Introduction: Cute Reversible Rag Quilt Tote Bag
This instructable will show you how to make a cute and unique tote out of your left over project scraps! My finished bag measures 16 inches wide, 12 inches tall, and 4 inches wide... Perfect for carrying around a few notebooks to class! However, you could easily adjust the dimensions to suit the bag for whatever your purposes are!
Step 1: Gather Your Materials!
Here are the things you will need to make this bag:
1. Fabric Scraps
- You will need around 2 yards all together (1 yard for outside, 1 yard for lining (or reverse fabric when bag is turned inside out). I used a healthy pile of scraps from other projects.
I offer a few tips regarding fabric selection (if you can afford to be picky):
a. Cottons first! The fray the easiest, so the effect will be nicer. After cottons, any woven fabric will do just fine. You can use knits if you must (I did), just be prepared to put in a little more work and for the frayed effect to be a little tougher to achieve.
b. Light/bright colors for the lining if you have some in your stash you want to get rid of. If you are going to use your purse in its reversed orientation, you might want to use a pattern or a series of scraps in a different color scheme to get the maximum usage out of your purse.
- You don't need very much batting at all. It is being used in this project to add some life to the fabric. I canabalized an old pillow for my batting.
3. Sewing Notions
- A sewing machine
- Coordinating Thread (It is very evident in the finished product... Choose something that will go well with all of your scraps)
- Tape Measure (not necessarily necessary :) )
- Bias Tape, or a piece of fabric with folded under easy to finish edges.
4. A 5x5 inch piece of paper to serve as your cutting pattern
-You can choose to use whatever dimension paper you want, this is simply the size I used for the bag shown.
Step 2: Cutting the Scraps
To make the purse shown, you will need to cut 34 lining squares, and 34 front squares. I pinned the paper square to my fabric and cut around 4 squares at a time. Feel free to cut as many as you are comfortable with at once.
Step 3: Sewing the Squares
1. Construct the squares by placing the wrong sides of the lining and the front squares together (read: leave the sides you want to see on the outside). Then sew around three sides of the square with a 5/8 inch seam allowance using a plain ole' straight stitch.
2. Remove the square from the machine and stuff with about a cotton ball's worth of gently spread out batting. The more stuffing you put in will result in a stiffer walled b. That being said, if you desire a stronger base out of your bag, be sure to stuff four of your squares with additional batting.
3. Sew the fourth side of the square closed and then sew across the square with some sort of design to hold the batting in place. I used a variety of designs on my squares as shown in the third picture associated with this step.
4. Be sure to knot, and then trim all excess thread on your squares.
Step 4: Assembling the Bag Panels
1. Lay your squares in whatever manner you would like them for the sides of your bag. For the front and back large sides you will need 12 squares laid out as shown in the first picture. For each smaller side you will need 3 squares and for the bottom you will need 4 squares.
2. To sew a row together, pick up two squares and place the lining sides together. Line up the seams of the two squares and sew down the whole length of the square along the shared side. Continue to add squares until a complete row has been finished.
3. Sew together the other rows of the panel. After completing all of the rows of the panel, pick up two adjacent rows and place the lining sides together. Line up each square with its partner on the next row. Pin just before and just after the seams from the sewn together squares. This is the perfect opportunity for you to check your measurements (with your fingers crossed of course! :) ). If something happens and one of your row is off just a little, simply trim down the square when the panel is complete so that you have a nice rectangle. It is okay if you end up cutting in to the stuffing as you will be sewing each of the edges one more time.
4. Complete all five sides of the bag.
Before moving on make sure that you have:
- 2 front and back panels of 12 squares each
- 2 side panels of 3 squares each
- 1 bottom panel of 4 squares
- taken a nice little break from all of the squares :)
Step 5: Constructing the Bag
Here you get to put all of your hard work so far together! I always start by adding the sides to one of the big panels. Make sure you always keep the lining side together! After sewing on the sides, attach the bottom to front panel, and then attach the sides to it. Finally, bring it all together with the last large panel. You may want to reinforce your corners while you sew your bag together with an extra few stitches. Often times those get the most stress and are prone to breaks. Trim your threads, and then move on to making your strap!
Step 6: Making the Strap
For my strap, I used a long scrap of fabric measuring five inches wide and forty inches long. If you don't have a piece of fabric that big available, sewing together smaller scraps into a suitable piece would certainly match the style of the bag so far. Once you have procured your desired material, move on!
1. Iron your strap piece flat, and then turn in the sides about 3/4 of an inch and press flat. Then fold in the sides again until the two folded halves meet in the middle of the strap. Press folds tightly.
2. Remove the presser foot of your machine to free form stitch. The key to this technique is smooth motions and a steady pace... Neither of which I have mastered quite yet. : ) Just gently loop back and forth while moving down your strap. There is no automatic grabbing with this, so be sure to keep control of your fabric. You can do fun things here! Like try to spell your name in cursive... : ) If you want to do things like cross T's or dot I's or make cool shapes just back track on the stitch, lift the foot and start in your new location being sure to knot and trim where necessary.
3. Press the last 1/2 inch of your strap up on the right side (side that won't be on my shoulder).
Step 7: Finish the Bag Construction
Now we will finish the actual construction of the bag!
1. Trim the edges off of the bag opening. Leave about 3/8 inch from the sewn seams of each square.
2. Attach your bias tape or strip of fabric! Now, if you want to hide your stitches feel free to unfold the bias tape and stitch along the small strip right against the edge of the fabric. You would then fold the bias tape under and baste along the inside edge of the bag. I liked the white line from my thread along the top of my bag, so I simply sewed the bias tape to the top of my bag without unfolding it. To do it my way, line up the left fold of the bias tape with the stitches at the opening of the bag. Do a straight stitch until you have completely covered the perimeter of the bag being sure to tuck at the end. Then press the opening of the bag under about an inch.
3. Pin the strap into the folded over opening, and do one more stitch over bias tape and strap along the entire perimeter of the bag opening. You may want to reinforce the stitching over the strap a few times as it is another high stress area.
There! Now your bag is completely put together!
Step 8: Fray the Seams
To achieve the neat rag quilt requires some fraying of the exposed seams. Here is how I did mine:
1. Cut the exposed edge perpendicular to the seams to make a sort of fie fringe. Make sure you don't cut the seams connecting the squares of the panel.
2. Run the flat part of the blade of the scissors back and forth over the fringe quickly to make the edges fray. You can use your fingers to help remove excess fibers as they fall out, or to aid in the fraying process.
3. Repeat... A lot.
If your material isn't sensitive to water (I used some silks), you can expedite the fraying process by just throwing it in the washing machine for as long a wash cycle as your machine can manage. Remove your new bag and remove any lose threads if necessary!
If you have any trouble using this process just let me know and I will try to help you resolve any issues. Thanks!!