Quick-Change Tote

Button-on handles make it a breeze to reverse this fantastic patchwork purse.


What You Need:
  • 5/9 x 22-inch pieces (fat eighths) of assorted purple, light purple, green, and teal prints for patchwork, pocket, and binding
  • 1/4 yard of dark purple print for patchwork and pocket
  • 3/8 yard of black print No. 1 for patchwork and binding
  • 1 yard of black print No. 2 for reverse side, bag sides, and pocket
  • 31-inch square of lightweight batting
  • 1/8 yard of black vinyl for handles
  • 1 yard of 5/16 x 3/16-inch clear, flexible vinyl tubing (available at hardware stores)
  • 33/4 x 11-1/2-inch rectangle of heavyweight template plastic
  • 8 5/8-inch- to 7/8-inch-diameter buttons
  • Size 14 leather needle (optional)
  • Baby powder (optional)

Finished tote bag: 11-1/4 x 12 x 4-1/2 inches Quantities specified for 44/45-inch-wide, 100% cotton fabrics. All measurements include a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Sew with right sides together unless otherwise stated.

Cut the Fabrics:

To make the best use of your fabrics, cut the pieces in the order that follows.

  • From assorted purple, light purple, green, and teal prints, cut: 2 4-1/2 x 6-1/2-inch rectangles 1 2-1/2 x 8-inch binding strip 2 2-1/2 x 7-1/2-inch binding strips 2 2-1/2 x 4-1/2-inch binding strips 34 2-1/2 x 3-1/2-inch rectangles
  • From dark purple print, cut: 2 7-1/2-inch squares 2 2-1/2 x 3-1/2-inch rectangles
  • From black print No. 1, cut: 3 2-1/2 x 42-inch binding strips 2 2-3/4 x 12-1/2-inch rectangles
  • From black print No. 2, cut: 1 14-1/2 x 29-inch rectangle 1 4-1/2 x 12-1/2-inch rectangle 4 4-1/2 x 11-1/2-inch rectangles 2 4-1/2 x 6-1/2-inch rectangles
  • From batting, cut: 1 14-1/2 x 29-inch rectangle 2 4-1/2 x 11-1/2-inch rectangles 1 7-1/2-inch square 2 4-1/2 x 6-1/2-inch rectangles
  • From black vinyl, cut: 4 1-3/4 x 20-inch strips
  • From clear plastic tubing, cut: 2 x 17-1/2-inch lengths

Download the free diagrams for this project (Downloading requires Adobe Acrobat software).

Tote diagrams

Adobe Acrobat

Assemble the Patchwork

1. Lay out 18 of the assorted purple, light purple, green, teal, and dark purple print 2-1/2 x 3-1/2-inch rectangles in three horizontal rows (see Diagram 1).

2. Sew together the rectangles in rows. Press the seam allowances in one direction, alternating the direction with each row. Then join the rows to make a patchwork unit; press. The pieced patchwork unit should measure 1 2-1/2 x 9-1/2-inches, including the seam allowances.

3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 to make a second patchwork unit.

4. Referring to Diagram 2, lay out the two black print No. 1 2-3/4 x 12-1/2-inch rectangles, the black print No. 2 4-1/2 x 1 2-1/2-inch rectangle, and the two patchwork units. Sew together; press the seam allowances away from the patchwork units.

5. With wrong sides together, layer the patchwork piece and the black print No. 2 14-1/2 x 29-inch rectangle; sandwich the batting 141¿2¥29" rectangle in between and baste.

6. Quilt all but the black print 4-1/2 x 12-1/2-inch rectangle in the center of the patchwork piece as desired. Melanie Crabbe machine-quilted an X through each patchwork rectangle and stitched in the ditch between the black print rectangles and the patchwork units (see Diagram 3). Once the quilting is complete, trim the batting and backing even with the edges of the patchwork piece.

7. Round the corners of the template plastic 3-3/4 x 11-1/2-inch rectangle slightly, then slide it between the unquilted black print center rectangle and the batting.

