I’m constantly searching for the perfect tote bag – large enough to hold gym clothes, make-up, snacks, and other items I use during the day. I love to vary my tote bags, changing them from season to season, and co-ordinating with my outfits. In this tutorial you will learn how to make a cute tote bag with ice-cream motifs to carry all of your goodies throughout the day. Let’s get started.
- Sewing machine.
- Sewing needles.
- Thread in pink, blue and ivory.
- Fabric Scissors.
- Felt in pink, blue, and ivory.
- Cotton canvas fabric in bright green.
- Sequins in pink and blue.
- Ironing board.
Step 1: Measure a Rectangle
Lay the cotton canvas fabric flat on your table. Take your ruler and measure a large rectangle that is 91.44 cm x 45.72 cm (36 in x 18 in). This is the length x width. Make sure all lines are lightly traced over with a pen. Eventually you will sew over the top of these lines, and you will not see them. This will be the body of your tote bag.
Step 2: Cut Out Your Rectangle
Using your scissors, carefully cut out your rectangle. Try not to leave pen marks.
Step 3: Measure the Straps
With the remaining fabric, measure the two straps for your tote bag. Measure a long, narrow rectangle that is 58.42 cm x 5.08 cm (23 in x 2 in).
Step 4: Cut the Straps
Take your scissors and carefully cut your two long rectangles to make the straps.
Step 5: Create the Hem for the Bag
Measure 5.08 cm (2 in) from the top of your large, rectangular piece of fabric. (The top of the fabric should be the shorter side). Lightly mark this with a pen. Now fold the top of the fabric down until it meets the line you just created.
Step 6: Pin the Hem in Place
Using straight pins, pin along the folded hem you just created. You want to make sure this stays in place, so you can sew a straight line to create the hem at the top of your tote bag.
Step 7: Sew the Hem
Once all the pins are in place, carefully stitch along the edge of the hem, with your green thread, securing the hem in place. You will need to carefully remove the pins as you go along, so they do not get stuck in the machine. Once you complete the hem for the top of the tote, do the same thing at the bottom. You should have two hems, one at the top of your rectangle and one at the bottom. The stitches and fold should be on the same side of the fabric.
Step 8: Mark the Side Seams
Once both of your hems are completed, fold the rectangle in half, so the hems meet at the top. The folded fabric creates both sides of your tote bag. Make sure your stitches and folds are showing on the outside of the fabric. The clean, neat part should be on the inside.We are doing all of our stitching and folding on the outside, so that when we turn the bag inside out, it will have neat seams, and you will not see many stitches.
With your ruler, measure along the sides of your rectangle (the fabric should still be folded in half.) You should measure 1.90cm (.75 in), as shown in the photo, and lightly mark your fabric.
Step 9: Pin the Side Seams
Add pins to the line you just created, pinning the two layers of fabric together. We will be creating the side seam, which will close our tote bag. Now follow the same steps for the other side.
Step 10: Stitch the Side Seams
Carefully stitch the two layers of fabric together, along the line you created on both sides. Don’t worry if you have excess fabric next to your stitches. Eventually we will trim that. You can snip the long threads that may be hanging from the fabric.
Step 11: Turn the Bag Inside Out
You have now created the body of your tote bag. Turn the bag inside out, and you will see that your bag looks neat, with clean stitches, and clean side seams. The majority of stitching and folding was done on the inside of the bag.
Step 12: Fold and Pin the Straps
Take one strap and fold the longest side in thirds to meet at the centre of the strap. Now do the same with the other side of the strap. The fabric should be folded in thirds to create the narrow strap. Right before you pin the fabric, fold the raw edge of the fabric underneath itself, to create a clean edge. Now add a straight pin. Do this all the way down the length of the strap. Follow the same procedure and do this to the second strap.
Step 13: Sew Each Strap
Now use the sewing machine to stitch together the strap. The stitches should be very close to the right edge of the strap. You will need to pull the pins out as you sew. Now do the same to the second strap. You should end up with two, narrow straps. We will add these straps to the bag in our last step, as we do not want them to be in the way for now.
Step 14: Draw and Cut the Cone
You should have three squares of ivory felt. In this step we are making our three cones for our ice cream cones. With your ruler, draw a diagonal line on the ivory felt which is 10.16cm (4 in). Do the same to make the diagonal line on the other side. The two ends of the diagonal lines should meet at a point, creating a “V”. Now take a ruler and draw a horizontal line, which will close your triangle. The horizontal line should be 6.35cm (2.5 in). You have now created a cone. Cut the cone out of the fabric with your scissors.
