So – I am reminded that I should likely not promise to post something “next day” unless I already have it finished. Everything for the tutorial was ready on Tuesday, except for the post and on Wednesday our furnace broke and I needed to be otherwise occupied with random things until late into the evening. Of course that was too late to get this to you Wednesday as promised, so I am going to refer back to my post on “No Stress” sewing and attempt not to feel too bad for going back on what I said. I suppose sometimes life has to happen whether it’s convenient or not!

I would like to thank each of you for the kind comments about the Spring Market Totes you have posted! I generally answer each comment individually – but since you were entering the contest as well I thought I’d send out a general THANK YOU, THANK YOU to each of you here. (I hope you can hear me, I’m yelling really loudly!) I’m so glad you are enthusiastic about them. I know I’m excited and this is going to be my “go to” bag this summer!

Just in case you haven’t seen it yet – the Spring Market Totes are part of the Warp & Weft Sewing Society’s Lotta Jansdotter Challenge Blog Hop that comes with a gorgeous 12 fat quarter bundle giveaway! Check out this post for more details, the contest closes April 27th, 2014. All of the fabric for these totes is from Lotta Jansdotter’s Mormor and Sylvia collections available at Warp & Weft!

On with the Tutorial!

Size Information: The Spring Market Tote bag is 12″ wide by 6″ deep across the base and approximately 18″ wide at the top of the bag. The handle drop is about 7″. The Mini Spring Market Tote is 9″ wide by 4″ deep across the base and 13″ wide at the top of the bag. The handle drop is about 4 1/2″. Each bag is fully lined. This tutorial does not include pockets, but they would be simple to add to the lining before it is assembled and attached to the tote.

You will need:

  • Outer Bag: aprox. 6 fat quarters of quilting cotton or similar weight fabric will make 1 Tote & 2 Mini Totes  (see cutting notes below)
  • Lining: 1/2 yard 44″ wide fabric per Tote AND/OR 1 fat quarter or 1/4 yard 44″ wide fabric per Mini Tote
  • Batting & Canvas Upper:  2 pieces 20″ x 14″ each per Tote AND/OR 2 pieces 15″ x 10″ each per Mini Tote (I used low loft Warm & Natural)
  • Base Stiffener, Batting & Canvas Base: 13″ x 7″ each per Tote AND/OR 10″ x 5″ each per Mini Tote (I used 7-Mesh Plastic Canvas as a stiffener)
  • Medium Weight Fusible Interfacing: 1/2 yard for each Tote AND/OR 1/4 yard for each Mini Tote (assuming 20″ wide interfacing)
  • Rope Handles: 60″ of 1/2″ rope for each Tote AND/OR 40″ of 1/2″ rope for each Mini Tote
  • Grommets: 7/16″ grommets (size indicates hole size, grommet is actually 1″ wide) – 4 per tote
  • Pattern Pieces: Spring Market Tote Pattern Pieces (click the link to download)
  • General Sewing Supplies
  • a Walking foot, Leather/Denim needle and Basting Spray are helpful, but not necessary
Before you begin:
  • Print out the pattern piece pdf on letter size (8.5″ x 11″) or A4 paper. Important: Do not select “fit to page” when printing, make sure you print at the original size. Once you have printed the pages, measure the 1″ test square to ensure the pattern is the correct size.
  • Check to make sure you can sew a fairly exact 1/4″ seam or the dimensions of your bag may be off, possibly making it impossible to fit the lining or base. Here is a good tutorial to follow to check that you have a 1/4″ seam. (This tutorial is also linked on my Sewing Tips and Tricks Pinterest board.)
  • I broke a few needles stitching over the thick layers of batting and canvas. Especially while stitching over the pleat at the end of the base. A thicker denim or leather needle is helpful while stitching around the base. It is also helpful to stitch slowly and carefully – being sure to avoid pins and using the hand wheel as necessary to get over the thickest areas.
  • If you would like to make your own rope – Use 4 strands of 3/16″ thick braided cotton per rope. I purchased 2 50′ lengths of 3/16″ thick braided cotton string at the hardware store. Search online for instructions on how to make a “4 strand round braid”. I found this YouTube video to be particularly helpful.
Cutting your fabric:
It is difficult to say how much fabric you will need for each tote as you can decide how many fabrics you would like to use. This tutorial follows how to create a striped tote with 6 different fabrics + a lining fabric OR a striped mini tote with 5 different fabrics + a lining fabric. Here is the cutting layout I used to make my 3 totes (please note my fat quarters were aprox. 21″x20″)
  • Use the pattern pieces to cut the base from multiple materials as per the pattern piece instructions and the list below. Please be sure to follow the appropriate drawing/pattern line for the size you wish to make!
  • Outer: You will need to cut 2 of each of the strips as indicated in the photo below for the outer shell of each tote. You will also need 2 reinforcement strips and 1 base from the outer fabrics for each tote. I cut my strips longer than needed (see photos) and trimmed them after they were stitched.
  • Lining: Cut 2 pieces 18.75″ x 9.25″ and 1 base per Tote AND/OR cut 2 pieces 14″ x 6″ and 1 base per Mini Tote.
  • Batting/Canvas: Cut as indicated in the “You will need” list. You will have 2 rectangles and 1 base per tote.
  • Interfacing: Cut 2 reinforcement strips and 1 base per tote.
  • Base Stiffener: Cut 1 base (along the base stiffener cutting line) per tote.

