Two Tone Tote Bag Tutorial

This small tote has a handy outside pocket to stuff in that tissue you just used or pop your sunnies in while you have coffee. It also has a zippered phone pocket and two other inside pockets. Once you have done one inserted zipper pocket you will never look back.

My feature buttons are a work in progress but the handy badge pin backs mean I can work on making an even better set of buttons and swap them in a flash. I have made lots of patchwork and quilted totes and purses but they have all featured the fabric. It is like learning a new skill to make the buttons the feature while still using pretty fabrics. This is my first go. I can feel an obsession coming on :)

I have made a hugely detailed picture tutorial. I have been very impressed with the Sew4Home tutorials so I have followed their format. The only difference is thatI have numbered from one to the end rather than in sections so it is easy to refer to a particular instruction if there is a question or problem. I have still put headings for each section like the Sew4Home tutorials.

Sewing Tools You Need

  • Any sewing machine
  • I used my 1/4 inch foot.
  • Zig zag foot to make the zipper bar tack.
  • Zipper foot

Fabric and Other Supplies
I chose a feature fabric that had the same colours as my buttons. Matching fabric for the lining and coordinating homespun. I can’t believe my first photo is a bit blurry but I couldn’t  fix it because I had cut up the fabric.

  • 1/4 yard or metre of feature fabric
  • 1 fat quarter of second feature fabric
  • 1/4 metre of homespun
  • 1/4 metre fusible interfacing
  • 1/4 metre medium wadding
    These amounts should be plenty. I have bits left over.
  • One 8 inch zipper for inside pocket
  • One 4 inch zipper for inside phone pocket
  • 13 inches rick rack trim
  • All purpose thread to match fabric
  • embroidery thread for quilting
  • Magic easy removable sticky tape
  • Quilting ruler is useful
  • Fabric marker pen
  • Rotary cutter
  • Pointed scissors
  • Straight pins
  • Iron and ironing board

Getting Started

  1. From the feature fabric (floral) cut a 12” wide WOF strip:
    Then from this strip cut ONE rectangle 12” x 15” for the bag back.
    Then One rectangle 12” x 5” for the two tone front.
    Then one rectangle 12” x 9” for the inside pocket. I fold this in half lengthwise immediately and put it with the zippers.
    Finally One 6” x 5” rectangle for the outside pocket. Once cut I place this on top of the strip for the front. (I thought the outside pocket turned out a bit short on mine and I have adjusted the pattern to make it 1” taller)
  2. From the feature fabric cut a 4” wide WOF strip for the handles.
    I use one WOF strip to make two handle lengths. This fits little me nicely.
  3. From the second feature fabric (stripes) cut TWO rectangles 6 1/2“ x 14” for the upper lining.
    One 5” x 7” rectangle to line the outside pocket.
  4. From the homespun (plain) cut ONE rectangle 12” x 10” for two tone front.
    Cut TWO rectangles 6 1/2” x 14” for the lower lining. If you want the feature lining to poke out the top like a binding cut these two lower lining pieces 7 1/2” x 14”. Put these strips with the matching striped strips now.
    Cut ONE 12” x 5 1/5” rectangle for the phone pocket. Fold this in half to make a narrow pocket and put it with the 4” zipper.
    Cut ONE rectangle 9” x 10” for the big inside zipper pocket. Fold this in half so it is 9” wide and place it with the 8” zipper.
  5. From the iron on interfacing cut ONE rectangle 12” x 14” for the bag back.
    Cut TWO rectangles 12” x 5” for the two tone strip and the outer pocket.
    Cut two strips 1 3/4 “ wide to fit the length of your handles.
  6. From the medium wadding cut ONE reactangle 12” x 14” for the bag back.
    Cut ONE rectangle 12” x 10” and ONE rectangle 12” x 5” for the two tone front.

I find it easier to use the fabric pieces as templates for the interfacing and wadding. You need to sew the outer pocket to its lining before using it as a guide to cut the interfacing.

