Hang on to those feelings of hazy summer days with this beautiful and practical tote bag, made using natural linen and cotton fabrics with a mix of patchwork, appliqué and pretty cotton lace. Add a pair of smart wooden handles, then pack in your essentials for a nature walk or trip to the beach.
- Fabric: linen, natural, light oatmeal; cotton,
- printed, pink; pale blue; white floral;
- yellow; lilac; lining
- Lace, cotton: pale blue; cream, wide
- Interfacing, fusible
- Bag handles, wooden, two
- Embroidery hoop
- Threads, sewing, contrasting
- Buttons, matching, four
- 33.5cm x 38.5cm
Sew a linen tote bag
For the front, cut 35.5cm x 40cm of linen, a 10.5cm x 35.5cm strip of floral patterned white fabric and a 5.5cm x 35.5cm strip of pink patterned cotton fabric. Using the photo as a guide, cut out several flower heads and leaves from pale blue fabric, back them with fusible interfacing and pin in position as shown. The largest pale blue flower head should be 8cm from the left side and 4.5cm from the top edge of the linen.
Using an embroidery hoop to keep the fabric taut, sew each flower head in place using contrasting thread. Stitch the stems in white and grey thread and add darker blue lines around some of the leaves and flowers. Press with an iron on the reverse and set aside. Cut a 35cm length of cream cotton lace and stitch it down the left-hand side next to the large blue flower.
Cut 8cm x 35cm of yellow fabric. Turn both long edges over to the wrong side by 1cm, iron the crease and pin it down the left of the linen so that the left side of it matches the linen edge and the right side covers some of the cream lace edge. Topstitch in coordinating thread and set aside.
Stitch the strips of pink and white patterned fabric cut out in step 1 together with a 5mm seam allowance and press the seams open. Lay a piece of wadding that is the same size onto the reverse side and pin. Quilt at either side of the seam then stitch in random wavy lines using a contrasting thread. Trim away the excess wadding.
With the main linen front of the bag right side up, place the quilted piece wrong side up onto it, approximately 12.5cm up from the bottom edge of the linen. Pin and stitch across the bottom edge with a 5mm seam allowance. Flip the quilted piece back over to the right side and topstitch the seam. Sew a piece of blue cotton lace across the join and set aside.
For the back of the bag, cut a piece of linen the same size as the front and set aside. For the exterior pocket, cut four strips of different coordinating cotton fabrics to measure 21cm x 22cm when combined. Join all four together and iron the seams open. Cut a lining for the pocket the same size and a 23cm length of blue cotton lace. Pin these two pieces of fabric right sides together and trap the lace along the top seam, making sure the ends don’t get caught in the seam sides.
Begin stitching a third of the way across the bottom, up the side, across the top, down the side and a third of the way across the bottom, leaving a gap for turning. Trim across the corners, turn right side out, iron flat and topstitch across the top of the pocket. Pin the pocket onto the linen back piece and stitch the sides and bottom, trapping a lace tag and making sure to sew across the turning gap to close.
To make an inside pocket, cut two 18cm x 32cm rectangles from your chosen fabric. Pin them right sides together and stitch down the two long sides and across one end. Trim the corners and turn right side out, then iron the seams flat. Lay this pocket lining side up, with the raw edge at the top and fold the bottom edge up by 11.5cm. Pin and stitch up the sides. Set aside.
Stitch the bag front and back right sides together, down the sides and across the bottom with a 1cm seam allowance. At both bottom corners, measure and mark 6cm up on the seam line and 5cm across the line at the bottom. Draw a curved line at each corner, joining up the two dots on each and stitch over the line. Trim the excess from the corners, turn right side out and iron the seams flat. Set aside.
Cut your chosen lining to 35cm x 78cm. At one end, in the middle on the right side, place the interior pocket so that their raw edges meet, and stitch across the top. Pin the lining right sides together and sew down both sides and across the bottom with a 1cm seam allowance. As with the bag, curve the bottom corners. Insert the lining into the bag, pushing the corners well in. Pin the lining to the linen around the top (if you find the lining a little too small, then adjust its side seams first to fit). Trim away the excess so all the fabric is level and stitch around the top, 5mm from the edge.
Make binding from 6cm x 78cm of coordinating fabric. Fold both long edges in by 1cm and iron them to make a crease. Starting at the back, place the raw edge of the binding right side down onto the linen so the raw edges of both meet and stitch along the crease you ironed, remembering to overlap the raw ends at the finish. Fold the binding over to the inside of the bag and hand stitch along the second crease line.
For the handle tabs, cut four pieces of fabric, 5cm x 14cm. Fold each long edge onto the wrong side, then fold in half and stitch three lines in contrasting thread. Put each tab through a handle end and stitch across close to the wood. Pin each handle approximately 7cm from each side and hand tack before machine stitching each securely in place. Remove the hand stitches and sew a button over each tab end.