DIY: Coloring Tote with Bow

Well, folks, this was intended to post on last Monday but I fell behind and thought I would just get it posted on Tuesday.

But, when I came back Tuesday morning, I learned that apparently my draft didn't save and it was GONE.

Yep, gone.

This is a lengthy tutorial to write up and I have to start from scratch!?

I tried to make it by Friday, but here is it the following Monday... afternoon.

Honestly, it wouldn't be a big deal if I hadn't been sick. Thanks seasonal allergies!

My mind has gone blank as far as what I wrote for an introduction last time, oops, so we'll just start over really quick and then hop into the tutorial.

Shall we?

We shall!

I created this bag for my friend's little girl on the occasion of her third birthday. I had asked ahead of time what she liked, but I didn't have any luck locating an item that I wanted to buy.

She wanted Lions and Dragons, fyi.

After her birthday, I happened upon a 2 foot tall dragon at toys-r-us that would have been in budget. I regret that this dragon and I hadn't crossed paths sooner. I would have tied a bow around his neck and brought him in like a new puppy.

He would have been amazing.

If you want to make a bag of your own, here is what you need:
  • 1/2 Yard Fabric for the outside of the bag
  • 1/2 Yard Fabric for lining and straps
  • 1/4 Yard Fabric for pockets and bow
  • Rotary Cutter, cutting mat and ruler
  • Coordinating Thread
If you don't have a rotary cutter and mat, I highly suggest you get one. You may not use them all the time but they're really great when you need to cut something precise and straight. You don't need to buy the most expensive cutter or mat on the market, I certainly haven't. But a project like this really demands straight cuts that only a using a rotary cutter, mat and ruler will get you.

[Rotary Cutter, Mat, Ruler, Fabrics: Gold Dot Stripe, Black Kona Solid, Gold Chevron {Not online, find in store at Hobby Lobby}]

To begin, you need to wash, dry and iron your fabric.  You can skip this step if you're in a rush or lazy [like me!], but I highly suggest you wash and dry the fabric. If you don't and you decide to wash and dry when the project is complete, the fabric can shrink up and ruin the structure.

Honestly, I had no plans of washing this when I finished, so I skipped.

But I still suggest you do it.

We're going to begin by cutting and evening out our edges. If you look above you can see the selvedge or factory finished edge on the right. Line you fabric up by that, it should be straight and helps you get a start. BUT if you notice, mine isn't lined by the edge, I'm working with stripes and had to take the extra time to make sure my stripes line up because they clearly were not printed on straight.

Stripes are a little harder to work with, keep this in mind when buying your fabric!

Once you get your edges lined up, go ahead and fold your fabric in half one more time. It doubles up the fabric but makes for less cutting. You want to be able to make the entire cut at once instead of cutting and then moving the fabric the finish cutting the rest of the way down, does that make sense?

Now, ignoring my chipping manicure, we're getting ready to cut. Take notice above on how I have my fabric lined up with the measurements on the mat and on top of that, I use the mat to help me line up my ruler. This helps me ensure I'm getting the straightest cut possible.

When you cut, you want to use one hand to hold the ruler firmly in place, if the ruler moves, your cut will go crooked.

You'll keep the blade of the rotary cutter against the ruler when you cut. Start at the bottom, apply pressure and push the cutter up until you reach the end of the fabric. You should be able to cut through it all in one pass if you're applying enough pressure.

If you're new to using the rotary cutter, I suggest using scrap fabric to practice your cuts first, just to get used to using it.

You can see here how I cut through mine. My cut isn't completely clean, my blade is getting dull, but it's good enough for today!

Now, I moved my fabric over just enough to even that far right edge out with my mat. Then I measured over 10 inches.

You'll repeat your cutting steps, line up the ruler and cut the fabric.

Tada, you now have a 10 inch wide strip!

Now, we want to even out the raw edge, this is the edge that was cut when you purchased the fabric, it's raw on both ends. But since your fabric is folded at this point, you have both raw edges on one side, waiting to be evened out.

Line your edges up with the mat, line your ruler up and cut off the raw edges.

Now you should have a nice clean rectangle!

At this time, you can undo the single fold and lay your fabric out flat.

Heads up here, you have two separate layers of fabric at this time, do not separate these! We want to cut them both together.

Measure from one end of your fabric, 14 inches, line up your ruler and cut.

Now you have prepped the outside of your bag, go ahead and set this aside and grab your lining.

You're going to repeat the entire process with your lining fabric, even out the edges, measure it and cut it 10 inches wide, even out the raw edges and unfold it, keeping the two layers together.

But for the final cut, you're going to cut it at 12 inches instead of 14. When you're done, you may set this aside.

Now, using the same fabric, we're going to cut the straps. Fold it in half and line it up on your cutting mat like above.

You're going to measure over 2 inches and cut. Then repeat.

Now you have two straps!

And if you pull them apart, you have four pieces. You can now set these aside.

Now we are going to grab the fabric for our bow and pockets. Fold and even the edges just like before.

This time you will be cutting three different sizes.

6x6 - For your pockets
6x3 - For the Bow
5x2 - Also for the Bow

If you folded your fabric up properly, each cut should have two pieces of fabric. Set aside the pocket but hold onto the bow, we're finally going to begin sewing!

Taking your 6x3 piece, sew it on three sides like above.

Clip the corners.

Turn it right side out.

And press it flat.

On the open side, fold the edges in and press.

Another view of it pressed in, just to help.

You have the option to slip stitch it closed or just top stitch it like I did.

If you top stitch it closed, then make sure you do that on the other side, just for looks.

Now, using your longest stitch, baste down the middle.

And then pull to gather your bow. Set aside.

Next sew your 5x2 piece, just once at the two sides, like above.

