Embroidery Library

Rhapsody in Blue Tote Bag

 

Free project instructions for an embroidered fringed denim tote.

Stitch a rhapsody in blue with a denim tote bag. It's cozy and sturdy at the same time.

Denim is always a fashionable choice, and this particular pattern has ample open areas for designs that reflect your crafty and creative personality.

Read on for project instructions to create a fun and fabulous denim tote!


Free project instructions for an embroidered fringed denim tote.


Supplies Needed:


**1 yard denim

**8" by 8" piece of denim or twill (for applique piece)

**Medium weight cutaway stabilizer

**Temporary spray adhesive

**Air-erase pen

**3/4 yard decorative trim (mine is 1/2" wide)

Supplies Continued: 

**2 large rings (for connecting shoulder strap; I used 2 1/8" diameter rings)

**Large buttons (3 for the straps and more for decoration, 1" size)


**Fabric glue

**Seam ripper

**Nylon monofilament thread (optional)
 



Special Project Notes:

Denim is prone to shrinking, so wash and tumble-dry before beginning this project.

Designs Used:

I used the small size of the Pincushion & Petals Wreath, the small size of the Sewing Notions design, and the large size of the Wishin' I Was Stitchin' Border.

Denim will support solid fills, so designs of any size and stitch count will look
great.
Butterfly Kisses designs, Jacobean Birds & Blooms designs, and Flowers in Bloom with Echoes are just a few of the gorgeous possibilities!


Free project instructions for an embroidered fringed denim tote.


I began by making the shoulder strap. Using an air-erase pen, I made a 36" long by 2 1/2" wide rectangle on the denim.

I was mindful that I'd need to hoop the fabric, so when I cut around the shape, I left excess inches for hooping.

I measured and marked the center of each short end by measuring and dividing by two. Then I drew a line down the center of the shape that connected the marks.


Border designs are long, thin, and the perfect shape for shoulder straps. I chose the crafty
Wishin' I Was Stitchin' Border to use on the strap. I printed a template of the design and used that to plan how much space to leave between the designs. I found that I'd embroider the border design five times to fill the space.

Here's how I repeated the border to make a straight line:

I printed five templates of the design, and arranged them inside the rectangle to get an idea for positioning. Once I had the arrangement to my liking, and equal space between the templates, I marked the center points, as well as the vertical and horizontal axis lines. Those lines helped me to hoop the fabric straight so that the borders stitched nice and even, in a row.
 


Free project instructions for an embroidered fringed denim tote.

Denim is prone to stretching, so when embroidering on it, I use cutaway stabilizer as a backing. One piece, a 2.5 ounce or medium weight, does a nice job.

I hooped the fabric and stabilizer together, aligning the markings on the fabric with the markings on the hoop.



Free project instructions for an embroidered fringed denim tote.

I attached the hoop to the machine and load the design. I moved the hoop so that the needle is directly over my center point, and embroidered the first design.



Free project instructions for an embroidered fringed denim tote.
 

When the design has finished, I unhooped the fabric and stabilizer, then rehooped it for the next border.



Free project instructions for an embroidered fringed denim tote.
 

After I'd finished embroidering the borders, I trimmed away the excess stabilizer on the backside. Then, I cut out the rectangle shape.

To prepare the back of the strap, I placed the embroidered fabric on top of another piece of denim, wrong sides together. I pinned in place and cut around the shape. Then I sewed a 1/2" seam around the entire shape.



Free project instructions for an embroidered fringed denim tote.
 

To prepare the applique piece for the front panel of the tote, draw a 5 1/2" wide by 5 1/2" high square on the fabric (I used twill). Measure and mark the center of each side of the shape. Draw lines connecting the marks.



Free project instructions for an embroidered fringed denim tote.
 

Create a paper template of the design. Poke a hole in the center of the template and align it with the center point on the fabric. Make sure the design fits well within the shape; there should be at least a 1/2" space in between the outer edges of the design and the edges of the shape.



Free project instructions for an embroidered fringed denim tote.
 

Hoop the fabric with medium weight cutaway stabilizer and embroider the design as you did earlier. Cut out the shape. I left the stabilizer on the backside of the fabric to help give it more support.



Free project instructions for an embroidered fringed denim tote.
 


To prepare the front panel of the tote, draw an 11" wide by 11" high square on the fabric. Leave a couple of inches of excess around the shape. Position the embroidered applique fabric piece within the shape where you want it, leaving at least 3/4" in between the outer edges of the applique piece and the edges of the shape. 
 


C
reate a template (or templates) of the design(s) to be embroidered directly onto the panel. Position the template where you want it. Leave at least 3/4" in between the outer edges of the design and the edges of the shape. Mark the center and axis point of the template.
 



Free project instructions for an embroidered fringed denim tote.
 

Remove the template and draw lines connecting the marks.



Free project instructions for an embroidered fringed denim tote.
 

Hoop the fabric with medium weight cutaway stabilizer as you did earlier and embroider the design.



Free project instructions for an embroidered fringed denim tote.
 

After the design has finished, trim away the excess stabilizer and cut out the shape.



Free project instructions for an embroidered fringed denim tote.
 

Return the embroidered applique piece to the front panel, pin in place, and zigzag stitch around the entire outer edge of the fabric piece.



Free project instructions for an embroidered fringed denim tote.
 

