Combine precut fabrics into strip sets and fashion a tote in a flash.
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Designer: Valerie Smith of Pumpkin Patch Quilter 

Materials for One Tote

  • 9--2-1⁄2 ×42" precut strips or 3⁄4 yard total assorted prints (outer bag, lining, ruffle, handles, binding)
  • 18×32" cotton batting
  • Heavy-duty thread

Finished Bag: 8-1⁄2 ×10-1⁄4 ×3-1⁄2"

Yardages and cutting instructions are based on 42" of usable fabric width.

Measurements include 1⁄4" seam allowances. Sew with right sides together unless otherwise stated.

Cut Batting

From batting, cut:

  • 1--10-1⁄2 ×24-1⁄2" rectangle
  • 2-7⁄8×22" strips

Assemble Bag Body

1.    Referring to Diagram 1, sew together six assorted print 2-1⁄2 ×42" strips to make a strip set. Press seams in one direction. The strip set should be 12-1⁄2 ×42" including seam allowances. Cut strip set into four 10-1⁄2"-wide segments (Diagram 2).


2.    Join short edges of two segments to make outer bag (Diagram 3). Outer bag should be 10-1⁄2 ×24-1⁄2" including seam allowances. Repeat to make bag lining.


3.    Lay bag lining right side down on a flat surface. Aligning edges, place batting 10-1⁄2 ×24-1⁄2" rectangle and outer bag (right side up) on top. Baste through all layers.

4.    Quilt as desired. Designer Valerie Smith quilted an allover flower motif across the layered rectangles. Trim quilted rectangles to square up edges.

5.    Fold quilted rectangles in half, lining sides together. Sew together side edges using a scant 1⁄4" seam to make bag piece (Diagram 4). Trim seam to a scant 1⁄8".


6.    Turn bag piece lining side out and sew side seams with a 1⁄4" seam, enclosing previously sewn seam (Diagram 5). You've just created a French seam to finish seams inside bag.


7.    To shape bottom of bag, at one corner match side seam line to center bottom of bag piece, creating a flattened triangle (Diagram 6). Measuring 1- 3⁄4" from point of triangle, draw a 3- 1⁄2"-long line across triangle. Sew on drawn line. Trim excess fabric, leaving 1⁄4" seam allowance. Repeat at remaining bottom corner to make bag body. Turn bag body right side out.


Assemble Ruffle

1.    Press under 1⁄4" along short ends of a print 2-1⁄2 ×42" strip; stitch to finish ends.

2.    Fold strip in half lengthwise to create a 1-1⁄4"-wide strip; press.

3.    Using heavy-duty thread, sew a long, gathering stitch a scant 1⁄4" from raw edges, leaving thread tails long (Diagram 7).


4.    Gently pull threads to gather strip until length is 1" longer than size of bag body raw edge to make ruffle.

5.    Pin ruffle to bag body, aligning raw edges and overlapping finished ruffle ends at bag back center. Adjust gathers evenly. Sew ruffle to bag.

Assemble Handles

1.    Cut a print 2-1⁄2 ×42" strip in half, creating two 21"-long strips. Press under each long edge 1⁄4". Fold strips in half lengthwise to make two 1"-wide strips. Press.

2.    Place a 7⁄8 ×22" batting strip inside a folded print strip, tucking it under one 1⁄4" fold, to make a handle unit (Diagram 8). Repeat to make a second handle unit.


3.    Edgestitch a handle unit with double lines of stitching 1⁄8" apart on each long edge to make a handle (Diagram 8). Repeat to make a second handle.

Finish Bag

1.    Aligning raw edges, pin handles to inside of bag body, 1-1⁄2-2" from side seams (Diagram 9). Stitch across handle ends using a scant 1⁄4" seam.


2.    Bind upper bag body edge with remaining print 2-1⁄2 ×42" strip.

3.    Pull handles up to carrying position and stitch across each handle width 1⁄8" from binding's upper folded edge to reinforce handles and complete bag (Diagram 10).