Step 15: Duplicate the Cones
Trace your finished cone twice onto the other pieces of felt, so the other two cones have the same measurements. Now cut these cones out. You will now have three cones in total.
Step 16: Draw the Ice Cream
Using the pink felt, draw your ice cream with your pen. You can create a circle if the drawing in the photo seems to complicated. We drew ours freehand, to look like a swirled ice cream cone. Now cut out the ice cream piece from the fabric.
Step 17: Cut Two More Ice Cream Pieces
Using the piece you just created, trace it two more times with a pen, onto the second pink felt, and then on the blue felt. Cut these out with your scissors, and you should have three total ice cream tops. Two should be pink, and one should be blue.
Step 18: Place Your Cones on the Bag
Place each of the cones horizontally in the centre of your tote bag. You are not stitching them right now. You are making sure they fit onto your bag.
Step 19: Stitch on the Ice Cream Top
Take one cone and one ice cream top. Place the ice cream top on the cone. It should fit together. Slide the ice cream top down, to make sure you do not see the corners of the cone. Pin the two pieces together, and then stitch them with the machine. Your stitches should be very close to the bottom of the ice cream. Now do the same with your two other cones. The ice cream cones should now be stitched together. Make sure to use pink thread for the pink ice cream cones, and blue thread for the blue ice cream cones.
Step 20: Check Placement
Place the three ice cream cones horizontally, in the centre of your tote bag to double check that they still fit. The blue cone should be in the centre, and the two pink cones should be on the outside.
Step 21: Thread on Sequins
Thread your needle and make a knot at the end. Poke the needle through the back of the felt, and pull the thread until the knot is tight against the back of the felt. Now add a sequin.
Step 22: Stitch on the Sequins
Hand stitch about 10-12 sequins on the top of each ice cream cone. Make sure you use the pink thread and pink sequins for the pink ice cream cones, and the blue sequins and blue thread for the blue ice cream cone. When you are finished hand stitching each cone, make sure to knot your thread at the back of the felt.
Step 23: Compare the Sequin Placement
Lay out each of the ice cream cones and make sure the sequin placement looks similar on each of the cones. You do not want the sequins to be too close together on one cone, and too far apart on another. They should look similar.
Step 24: Mark Placement of Both Straps
With your ruler, measure 12.7 cm (5 in) towards the center, beginning from the top right edge of the bag. Now mark it with a pin. This is where one end of your first strap will be placed. Now do the same on the other side, with the opposed end of your first strap. Mark it with a pin. Place the end of each side of the strap inside of the bag. It should be placed 5.08 cm (2 in) below the top of the hem. This is so we are unable to see the raw edge of the strap. It will have a clean finish. Pin the strap in place. Do the same for the second strap.
Step 25: Stitch the Straps in Place
From the inside of the bag, carefully stitch along the edges on the strap. You will need to manoeuvre your fabric in order to stitch around each edge of the strap. This will create a rectangle with the stitches. Follow this process for each side of the straps.
Step 26: Trim the Excess Fabric
Take your scissors and trim off the excess fabric next to the side seam. Do not cut the fabric too short, or you may rip the side seam.
Step 27: Measure Distance Between Cones
Centre your ice cream cones in the middle of the tote back, with the blue cone in the center, and the two pink cones on the sides. Each cone should have 6.35cm (2.5 in) of space in between them. The top of the ice cream cones should be placed 12.7cm (5 in) from the top of the tote bag.
Step 28: Pin Each Ice Cream Cone in Place
Using a straight pin, secure each ice cream cone to the bag, placing the pin in the centre of the cone. Check that each of your cones line up with your ruler.
Step 29: Hand Stitch the Ice Cream Cones
Using a needle and thread, hand stitch each of the ice cream cones to the bag. Remember to match the thread with the colour of the ice cream cone. Pink with the pink ice cream, and blue with the blue ice cream. You will also need to switch to cream thread when you get to the cone section, since the cone is made of cream felt.
The stitches should be small and not be too noticeable. Make sure they are neat. Once you finish one cone, knot the thread on the inside of the bag, cut the thread, and start on your next cone. This may take a while, but it looks beautiful when completed.
Step 30: Iron Your Tote Bag
Lightly go over your Tote Bag with an iron, to smooth it out. We do not want any wrinkles. Try to avoid ironing over the ice cream cones and sequins.
You’ve now completed your very own tote bag! Now find a great outfit to coordinate, and take your new tote bag out on the town.
If you loved making this bag, why not try creating one with your own design (or choice of fabric). We love the idea of a chevron print bag or a Liberty print bag. We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments section below.