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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Knock off "Sams Club" tote bag

Here it is... just like I promised yesterday.
My lil "Tree Bird" version of a Sam's Club tote bag.
You can see by the contents that it has plenty of room for even those extra large shopping trips.
Or that perfect picnic!

In case you forgot, this is my Sam's bag, that they no longer sell.
 Heavens knows why, they are just the greatest thing I have ever used.

So lets get started...

I used a "Duck" cloth on these bags. It's plenty heavy and sturdy enough to haul even the heaviest loads.

 Here is the basic pattern.
It gives you an idea of what we are going to be working with.
You are going to need 1-1/4   to  1-1/2 yards 60" wide fabric for each bag.

Start off by cutting out 2 pieces   29" wide x 21 1/2" tall.
You can lay out your pattern to take advantage of the selvages for the bottom of the bag,
or if your fabric is indeed 60" wide you can place it the opposite way.
I chose to use the selvages on the bottom on mine, but if you don't, make sure you finish the bottom edges off with a serger, or a zig-zag stitch, or your favorite way.

From these 2 pieces you are going to cut a 5 1/2" square out of the bottom on both sides.
(this will form the bottom of the bag later)

Now on the front top part of each side, your going to want to make a mark 2 1/2" down from the top.
I love my Clover chalk markers for this.

Fold under a 1/4" and press towards the back, fold again
on your marked line and stitch in place.
This is going to finish off the top of the bag.

Here is what we have so far.

Once both sides are done, put right sides together and stitch across the bottom of the bag.
Finish each side of the seam if necessary and press open.

 Flip your bag over to the front side and mark your lines for the straps.
These will be 10 1/2" from the outside edge of the bag.
You can see from my pattern photo where they go.

If your planning on embellishing your bag, now is the time to do so.
I folded my bag in half and pressed to find the center.

Then appliqued my little bird house patches on.

And this is what it looks like now.

Next we are going to construct the handles.
This bag has double handles, which I love. One short set, and one shoulder length set.
For the handles we are going to cut 2 strips 3 1/2" wide by the 60"-62" width of the fabric. We then need 
2 more handles that are 3 1/2" x 31" long.
(my fabric was actually 62" wide, so I was able to cut 3 strips to get all 4 handles)

Fold under 1/2" on each side, the length of the handle piece.
I originally fused Deco-bond to my handle fabric, but have found that it really is not necessary, 
and adds a lot of bulk when stitching. So I don't recommend it.
I notice no difference, in how the handles hold the weight of the bag.

 Fold your handles in half wrong sides together, pin and stitch.
Now, here is where it's going to sound a little bit crazy...  We are going to take the shorter 31" handles and attach them to our bag. These are actually going to make the shoulder strap length handle on the bag.

Dropping down about 1" pin and stitch, 1 of the shorter handles to each side of the bag.
Note the handles are to the inside of the chalk line. Towards the center of the bag.
Make sure they are not twisted before you stitch to bag.

This is what it should like like now.

Next taking your longer strap, pin on top of the handle we have already attached to bag.
I took advantage of the selvages. You will need to finish your ends if necessary.
Your going to pin all the way down, across the bottom, and up the other side.
There is going to be extra strap. Don't cut it off,  just yet.

On the other side, we are going to do the same thing.
What we end up with, is the long extra piece of strap on opposite sides of our bag.

You want to measure that excess handle, 13 1/2" from the top of your bag and cut off on that line.

Now slide the end of the strap, underneath the strap across from it.

This is what it should look like on each side. 
The longest strap actually forms the shorter handle.
Because the 62" width of the fabric, is just too short for the shoulder length handle!

Once you have both sides pinned and the ends slipped under, you can stitch in place. 
Stitch across the tops and bottoms and down each side of both of the straps.
There will be some bulk to deal with at the tops, on each side. 
Stitch slowly and carefully, and you shouldn't have any problem.
The use of a heavy needle might help if necessary.
I love denim needles for that.

