Summer is out-and-about time. Time for traveling near and far. Time for a tote that can stand up to all the adventures. Our Super Study Summer Tote is ready to roll. Double cap rivets add strength to the bag’s straps and other stress points. They are easy to work with and look great when installed. Our fabric choice for this project was a classic cabana stripe canvas, and we added a pretty monogram on the front pocket to both personalize as well as identify… an important feature when your belongings get piled with other’s during a day at the beach or park. Read on for all the step-by-step instructions, including the cool reverse box riveted corners.
This is a generously sized tote, and the open top makes it easy to load and unload. The boxed corners finish at 5” deep, but as you can see in the photos above and below, those are not traditional boxed corners. We show you the steps to create a reverse box that is riveted in place with the double cap rivets so the tote really lives up to its Super Sturdy name.
There are also rivets keeping the straps secure: four in the front and six in the back. We chose a cool gunmetal finish, which was a perfect compliment to the gray stripe in our feature fabric.
Foam interfacing (we like FlexFoam® by Pellon) gives the tote great structure, but does mean the final layers are quite substantial. Make sure you use setting tools specifically designed for your rivets. We used the Dritz setting tools and were able to add all sixteen rivets with little issue. For your best results, we always recommend doing the rivet setting on a very hard surface; we like to use a small block of granite. And, we would not recommend increasing the thickness of any of your substrates. You also have the option for looking for special long post rivets if you are concerned about the thickness. These rivets can often be found at leather supply outlets.
Our cabana stripe fabric is originally from the Sevenberry Canvas collection from Robert Kaufman Fabrics. Although this exact fabric may no longer be available, this kind of classic wide stripe is a constant in the world of home décor fabrics. We wanted a fun pop of color for the interior to compliment the subtle gray and natural tones of the exterior, and so chose the graphic Feathers print in a rich cantaloupe – originally from the Gleaned collection by Carolyn Friedlander.
The finishing touch, which adds a cute accent splash, is the optional tassel along the top of the tote. We used a Swivel Hook and D-ring set, fashioning a pretty Broomstick Tassel onto the hook so it can be taken on and off. It would be a great clip to keep track of keys while you’re out and about…. or running into the waves to cool off.
Since we designed this tote for summer excursions, we added a handy horizontal strap at the back that can be slipped over the handle of a piece of rolling luggage. The width on our sample is 6”, which should work for most standard handles. That said, we do suggest measuring your bag to insure it is right for you; some handles flare out at the top, which could mean you need a slightly wider strap. This is an easy alteration to make; just remember you will need to adjust the position of the handle straps to match on both the back and front panels, and depending on the final width required, you might even need to enlarge the front pocket just a bit.
Our Super Sturdy Summer Tote finishes at approximately 15½” high x 15” wide x 5” deep.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing machine and standard presser foot
NOTE: You’ll need a machine with a monogram feature if you want to add the cool monogram on the front pocket as we did on our sample; we originally used the Janome MC9900.
- Walking or Even Feed foot; or use your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system, such as the great AcuFeed™ Flex system we use on our Janome models
Fabric and Other Supplies
- 1 yard of 43”+ wide mid-weight canvas or similar in a bold print for the bag exterior; we originally used Sevenberry Stripe Canvas in Gray from Robert Kaufman Fabrics – a 6.5oz cotton/flax blend canvas
- 1 yard of 44”+ wide quilting weight cotton for the lining; we originally used Feathers in Cantaloupe from the Gleaned collection by Carolyn Friedlander for Robert Kaufman Fabrics
- 1 yard of 20”+ wide fusible foam; we used Pellon FlexFoam
- ¼ yard of 20”+ wide lightweight fusible interfacing; we used 20” Pellon ShapeFlex
- 3½ yards of 1¼” – 1½” wide webbing; we used 1½” cotton webbing in natural
- SIXTEEN Double Cap Rivets in gunmetal; we originally used Dritz Double Cap Rivets in gunmetal
- Appropriate Cutting & Setting Tools for your Double Cap Rivets; we originally used Dritz Rivet Cutting & Setting Tools for Double Cap Rivets
- ONE ½” Swivel Hook and D-Ring for the optional tassel
- Seam sealant for the rivet holes; we used Dritz Fray Check
- ¼ yard of ½” wide twill tape; if adding the optional tassel
- FOUR skeins of pearl cotton floss in four coordinating colors; if adding the optional tassel
- ¼ yard of ¼” wide cotton cording; if adding the optional tassel
- All-purpose thread to match fabric and webbing
- Contrasting thread in all-purpose or rayon for the optional monogram; we used all-purpose thread in a gray slightly darker than our fabric’s stripe
- Bobbin thread for optional monogram
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Rotary cutter and mat
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
- Small hammer to set rivets; we recommend a soft leather mallet or a ball peen hammer
- Heavy metal, stone or wooden block to use as a cutting and hammering surface; we use a small granite block
- From the main exterior fabric (Sevenberry Stripe in our sample), fussy cut the following:
NOTE: With the cool stripe we chose, we recommend cutting the panels so the stripes run two different directions on the upper and lower sections. It’s a cool look!
