Linen Tote

I like picking up remnants of fabrics I haven't worked with yet. Mostly because they're 50% off at Joann's. This bag uses a natural color linen and a brown basket weave pleather.

Finished Dimensions: 

10"W x 12"H x 3"D

Materials

Outer fabric (2): 12.5" x 14.5" - linen

Lining fabric (2): 12.5" x 14.5" - linen

Bottom accent piece (1): 12.5" x 8" - brown basket weave pleather

Outer pocket (2): 12.5" x 8.5" - linen

Strap Main fabric (1): 2" x 35" - linen

Strap Accent fabric (1): 1" x 35" - brown basket weave pleather

Other notions:

  • Magnetic snap
  • Denim needle (when sewing through pleather)
  • 2 1" plastic snap in grommets
  • 2 small/medium rivets
  • Sew-in Interfacing (for outer pieces only, cut to same size, I used Pellon medium weight)
  • 2 1" scraps of heavy duty stabilizer (for snaps)
  • Hemostat (to turn out the strap)
  • Teflon foot or wax/parchment paper if using sticky pleather.

Tip: I've been able to get away with the scotch-tape-on-my-regular-presser-foot trick on the faux leather I've used so far, but no dice with this basket weave stuff; it was too sticky. I didn't have a Teflon foot, so I improvised with parchment paper, and it did the trick. More on that later.

Create Outer Pocket

Take your two outer pocket pieces and put them right sides together. Sew along one long side at 1/4".

Finger press the seam open and fold it right side out and give it a good press with the iron. Top stitch along the seam at 1/4".

Take your outer front piece and place the pocket piece on top. Line up the side raw edges and place the piece about 2" up from the bottom raw edge. Stitch at 1/4" along the sides and the bottom to attach it to the outer piece.

I divided the outer pocket in half by sewing a straight line up the middle of the pocket. This is where painter's tape or masking tape comes in handy as a guide.

Sew Outer Bottom

Take your two outer pieces and place them right sides together. Place your interfacing pieces on each side (front & back). Sew the bottom at 1/4". Finger press the  seam open and press with the iron.

With the whole piece laid out right side up, get your bottom accent piece. Fold the long raw edges of the accent piece in 1/2" and clip to keep it in place. Center it on the bottom seam of the bag, measure to ensure it's properly centered. Clip it in place.

If you haven't put your denim needle on the machine, now is the time. Also if you have a teflon or non-stick foot, now is the time to use that too. If you don't have a teflon foot, get some parchment or wax paper and lay it over the pleather, lining up the edges. You'll sew right over the parchment paper.

Sew the bottom accent to the outer at 1/4" along the long sides to secure to the bag using a longer stitch (3-3.5). Note that this is also going to create a "new" bottom of the outer pocket.

Leave your thread tails long and tie them off at each end.

Carefully tear away the parchment paper. The stitches will have perforated the paper, so it should be easy to tear away, but don't pull too hard or you'll wind up pulling stitches. Go slowly and be gentle.

Sew Outer Together

Fold the pieces right sides together, making sure to line up the top raw edges and ensuring that the bottom accent seams line up nicely. Sew at 1/4" along each side. Set aside.

Lining & Snap

Measure to the center and about 1.5" down from the top raw edge on each piece. Fuse a piece of the heavy duty stabilizer to the wrong side of the fabric where the snap will go. Using the washer that comes with the snap, mark the side slots for the snap prongs and use a seam ripper to gently open those holes for the prongs. Push the snap through from the right side, through the prong holes and set in place. I also hit these with a dab of fray check.

Take your two lining pieces, place right sides together and sew at 1/4" along the sides and bottom. Leave the top open.

Box Corners

On both the lining and outer assemblies, cut out a 1.5" box from each bottom corner.

Sew the bottom boxed corners together at 1/2".

Strap

I wanted to try something new with the strap. I wanted to use the pleather as an accent but didn't want to go full out pleather strap. So, I decided to use both the main linen and a strip of the basket weave pleather as an accent in the middle.

To sew the strap, line up your main strap piece and your accent piece right sides together and sew down the long side at 1/4" using the longer stitch (3-3.5).

Next, line up the remaining raw edges, right sides together and sew down the long side. Leave both bottom ends open.

Turning this strap out is a bitch. I often use a hemostat when I don't really need to, but this one needed the hemostat. It takes patience, go slow and it will work. Use the hemostat to open the tube as you go, grabbing and pulling the main fabric to turn it out. You'll feel like a surgeon. If only I had scrubs...

Tip: Do not grab the pleather with the hemostat. If you pull too hard it can rip and winds up looking like this. And if it's in a conspicuous place, and you're a perfectionist, you'll have to start over. Like I did.

Yuck.

This is what it looks like when turned out. I grappled with whether to topstitch along the sides, and eventually decided not to. I also did not press this because I didn't want to destroy the pleather.

Assemble Outer & Lining

Turn your lining right side out. Your outer should already be wrong side out. Stuff the lining into the outer (and take time to match up front & back if desired). Match up the raw edges around the top and the side seams, and sew together at 1/2". Leave a fairly wide opening for turning (I usually do this on the "back" of the bag).

My favorite part. Turn it right side out. Stuff the liner into the bag. Fold in the opening and give it a good press. Clip or pin the opening in place. Topstitch around the top at 1/4" to close the bag.

Grommets

These were a bitch too, but with a little muscle, they'll work.

These plastic snap-on grommets came with a little template to mark the hole. I centered it on the side seam (which is part of why snapping these in was so difficult) and marked with a fabric pen.

Run a zigzag stitch around the circle you marked. This will help reinforce the hole and prevent fraying.

Cut out the circle (avoiding clipping the zigzag stitches). I used an X-Acto knife for this. Insert the grommet (from the outside of the bag) and take the piece with the little spikes and put that on the inside. Snap it together. This is much easier said than done because of the thickness of the fabric and the seam. It will work eventually.

Attach Strap

Almost done! Get your strap and on each end, fold it in about 1/2" to hide the raw edges and stitch closed.

Feed one end of the strap from the outside through one of the grommets and loop it back on itself. I measured with my seam gauge to have the top edge of the strap at 3/4" from the top of the bag. Use a punch tool to punch a hole for the rivet.

Insert the rivet through both layers of the strap and set using a rivet tool set.

Repeat for the other side of the strap. All done!