Take it back to the machine and sew two more times, about 3/4 to 1 inch from your first line.

Go back to your cutting mat and slice those puppies apart like I did above.

Turn them right side out and press.

Take just one of these and sew it into a loop, it should be about 2-2 1/2 inches in diameter so it can slide onto your strap later.

Clip off the extra material.

And turn it out.

Pick your bow back up and wrap the extra piece around your bow. Be sure the slip your ring on there as well. Look at my photo above to see how I've done it.

Then take it to your machine, make sure you pull it tight and sew it in closed.

Cut off the excess material and flip the raw edge inside.

Fluff that beautiful bow and set it aside.

Now, pick up your straps. Sew them together the bottom and up both sides leaving one end open.

Turn them right side out and press.

Press the raw edges in, just like you did with the bow.

Top stitch the edge closed. Then go ahead and top stitch each side of the strap, just like above, to give it a much more finished appearance.

Repeat on the other strap. You now have two finished straps, set them aside.

Take the fabric for the outside of your bag to your iron. For the first time, you can pull the two pieces apart.

Your going to press the top edge to the inside, fold it over 1/2 an inch and press.

Then fold it over again, 1 full inch and press.

Repeat on the other piece of fabric and set them both aside.

Now, grab both of your 6x6 pocket pieces and press them in half.

Like so.

Now, to prep your pockets, you want to finish the edges.

This is when I break out my serger because any excuse to use it is a good excuse.

But, if you don't have a serger, it's okay! I didn't have one until my Grandma gave me hers a few months ago. Just use the zigzag finish on your sewing machine. We just want to finish the edges so they don't fray.

Just sew it on two sides like above. Mine is serged, yours may be zigzagged.

Let's just take one more look at how beautiful serging is.

Now, you're going to press the finished edge in. I just pressed by the width of my stitch there, which is about 1/4 in.

Now you can fold it back in half and press it again just to make sure everything is nice and flat.

Now, with it folded in half, stitch the bottom edge closed. Again, mine is serged but you may zigzag.

Now, going back to regular sewing, we're going to top stitch across the top edge just to make it look finished. I went for about 1/4 in, but you may do it thicker if you so desire.

Now, it is time to put the pocket on! Take one pocket and one of your outside pieces.

You need to take a look at were you want the pockets to sit, if you're following my measurements, I measured 5 inches from the bottom of my bag to where I want the bottom of my pocket to sit.

I placed my pocket at the top of my ruler. My pocket is upside down, if you'll notice, make sure yours is too. It might sound weird but I promise it will work out later, keep reading and see!

Make sure it's centered and pin it in place. You can barely see my pins above.

Now sew across to secure the pocket in place. You can't see my stitch clearly because of the serging, but if you notice the thread hanging off the right side, that's were my stitch is.

Now fold it up, pin it in place to make sure everything stays flat.

Now stitch down the sides.

Now, look above and notice my pinning. I measured 1 inch apart, I suggest you do too, this is for your crayons.

Sew down where each pin is to create your pockets. Tada!

Repeat with your other pocket. I chose to just leave mine as a normal pocket, but you may create more crayon slots.

Now it is time to attach the straps! I measured 1 1/2 inches down and used my ruler to make sure they were even before pinning them in place.

Notice! I unfolded the part we pressed down earlier. You need that part to stay free.

I sewed them into place with a boxed in X for extra reinforcement. This bag shouldn't be carrying a lot of weight, it's just for coloring books, but better safe.

One more thing to pay attention to. I left a small gap between my strap and the top of my bag. This is so when I put the lining in, I can sew around the top without sewing over the strap.

I suggest you leave a gap as well!

On the side with the crayon slots, I added my bow on.

It will slide right into place with the loop we created earlier.

It's optional, but I stitched it into place as well.

I want my bow to stay right here, were I put it.

Now, take your lining pieces and sew them together on the sides and bottom. I would suggest you serge or zigzag this part for extra reinforcement.

Mine is black, so I don't really have a wrong side or right sight. If you're using patterned fabric, you want the sew this with right sides together.

Here I see I took another photo of my serging... and it made it through the editing process and the uploading process... so I'll just share it with you before the next step.

Now, you're going to sew the outside of the bag together, right sides together as you can see in this photo. Also, take notice that the top is unfolded.

Once again, we unfold the top, we don't want to sew it down! I'm being repetitive, so hopefully you'll remember.

I also went ahead and serged the bag on the top. Occasionally I do try to do things right.

Now you can fold the top back down! You can press it again if you need to.

Grab your lining and turn it right side out.

Notice, the lining is right side out, but the outside of my bag is still inside out.

I hope all those "outs" are not confusing you. Just look at the picture!

Slide the bag into the lining. Slide the lining all the way under the flap we've been avoiding sewing down. It should fit all the way to the top.

Pin this in place, putting your pins on the current "inside" of the bag.

Flip the bag right side out now, putting the lining inside. Your pins should be on the outside now, like so.

Now just take it to the sewing machine and top stitch across the very top of the bag, going above the straps where we kept that gap!

Now there is a little flap of material left on the inside. You may slipstitch this in place or if you're super lazy like me, this Heat 'N Bond does the job. Or if you want to beat me in the lazy contest, don't secure that fabric at all because no one will see it and it's not hurting anything.

And that is it, you're done!

It's a really cute little bag, mine easily fit two coloring books we bought in it with room for more.

And of course, the crayons!

They fit really well into the slots I made. The back pocket would have held the standard 8 color crayon box, but I ended up grabbing a 24 count box, so I just slid it into the bag as well.

If you make your own, let me know! Find me on twitter or instagram and share it with me.

I am far from a professional here, I just showed you how I did it. If you see room for improvement when you make yours, by all means deviate from my instructions!

I sew for fun for a reason... to have fun!

- Amanda

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