TWO 21” wide x 14” high rectangles for the upper exterior panels; stripes running horizontally
TWO 21” wide x 6½” high rectangles for the lower exterior panels; stripes running vertically
ONE 7” wide x 9” high rectangle for the front exterior pocket; stripes running horizontally
NOTE: If doing the optional monogram, cut this panel larger than needed to best fit your embroidery hoop. We cut one approximately 12” wide x 10” high panel to hoop.
- From the fabric for the lining (Gleaned in Cantaloupe in our sample), cut the following:
TWO 21” wide x 18” high rectangles for the main lining panels
ONE 7” wide x 8” high rectangle for the exterior pocket lining
ONE 21” wide x 15” high rectangle for the lining pocket
- From the fusible foam, cut TWO 20” x 18” rectangles.
- From the lightweight interfacing, cut ONE 20” x 7” for the lining pocket.
- Cut the webbing into TWO 52” lengths for the straps and ONE 8½” length for the luggage slip-over strap.
NOTE: As mentioned above, the finished slip-over opening on our sample is 6”. Measure the handle on your rolling luggage to insure this is the proper width for your bag.
- Cut the twill tape into ONE 5” length; if adding the optional tassel.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Select the embroidery of your choice, adjusting it as needed to best fit the front of the pocket. We originally used a built-in framed monogram from the selection on our Janome MC9900. The finished size is approximately 3¼” wide x 3” high.
- Find the exterior pocket panel, which should be cut larger than its final size in order to fit your hoop. This is known as “hooping wild,” meaning you hoop plenty of fabric to embroider and then cut down the piece to size when done.
- Layer with stabilizer as directed by your machine’s instructions.
- Hoop the fabric.
- Thread the machine with the appropriate contrasting color thread in the top and bobbin thread in the bobbin.
- Attach the hoop to the machine.
- Set-up the machine for embroidery and embroider the monogram.
- On our Janome machine, the frame stitches out first….
- … and then the lettering.
- When the embroidery is complete, trim the pocket panel down to 7” wide x 9” high, centering the monogram within the trimmed panel.
Finish the pocket prep
- Find the exterior pocket panel (with or without the monogram), and the exterior pocket lining panel.
- Along the top raw edge the exterior pocket panel, create a simple ½” double fold hem. To do this, fold the raw edge back ½” and press.
- Fold an additional ½” and press again.
- Place the lining panel wrong sides together with the exterior panel, tucking the top raw edge of the lining panel under the folded hem of the exterior panel. Re-fold and pin the hem in place through all the layers.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the exterior fabric in the top and bobbin. Re-set the machine, if needed, for standard sewing. Slightly lengthen the stitch. Topstitch across the top of the pocket through all the layers to secure the hem.
- Set aside the pocket.
Create and place the webbing handles and luggage strap
- Find the two 52” webbing lengths, which will become the straps. Fold each length in half to find the center and mark this point with a pin.
- Measure 2½” to the right of center and 2½” to the left of center. Place a pin at each of these points.
- Fold each strap in half, across the width, and re-pin through the doubled layers from outer pin point to outer pin point.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the webbing in the top and bobbin. Keep a slightly lengthened the stitch.
- On each strap, edgestitch through all the layers from the left outer pin mark to the right outer pin mark. This creates a thinner, sturdier section as a carrying point for the handles. You’ve likely seen this technique on many commercial totes.
