Make and decorate totes that celebrate what you love about where you live
You will need
For the bag:
38 x 46cm cotton twill (outer fabric)
38 x 46cm cotton fabric (liner fabric)
1 spool thread, to match twill
2 pieces of cotton webbing (50 x 4cm), for tote handles
OR, a ready-made blank tote bag
For the decoration:
2 skeins embroidery floss
Size 4 embroidery needle
18cm wooden embroidery hoop (or smaller)
Pencil and white eraser
Ruler and straight pins
Embroider your love letter:
1 Think of something that you love about where you live. Maybe it’s a flower seller or the view from the waterfront, a skyline, or a certain stretch of road.
2 Pre-wash and dry fabric.
3 In pencil, write the letter in the centre of the twill fabric, leaving at least 6cm at the top and at least 10cm at the bottom. If using an existing tote bag, centre text.
4 Using all six strands of embroidery floss, chain stitch around pencilled text. To chain stitch: make a small stitch on your fabric. Bring the needle back up through the fabric a short distance below your stitch. Loop your thread through the first stitch, pull through before re-inserting your needle into the same hole you came up through. Repeat, by passing the needle through the last loop you made.
5 Trim loose threads and iron out any crease marks from the hoop. If you’re using an existing tote, you’re done! If sewing your own tote bag, proceed to the next step.
Make your bag:
1 Start by making the lining: pin together two pieces of liner material with right sides facing. Using a sewing machine with a 1cm seam allowance, stitch along one side, turn onto bag bottom, and turn again, sewing up the other side.
2 Pinch corner and line up the side seams so that corner fabric makes a triangle. Measure 7.5cm from corner and draw a perpendicular line with pencil. Sew along that line, keeping side seams open. Complete both liner corners and cut off extra fabric. Keep tote inside out and pin 4cm seam from open edge of bag.
3 Then make the outer bag: pin together two pieces of twill with right sides facing. Using a sewing machine with a 1cm seam allowance, stitch both sides of the bag and the bottom.
4 Pinch corner and line up side seams so that the corner fabric makes a triangle. Measure 8cm from the corner and draw a perpendicular line with pencil. Sew along that line, keeping the side seams open. Complete both corners and cut off any extra fabric.
5 Flip fabric right-side out and pin a 4cm seam from the open edge of bag.
6 Slide lining inside outer shell and pin corners together. Pin handle fabric to twill 10cm from the edge of the bag, with 10cm between each end of the handles. Pin outer fabric to inner fabric. Be careful to tuck handle tops down into bag. Sew through all layers at the top of the bag, keeping the handles sandwiched between the lining and the outside twill. Trim any loose threads to neaten it up.
Project by Lindsay Zier-Vogel, reprinted with permission from Strange Material: Storytelling through Textiles edited by Leanne Prain (Arsenal Pulp Press).