Assemble the Sides and Pockets

1. Cut and piece the black print No. 1 2-1/2 x 42-inch binding strips to make the following: 2 2-1/2 x 27-1/2-inch binding strips 2 2-1/2 x 12-1/2-inch binding strips 2 2-1/2 x 4-1/2-inch binding strips

2. With the wrong sides inside, fold the black print 2-1/2 x 12-1/2-inch binding strips in half lengthwise; press. Then bind the 12-1/2-inch-long edges of the quilted patchwork piece (see Diagram 4).

3. With wrong sides together, layer two black print No. 2 4-1/2 x 11-1/2-inch rectangles; sandwich a batting 4-1/2 x 11-1/2-inch rectangle in between and baste. Quilt as desired to make a tote side piece. Repeat to make a second tote side piece.

4. Repeat Step 3 using two black print No. 2 4-1/2 x 6-1/2-inch rectangles and a batting 4-1/2 x 6-1/2-inch rectangle to make a side pocket.

5. Repeat Step 3 using two assorted print 4-1/2 x 6-1/2-inch rectangles and a batting 4-1/2 x 6-1/2-inch rectangle to make a second side pocket.

6. Repeat Step 3 using the two dark purple print 7-1/2-inch squares and the batting 7-1/2-inch square to make a front pocket.

7. Repeat Step 2 using the black print 2-1/2 x 4-1/2-inch strips to bind one 4-1/2-inch-long edge of each tote side piece. Use the assorted print 2-1/2 x 4-1/2-inch strips to bind the 4-1/2-inch-long edge of the two side pockets. Use the assorted print 2-1/2 x 7-1/2-inch strips to bind opposite edges of the front pocket.

8. Turn each end of the assorted print 2-1/2 x 8-inch binding strip under 1/4 inch. Then fold the strip in half lengthwise with the wrong side inside; press. Use the prepared strip to bind one raw edge of the front pocket (see Diagram 5).

Assemble the Tote Bag

1. Layer the side pockets on the tote side pieces with lower edges aligned (see Diagram 6); baste.

2. Referring to Diagram 7, position the front pocket on the reverse side of the quilted patchwork piece with the raw edge extending 1/4 inch past the in-the-ditch sewing line. Join the pocket to the patchwork piece, sewing over the in-the-ditch sewing line. Flip up the front pocket and stitch in the ditch along each side edge.

3. Referring to Diagram 8, sew four buttonholes in the patchwork quilted piece for the handles.

4. With the patchwork side facing out, pin the tote side pieces to the patchwork piece, making sure that one side pocket is on the outside and one side pocket is on the inside of the bag. Make sure to align the bindings so they meet at the top. Sew together to complete the tote body. (The seams will show on the patchwork side of the tote.)

Note: Melanie suggests sewing the tote together from the upper binding toward the bottom center to ensure that the bindings match neatly in each upper corner (see dashed lines and arrows in Diagram 9).

Finish

1. Use the black print 2-1/2 x 27-1/2-inch strips to bind the tote bag side edges, easing the binding around the corners at the bag's bottom.

2. Trace the Handle End Pattern on Pattern Sheet 4 onto each end of the four vinyl 1-3/4 x 20-inch strips (see Diagram 10). Do not trim away.

3. If desired, set up your machine with a leather needle and a slightly longer stitch length; this should prevent the vinyl from perforating or tearing. Layer the traced vinyl strips with wrong sides together; edgestitch just inside the traced pattern lines on each end of the vinyl 1-3/4 x 20-inch strips. Carefully trim the excess vinyl outside the edgestitching (see Diagram 11).

4. Bend each edgestitched pair of strips in half lengthwise and sew together, beginning and ending 2 inches from the ends to form two tubes for the tote handles (see Diagram 12).

5. Insert a 17-1¿2-inch length of clear vinyl tubing into each tote handle. Note: To help the tubing slide into the handles more easily, sprinkle baby powder into the handles first.

6. Sew two buttons on each handle end at the same time, one on the inside and one on the outside (see Diagram 13). Melanie used a decorative button on the outside of the handle and a flat button for the inside. Button handles onto the bag to complete the tote.

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