place (wrong sides together), the extra line of stitching allows the lining to stay in place at the back…
- …. creating a sharp edge from the front.
Add the Dritz Belting handles and straps
- Collect all six lengths of Dritz Belting. All ends of each length should have already bean sealed with the Dritz Fray Check.
- Find the four Dritz Rectangle Rings and the two 27” lengths of Belting for the handles.
- Slip each end of each handle length through a Rectangle Ring, pulling the end back on itself about 1”. Pin in place.
- Collect the front, back, and side panels, all of which should have their fleece panels fused in place. On each panel, fold down the top edge 3½” and press firmly in order to set a crease line. If the fleece was properly positioned, this means you are folding right along the top edge of the fleece. Unfold, right side up, so the crease lines are visible.
- Find the back panel, place it right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Find the back pocket panel. Place it right side up on top of the back panel. The bottom raw edges of the pocket should be flush with the bottom raw edges of the back panel and the pocket should be centered side to side. Lightly pin the pocket in place.
- Find the two 18” lengths of Dritz Belting.
- Place the Belting along either side of the pocket. The Belting should be centered over the raw side edges of the pocket so there is 5” between the inner edges of the Belting.
- The raw end of each length of Belting should be flush with the bottom raw edge of the back panel. Pin the two lengths of Belting in place.
- The top end of each length of Belting is looped through the Rectangle Rings of one handle. Carefully position the ring so it sits above the crease by about ¼”. Pull the raw end back on itself and behind the front of the Belting, about 1”. Pin in place.
- Take the extra time to make sure the positioning of the two rings is identical and that they are above the crease line. And, don’t forget to insure there are no twists in the loop of the handle. Remember, the ends of the handle are still just pinned in place. This is correct.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the belting in the top and bobbin. Slightly lengthen the stitch.
- Stitch across the top, through the double layers of Belting, pivot, edgestitch all the way down one side of the Belting, pivot at the very bottom and stitch across, pivot and edgestitch all the way back up the opposite side of the Belting, stopping at the upper horizontal stitching line where you started. We stitched across the top a second time to insure the Ring was extra secure. Lock your seam and remove from the machine. If possible, use a locking stitch to secure your seam at the start and the end for the cleanest finish. Repeat to stitch the opposite length of Belting in place.
- Set aside the back panel and find the front panel. Place it right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Collect the two 36” lengths of Dritz Belting and the Velcro® strips.
- Place the Belting onto the front panel to match the positioning on the back panel. The top ends extend just beyond the crease and are looped through the Rectangle Rings of the second handle in the same manner as you just did for the back. Of course, these lengths of Belting are much longer so they will extend beyond the raw bottom edge of the front panel. Pin the Belting in place.
- Edgestitch these lengths of Belting onto the panel in the same manner as you did on the back panel, but on this front panel, stop 1” up from the bottom raw edge and stitch across, then continue back up to the top.
- Find your four sets of Velcro®. Peel apart the sets. You’ll first place the loop (the soft) sides into position on the Belting. As shown in the photo below, the bottom of the Velcro® should sit 5” up from the bottom raw edge of the fabric panel. Two pieces should be butted together side to side within each length of Belting.
- If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to best match the Velcro® in the top and bobbin. Keep the slightly lengthened stitch. Edgestitch the Velcro® in place. Stitch around all sides of both pieces.
- The hook side of the Velcro® (the scratchy side) should be placed at the free end of each length of Belting.
- The bottom end of these Velcro® pieces should be ½” up from the bottom end of the Belting. Remember this end wraps up and around the mat, so both sides of the Velcro® are on the same side of the Belting.
NOTE: In our photos above, you’ll notice the edgestitching is on just one side. We did one side at a time to confirm the positioning of the Velcro® to correctly wraparound our yoga mat. As mentioned, it is positioned to fit a standard yoga mat that rolls to approximately 5” in diameter. Because we have tested this already, you can edgestitch both lengths of Belting in place at one time, and place both sets of Velcro®, etc. However, if your yoga mat is smaller or larger by 1" or more, you may want to stitch one side in place first as we did, wrap around your mat and confirm your specific Velcro® positioning.
- Once the straps are properly stitched in place against the front and back panels, you can secure the ends of the handles around the Rectangle Rings with an X-Box stitch. We used a box approximately ½” in height and the full width of the Belting. If you are brand new to this securing stitch, take a look at our X-Box Tutorial.
- Here are the main panels with the Dritz Belting properly attached to the front and back panels and the handles secured.
Layer and baste all five main panels
- Each of the five panels that make up the tote (front, back, sides, and base) is layered wrong sides together, with the fleece sandwiched between. When assembled, the visible seam allowances will be bound to finish. This is our preferred method when working with many large tote linings, and especially with ripstop nylon, which has a tendency to be very baggy and loose. By layering each panel, the interior of the tote is smooth and flat – a better look, and with a wipe-clean surface like ripstop, much easier to maintain.
