Hello Dear Friend,
What have you been up to? I have been working behind the scenes on creating some content for you, a bit of drawing and some secret sewing that I’ll be able to share with you soon. It’s so hard keeping it a secret though. All the hours of work I put into secret projects, and I can’t post about them yet. Hahaha! Learning how to blog is proving to be a bit more difficult than expected. Secret projectes sure don’t help, but I’ll be able to share soon enough.
On to the topic at hand. Prior to blogging I was in the habit of sewing projects off the top of my head, letting my creativity flow and never really thinking that anyone would like to know the how-to’s of my finished piece. I would forget to write down the steps as I go as well as the measurements of fabric. By the finished end, I would have a piece that I was quite pleased with until it would don on me that maybe someone else would have been interested in making one too. Hmmm… but the road to creating it was too winding to try and write it all down afterwards. This has actually kept me from even posting finished projects on Instagram, because I’m afraid of the dreaded question, “Can you share the pattern?” Yikes! However, that is one thing I planned to change this year and why I forced myself to start this blog. But old habits die hard. Only one month into the new year, I was holding a super cute finished tote bag with no notes on how it came to be. Oops, I did it again!
Thinking that I may let it slide, I casually asked on Insta if anyone would even be interested in the pattern thinking, “Does anyone even hear me out there?” To my great surprise, I got one, then two! I guess there’s a space for me afterall. Thank you to the sweet friends that boosted my morale and got me to backtrack my steps in making this purse. This one’s for you!
Favorite Block Tote Bag Tutorial
Here’s the deal, I’ve got a big stash of fat quarters but I’m a minimalist when it comes to larger cuts, so I made this purse fq friendly. We’ve got to use those cute fq’s somehow, right? Also, this is a smaller tote bag so while it can be used for adults I made these for my little ones.
- Pick 6 Fat Quarters + a 9″ unfinished block you love!
- 1 yd of Adhesive Foam Interfacing
- Adhesive Stabilizer
- 6″ Zipper
- Round Lid or cut out 2″ diameter
- Fabric Pen
For the front panel of the purse I used a super cute foundation paper pieced block pattern called, “Planting Seeds,” that measured 8 ½ ” finished. You can use a favorite block of your choice or a cute printed fabric.
Center Block 9″ Square (1)
FQ 1 A 9” x 2 3/8“ (2)
B 12 ¾” x 2 ½” (2)
C 12 ¾” Square (1)
FQ 2 D 13 ½” x 6 ¾” (1)
FQ 3 E 12 ¾” x 6 ¾” (1)
F 7” x 6 ½” (2)
FQ 4 G 12 ¾” x 3 ¼” (2)
H 18” x 2 ¼” (2)
FQ 5 L 12 ¾” Square (1)
J 9 ¾” x 4” (1)
K 6 ¾” x 1 ¼” (1)
FQ 6 L 21 ½” x 2” (4)
M 9 ¾” x 4” (1)
25” x 12 ¾” (1)
9 ¾” x 4” (1)
21 ½” x 2” (2)
6 ½” square (1)
Since the heart tote was pre-made, I took pictures of the progress of another bag so you can follow along. You’ll notice the different colored fabric but the steps are all the same. You are going to love how easily this tote bag comes together. I’ve made three so far! Grab your energy juice and let’s get started.
Pick your 9″ block and 6 FQ’s (or 7 FQ’s if you choose not to use a stitched block) and cut out pieces needed.
First you’re going to make the front panel. Grab your 9” block and pin pieces A to the top and bottom, sew (all seams will be sewn with a ¼”), and press open.
Pin B pieces on the right and left, sew and press. Boom! Front panel is done. Told you that was easy. Set it aside.
Now let’s move on the back. You will grab piece D fold it in half, press. Open it up and tuck the 6 ½” square stabilizer in the crease. Press it folded. This piece will be the back pocket.
Grab the small trim piece K and press it half way lengthwise. We are going to make this into bias tape to run along the top of the back pocket. Open it up and press both raw edges in to the middle crease. Pin the trim over the top of the back pocket piece, sew and press.
Now I like to tack the back pocket to the back center panel, piece E. Be sure the pocket is straight, then sew a few stitches at the points where the pins were placed to secure the pocked before the next step.
Pin the two G side panels to the sides of the center panel E. Press them open and your back panel is done too!
Sew the front and pack panels together on one side only. When the whole outside shell of the tote is one piece, adhere them with heat to the foam interfacing piece measuring 25” x 12 ¾”.
Now it’s time to get creative and quilt some stitches onto your tote bag. If you want to keep it simple quilt along the seam lines to emphasize your center block. Just stay away from quilting that back pocket closed.