- Find the back upper exterior panel and the 8½” length of webbing. Place the exterior panel right side up and flat on your work surface. Place the luggage strap horizontally across the panel. This length of webbing should be centered side to side and should sit approximately 4½” up from the bottom raw edge of the fabric panel. We say “approximately” because we used the fabric motif stripes themselves as our guidelines.
- Find one of the handle straps, which should have that center section stitched in half.
- Place the raw ends of the strap flush with the bottom raw edge of the fabric panel, spreading the straps so they are 6” apart and covering the raw ends of the horizontal luggage strap. Make sure the webbing creates a clean loop above the top raw edge of the fabric panel; you don’t want any twists or turns in the webbing. Pin the webbing in place along both sides from the bottom up approximately 10½” along each side. Again, we say “approximately” because we aligned our stop point with the bottom edge of one of the fabric motif stripes.
- The machine should still be threaded with thread to best match the webbing in the top and bobbin and the stitch should still be slightly lengthened.
- Edgestitch along both sides of the webbing, stopping to crossover from one edge to the other at the 10½” mark.
- Find the front upper exterior panel, the front pocket panel, and the remaining handle strap. Place the exterior panel right side up and flat on your work surface. Place the pocket right side up on the exterior panel. The bottom raw edge of the pocket panel and the bottom raw edge of the main fabric panel should be flush. The pocket should be centered side to side, which means it should be 7” in from each raw side edge of the fabric panel.
- Place the handle into position exactly as you did on the back panel, making sure the two sides are the same 6” apart. It is very important that the webbing lines up front to back. Pin the handle strap in place from the bottom raw edge up 10½” , again taking the time to make sure there are no twists in the loop.
- As you did on the back panel, stitch along each edge of both sides of the webbing.
- Cross over at the marked 10½” point.
Finish the front and back panels and add the foam interfacing
- Find the two lower exterior panels. Place a lower panel right sides together along the bottom of each upper panel, sandwiching the webbing between the layers. Pin in place.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the fabric in the top and bobbin. Re-set the stitch length to normal.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across the panels through all the layers.
- Press the seam allowance down towards the lower panel.
- Slightly lengthen the stitch.
- Topstitch along each horizontal seam within the lower panel.
- Both the front and the back panels are created in the same manner.
- Find the foam panels. Center the foam on the wrong side of each fabric panel so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the foam along both sides and across the bottom and 1” of fabric showing beyond the foam along the top.
- Trim all the edges of the foam at a slight angle to allow a smooth fit within the seam allowances.
- At each bottom corner, cut out a 3” square.
- Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the foam panels in place.
Add the strap rivets
- The strap rivets are added once the foam is fused in place on both panels.
- On both the front and back panels there are two sets of two rivets at the upper portion of the strap. The topmost rivet sits just under the cross over stitching on the webbing (the 10½” marked point from above). The second rivet is 1½” below the first, which on our fabric meant it was nicely centered within a gray stripe.
- On only the back panel, there is also one rivet within each side of the strap, centered within the horizontal luggage strap. Mark for all ten rivets.
- The drawing below shows you the positioning for all ten strap rivets as well as the reverse box corner rivets.
- Collect the Double Cap Rivets and the Setting Tools.
- First cut the hole with the Cutting Tool.
- Set the back cap into position through the hole from back to front.
- You should use a very hard surface to hammer against for the best seal. We like to use a small block of granite.
- Place the front cap onto the stud of the back cap, and, using the setting anvil, hammer to seal.
- Repeat to add each of the ten strap rivets.
NOTE: Riveting is easier than you might think, and we’ve summarized the steps above. If you’re brand new, check out our full Metal Rivets Tutorial.
Assemble front to back and create the riveted reverse box corners
- Place the front and back panels right sides together. Pin along both sides and across the bottom. We engaged the AcuFeed™ Flex built-in fabric feeding system for these steps with the thicker panels. You could also switch to a Walking or Even Feed foot.
- The machine should still be threaded with thread to best match the fabric in the top and bobbin. Re-set the stitch length to normal.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom.
- Remember, the foam is cut away from the bottom corners, so when stitching across and pivoting at the bottom corners, you are stitching on just the main fabric panels.
- Clip the bottom corners and press open the seam allowances.
- Turn the bag right side out. Firmly push out the corners, with your finger or a blunt tool, so they are as flat as possible.
- Press the corners, further flattening them.