At Your Sewing Machine and Ironing Board
  1. Collect the pieces for the two tone front and the back. 
  2. Iron the interfacing onto the bag back and lay it on the matching wadding rectangle.
  3. Straight Line Quilting Tip
    To quilt it I gently creased a fold from corner to corner for the first row of quilting. I then marked each successive row 2 inches away using easily removable sticky tape. 

    My tape is 3/4” wide so I place the 1 1/4 ruler line on the first quilting line and lay the tape down. You then place it so the tape is under the left hand side of the machine foot and sew along the tape edge. One piece of tape does the back. Just reuse it.

  4. For the front, using a 1/2’ seam (I like to think of it as 4/8” because my machine plate has 3/8 and 5/8 marked) sew the outside pocket rectangle to the lining rectangle and press the seam towards the lining.
  5. Iron on the interfacing.
  6. Fold the pocket in half so the lining makes binding look top edge.

  7. Iron the interfacing to both the two tone strips.
  8. Baste the outer pocket down the right hand side of the floral strip, matching raw edges, just to hold it still.

  9. Quilt the homespun rectangle of the two tone front. I didn’t quilt the floral strip at all. Trim all the edges so it is easy to match the raw edges of the fabric pieces.
  10. Lining Up The Rick Rack Tip
    Take the floral strip of the two tone front and draw a line down the left hand side a hair’s breadth less than a 1/2 inch from the raw edge.
    (I do trim the edge eventually)

    You will sew the rick rack down its centre so you can just see the line.
    Place the two front rectangles right side together and stitch the seam a hair’s breadth wider than the rick rack stitching.

  11. Open out and press seam towards the homespun section so the rick rack lays towards the floral section. 

  12.  Getting The Corners Equal Tip Cut out a 1 1/2 inch square from the bottom corners of the front and the back. Stitch across the bottom of the outside pocket. This give a 2 1/2” boxed bottom.

  13. With right side together sew the back to the front along the sides and the bottom.

  14. Bring the seams together so the corner raw edges come together. Sew across with a 4/8 seam width. 

  15. Collect up your lining pieces. With right side together sew each striped top to each plain lower lining. Press the seams open.

  16. Making the Inset Zipper Pockets and Open Pockets

    Collect your pocket pieces.

  17. Fold in and press the seam allowance on the long edges of the floral pocket piece. Fold it right sides together and sew down each side. Clip the corners and turn. Put aside.

  18. Put a mark in the seam allowance of one lining piece 4 inches down on each side.
    Take the 9 inch wide pocket piece. Mark a line 1/2 inch in from raw edge on one 9 inch side. Centre and draw a 1/2” x 7” rectangle in from the first line.
    Draw in the cutting lines for later. Make the triangles largish.

  19. Centre the pocket drawn rectangle up on the right side side of the lining piece with the raw edges level with the marks you made in the seam allowance. Pin around the rectangle then sew on the outside lines with a shorter stitch length - 1.8 to 2mm

  20. Cut along the additional lines you drew. Sorry for the extra lines. I changed the length of my rectangle on the go. 

  21. Turn the pocket through the slit and press to make a letterbox slot.

  22. Centre the zipper over the slot mark each end with a pin. Unzip the zipper a bit then using a zig zag foot sew a bar tack across the open end just past the place you put the pin.

    The bar tack holds the ends together making it easier to sew in.

  23. Place the zipper under the slot and line up the end pins and pin the zip in place. Remove the two marker pins. 

  24. With your zipper foot sew close to the edge of the slot all the way around. Make sure the pocket lining is unfolded and out of the way. My zipper foot has its own shank. It is not a snap on foot. I only ever use the snap on zipper foot for edge stitching because it just doesn’t fit past the zipper pull. Very annoying.