Here we go:
I used a quilt-as-you-go technique to assemble the sides of the bag. Keep in mind that making your seams even will help the stripes to match up at the ends of the tote.
  1. Lay all of your strips out in the order you wish to assemble them in. Refer to the cutting photos to ensure the thicker and thinner strips are in the correct order.
  2. To begin, layer one canvas upper with one batting upper on top of it and make sure the edges are even. These pieces are oversized so the quilted outer can be trimmed after stitching. Place the largest strip at the bottom centre of the canvas/batting layer. Align the next strip right sides together (RST) with the top of the bottom strip. Pin and stitch with a 1/4″ seam. Press the strip to the top and smooth over the batting to ensure everything is flat when you are finished. Continue pinning, stitching and pressing each strip until the first side is finished. Repeat for the opposite side.
  3. Trim and square off each quilted upper. Trim the Tote to 18.75″ wide x 12.5″ tall. Trim the Mini Tote to 14″ wide by 8.75″ tall. Do not trim the bottom of the quilted upper because this will affect the position of the strips and the ends of the stripes will not match on your final tote.
  4. Place both trimmed uppers right sides together. To ensure the stripes match, pin each as you would with a quilt block. Here is a good tutorial about pinning matching seams. (This tutorial is also linked on my Sewing Tips and Tricks Pinterest board.)
  5. Stitch both sides of the upper with a 3/8″ seam. Press the seam open well from the wrong side and press the seam on the right side as well to ensure the batting/canvas/outer layers are as flat as possible. You now have a large upper tube shape. Set the upper aside.
  6. Interface the outer base fabric on the wrong side following the manufacturers instructions. Layer the base: canvas on the bottom, batting in the centre, outer on the top. Pin/Spray baste to hold them together. Quilt the base as desired. I used straight lines, starting in the centre and moving out to each edge. If you do not have a walking foot take care to pin these layers many times to ensure the fabrics do not shift while you are stitching.
  7. Quilt the tote upper as desired. I quilted once in the centre of each stripe and every 5/8″ on the bottom stripe. DO NOT quilt the top 2 stripes – 3 ¼” down from the top of the Tote OR 2 ¾” down from the top on the Mini Tote. We will do this once the lining has been inserted.  Be sure to keep the side seam allowances open while quilting so they stay as flat as possible.
  8. Mark the outer base: Place a pin in the centre of each oval end. Now pin 1.25″ on either side of the centre mark (blue pins in the photo). Fold the oval in half with the end of each oval matching and mark the top and bottom centre of the base as well. 
  9. Fold the upper tube so the side seams are aligned . Mark each fold at the bottom of the upper tube with a pin. This marks the centre of each side.
  10. Match the top and bottom centre marks on the base (step 8) with the centre pins on each upper tube (step 9). Pin the base and upper tube RST. Continue pinning the upper tube and base together starting at each centre side pin and working your way toward the ends. Pin only until you get to the pins marking either side of the centre pin (blue pins in the photo). Leave the ends open.
  11. Stitch the pinned area (between the blue pins) on each side with a 3/8″ seam.  Again, make sure to leave the unpinned ends open.
  12. Fold and flatten the unpinned upper tube ends into the centre of the base oval ends, making a pleat and matching the base and upper tube’s raw edges. Pin as much as necessary to hold everything together.
  13. Stitch (slowly and carefully over the thicker areas!) around the unstitched end of the base with a 3/8″ seam allowance. This will close the end of the base and secure the pleat. Turn the base right side out to check that the pleat is stitched correctly.
  14. Once you are happy with the pleat and base stitching, turn the base wrong side out and trim the bottom seam allowance to 1/4″. Set aside.
  15. Interface the 2 reinforcement strips. Pin each reinforcement strip to the top edge of one lining piece. Take care that one-way fabrics are aligned in the correct direction. Stitch with a 1/4″ seam allowance. Align the 2 lining pieces RST and pin the side seams matching the reinforcement seam. Stitch side seams with a 3/8″ seam allowance.
  16. Press the lining side seams open. Press the top edge of the reinforcement fabric 1/4″ to the wrong side.
  17. Place your base stiffener (I used plastic canvas) in the bottom of the wrong side out tote. It should fit within inside the seam allowance on all sides. Trim if necessary to make it fit.
  18. Lay the wrong side out lining so the wrong side out outer and lining bases match up with the base stiffener in between them. Hand tack each end and centre side of the lining, stiffener and outer together. This will keep the stiffener and lining in place.
  19. Turn the outer tote right side out. Open up the lining and bring the lining top edge up and over the outer tote. The fold at the top of the lining (step 16) folds over the top edge of the outer tote by 1/4″. Pin well through all layers.
  20. Top stitch along the edge of the folded lining as in the photo.
  21. Now we can finish quilting the top 2 stripes. Pin through all layers on the top 2 stripes, smoothing and matching the lining and the outer so everything is flat and well attached. Quilt as desired.
  22. If you quilt a straight line in the centre of each stripe the stitching should just catch the bottom of the reinforcement stripe and/or the top of the lining as in the photo of my tote’s lining below.
  23. Open the edges of the base and press well.
  24. Mark the grommet placement.
    • The Tote grommets are placed just above the centre of the 2nd stripe. They are 5″ over from the side seams.
    • The Mini Tote grommets are placed between the top 2 stripes and 4″ over from the side seams.
  25. Attach the grommets to your bag as per the manufacturers directions. Practice first on a layered lining/canvas/batting/outer scrap sandwich if you have not used them before!
  26. Cut the length of rope in half. Each Tote handle is 30″ long. Each Mini Tote handle is 20″ long. Thread them through the grommets and tie a large knot in the lining side of the tote. Make sure the handles are the same length and then tighten your knots. Trim any excess rope as necessary.
You are finished! Congratulations. Head on out and get shopping. If you made a matching Mini Spring Market Tote make sure to take a break somewhere fun with your little one. Might I suggest a stop at the toy store?!
*As usual, please do not sell items made with this tutorial. It is for personal or charitable use only. If you are interested in a license to sell products made using this tutorial please contact and I will create a purchasable license for you.