Tote with Ruffles
- 4--18x21" pieces (fat quarters) assorted prints (bag, bag lining)
- 4--18x21" pieces (fat quarters) assorted prints (ruffles)
- 1-1/3 yards 1"-wide webbing (straps)
- 2--17x20" pieces paper-backed, iron-on fusible web (such as Steam-A-Seam 2 or Wonder Under)
- Water-soluble marking pen
- Heavy-duty sewing machine needle (optional)
Finished tote bag: 15x14" (not including straps)
Sew this project with 1/4" and 1/2" seams.
1. Press all fabrics to remove wrinkles and fold lines.
2. Following manufacturer's instructions, center and press a paper-backed, fusible-web piece onto wrong side (unprinted side) of one bag fabric piece; let cool. Peel off paper backing.
3. Layer a bag lining piece wrong side down on first fabric piece; smooth out from center to edges. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse pieces together.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 with remaining bag and bag lining fabric pieces to make two prepared fabric pieces.
From each set of prepared fabrics, cut:
- 1--16-1/2" each square
From prints for ruffles, cut:
- 1--5x21" bias strip (see tip below)
- 3--4-1/2x21" bias strips
From webbing, cut:
- 2--24"-long pieces
TIP: Cut the ruffle strips at 45° for a raw edge that does not fray and, therefore, does not require hemming. The resulting ruffle has a bit more body than one cut on the straight grain.
Assemble Tote Bag
1. Turn under one edge of a 16-1/2"-square prepared fabric piece 1/2"; press.
2. Turn under same edge again 1"; press.
3. Insert ends of 24"-long webbing piece under last fold of prepared fabric 4-3/4" from outer edges. Sew webbing in place.
4. Fold and press webbing toward top edge. Topstitch 1/8" and 7/8" from top edge to make a bag unit.
5. Repeat steps 1–4 to make second bag unit.
6. Place first bag unit right side up on flat surface (with webbing on top). Using a water-soluble marker, draw lines across the width of the bag unit at 3-1/2", 7", and 10-1/2" from top edge.
Making and Adding Gathered Strips
1. Stitch 1/8" from the top of one 4-1/2x21" bias strip using a longer stitch length (we used 4.0mm). Leave 2" tails on both ends. Stitch again 1/4" from your first stitch.
2. Pull the bobbin threads (bottom threads) on both sides to gather the strip and create ruffles. Arrange each strip to be 16-1/2" long, leaving 1" of the strip flat at each end. (The ends will be stitched into the side edges of the tote, so leaving 1" ungathered will reduce bulk.)
TIP: Use contrasting thread color for your bobbin. That way, you can easily see which threads you need to pull to make the ruffles.
3. Align the gathered edge of the gathered strip with marked 10-1/2" line. Evenly distribute ruffles. Pin layers together.
TIP: Try pinning perpendicular to the fabric edge at regular intervals (such as dividing the strip into fourths). Use this as a guide to dividing ruffles evenly.
4. Stitch gathered strip to bag front with two parallel rows of stitching, close to the top of the strip.
TIP: Avoid sewing over your initial stitches to make ruffles or they will be hard to take out later.
5. Repeat steps 1-4 with the remaining 4-1/2x21" bias strips, working from the bottom marked line toward the top. Make sure that each gathered strip covers top edge of previously sewn gathered strip.
6. For the 5x21" bias strip, fold under one edge 3/8" and press in place. Stitch 1/8" from the top through the fold using a longer stitch length (we used 4.0mm). Leave 2" tails on both ends. Stitch again 1/4" from your first stitch (right under the fold).
7. Pull the bobbin threads (bottom threads) on both sides to gather the strip and create ruffles. Arrange the strip to be 16-1/2" long, leaving 1" of the strip flat at each end. (The ends will be stitched into the side edges of the tote, so leaving 1" ungathered will reduce bulk.)
8. Align the gathered edge of the gathered strip with the top of the bag. Evenly distribute ruffles. Pin layers together.
9. Stitch gathered strip to bag front with two parallel rows of stitching, close to the top of the strip.
10. Stitch down both sides of the bag with a longer stitch length to keep ruffles in place.
1. Layer the bag units with lining sides together. Pin in place. Using 1/4" seam allowance, sew together bag units along sides and bottom edge.
2. Trim corners close to the seam line.
3. Turn to opposite side (lining side out); press.
4. Using 1/2" seam allowance, sew along sides and bottom edge to complete bag. Make sure bottom ruffles doesn't get caught in the seam.
5. Turn bag right side out; press.