Embroidery Library

Color Dazzle Tote

 

Free project instructions for an embroidered tote bag

 

We love it when stitchers send us photos of their projects. It's our favorite time of day! And just as stitchers build on our ideas and designs, we find that we build on theirs, too.

That's what happened when Pat sent us a picture of her tote bag. We loved how the fabric was set diagonally, bringing a contemporary and unique look.

Kenny started to experiment with that idea, and soon this Color Dazzle Tote was born.

Read on for the instructions! And, thank you, Pat, for  inspiring us with your work!
 

Free project instructions for an embroidered tote bag


Supplies Needed:


**1/2 yard sturdy cotton fabric, like denim, twill, or lightweight canvas (for embroidered side pieces -- I used lightweight canvas)

**1/3 yard sturdy cotton fabric, like denim, twill, or lightweight canvas (for top and bottom pieces -- I used lightweight canvas)

**2 yards sturdy print cotton fabric, like denim, twill, or lightweight canvas (for inner lining -- I used lightweight canvas)

**12 small pieces of sturdy cotton fabric, 6" wide by 2" high pieces in varying colors (for side accent pieces -- I used lightweight canvas)

Supplies Continued: 

**Medium weight cutaway stabilizer

**Temporary spray adhesive

**Air-erase pen


**6 1/2" wide by 13 1/2" long piece of heavy weight stiff interfacing (for bottom of tote)

**2 yards 1" wide strapping (for shoulder straps)

**Straight edge

**Needle and thread for some hand sewing



Special Project Notes:

Designs Used:
I used the small sizes of Blooming Flowers (Blackwork), Butterfly Fantasy (Blackwork), and Floral Charm (Blackwork). Designs that are smaller than 3 1/2" wide by 6 1/2" high will fit well on the tote's panels. Let your imagination blossom, and choose designs you love!

Finished Size:
14" wide by 11" high by 7" wide


Free project instructions for an embroidered tote bag

Side embroidered panels:
The first step is to prepare the fabric for the side embroidered panels. With an air-erase pen, I drew a 6" wide by 9" high rectangle on the fabric (I used lightweight canvas). Then I marked the center of each side by measuring and dividing by two. I drew lines connecting the marks, to be used for hooping.


Free project instructions for an embroidered tote bag


Next I created a paper template of the design. If you have not worked with templates before, click here for a quick tutorial. Templates are helpful for design placement.

I poked a hole in my template and lined it up with the center point of the shape, making sure the design fit well within the shape, with at least 1" between the outer edges of the design and the edges of the shape.



Free project instructions for an embroidered tote bag

I removed the template and sprayed a piece of medium weight stabilizer with temporary spray adhesive, then smoothed the fabric on top. I hooped the fabric and stabilizer together, aligning the marks on the hoop with the lines on the fabric. I attached the hoop to the machine, then loaded and embroidered the design.



Free project instructions for an embroidered tote bag
 

After the design was finished, I trimmed away the excess stabilizer on the backside of the embroidery. 



Free project instructions for an embroidered tote bag
 

Then I cut out the shape. Repeat the steps above for a total of six embroidered panels.



Free project instructions for an embroidered tote bag
 

Panel accent pieces:
For the accent pieces that will be added to all the embroidered panels, I cut two pieces of fabric (I used lightweight canvas) to 6" wide by 2" high. Then I laid the embroidered panel flat with the right side facing up.
 

I aligned the accent pieces on top, right sides together, with one piece lined up with the top edge of the panel, and the other pieced lined up with the bottom edge of the panel. I pinned in place and sewed a 1/2" seam along the top and bottom edges of the panel.
 



Free project instructions for an embroidered tote bag
 

After pressing the seams with an iron, I top stitched a 1/4" seam along the folded edge of the accent pieces. I repeated this process to add accent pieces to each of the six embroidered panels.



Free project instructions for an embroidered tote bag
 

For the top trim fabric, I cut a piece of fabric (I used lightweight canvas) to 6" wide by 6" high, and aligned it with the top edge of the top accent piece, right sides together. I pinned in place, sewed a 1/2" seam along the top edge only, then pressed the seam.



Free project instructions for an embroidered tote bag
 

To make the bottom trim fabric, I cut a piece of fabric to 6" wide by 12" high. I aligned it with the bottom edge of the accent piece, right sides together, pinned in place, sewed a 1/2" seam along the bottom edge only, and pressed the seam. I repeated these steps to add top and bottom trim fabric pieces to all six of the embroidered panels.



