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Rescued Threads Tote Tutorial

 Let's make a giant tote, shall we? And to make it fun, let's make it from remnants, thrift store finds and items rescued from yard sales!

You will need the following:
Pillowcase for lining
At least 2/3 yard of 60" canvas or twill
2 8x22" rectangles of fabric for straps
1 15x16" rectangle of fabric for pocket
Patches, small doilies, other embellishments
Iron, ironing board, rotary cutter, cutting mat, sewing machine, etc.

Now for the how-to!

1) Iron all your fabric, including your pillowcase. This will ensure accurate measuring, especially since you got your pillowcase at Goodwill and may not know the size. Turn your pillowcase inside-out.

2) Decide how tall you want your bag to be. Add about an inch, and chop your pillowcase across the open end. Measure accurately, marking in pencil if you wish. Keep this number in mind for the exterior of the tote.

3) Measure the width of your pillowcase. Add 2 inches to this number to determine the dimensions of your finished tote. Cut a rectangle of canvas the width of your pillowcase plus 2 inches. For example, my pillowcase is 20.5 inches wide. I cut my canvas 22.5 inches wide.

For the length, recall how long you cut your pillowcase. Add 2 inches to that measurement and double it. My pillowcase was about 18.25 inches high. 18.25 + 2 = 20.25 . 20.25 * 2 = 40.5 .

Thus, I cut my canvas into a rectangle 22.5 x 40.5 inches.

4) Choose your embellishments! I found miniature doilies at a yard sale. Fold your long canvas rectangle in half, WRONG sides together, and carefully place your embellishments. Consider that the bag will have dimension, so don't place them too close to the fold or the edges. The closest I put mine to an edge or bottom was 4 inches. Pin carefully onto one layer of fabric, then sew edges down.

5) For the exterior pocket, iron all raw edges down about 1/2 inch and sew. If you have a serger, trim your rectangle by 1/2 inch and serge the edges.

6) Fold over again, iron and sew, locking raw edges inside.

7) On the other side of your canvas rectangle (i.e. don't cover up your embellishments!), place and pin your pocket, centering the short side of the rectangle and making sure it is parallel to the bottom fold of canvas. I placed mine about 5 inches from the bottom and about 4.5 from each side.

8) Sew around three sides, keeping the top side open.

9) With RIGHT sides together, pin sides of tote and sew together with a 3/4 inch seam.

10) Making sure you have a crisp bottom fold, pull out the bottom corners and mark off 5 inches. (The crisp fold will help you center your ruler as you measure and ought to lie perfectly on top of your seam.) Sew on each side. Follow the same procedure with the pillowcase.

11) Turn the bag right side out and tuck inside the pillowcase. Align side seams and top edges, then pin in place. Sew with a 1/2 inch seam, leaving about 4-5 inches to turn the bag.

12) Turn the bag out and iron the top edge.

13) Topstitch about 1/8 inch around the top of the bag.

14) This is a little tricky, but trust me. Pinch JUST the pillowcase and tug gently until an inch of canvas is turned down towards the inside of the bag. Press and pin, then topstitch 3/4 inch from the edge.

15)  Fold your rectangles in half lengthways and sew around 2 edges, leaving one short edge open. Clip the corner, turn out and press flat.

16) Turn in the open end, pin closed and topstitch closed, continuing around the exterior of the rectangles.

17) Fold your straps in half, RIGHT sides together, and press. Pin a few inches from the edge, then open the ends and pin to your bag. Adjust until you find something comfortable. Unpin from bag, and sew each strap in half, ending with your pin.

18) Pin straps to bag and sew. I chose a simple box, but you may want sew across the center.

That's it! Now fill your bag with all you need to start a new adventure and go out and LIVE IT!

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