- On the front, back, and both sides simply layer the fused exterior (with Belting in place on the front and back - close up the Velcro® on the front so it stays out of the way during this final construction) wrong sides together with the ripstop lining, pin in place, and machine baste around the three sides of each panel that are flush: the sides and the bottom; at the top the lining is aligned with the top of the fleece along the crease line of the exterior.
- On the base, sandwich the fleece/plastic canvas panel between the exterior and lining layers. It should be centered side to side and top to bottom. The exterior and lining layers are flush on all sides. As you did with the other panels, pin the layers in place…
- … then machine baste around all four sides. We re-threaded with thread to best match the fabric and switched to a Zipper foot in order to baste as close as possible to the fleece/plastic canvas panel.
Assemble the front, back, and side panels, and finish with seam binding
- Find all your main panels, which should be layered and basted in place.
- Pin the sides to the front.
- Repeat to pin the sides to the back to create a tube open at the top and bottom.
- Re-set the stitch length to normal. Stitch each of these four seams with a ½" seam allowance.
- As you did above with the hanging pocket, cut a length of seam binding to match each side seam. Open up the binding and slip it over the seam allowance to conceal the raw edges. Pin in place. You are just wrapping the seam allowance. There are quite a few layers making up each seam allowance, you can opt to grade and trim each seam allowance prior to wrapping for the best fit.
- If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to best match the binding in the top and bobbin. Slightly lengthen the stitch.
- Edgestitch along the inner fold of the binding through all the layers. Go slowly and carefully to insure you are catching both sides of the binding in this one seam. Remember, you are just stitching the binding around the seam allowance; you should not be stitching onto the main panels at all. If your machine has the ability to adjust the needle position, you can use that feature to move your needle to the left to allow you to get as close as possible to the seam line. We chose to use a Zipper foot to get in close.
Insert the base and finish with seam binding, fold and finish the top facing
- Find the base panel. On each side, find the center point and mark this point with a pin.
- Then, mark ½” from each corner.
- Find the exterior tube. Gently turn it wrong side out.
- Mark the center points of the bottom raw-edged opening of the tube in the same manner, finding the center points of the front, back, and both side sections.
- Place the base panel right sides together with the tube. It’s a little like you’re setting a lid upside down into the opening of a box. Align all the center pin points, then the corner points, then fill in between as needed.
- We like to start with one short side, but the order of sides is completely up to you. Using the corner pin point as your guide, start your seam ½” in and stitch across to the opposite outer pin. You are using a ½” seam allowance.
- Remove the project from under the needle.
- In order to create the flattest base possible, clip into each corner. Snip into the corner at diagonal at a depth of about ⅜". You are clipping right up to but not through your stitching line.
- Re-set and stitch the remaining three sides of the base panel. You are stitching one side at a time, starting and stopping ½” in at the marked corners, and clipping into each corner.
NOTE: We have summarized the steps of this standard technique. If you are brand new to inserting a flat base panel, we have a full step-by-step tutorial you can review prior to starting this project: How to Insert a Rectangular Base into a Tube.
- As above, cut a length of seam binding to wrap and finish the base panel’s seam allowance. For this seam allowance, you will be working around the bulk of the side seam binding so you’ll need to fold and wrap accordingly at each corner.
- To finish, tuck under the raw end and overlap.
- Turn the tote right side out, pushing out the bottom corners so they are as square as possible. Press.
- At the top, fold back the top raw edge ½” and then fold an additional 3”, which should be right along that original crease line you used above for all the Belting placement.
- Find the hanging pocket and the Swivel Hook leash. Slip the hanging pocket into place against the back panel. The pocket should be inserted behind the facing so its top raw edge is flush up against the crease of the facing. The Swivel Hook leash should be inserted just under the inner folded edge of the facing – about ½". Center the leash between the edge of the hanging pocket and the tote’s side panel. The illustration below shows the positioning.
- Pin the facing in place all around.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the exterior fabric in the top and bobbin. Slightly lengthen the stitch. If your machine has a free arm, this is a great time to use it. We worked with the tote wrong side out. Topstitch all the way around the top of the tote, staying close to the inner folded edge of the facing.
NOTE: Our Janome machines form beautiful stitches from both the top and the bobbin, so stitching wrong side out to finish (which means the bobbin thread is showing on the bag's exterior) is not a problem. And, it makes it easier to keep the topstitching a perfectly even distance from the inner folded edge of the facing. If you are worried about your machine's stitch precision, you could certainly stitch with the bag right side out. To do this, you'd want to use a Quilt Guide Bar or draw in a line to follow, with a removable marking tool.
We received compensation from Dritz® for this project, and some of the materials featured here or used in this project were provided free of charge by Dritz®. All opinions are our own.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Kathy Andrews, What Sew Ever