Gathered Fabrics Tote Bag - The Perfect Whatever Bag!

August's Maxie Makes Subscription Sewing Box featured a paper pieced mini quilt, designed by Sarah Overton. The project used Gathered fabrics , Bonnie Christine's newest line for Art Gallery Fabrics. This bundle of fabric consists of seven 4" strips, one fat 1/8th and 2" binding strips. Because I had leftover bundles I put my thoughts toward an alternate idea that might be accomplished using the same cuts. I came up with a version of The Perfect Whatever Bag, using four fabrics for the outside and four for the lining. The binding strips became handles, and adding one more fat 1/8th to the mix allowed for the inside and outside pockets. I've added this bundle to my shopping page, including the extra fat 1/8th, if you're inclined to make your own! Click the photo to enlarge.

The Perfect Whatever Bag by Maxie Ramey

To prepare the strips for the bag and lining, leave the strips folded in the center and trim away the selvage edges. Measuring from that cut edge, make an 18.5" cut, creating two pieces, 4" x 18.5" from each strip. If necessary, trim the strips to 4" wide. Discard the trimmed folded area of fabric. Repeat with all 7 strips, and cut two pieces this same size from one of the fat 1/8ths.

I don't have instructional photos, but here are the steps I followed to alter from the original pattern:

  • Choose four prints for the front and back of the bag and arrange them as you like, and 4 strips for the lining.
  • To make the outside pocket, cut two 8" squares from the remaining fat eighth and place right sides together. For stability, layer an 8" square of canvas beneath them, then stitch together the top, leaving the sides and bottom open. (Remember, this text fabric is directional.) Turn right side out and press. Set aside for the next step.
  • To make the front, sew the top three strips together. Center the pocket on the front, with the lower raw edge of the pocket even with the bottom raw edge of the third strip. Pin or baste the two pocket sides in place. (The sides will be secured later when the handles are sewn in place.)
  • To make the handles, wrap a binding strip around a 3/4" wide strip of canvas and a 3/4" strip of batting. Press under the long unfinished edge and stitch close to both long sides. Use two strips to make two handles, each about 40" long.
  • Working with one handle strap, layer the ends over the edges of the pocket. Pin and stitch the handles, stitching through all thicknesses (including pocket), stopping at the top of the second strip. Back stitch well.
  • Finally, sew the bottom strip in place, through all thicknesses. Press well.
  • Repeat for back of bag, omitting the pocket. Center handles so that they mirror the front handles.
  • Create the lining in the same way (omitting handles), and if you want an inside pocket, make a square, lined pocket and sew in the center of one of the sides.
  • Layer the bag front pocket side over a piece of canvas cut the same size as the front. Layer these two layers on batting, cut the same size. Baste around all four edges and stitch in the ditch of the seams to hold it all three layers together.
  • Repeat for back side.
  • Cut a 2" square from the bottom corners of all four pieces. This is for boxing the corners later.
  • Place the front and back quilted bag right sides together and sew the sides and bottom with a 1/2" seam allowance. (Don't sew in the 2" square area.) Press seams open.
  • Repeat for lining, but leave about an 8" opening in the bottom for turning.
  • Sew the "boxed" corners by aligning the side and bottom seams, and fold the raw edges even to form the corner. Stitch with a 1/4" seam allowance. Repeat for all corners on bag and lining.
  • With the bag turned right side in, drop the lining in place, right sides together.
  • Matching the side seams, pin tops together and stitch around the top with a 1/2" seam allowance.
  • Turn bag right side out. As you push the lining down to the inside of the bag, let the top lining strip wrap around the top of the bag to the outside 1/2". Press well and stitch in the ditch. This makes a "mock binding".
  • Bring the handles straight up and pin to the top of the bag. Stitch the handle to the bag's top edge, in the ditch of the mock binding seam. This makes a "belt loop" effect, perfect for a scarf or key chain!
  • Close the bottom opening.  Click to enlarge the images below. Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by! Happy sewing and God bless!