Free project instructions for an embroidered tote bag
 


Putting the panels together:
With all the panels completed, it's time to put together the tote. Lay the panels next to each other how you want them. Then lay the first two panels, working left to right, side by side with the top edge of the first panel (the far left panel) 1/2" above the top seam of the top accent piece on the second panel. In other words, the top edge of the first panel will be 5 1/2" down from the top edge of the second panel.



Free project instructions for an embroidered tote bag
 

Next I flipped the first panel on top of the second panel (keeping the top edge of the first panel 1/2" above the top seam of the top accent piece of the second panel) and aligned the side edges together. I pinned in place and sewed a 1/2" seam along the left edge of the panels only, then pressed the seams.



Free project instructions for an embroidered tote bag
 

I repeated this process for each of the top panels -- aligning the right edge of the panel to the left with the panel on the right, top edge of the left panel 1/2" above the top seam of the top accent piece on the panel to the right (the panel being added on) and sewing a 1/2" seam along the left edges only of the panels.



Free project instructions for an embroidered tote bag
 

Squaring off the top and bottom pieces:
To create the proper shape for the bag, you'll need to square off the top and bottom trim fabric. Using a straight edge, draw a line across the top trim fabric 1/2" above the top seam of the top accent pieces (position the straight edge along the bottom of each "V" of the fabric and draw the line there.)



Free project instructions for an embroidered tote bag
 

Then trim the fabric along the line you just drew.



Free project instructions for an embroidered tote bag
 

I squared off the bottom trim fabric the same way as the top, drawing a line by positioning the straight edge at the top of each "V" in the fabric, and trimming the fabric along the line. Now the shape of the bag's outer shell is complete.

To prepare the fabric for the inner lining, I laid the assembled outer shell on top of the inner lining fabric, pinned in place, and cut around the shape of the outer shell. Then I unpinned the fabric and set the inner shell fabric aside for now.
 



Free project instructions for an embroidered tote bag
 

I aligned the short ends of the outer shell fabric together, right sides together, pinned in place, and sewed a 1/2" seam along the pinned edge.



Free project instructions for an embroidered tote bag
 

Next I laid the outer shell flat with the wrong sides facing out. I positioned the fabric with one panel in the center and equal distances between the center panel and the side edges of the fabric. I aligned the bottom edges together, pinned in place, and sewed a 1/2" seam along the pinned edge.



Free project instructions for an embroidered tote bag
 

I set the outer shell upright with the bottom seam positioned in the center of the shell. I pinched the side corners flat, then measured and marked in about 4", following the bottom seam. I drew a line at the mark perpendicular to the bottom seam, pinned the fabric in place, and sewed a seam along the line.



Free project instructions for an embroidered tote bag
 

Inner lining:
To assemble the inner lining, follow the steps above for putting together the outer shell.

Then with the inner lining turned wrong side out, insert the outer shell inside the inner lining, right sides together. Align the bottom seams and the top edges together and pin in place.

Shoulder straps:
Next, I prepared the shoulder straps, cutting two 36" lengths of 1" wide strapping, and inserting the straps between the layers with the ends of the straps extending out about 1/2" past the top edges of the fabric. I pinned the ends of the straps along the top edges of the fabric about 4 1/2" out from the center of the sides of the tote, and sewed a 1/2" seam along the top edge of the tote, leaving about 5" open for turning.

 



Free project instructions for an embroidered tote bag
 


I turned the tote right side out and inserted the inner lining inside the outer shell. Then I pressed the seams, turned the fabric of the opening in 1/2", and pressed those seams.

To add additional support to the tote's bottom, I cut a piece of heavy weight interfacing to 6 1/2" wide by 13 1/2" long and inserted it through the top opening, positioning it at the bottom of the tote (between the layers of fabric).



Free project instructions for an embroidered tote bag
 

Top stitch a 1/4" seam along the entire top edge of the tote. Also, with needle and thread, tack the layers of fabric together at each bottom corner of the bag. Press the edges along the bottom and sides, and you are done!



Free project instructions for an embroidered tote bag
 

Pat's bag is shown in this photo. She made it with a pattern of her own creation, and it's stunning. The pops of color from the embroidery, and the diagonal design, are gorgeous.

Choose your favorite fabrics and embroidery to custom design your own tote!



 

Create a bag that's overflowing with fashion and color! It's perfect for any time of year and nearly any occasion.

Products used in this Project: