I’ve had some spare time recently, and put together a pair of denim tote bags for a friend. I’ve been hanging onto a few yards of 12 oz Cone Mills Denim, and decided it was time to use some.
I’ve made two other totes with this design, and have included some pictures at the end of this post.
I really like this fabric, and have been hesitant to use it, but there’s no sense in having it just sit around.
To start, I cut the length of the bags equal to the width of the denim, at 28 inches. This way I can use the selvedge as part of the design and there is very little waste created. The width of the bags is 18 inches, with 3 inches of boxing.
To hide the ends of the straps and create more packing space, I cut out pockets in the same shape as jeans pockets, only much larger.
The pockets are sewn onto the outside of the main body of fabric, after the straps have been sewn on. I applied some scrap interfacing onto the wrong side of the denim to help reinforce the straps. The straps went on a touch too wide, and they weren’t 100% hidden by the pockets, note to self.
The first line of top-stitching goes on at 1/8th inch, then the second line goes on at 1/4 inch from the first line. For a narrow look, the second line of stitching can be done at 1/4 inch from the edge of the pocket, instead of the first line of topstitching.
With the pockets sewn on, the bag ends are sewn, right sides together, and then I box the corners out by 3 inches.
I also added a nylon lining, which has the same dimensions as the main bag. The nylon is sewn in the same manner as the main bag, minus the straps and pockets. I did attempt to place a zippered pocket into the lining, but my design wasn’t right for the lightweight nylon, and it didn’t work out. A plain lining is good enough here, but I do have an idea for a better zip design to come later.
Overall, these were pretty quick to put together, and I’m happy with the look. The most difficult part was keeping the topstitching on the pockets straight. In the future, I’ll remember to place the straps a little closer together, so they don’t show from the sides of the pocket. I’ll also work on a better zipper design for the lining, because having an inside pocket would be really convenient and give a more professional appearance.
I got the zipper to work by using a more robust fabric, some interfacing, and more patience. I cut the slit, and made the dog ears at the ends, pressed everything to the wrong side, and used a little fabric glue to hold it all in place. I think my biggest problem before, was the lightweight nylon. It was really slippery and couldn’t be ironed.
The pocket bag is a simple strip of fabric that is 9 inches deep, and the same width as the lining. To keep items from getting lost, I topstitched boundaries to the pocket. Otherwise, I imagined things migrating to the far edges of the pocket and being difficult to get out.
The lining of this bag is a jersey fabric that I quilted onto a cotton batting. I’ve always liked this fabric, but was never too sure of what to use it for. It came from the old Hancock Fabric as they were going out of business. I basted the jersey onto the batting with some spray adhesive, then did a rough quilting, just to keep it all in place. The batting helps to stabilize the jersey, and makes the whole bag soft and inviting.