To give it that little bit extra strength, I like to stitch a box with an X in the middle.

With handles now attached, we can take our bag, right sides together and stitch down each side with a 1/2" seam. These edges will need to be finished. (I used my serger)

 Lastly, we are going to pull our raw edges on the bottom of the bag together 
and match the center seams.
Pin and stitch across each side, with a 1/2" seam and finish your edges.

Turn right side out, and voila...
You have a fabulous new "big" bag.

I took things one step further.
With this bag being so big, I felt that the bottom needed a little support. 
I cut  a piece of foam core board 11" x 17" the size of my bag bottom.
Foam core is inexpensive, lightweight and easy to find at any hobby store.
It cuts easily with a rotary cutter and ruler.
(Of course, you can use whatever you prefer)
I made a sleeve to cover it with a Velcro flap.
After making the second one, I had to stop and ask myself...
Was it really necessary, or would a sleeve that would just slide over the foam core be enough?
As long as it's removable, I don't think it really matters. 

If I have a spill in my new bag, it goes right into the wash machine.
The bottom is washable once the foam core is removed and if the foam core
gets bent or broken, which it will eventually, it's easy enough to replace.

I've tried to cover things as best as I could, but as always,
if you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask.
And, I would love to see your bag when it's done!

I talked about my new lighting, from  "Inspired LED" on my sewing machine yesterday.
It worked so well, that I have added it to a second machine and...

 ...the place I iron too.

I love my ironing station that sits on a set of IKEA drawers.
But there is a shadow where it's located. 

While it's hard to get great photos, you can sure tell the difference these lights made.
(and that it's way past time to get a new ironing board cover)

Inspired LED sells light strips that stick on any place.
I am just thrilled at how well they work and how inexpensive they are.

If you have a place that needs extra lighting, you will want to check them out right

One last thing...
Apple Blossom let me know yesterday that the link for the oven mitt was not correct.
I do appologize. It seems that the Warm Company updated their web site after I wrote my post.
I have now changed the link and it worked for me.
Thanks Apple Blossom for letting me know!

Happy Stitchin!


  1. Great work with your tutorial. I hope these bags start popping up everywhere!

  2. Wonderful bag and looks like an excellent tutorial!

  3. Great tutorial.....thanks for sharing all your details.

  4. Thank you for a great tutorial! The appliqued panels dress up the plain bag just beautifully. I should make a few for grocery trips ;)

  5. Great tutorial - thank you, Joan. ^^

  6. Wonderful tutorial and another great idea for those LED lights used elsewhere than just on the sewing machine. Thanks too for stopping by and leaving such kind words about my bird projects and think you may be on to something about the ideas spurning from that coaster of the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. These hops are fun and so creative, I love everything being shown.

  7. That looks wonderful. I think I will be making a few as the ban on grocery bags is about to happen here. Thanks so much.

  8. Thanks for a great tutorial, Joan. I will be making one of these soon. Love recycle bags!

  9. Oh Joan! Thank you so much. I've been needing a tote AND I've just spent the last month trying to buy a bulb for my old Pfaff sewing machine. Argh! So, I just went over to that place, Inspired LED, found the kit, and ordered it. End of problems, I hope. I'm sending more patterns soonly, dear, too. Let me know if you have any open time for them. Love, Kathie

  10. Dear Ambassador Joan (bow, scrape):

    Wow. That sounds awesome.

    Thank you again and again. I’ll save my extra lights. Like you said, you can buy more connector thingies and use every inch of the light strip? In my view, literally, all my sewing machines are "light challenged".

    Learning EQ? EQ is the one program I absolutely HAD to use the manual to learn. But you can do it. Give yourself a window of time each day and use every lesson to design something. You’ll get the hang of it pronto.


  11. holy smokes! A perfect 'green' bag and free tutorial--you rock! Thanks for sharing the love♥


Thanks for stopping by today. Your comments really do make me day!