The Quilted Tote is a quick project for using up existing quilt blocks or for busting through your stash of fat quarters. You can gift it to another crafter (it makes a great project bag), pair it with a book or tablet (it’s also a cute, padded carrying case), or use it as gift wrap.
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I’ve included instructions for piecing the quilt blocks for the bag front and back, but you can substitute existing 8.5” square quilt blocks for the front or back of the bag instead. I made my Quilted Tote small enough for my tablet, but you can adjust the basic parts of the pattern to make it larger or smaller. If you’re resizing, cut the lining and batting to the size of your finished squares for the front and back, and cut the bag straps to 2.5” (6.5 cm) wide by about 2.5 to 3 times the length of the front of your bag. It’s always better to make the straps longer than necessary because you can tie a knot or use a decorative pin to shorten them, but if the straps are too short, there’s not much you can do to fix the bag!
This is the eighth pattern in the Little Gifts Sew Along. Are you just hearing about the Little Gifts Sew Along? Get all the details here.
- You can join in by sewing the projects as you have time.
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Sewing Pattern by Underground Crafter
The Quilted Tote is a quick-to-sew project you can gift to your favorite crafter (as a project bag) or to a techie or reader (as a padded carrying case for a tablet or book). You can also use it as gift wrap! This is the eighth of 25 free sewing projects by 12 bloggers in the Little Gifts Sew Along.
- Tote: 7.75” (19.5 cm) x 7.75” (19.5 cm).
- Baby Lock Jubilant, or sewing machine with free arm. (Read my review of the Jubilant here.)
- Fiskars 45 mm Easy Change Ergo Control Rotary Cutter, Folding Cutting Mat, and Folding Ruler, or fabric scissors, ruler, and fabric marker.
- Iron and ironing board.
- 100% cotton fabric.
- I used most of 2 batik fat quarters for my version, and some “ugly fabric” muslin for the backing. You could also use 3 fat quarters.
- Cotton thread
- Fairfield Poly-Fil Project Fleece Small or a small piece of batting (see measurements below).
Prepare fabric and batting
- Iron your fabric.
- Layer 2 fat quarters on top of each other with the right sides facing. Trim the edges so both pieces are the same size.
- Cut pieces for the quilt blocks, lining, and straps in the following sizes through both layers. With each cut, you will make 2 pieces, or 1 piece in each fabric.
- Lining fabric: 8.5” (21.5 cm) square.
- Strips for quilt blocks: Cut 2 strips to 3” (7.5 cm) x 18” (46 cm). You will have 4 strips since you are cutting through 2 layers of fabric.
- Bag straps: Cut 2 straps to 2.5” (6.5 cm) x length of fabric (approximately 22”/56 cm). You will have 4 pieces since you are cutting through 2 layers of fabric.
- For the backing, cut 2 pieces of 8.5” (21.5 cm) square. This will not be seen so you can use an “ugly” fabric, muslin, or scraps.
- Cut 2 pieces of 8.5” (21.5 cm) square from the batting.
Make quilt blocks for front and back of bag
- Note: If you are using existing quilt blocks for your version, skip down to “Quilting the blocks.”
- With the right sides together, sew the strips for the quilt blocks together along the long edge with a 1/4″ seam allowance.
- Press the seams flat on the strips.
- Trim strips to 8 pieces, each measuring 4.5” (11.5 cm) long.
- Place a trimmed strip with right sides facing perpendicular to another trimmed strip and sew together with 1/4″ seam allowance. Repeat until you have 4 sets of blocks.
- Trim each block to 4.5” (11.5 cm) square.
- With a 1/4″ seam allowance and with right sides facing, sew 2 blocks together for the front and 2 blocks together for the back.
- Trim your new blocks to 8.5” (21.5 cm) square (or, to the same size if they are smaller or larger).
Quilting the blocks
- Make 2 “quilt sandwiches” for the front and the back of the bag.
- Layer the quilt blocks right side up at the top, put the batting underneath the block, and put the backing fabric underneath the batting.
- Quilt the blocks. I used the “hand-look quilting stitch” (#17) on my Baby Lock Jubilant and the Stitch Guide Foot from the Quilting Foot Kit and started by working a diagonal line across the center of the blocks.
- I used the Stitch Guide Foot’s ruler to create lines that were the same distance from previous quilt line.
- Trim the quilted blocks if necessary.
Make bag straps
- Position the strips for the bag straps right sides together and sew closed along each long edge with a 1/4″ seam allowance.
- Turn right side out.
- Press flat and trim straps to the same length.
- Position the quilted blocks right sides together and sew closed around 3 sides with a 1/4″ seam allowance. Turn right side out.
- Place the lining fabric pieces with the right sides together. Sew closed around 3 sides with a 1/4″ seam allowance, leaving a 4” (10 cm) opening on one of the side seams.
- Pin the short edges of the straps to the bag as pictured below. With the first strap, pin one short edge to the top of the front and the second short edge to the top of the front of the bag. Repeat with the other strap on the back of the bag, being sure to line up the straps.
- Using your machine’s free arm and with the right side of the bag facing up, sew a 1/4″ seam allowance along the top edge of the bag, sewing the straps in place. Remove pins as you work.
- Place the quilted part of the bag with the right side out inside of the lining. The lining should still have the right sides together/wrong sides out. Pin in place.
- Using your machine’s free arm, sew a 1/4″ seam allowance along the top of the lining, sewing the quilted part of the bag with the straps in place to the lining. Remove pins as you work.
- Turn the bag right side out, pulling through the 4” (10 cm) opening in the lining.
- Sew the opening in the lining closed.
- Put the lining back in the bag. Leave some of the lining (about 1/4″/0.5 cm) visible at the top.
- Working on the right side of the bag and using your machine’s free arm, make a seam using a decorative stitch. I used the “hand-look quilt stitch” and the J presser foot on my Baby Lock Jubilant.
- Trim threads and enjoy your tote.