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Tote Bag and Purse Tutorial

Tote Bag and Purse Tutorial

This roomy tote, with its bright and easy daisy applique, and a matching purse are perfect companions for summer shopping trips.

Finished size
Bag: approx 33 x 48cm (13 x 19in)
Purse: approx 20 x 13cm (8 x 5in)

For the Bag
✦  50cm (1⁄2yd) main fabric for bag exterior
✦  10cm (1⁄8yd) contrast fabric
✦  40cm (1⁄2yd) lining fabric
✦  40cm (1⁄2yd) lightweight backing fabric for quilting
✦  Two pieces 53.5 x 39.5cm (21 x 15 1⁄2in) low-loft wadding
✦  Small pieces of cotton fabrics for the appliqué
✦  70 x 4cm (28 x 1 1⁄2in) iron-on interfacing for handles and daisy centres
✦  30 x 20cm (12 x 8in) lightweight fusible web
✦  Large sheet of paper, at least 50 x 38cm (20 x 15in) to make a bag pattern
✦  Small piece of thick card or Mylar plastic for daisy centres
✦  Threads to match fabrics – use a 50- or 60-weight thread for the appliqué
✦  Stranded embroidery cotton to outline flowers
✦  2cm (1⁄4in) diameter button
✦  1.5cm (1⁄2in) diameter snap hook

For the Purse
The purse can be made using the leftover fabric scraps from the bag or use the following list
✦  23 x 13cm (9 x 5in) main fabric (purse front)
✦  23 x 18cm (9 x 7in) contrast fabric (purse back)
✦  46 x 18cm (18 x 7in) lining fabric
✦  46 x 31cm (18 x 12in) low-loft wadding
✦  20cm (8in) zip (Shirley used a zip with a lace decoration)

All measurements include 1⁄4in seam allowances, unless otherwise stated.



1 Take a large sheet of paper and using the measurements given in Fig 1 make the pattern for the bag front and back. Mark the cutting line for the top of the main part of the bag. You will need to fold
the pattern on this line when cutting out the main part of the bag.

2  Take your main fabric and use your pattern to cut out the bag front and bag back on the straight grain (arrow should be parallel with selvedge). Cut two strips for handles each 3 1⁄2 x 25in and two strips of interfacing each 1 1⁄2 x 25in. From the lining fabric cut a bag front and back using the paper pattern. From the contrast fabric cut four strips each 2 x 20in for the top bands of the bag. From the backing
fabric cut two 21 x 15 1⁄2in rectangles.

3  With right sides together, place one strip of contrast fabric along the top of the bag front with raw edges together and the centre of the band matching the centre of the front. Machine the seam and press towards the band. Add the band to the bag back in the same way. Use the pattern as a guide for trimming the ends of the bands.


1  The daisies are appliquéd using fusible web. Trace three large daisies onto the paper side of the fusible web. Using template, trace two small daisies onto the paper side of the web. Cut out
the five shapes, a little outside of the drawn lines. Press the shapes onto the wrong side of your chosen appliqué fabrics. Cut out the daisies on the traced lines and remove the paper backing.

2  Arrange daisies on the right side of the bag front piece in the positions of your choice, or refer to Fig 2 and the photograph of the bag. Fuse in place with a dry iron on a cotton setting. It’s a
good idea to protect your iron and board with baking parchment when using fusible web.

Tote Bag and Purse Tutorial

Tote Bag and Purse Tutorial


1 Make a quilt sandwich for the bag front, layering the backing, wadding and bag front piece. Pin or secure the layers together at 5in intervals. Do the same with the bag back. Quilt as desired.
The front of Shirley’s bag was quilted with wavy stems and leaves, while the back was quilted with diagonal lines 1 1⁄2in apart. A suggested design is shown in Fig 2 but feel free to mark and quilt your own ideas.

 2 Stitch the daisy appliqués using a method of your choice. For example, you could work a small, close machine zigzag stitch or a buttonhole stitch to cover the raw edge. Alternatively, machine a straight stitch just inside the raw edge and then use two strands of stranded cotton to embroider around the daisies, working stem stitch in the background close to the edge of the appliqué. The appliqué stitching serves as quilting too.


1  To make a centre for each daisy, cut out a 1in diameter circle of fabric and 1⁄2in circle of iron-on interfacing. Iron the interfacing circle in the centre on the wrong side of the fabric. On the right side
work a small running stitch about 1⁄8in inside the outer edge, leaving thread loose at the start and finish (Fig 3). Place a 1⁄2in diameter circle of thick card or Mylar plastic on top of the interfacing circle and
pull up the threads to gather up the fabric tightly (Fig 3). Press firmly, loosen gathers slightly to remove the card and adjust the gathers to recover the pressed circle shape. Repeat to make five daisy centres. Hand appliqué a centre onto each daisy.


1  Trim surplus wadding and backing fabric around the edges of the bag  front and back. Work a running stitch around the edges to keep the layers together, easing in any fullness arising from the quilting. With right sides together, stitch the front to the back along the sides and lower edge. Check that the contrast band matches at the side seams before stitching.

