Mommy and Me totes: Tutorial (+ GIVE-AWAY)

Norah is crazy about the whole concept of ‘twins’. She loves being dressed in similar clothes than Ava’s (‘We’re just like twins!”) and can be ecstatic about having things which are (remotely) similar to mine. (“We’re both wearing leather boots today! We’re practically twins!”. Yes dear, we are. Apart from the 29 years which separate us, we totally are.)

And so in the past months, the idea of “Mommy & me” bags started to grow: a simple tote bag in an adult and a kid’s size. They are really fast and easy to make, pretty sturdy (as they are lined), and very economical in fabric use. The instructions for the bags are below.

The give-away
I used a fabric from my stash which I bought months ago at Miss Matatabi. This fabric is one my favorite designs ever. I love the color combo, and I love how, from afar, the print looks like triangles, but then when you get closer, you see that some of the triangles are actually polar bears. A truly original and creative fabric! Frances still has it available in double gauze (in pink and blue).

I probably don’t need to introduce Miss Matatabi anymore. As you might have noticed on this blog, Miss Matatabi sells an ever growing range of fabrics produced in Japan. Her selection includes household names like Kokka, Nani Iro, Cotton + Steel, Yuwa, Lecien and more, but also a great range of fabrics which you can only find in her store (and which tend to be very affordable too!). Here are some of my own favorites:

Frances is giving away a $40 voucher to one StraightGrain reader. If you’d like to win it, you simply have to use the Rafflecopter widget below to give us some social media love. Good luck!

Materials (for one Mommy and one Me (kids’) bag):
– 50 cm (20″) of the main fabric (mid or heavy weight)
– 30 cm (12″) of the bottom fabric (mid or heavy weight)
– 70 cm (28″) of the lining fabric (mid or heavy weight)
– optional: depending on the fabric you use, and how much you intend to carry in the bag, you might want to reinforce the fabric with some interfacing
– thread, pins, ruler, … the usual supplies

Note: The measurements above assume that you use quilting width fabric (110 cm or 44/45″). If you use a wider fabric (140 cm or 55″) you will be able to do with even less.
Cutting diagrams:
Click on the image below to enlarge. Or download the pdf version here.

1. First, we’ll make the handles. Pair up each main strap with a lining strap, and stitch with right sides together, using a 0,7 cm (1/4″) seam allowance. As the illustration below shows, you should leave open one of the short edges.

Next, turn the straps right sides out with a chop stick or another long and thin object.
Undo the stitches you made in the short edge (their only purpose was to make turning the straps easier). Pull out this last bit as well, so that each strap is turned right side out entirely. Press the straps so they look nice and neat.

2. Pair up each main panel with a bottom panel. Stitch them with right sides together as shown in the diagram below, using a 1 cm (3/8″) seam allowance. If you use a printed fabric, make sure not the put the main panel upside down (see flowers in the diagram).
Press seam open.

3. Next, we’ll attach the handles to the right side of the main panels. The diagram below shows you where to position them. Stitch them at 0,7 cm (1/4″) from the top edge.
4. Next up is the lining. Put each lining panel on top of a main panel with right sides together. Stitch the top edge with a 1 cm (3/8″) seam allowance. Press the seams open.
5. You are now left with two panels. Put them with right sides together, matching up lining with lining and main with main. Stitch all the way around, but leave a small turning hole in the middle of the bottom edge of the lining.
6. Almost there! Now, fold one of the corners in half as illustrated below. Press firmly with your fingers so as to create a crease. Repeat for the other three corners. These diagonal creases will be helpful in step 7.
7. Next, take on of the four corners and pull the two layers apart a bit. Fold it flat again, this time on the diagonal seams which you made in the previous step. Your bottom seam and side seam should normally be right on top of each other now. Either keep everything in place like this with a few pins, or by ironing the new folds. 
Next, stitch a line perpendicular with the middle seam. The diagram on the left shows you which distance to measure from the pointy tip (disregard the seam allowance here).
8. Turn the bag right side out through the turning hole. Close the turning hole with a line of (machine) stitches near the edge.

9. Press the top edge of the bag, and run a line of stitches along this edge.
Optional: for more strength, you can add some extra rivets or stitches underneath each handle, catching the ends of the handles which you had exceed the edge in step 3.


20 thoughts on “Mommy and Me totes: Tutorial (+ GIVE-AWAY)

  1. I want to be triplets with you! Great bags! This would be a wonderful christmas present for my best friend and her daughter! (In addition to your napkin rings! ;-)) )

  2. An! I've been meaning to comment on Norah's twins comments – and your response to them all week! Haha! That was so funny! What a sweet girl. You're so cool she wants to be just like you. And the bags are awesome!

  3. aw i love the twins comments from Norah – Em does that too! i feel so lucky that she wants to be like me for now, and appreciate it while it happens! very cute bags and thanks so much for the giveaway – frances is awesome!

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