Sunday 30 September 2012

Big Tutorial + Giveaway: Autumn Patchwork Tote Bag

~ by Kendal

For our second big tutorial and giveaway I thought I’d make a large Tote bag in Autumnal colours, to celebrate the end of September and the beginning of October (my favourite month).

Tote bags are so easy to make, but this one has a little twist – It is a quilted, patchwork Tote bag in purples, and dark yellows. The fabrics are heavyweight cottons (perfect for carrying around lots of things) and what’s more, apart from the lining, they’re vintage too!

If you’d like to be in for a chance of winning this bag, please leave a comment after the post telling us your favourite thing about Autumn.


Although you could do this by hand, I’m going to assume you’re using a sewing machine. I’m also going to assume you know how to accurately cut fabric (if you don’t, there are lots of online tutorials, just google!)

What you need:

- 5 lengths of fabric, 4 inches wide and 19 inches long, in contrasting fabrics (I used two very heavy cottons – one in purple, one in yellow)

- 2 lengths of fabric for straps – both 6 inches wide and 32 inches long

- I piece of batting - quilting batting or old scrap of bedding – 19 inches wide and 40 inches long (I used some muslin I had lying around which added extra weight to the bag)

- I piece of cotton fabrc for lining -16 inches wide and 19 inches long.

Thread for your machine to match the fabrics. (I used cream)

Use ½ inch seam allowance throughout.

How to:

1. Cut all your fabric to the measurements above. If you have a rotary cutter and quilting ruler, use those. If not, use a fabric pen and the largest ruler you have to make sure the measurements are accurate. (Tip: When cutting long pieces of fabric, always fold the fabric in half without ironing the fold. Use the fold as the halfway point )

2. Arrange the five strips into the order you want and, wrong sides together, sew each of the strips to one another.

3. Once you’ve finished, your Outer bag should look like this! 

Turn over and press the seam allowances to one side. In this case, I pressed to the darker side so it wouldn’t show through. Then turn over and press on the right side.

4. Lay out your batting (muslin in this case) on a hard surface, and carefully lay your outer bag onto it, making sure there is batting surrounding each side. It’s important to make sure that the two pieces of fabric are absolutely smooth. Smooth from the middle out, and pin all over. The more pins, the better. If you happen to have bent-arm safety pins (special quilting safety pins) use them, but if not pins will be absolutely fine.

5. Now, you’re going to quilt the two layers together by using a technique called ‘stitch in the ditch’ which literally means stitching along the seams you’ve already created, so very easy. The best way to do this is to actually sew just next to the seam instead of directly on top. The finished look is better this way too. Make sure you stitch on the side of the seam that does NOT have the seam allowance underneath. (Tip: If you’re going to be quilting regularly, a walking foot for your machine is essential as it keeps all layers of fabric together. You won’t need one for this as we’re just quilting two layers instead of three.)

6. Lay your quilted fabric back on the table and using either fabric scissors or a rotary cutter, trim the excess batting off so the two pieces of fabric are even.

7. Fold your fabric in half, wrong sides together and stitch up the sides leaving a ½ inch seam allowance. Repeat with the lining fabric (wrong sides together, ½ inch seam allowance.

8. Lay your strap fabric out on your ironing board and press in half lengthways. Then, fold each half into the centre, pressing firmly. Once you’ve done this, fold the fabric in half and you’ll have one strap, ready to be sewn! Press again, lining up the two outer, folded edges. Now, stitching as close as possible to the edge, sew the strap together. Repeat the process with the other strap.

9. With your outer fabric turned right side out, position the straps so the ends are pointing up the way, away from the bag. Place them 4 inches in from each side and pin. Make sure that the strap edges are just a little over the bag itself.

10. Place the outer fabric, still right sides out, with straps attached, inside the lining which is wrong sides out and line up the top edge. The two bags should fit each other perfectly. Pin in place, and with a ½ inch seam allowance, sew all the way round the top of the bag, leaving a 3 inch opening at one of the sides. Remember to backstitch at the beginning and end of your sewing.

11. Turn your bag inside out by pulling the lining and outer fabric and straps through the gap in your sewing. Nearly done now!

12. Sew all the way round the top of the bag as close as possible to the top, sewing the gap closed and securing the top edge. And that’s it! One Autumn Tote bag ready to go!

Remember, to win this bag, please leave a comment after the post telling us what your favourite thing about Autumn is!

A winner will be picked using random number generator on Wednesday 3rd October.


  1. Due to the darker evenings, more time to cuddle up on the recliner with my cat and the latest cross stitch or knitting project!

  2. My favourite thing about Autumn is that it's my birthday!

    1. Arianne! You just won the bag! RANDOM.ORG is your friend tonight :)

      Please PM me your address and I'll post it to you in the next few days


  3. lovely tote!!
    I love autumn because there is a freshness in the air, the changes in nature are there for all to see and collecting treasure is such fun!

  4. fab i love it :-) more than anything I love the crispness of the air :-)

  5. Butternut squash soup in our Sukkah!

  6. My favourite thing about Autumn is the dramatic change in the entire landscape caused by the leaves changing colour. Fall foliage is especially beautiful in my home state of New Hampshire, and, while nothing compares to the beauty seen there (hills and mountains folding over the land in bright yellow, orange and red) any tree changing colour anywhere reminds me of that. So I still enjoy the trees changing colour in England, because they strike the same chords as the New Hampshire trees, albeit a little more quietly.

  7. I love the vintage fabrics and would use this all the time!
    My favourite thing about Autumn is the pumpkins everywhere.

    Annie xx

  8. This is gorgeous, so Autumnal.

    I love Autumn because that's when we draw ourselves inwards and spend more time indoors, reading and playing games.

  9. Gorgeous bag! Favourite autumn thing is taht it is a "Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness". Couldn't put it better than Mr Keats. Oh, and hot chocolate. With wipped cream. And marshmallows.

  10. Eeek glad I'm not too late!
    Fave thing about Autumn is walking on crunchy red, yellow and orange leaves.

  11. Watching the trees change colour and crunching through the fallen leaves is my favourite thing about autumn.