2  To form the bag base, on the wrong side and keeping seams open, bring the left-hand side seam centrally onto the lower edge seam. Pin and mark a stitching line AB that measures 2in, as shown in
Fig 4. Stitch the seam. Repeat with the other bag corner. Trim the wadding from the seams at the top band to reduce bulk. Turn the bag to the right side.

3 Take the fabric strips you cut earlier for the handles and iron interfacing centrally on the wrong side of each handle. Fold in half, right sides together and stitch the seam along the length of each handle. Turn through to the right side. Press with the seam positioned centrally on the back and then machine
topstitch close to the long edges. Place one handle on the outside of bag front with the raw edges together and right sides facing. The outer edges of the handle should be 5in from each side seam
(Fig 5). Tack the handle fi rmly in place.
Position the other end of the handle on the bag back in the same way. Repeat with a second handle on the bag back.

4  Make a button loop from a length of rouleau or use a 4in length of narrow  cord. To make a rouleau, cut a 4 x 1in bias strip from the contrast fabric. Machine a 1⁄4in seam along the length and turn through to the right side. If you don’t have a rouleau turner, tie the machine ends into the eye of a large darning needle and thread the needle, eye fi rst, inside the seam to pull the rouleau to the right side. Press and then fold the loop in half and position it centrally on the right side of the top edge of the bag back (Fig 6). Pin and adjust the length of the loop so it fi ts comfortably over the button you plan to
use. Tack the loop fi rmly in place.


Tote Bag and Purse Tutorial

Tote Bag and Purse Tutorial


1 Take the two pieces of bag lining you cut earlier. With right sides together, place one strip of contrast fabric along the top of the each bag lining, with raw edges together and the centre of the band
matching the centre of the lining. Stitch the seam and press towards the band.Use the pattern as a guide for trimming the ends of the bands.

2 Cut a piece of lining fabric 1 1⁄2 x 4 1⁄2in and press under 1⁄4in on each of the long edges. Fold in half and machine stitch close to the folded edges. Thread the strip through the snap hook metal loop and fold
it in half to make a loop. On the right side of front lining, place the loop on the left-hand  side edge, 3 1⁄4in from the top edge, with the raw edges together (Fig 7). Stitch near the side edge to hold loop in place

3  With right sides facing, pin the front lining to the back lining and stitch the side seams and lower edge, leaving abouta 7in gap in centre of the lower edge for turning to the right side later. Shape the
base corners as you did for the main bag (see Step 2, Assembling the Bag).


1 Place the bag inside the bag lining, with right sides together and matching the top edges and side seams. Pin the edge vertically and stitch around the top edge. Turn the bag through to the right
side through the gap in the lining. Roll out the seam at the top of the bag and carefully tack the edge in place. Topstitch all around 1⁄4in from the edge. Stitch the gap in the lining closed.

2  On the right side of the bag, stitch in the seam ditch along the lower edge of the band – you may find this easier to do by hand rather than by machine.

3  To finish the bag, sew the button on the front band of the bag to correspond with the loop position.



1 From the lining fabric cut one piece 9 x 7in and one piece 9 x 5in. Cut two pieces of wadding the same sizes.

2  Layer the 9 x 5in lining and wadding with the 9 x 5in piece of main fabric (purse front) to make a quilt ‘sandwich’. Pin the layers together and machine quilt diagonal lines about 1in apart. Stop quilting 1⁄2in from one long edge so that the wadding can be trimmed back to reduce bulk where the zip will be inserted. Repeat this process with the remaining contrast fabric shape (the back of purse) and the 9 x 7in lining and wadding.

3 Trim the wadding back 1⁄2in on one long edge on the back and front sections. Zigzag stitch the raw edges together to neaten (Fig 1). Trim the front piece to 8 3⁄4 x 4 3⁄4in and the back piece to 8 3⁄4 x 6 3⁄4in, but check the length of the actual zip teeth first. The side seam allowance is  1⁄4in so you may need to
adjust the purse width slightly if the teeth measure more than 8in. Turn under 1⁄2in on the neatened edges and tack in place.

Tote Bag and Purse Tutorial

4 In the purse shown a decorative zip was sewn on the outside of the purse but you could use a regular zip if you prefer. Place the zip centrally on right side of purse front, with the zip teeth along the
folded edge. Pin in position and undo the zip. Using a zipper foot on your machine, stitch the zip in place on the right side (Fig 2). Close the zip and repeat with other side of zip on the right side of purse back. 

Tote Bag and Purse Tutorial

5 To make side loop, cut a piece of contrast fabric 1 x 3in. Press under ¼in  to the wrong side on the long edges. Fold and press again to give a 1⁄4in wide strip and then machine close to the edge. Fold
the loop in half and tack it in position on right side of the back section 1in above the centre of the zip, with raw edges together (Fig 3). 

Tote Bag and Purse Tutorial

6  Place the purse pieces right sides together, matching and pinning the  lower edges and the side edges. Open the zip slightly and then machine stitch the seams. Note that the zip is 1in below the top edge. Zigzag stitch the raw edges together to neaten the seams.
Open the zip to turn the purse through to the right side. 

Tote Bag and Purse Tutorial

Tote Bag and Purse Tutorial

Purse Tutorial


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