  25. Fold the pocket lining in half so the raw edges meet above the zipper. Pin then flip over. Pin again then take out the pins you put on the back side. Sew over the stitching along the top edge of the rectangle only. 

  26. On the wrong side fold the bag lining away from the pocket lining and sew close to the slot over the little triangle to close the side of the pocket. Do both sides. Trim the sides. 

  27. Take the prepared floral pocket piece and centre it just under the zipper pocket with the folded side to the top. Being careful to fold the zipper pocket out of the way sew down the side and across the bottom closing the seam then up the other side of the floral pocket. Still keeping the zipper pocket out of the way stitch down the centre of the floral pocket. 

    Give it a good pressing.

  28. The Zipped Phone Pocket
    Work this one similar to the larger zipped pocket.
    Select the other lining piece, the 5 1/2” rectangle and the 4” zip.
    make a mark in the seam allowance on each side of the lining piece 3” down from the top.

  29. Take the pocket lining piece and draw a line 1/2” from one short end. Centre a 4” line 1/2” from the first line.

    Complete the rectangle and draw in the cutting lines. Make the triangles at each end fairly large.

  30. Line it up with the mark on the lining and centre it. Add a few pins and stitch all around on the line of the rectangle. I usually start half way along the top to keep the corners as neat as possible. 

  31. Cut along the cutting line with pointed straight scissors. Turn it through and press the slot.

    When I first did a slot like this for a welted pocket the pattern mentioned these triangles and I had cut them so small I could hardly see them. You are supposed to catch them in the pocket seam later.
  32. Open the zip a bit and stitch a bar tack across the open ends just a bit further than the zipper end. Don’t forget to change to a zig zag foot first! Select a wide stitch and zero length and do about 8 stitches. I have lots of 4” zips and I don’t want to make them too short so I put the metal stoppers just visible under the slot. It is good to know where they are.

    Centre the zipper under the slot and pin it in. Using a zipper foot sew all around close to the edge of the slot. Don’t forget to change the stitch to straight stitch when you put on the zipper foot.

  33. Fold up the pocket piece and put in a pin. Flip the lining piece over and pin the top of the pocket. Take out the pin you put in the back.

  34. Sew across the top of the slot over the previous stitches using the zipper foot.

  35. Fold the lining away from the pocket and sew down each side seam catching the little triangle. I use my zipper foot for this too and just go slow so I don’t slip off.

  36. All done. Press it well.

  37. Place the two lining pieces right sides together. Measure a 1 1/2” square in each bottom corner and cut it out through both lining pieces.

  38. Pin all around leaving a 6” gap in the centre of the bottom seam. Sew.

  39. At the ironing board press up the seam allowance along the gap on each side.

  40. Bring the corners together matching raw edges and seams. Sew with a 4/8” seam.

  41. The Handles
    Take the 4”WOF strip and cut it into two 4” strips. Fold and iron each in half lengthways.

    Fold in each long edge to the middle and iron.

  42. OPen it out and iron on the 1 3/4” wide strip of interfacing centreing it over the centre fold. Then refold and fold in half to enclose the raw edges.

  43. Stitch along the open edge close to the edge, across the end and down the other edge.

  44. Pin one handle 3” in from the sides of the bag and sew in place.

    Use this side to align the other handle and sew in place.

  45. Finishing Up
    Place the lining around the bag right sides together. I placed the phone pocket against the bag back so I might be able to feel it vibrate. Match and pin the side seams first. Pin all around then using the free arm on your machine sew around the top of the bag. Start in the middle of the bag back.

  46. Pull the bag through the gap in the lining and stitch the gap closed. Make sure the folded edges of the seam are both caught in the stitching.

  47. Press the seam around the top then fold the lining inside. I was planning on folding the lining right inside and top stitching around the top but the lining looked so good sticking out over the stiff seam allowance that I just pressed it, pinned it then edge stitched close t the seam. This is where I use my clip on zipper foot.

    Press it all again and put on your feature buttons. You are done.

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