Quilted Tote-torial: Part 1.

Part 1: Supplies, Cutting, & Prepping. Minimal Sewing.



  • Fabric Option 1 (3 color tote):
    • Fabric A (main exterior) – 1/2 yard quilting cotton (allows for directional print).
    • Fabric B (base exterior, contrast accent interior & straps) – 1/2 yard quilting cotton.
    • Fabric C (contrast accent exterior & lining) – 1 yard quilting cotton.
  • Fabric Option 2 (4 color tote):
    • Fabric A (main exterior) – 1/2 yard quilting cotton (allows for directional print).
    • Fabric B (base exterior) – 1/4 yard or 1 fat quarter quilting cotton (allows for directional print).
    • Fabric C (contrast accent) – 1/4 yard or 1 fat quarter quilting cotton (allows for directional print).
    • Fabric D (lining & straps) – 1 yard quilting cotton.
  • Pellon SF101 fusible interfacing – 3 yards (20″ width).
  • The Warm Company Warm And Natural Cotton Needled Batting 34″x45″ (NOTE: this is enough for two quilted totes). Or 2 large cotton batting scraps that can be cut down to 17″x17″. NOTE: Do not use polyester batting for this project. This will be discussed more in depth in Part 2 of the tutorial.
  • A YKK® 12 inch (or longer) #3 nylon coil closed bottom zipper – or other brand. Coats & Clark makes a comparable zipper.
  • Optional: any purse tack you wish to add to your key loops such as the 16x30mm swivel lobster clasp that I added on my second bag.
  • Coordinating thread.
  • Tools – Every sewist has tools that they prefer, but these are the tools (besides my sewing machine & iron) that I used during this project:


Start by pressing all of your fabrics.


NOTE: Fabrics listed are for Option 1. For Option 2 fabrics cut (#1, #5, #10) from Fabric A, (#3) from Fabric B, (#2, #4) from Fabric C, (#6, #7, #8, #9, #11) from Fabric D. After cutting, pieces will be referred to by their numbers so that the instructions are interchangeable for either Option 1 or 2.

  1. (2) 17″ x 10″ (Fabric A)
  2. (2) 17″ x 2″ (Fabric C)
  3. (2) 17″ x 6″ (Fabric B)
  4. (4) 17″ x 2″ (Fabric B)
  5. (2) 12″ x 8″ (Fabric A)
  6. (2) 12″ x 6.5″ (Fabric B)
  7. (2) 12″ x 14″ (Fabric C)
  8. (2) 17″ x 17″ (Fabric C)
  9. (2) 5″ x 34″ (Fabric C) add 2″ on length for knot detail on wide straps
  10. (2) 2″ x 5″ (Fabric A)
  11. (4) 2″ x 1.5″ (Fabric A)

From your interfacing cut the following pieces. Instructions given are to ensure maximum usage from yardage. If you cut pieces in a different order, you may run out/need more.

  1. Make (4) 17″ cuts. Set aside remaining yardage. Trim these cuts to (4) 17″ x 17″ squares.
  2. Trim leftover 17″ x 3″ strips to (4) 17″ x 2″ rectangles.
  3. Make a 34″ cut. Cut (2) 5″ x 34″ strips from this.
  4. Cut 10″ strip into (2) 10″ x 14″ rectangles. From remaining 20″ x 6″ cut (2) 2″ x 14″ strips

From batting: cut (2) 17″ x 17″ squares.

And this is what you should have when you are finished:

Piecing exterior panels & exterior pocket panels.

Main Panel: Using 1/4″ seam, line up #1 and #2 with right sides together and sew. If using a directional print for main fabric, be sure that #2 is lined up along the bottom of the print. Do the same for #2 and #3. Repeat for second panel.

Pocket Panel: Using 1/4″ seam, piece #5 to #6 in the same manner. Repeat for second panel.

Press seams open on all panels.


Fusing interfacing.

For this step you will need an ironing board, an iron, and a pressing cloth.

Fuse interfacing to the following pieces according to the instructions that come with your interfacing: Main panel, Pocket panel, #4, #8, and #9. For the pocket panel use the 10″x 14″ interfacing rectangles alongside the 2″ x 14″ strips.


After fusing your interfacing, trim any little bits of interfacing along the edges and corners that stick out past your fabric. Flip your fabric back to right side up and press with very light steam from the center out to the edges to get rid of any wrinkles or bubbles.



Finishing prep.

Straps, key loops, zipper ends, and pin basting.

Pin baste exterior bag panels to cotton batting.


Regular straps: Press each strap #9 in half the long way, then press in sides to meet the line created by original pressing. Press in half again (pictured: straps from draft 1 of this design).


Wide straps: Pin each strap #9 inside out along the long edge.


Repeat method for Regular straps with key loops #10.

Press edges on zipper ends #11 in 1/2″ along one 1 1/2″ edge.

pressed 1

…to be continued…


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