Sunday, March 9, 2014

Bento tote bag

Boy, have I been busy these past few weeks! I've actually been making things in the pockets of time I've had in my busy schedule. I just couldn't find the time to blog about them, which is a tragedy! So here's my first one for March: a bento tote bag!

I found the tutorial for this incredible easy tote bag last year but neglected to note the website or the name of this particular design. I had to do a few hours of online 'investigative research' (re: endlessly scrolling through pictures of DIY tote bag designs) until I found the original blog post. I also discovered that there several different ways of constructing it. Between The Lines calls it the "wings" tote because the construction resembles a pair of wings folded upwards to form a bag. I went with Pretty Prudent's 'bento' tote bag, which I found to be much easier for beginners, but modified it to fit my needs. Check out both their posts to see which method appeals to you.

bag, tote, DIY, fashion, sewing, bento, Lin Making Things

It took me about 30 miniutes to make my first one - which turned out PERFECT! - and I've been using it as my go-to carry-all for a few weeks now. There are a few different ways to construct and finish the bag - lined or unlined; flat, angled or boxed corners; single compartment or with pockets; short or long handles. I chose to line mine with an old bed sheet and finish it with boxed corners and a eight-inch handle from some thick cotton canvas.

bag, tote, DIY, fashion, sewing, bento, Lin Making Things

 The great thing about this bag is that it's easy enough that you could experiment with it on a scaled down version (which is what I did for this tutorial) in order to understand the construction and modify it to suit your taste. Since there are only straight stitches involved, you can certainly spend  a little bit more time hand-stitching the bag if you want.

Check out how you can make this bento tote bag yourself after the jump.

Bento tote bag
Materials & tools:
2 pieces right angle triangle fabric measuring 40"x40"
2 pieces right angle triangle lining fabric measuring 40"x40"
1 piece 9"x2" cotton canvas*
1 piece 8 1/2"x1 1/2" fusible interfacing*
+ 8" bias tape*
Straight pins
Fabric scissors
Sewing machine or needle and thread

1. Prepare your fabric pieces.

For an unlined tote bag, fold the edges of your fabric inwards by 1/4" all around and press. Fold the edges inwards again by another 1/4" and top stitch all around to finish the edges.

For a lined tote bag, place one piece of fabric face down on your lining fabric. Top stitch all around with a 3/8" seam allowance but leave a 2"-3" gap along the triangle's hypothenuse (the longest side of the triangle). Snip the corners of the fabric to reduce bulk and turn inside-out through the gap. Push out corners with a pencil and press the edges down to form clean, crisp edges.

2. Sew your prepared fabric pieces together. Lay your fabric pieces together, right sides facing up, as shown. The tip of one triangle should be right at the centre of the other triangle's hypothenuse. Pin the pieces down securely with straight pins.

3. Sew along the two shorter edges of the triangle that's sitting on top with a 1/4" seam along the dotted lines as shown. Flip the pieces over. Top stitch along the edges that is now on top with a 1/4" seam along the dotted lines as shown.

5. Fold the piece in half with the right sides facing in. Sew along the side edges with a 1/4" seam along the dotted lines as shown.

6. Handles: Fold the shorter edges of the 9"x2" fabric cotton canvas fabric downwards by about 3/8" and press. Next fold the fabric in half lengthwise and sew  with a 1/4" seam allowance along the dotted line as shown. Turn the tube inside out and adjust it so that the seam is at the centre. For extra strudiness, slip the 8 1/2"x1 1/5" fusible interfacing into the tube and press to fuse.

7. Place the tip of the bag's handle with the right side facing up and seams flatten. Place the tube with its centre seam facing down. Slip the tip's handle into the tube as far it would go and pin. Sew a square to attach the two pieces together. Attach the second handle to the other end of the tube. Optionally, top stitch along the edge of the tube to form a clean, sharp edge.

8. Optional boxed corners: open up the corners of the bag. Line up the side seam of the bag with the bottom edge of the bag. Measure 2" from the tip of the corner and draw a line perpendicular to the side seam. Sew a straight stitch along the line and snip off the corners. Sew bias tape to protect the edge from fraying. Repeat on the other corner.

You're done!

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