Next, add a few drops of fabric glue around the outer edges of the fabric piece. Press the decorative trim in place around the shape. After the glue has dried, sew a seam along the center of the trim to secure it in place (I used nylon monofilament thread so that the seam would be almost invisible).



Free project instructions for an embroidered fringed denim tote.
 

Lay the front panel on top of the fabric, wrong sides together, pin in place, and cut around the shape. Sew a 1/2" seam around the entire piece.



Free project instructions for an embroidered fringed denim tote.
 

Now we will prepare the side loops. These loops will be used later on to attach the shoulder strap. Cut four pieces of fabric to 2 1/2" wide by 7" high. Pair the fabric together, wrong sides together, pin in place, and sew a 1/2" seam around the outer edges of each piece.



Free project instructions for an embroidered fringed denim tote.
 


To prepare the side pieces, cut four pieces of fabric to 5" wide by 11" high. Pair the fabric together, wrong sides together, and pin in place. Then, insert the side loop pieces in between the fabric layers at the top short end of each side piece with the side loop pieces extending in about 1". 

Center the side loop pieces by measuring equal distances in between the outer edges of the side loop pieces and the outer edges of the side pieces. Pin in place and sew a 1/2" seam around the outer edges of each side piece.



Free project instructions for an embroidered fringed denim tote.
 

Lay the assembled side/loop pieces flat with the loop piece facing you. Measure and mark 1 1/2" up from the end of the loop. This is where the button hole will go.



Free project instructions for an embroidered fringed denim tote.
 

Sew a button hole at the mark. Then add a pin at the top of the button hole and using a seam ripper, cut the hole open.  Repeat this for each side loop.



Free project instructions for an embroidered fringed denim tote.
 

To prepare the bottom piece, cut two pieces of fabric to 11" wide by 5" high. Pair the fabric together, wrong sides together, pin in place, and sew a 1/2" seam around the outer edges of each piece. To prepare the back piece, cut two pieces of fabric to 11" wide by 11" high.  Pair the fabric together, wrong sides together, and pin in place.

Prepare the front closure loop by cutting two pieces of fabric to 2 1/2" wide by 5" high. Pair the fabric together, wrong sides together, pin in place, and sew a 1/2" seam around the shape. Insert the loop in between the layers of the back piece at the top edge of the fabric with the loop extending in about 1". Center the loop side to side. Then, sew a 1/2" seam around the outer edges of the back piece. Add a button hole to the loop just as you did for the side loops.
 



Free project instructions for an embroidered fringed denim tote.
 

It's time to assemble the tote! Lay the front panel flat with the wrong side facing up. Align the bottom piece on top with one long side of the bottom piece aligned with the bottom edge of the front piece. Pin in place and sew a 1/2" seam along the bottom edge only starting and stopping 1/2" from each side edge.



Free project instructions for an embroidered fringed denim tote.
 

Lay the back piece on top of the front panel, wrong sides together, and align the bottom edge of the back piece with the remaining long edge of the bottom piece. Pin in place and sew a 1/2" seam along the bottom edge only starting and stopping 1/2" from each edge.



Free project instructions for an embroidered fringed denim tote.
 

Align the side pieces with the side edges of the front, back, and bottom pieces with the side loops at the top. Pin in place and sew a 1/2" seam along the side and bottom edges.



Free project instructions for an embroidered fringed denim tote.
 


To create the "fuzzy" exposed seam effect, clip the seam allowances, which allows the fabric to fray. Do this on the tote portion and the shoulder strap. Make a small cut about every 1/4" to 1/2" along all of the seam allowances including the top edge of the tote.
Be careful not to cut any of the seams. If you do accidentally cut a seam, simply sew it back in on your machine. 

I prefer to use sharp, spring action scissors to cut the allowances. It makes it much easier on your hard-working hands! There are also special rag quilt snips available at most fabric or craft stores (Fiskars makes a pair).

Now it's time to
machine wash the bag and the strap. The agitation will fray the seams, giving a fuzzy and cozy look. After washing the tote and strap, take them outside and give them a good shake. This will lessen some of the lint and fabric waste that will end up in your dryer. Next, machine dry them. If necessary, press them with an iron set on a high.



Free project instructions for an embroidered fringed denim tote.
 

Next, add the rings at each end of the shoulder strap. Wrap the fabric around the ring, pin in place, and sew a 1/4"seam along the end of the strap.



Free project instructions for an embroidered fringed denim tote.
 

Add a button about 1 1/2" down from the top edge of each side of the tote. Also, add a button about one inch down from the top edge of the front panel (centered side to side) for the front closure loop.



Free project instructions for an embroidered fringed denim tote.
 

To add the shoulder strap to the tote, wrap the side loops through the rings and button the loops to the side of the tote. And your tote is complete!



Free project instructions for an embroidered fringed denim tote.
 

With a crafty homespun look and embroidery and button embellishments you love, this denim tote is an expression of your personal style as well as a handy bag!

Products used in this Project:

Sewing Notions $3.99 - $5.99

Available in 4 Sizes:

4.86" x 11.74" | 3.89" x 9.40" | 3.23" x 7.79" | 2.85" x 6.88"

Wishin' I Was Stitchin' Border $1.99

Available in 1 Size:

5.95" x 0.99"

Wishin' I Was Stitchin' Border $1.00

Available in 1 Size:

2.27" x 1.00"