Great! Now press and set aside. Since you already have your quilting foot on the machine, let’s put some stitches on the bottom of the tote with piece M and the 9 ¾” x 4” interfacing. First press to adhere the pieces together then add some quilting. Now, you will round the corners using your 2” round, such as a lid, spool, circle cut out, whatever works. Good, set this bottom quilted piece aside for later.
Let’s move on to the the handles. You will press two of the L pieces onto the 21 ½” x 2” piece stabilizers, one on each. Adhere them with heat then pin the remaining L pieces right sides together with the stable pieces. Us the same 2” round from the last step to round both ends of both handles.
Then sew leaving a 2” gap at the center of the handle, which you will use to turn the fabric right side out. After your seam is sewn, trim small v’s around the curved ends being careful not to cut through the seam line.
Turning the handles right side out takes some coercing and lots of tugging but you’ll get it. Once all the edges are pushed out, I like to spray my seams and press them. This helps get that nice straight edge on your handles. Tuck in the open gap and run a seam along the edge of each handle 1/8” to a ¼” from the edges.
Now we’re going to attach the handles. Measuring the placement of your handles must be precise. We don’t want your tote bag looking lopsided. I measured from the top corners of the front panel 2” down and 2 ½” in from the sides. Mark it, pin down the handles and sew. Attaching my handles I made a D shape with my sewing machine. Use the same measurements and placement to attache the handles onto the back panel.
Now that the handles are attached to the outer shell you can attach the two side seams of the front and back panel. Sew and press the seam. It should be a large cylinder with open bottom and top. Remember the quilted bottom we made with the M piece? Get that piece and fold it in half lengthwise, mark the crease at the ends with a fabric pen. You will pair the markings with the side seams of the outer shell of the tote. With right sides of the fabric together, carefully pin from the curved edges out to the straight sides. I use lots of pins here. Sew along those edges slowly.
Turn the purse shell right side out and press along the bottom seam to get a nice finish. OOOooohhhh! It looks so good right?
Can’t forget about the inside lining though. Let’s attach the zipper pocket. It’s a simple technique, but always makes me feel like a pro afterwards. Grab one of your F pieces. You will mark it as shown on the wrong side of the fabric (excuse my mistake drawing it on the front). I measured 1” down from the top edge, centered and drew a long rectangle with disappearing ink that measures 5 ½” x ½”. On the inside of the rectangle, I drew a line down the center with two V’s on the ends reaching the corners. More on this in a sec.
Pin the marked F piece right sides together with the L inside panel piece. Line it up 3” down from the top edge, centered. Sew on the perimeter rectangle line.
When that is done, with a pair of scissors cut through both pieces of fabric on the center line and the V’s on the ends. Careful not to cut through the seam. Now for a magic trick, pull the F piece through the opening you just cut, to the back side of the L piece and press the rectangle opening. Tada! Press and you have a crisp opening for your zipper now.
Pin the zipper inside the pocket panel and sew. Slowly sew over the zipper and the L panel. I hate when my needle breaks so I go at snails pace on this step.
Now get that second F piece and pin it right sides together with the newly zippered F piece. As you sew them together, be careful not to snag the larger L panel. Press and done.
Pin left and right sides of the L & C pieces together, but leave the bottom and top open. It’s starting to look like a purse lining, right?
Well, almost. We need the bottom J piece. Grab that 2” round again and trace along the four corners of the J piece. Trim them round, then fold the J piece in half lengthwise to find the center points at both ends and mark with your fabric pen. Line up the end markings with the side seams of the tote’s inside lining. Pin and sew. Again, those curves can be tricky, go slowly. Press.
We are now ready to insert the lining into the tote bag shell. Tuck in the bottom corners nice and snug. I like to match the lining seams with the shell seems to keep it all straight. You may notice the lining is sticking out over the shell a bit at the top. This is great because it’s better to have an excess than for it to be too short. Go ahead and trim the lining so the top is flush with the out shell of the purse. Pin and run a quick 1/8” seam along the top to get it all in place for the final step, the edge binding.
Take your two H pieces and sew the ends together with a diagonal seam and press. Fold the H pieces in half lengthwise, pressing it straight on the fold to make your bias binding.
Pin the raw edge of your bias binding on the outside of the tote bag and sew a ¼” seam along the top.
Press and fold it in to the purse. You will secure the binding to the inside of the purse lining, I like to hand stitch this step but you’re welcome to do it by machine if you prefer. That is the last stitch!
Hey, this pattern is not too bad for having to retrace my steps. I hope it was helpful.
Your carry all, library, toys, coloring books, baby dolls Favorite Block Tote Bag is all done and ready to be used. I can already see your little ones enjoying it as much as my girls.
I would love any feedback you want to leave in the comments. And I would love YOU even more if you shared your makes with me on Instagram @linenbouquet with the hashtag #favoriteblocktotebag. This way I can see and share it on my stories as well.
Thanks for being so great. Have a happy sew day friends!
With love, Jasmine