- Around the top, pre-press the folds of what will become the upper hem of the tote. To do this, fold down the raw edge ½” and press well to set a visible crease, then fold an additional ½” and press well again. Unfold so both crease lines are visible.
- Along the bottom you will create two reverse box corners. To do this, fold up each corner so the point of the corner is centered on the side seam and ½” down from the horizontal panel seam. Because you trimmed away the foam at these bottom corners, the fabric will want to naturally fold into this position (thank you, fabric).
- As above, first cut the holes using the Cutting Tool. There is one rivet at the point of each corner.
- Add one rivet approximately ½” – 1” from that center rivet along each side, working down the diagonal. We sealed our cut holes with seam sealant to stop any raveling.
- The double cap rivets are finished front and back, which means you can work from either the front of the back. Because of the thickness of the layers, we recommend working with the setting tools against the inside of the bag.
- Set the center rivet first and then each side rivet.
- The three rivets, which go through all the layers at each corner, are what create the reverse boxes. You have a lot of layers here, and as we mention above, we recommend using a very hard surface on which to work. We like to use a small block of granite. Always make sure your holes are cut cleanly all the way through.
Create the lining
- Find the two 21″ x 18″ main lining pieces, the 21″ x 15″ lining pocket panel, and the 20” x 7” lightweight interfacing panel.
- The lining pocket is a simple panel pocket. Fold the fabric piece in half, wrong sides together, so it is now 21” x 7½”, and press to set a center crease.
- Unfold wrong side up so the crease line in visible. Place the interfacing panel against one half of the pocket panel. One long side of the interfacing should be aligned with the center crease and there should be ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing along both sides and across the bottom. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Re-fold the pocket right sides together, matching all the raw edges. Pin in place along the bottom only.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the fabric in the top and bobbin.
Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along the bottom only.
- Turn the pocket right side out through one of the open ends. Press flat.
- Position the pocket on one lining panel. The raw side edges of the pocket should be flush with the raw side edges of the lining panel, and the bottom seamed edge of the pocket should sit 5½” up from the bottom raw edge of the fabric panel. Pin the pocket in place along the bottom.
- Measure 7” in from each raw side edge and draw in a vertical pocket division line. Place a few pins horizontally across each line.
- Slightly lengthen the stitch.
- Topstitch the pocket in place along the bottom seamed edge and stitch along each of the two drawn pocket dividing lines.
- Place the front and back lining panels right sides together, sandwiching the sewn pocket between the layers. Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom
- Re-set for a normal stitch length.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom. Remember to pivot at the corners.
- Create 5″ traditional box corners, which means your “box” will be half that size or 2½“. Measure a box at each corner. Cut out both boxes.
- Press open the seam allowances and align the side and bottom seams, flattening each corner into a little peak. Pin across the corner.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, double stitch across the corner.
NOTE: If you are new to this technique, check out our tutorial: How To Box Corners for more details.
Final bag assembly with optional tassel loop
- With the lining still wrong side out and the exterior right side out, slip the lining inside the exterior so the two are now wrong sides together. Unfold top hem of the exterior (the two ½” folds).
- Align the side seams and the bottom corners. Position the lining so its pocket is against the back of the exterior (its non-pocket side). The top raw edge of the lining should sit about 1” down from the top, unfolded edge of the exterior.
- Re-fold the top hem of the exterior so the folded down hem covers the top raw edge of the lining. Pin the hem in place all around.
- If adding the loop for the tassel swivel hook, find the 5” length of twill tape and the ½” D-ring.
- Slip the twill tape through the D-ring, pulling it all the way through so the ends of the tape are flush with one another.
- The loop is positioned against the front exterior panel approximately 1” from the bag’s left strap. Unfold a small section of the top hem in order to align the raw ends of the twill tape with the raw edge of the unfolded hem. Pin together.
- Re-fold the hem into position, folding the twill tape along with it. Pin the tape into position against the hem so the tape and D-ring hang down against the front exterior panel of the bag. This means you’ll stitch the loop against both the back and the front of the hem so it will be very secure.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the exterior fabric in the top and bobbin. Slightly lengthen the stitch.
- Edgestitch all the way around the top, staying close to the bottom fold of the hem.
- Using our Broomstitck Tassel tutorial, create one tassel attached to the ½” swivel hook. Clip the swivel hook onto the D-ring.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild