Hi everyone! It’s Lauren here from Molly and Mama with an easy but lovely project for you today. Sewing a tote bag couldn’t be simpler! Read on to learn how I add a sweet floral appliqué to take this bag from plain to pretty!
Colorful Applique Flower Tote Bag
FINISHED SIZE: 14″ x 14″ (not including the handles)
This bag features the ‘Modern Farmhouse‘ fabric range designed by Mable Tan for Hawthorne Supply Co.
NOTES: Please read through all the instructions before beginning the project. A 1/4″ seam allowance is used. The finish of your project will also benefit from the use of a 1/4″ sewing machine foot and a clear open-mouthed appliqué foot.
- 14″ x 11″ rectangle of plain white fabric for the bag front
- 14″ x 4″ rectangle of print fabric for the bag front base
- 14″ x 14.5″ rectangle of print fabric for the bag back
- Two 14″ x 14.5″ rectangles of print fabric for the bag lining
- Two 3.5″ x 11″ rectangles of print fabric for the bag handles
- Various sized scraps of coordinating prints for the flower and leaf appliqués
- 14″ x 28.5″ rectangle of Stitch’n’Sew Sew-In Fleece
- Two 1.5″ x 11″ rectangles of Stitch’n’Sew Sew-In Fleece
- HeatnBond Lite Fusible Adhesive for appliqué shapes
- Pressing Paper
- Print out of the template
- Basting Adhesive Spray
- Erasable marking pen
- General sewing supplies, including a rotary cutter, acrylic ruler and self-healing cutting mat
Let’s Get Sewing!
Make the Bag Front
Sew the 14″ x 4″ strip of print fabric to the base of the 14″ x 11″ rectangle of white fabric and press the seam down towards the print fabric.
Save, then print, the appliqué template with no scaling or cropping. You can find it HERE. The appliqué shapes have already been reversed for your convenience.
Trace (or print) the appliqué shapes onto the HeatnBond Lite Fusible Adhesive following the quantities as listed on the template.
Roughly cut around the outline of each shape leaving a small 1/4″ border.
TIP: Save your off-cuts to use for future small appliqué projects.
Press each shape onto the wrong side of your chosen fabrics, following the package instructions. I used a different print for each flower, yellow and apricot prints for the flower centers, and apricot and green prints for the leaves.
Cut out each shape on the line and peel off the backing paper.
Position the shapes on the right-hand bottom corner of the rectangle of white fabric, using the photo below as a guide. Ensure the shapes are no closer than 1/2″ from the fabric edge on the right-hand side. Fuse in place by following the package instructions.
Machine appliqué the raw fabric edges using your preferred stitch type and complementary thread colors. I used a blanket stitch for the flowers and a straight stitch for the leaves.
Press the panel well after stitching, being careful to cover the appliqué with pressing paper or a press cloth.
Assemble the Bag Outer
Position the 14″ x 14.5″ rectangle of the bag back fabric over the bag front with right sides facing and sew together along the base only. Press the seam towards the bag back. Then press the whole panel flat.
Following the manufacturer’s instructions, apply the basting adhesive spray in a fine layer to one side of 14″ x 28.5″ sew-in fleece. With the right side facing out, position the bag panel over the fleece and press in place.
Use an erasable marker and ruler to mark quilting guidelines on the bag panel. I used a diagonal line spaced 1.5″ apart. Quilt these lines using white thread (being careful to avoid stitching over the appliqué shapes).
Trim the threads and remove any erasable marker lines.
Fold the panel in half with right sides facing. Sew a side seam along each side.
Box the corners on the base. Measure and mark a 1” (2.5cm) square on both the bottom corners. Measure 1” (2.5cm) in from the seam line, and 1” (2.5cm) up from the base (on the fold). Cut away the rectangle of fabric on both corners.
Pinch the corners so that the seam line is centered and the raw edges line up.
Stitch across both corner seams using a ¼” seam allowance. Turn the bag right way out. Set aside.
Sew the Bag Lining
Place the two 14″ x 14.5″ rectangles of fabric for the bag lining together with right sides facing.
Sew the bag lining down one side and along the base. On the remaining side, leave a 4″ stitching gap in the centre of the bag lining to create a turning gap to be used later on.
Box both the corners of the bag lining with the same instructions used for the outer bag. Leave the lining inside out.
Sew the Bag Handles
Use the basting spray to secure the 1.5″ x 11″ rectangles of sew-in fleece to the centre of the wrong side of the two 3.5″ x 11″ rectangles of print fabric for the bag handles.
Fold each piece of fabric in half and sew along the long sides, forming a tube.
Turn the fabric tubes right way out and press. Topstitch the edges of each tube using a ¼” seam allowance.
Pin the handles to the outer bag. Lay the bag down flat. Mark the center of the front of the outer bag along the top raw edge. Measure and mark 2″ on either side from this center mark. Turn the bag over and repeat on the other side. Ensure the marks are positioned in the same place on both sides of the bag.
Pin both the handles to the bag by aligning the raw edges on the end of the handles with the raw edge on the top of the bag. Place each handle on the outside of the marked lines. Pin in place so that the right side of the handles are facing the bag. Baste stitch the handles in place with a scant 1/8″ seam.
Assemble the Bag
Place the outer bag inside the bag lining so that their right sides are facing. Align the side seams and pin right around the top of the bag.
Stitch around the top of the bag and reverse stitch over the handles to reinforce them as you go.
Turn the bag the right way out by pulling the outer bag through the turning gap in the lining. Push the lining into the outer bag. You may also wish to press it in place.
Topstitch around the top of the bag, using a ¼” seam allowance. Start at one side seam and sew around the entire top of the bag, backstitching when you reach the starting point.
Whipstitch or ladder stitch the turning gap in the bag lining closed. Use a doubled strand of coordinating thread for extra strength. Push the lining back down into the bag.
Your bag is now complete!
Is this project something you could see yourself creating? If you’ve enjoyed it, you might like to stop by my blog and check out the other simple tutorials I have there. You’ll find tips for appliqué, working with wool felt, English paper piecing and more.
If you make this flower appliqué tote bag, be sure to share it with me. I get such a buzz out of seeing my designs in the wild! Visit me on Facebook or share it on Instagram and tag @mollyandmama. Use the hashtags #thermoweb #heatnbond and #mollyandmama.
Happy stitching, Lauren x