Tutorial: Toddler Tote

My little almost 2-year-old is going through a phase. An incredibly cute but sometimes irksome phase. You see, she is a little bit of a hoarder. More like a magpie, I guess. Lately, anything that catches her interest, shiny or otherwise, is quickly tucked into a random shopping bag that she drags around with her everywhere. Like I said, super cute, but a little difficult sometimes, when said shopping bag breaks. It causes a slight meltdown. Because of this, I’ve been meaning to make a little bag for her to “guarda” (that’s her Spanish word for putting things in her bag) anything she wants. And since her birthday is this week, I thought I had better do it, already.

So here it is, a little toddler-sized tote (and one for big sister, because you can’t make something for just one of your kids, people!). I roughly measure my bigger little girl (2nd child was sleeping) and then went with a 10 by 7 inch design, with an extra inch and a half for seam allowances (since every seam gets folded over twice).

Oh, I forgot to mention the second reason I decided to make these bags. A year ago, when I was stockpiling supplies for my first year in Ecuador, I purchased yards and yards of this lovely organic cotton grosgrain ribbon (because I love grosgrain ribbon, but hate that most of it is made of polyester or some other artificial material).

So, I also measured this ribbon to make the handles. I just draped it over my daughter’s shoulders and decided where I wanted to cut to make it the right length. Then I cut two pieces of ribbon that length.

The bag construction was pretty straight forward. I started by doing the top (opening) seam. I ironed over a quarter inch (please ignore the fact that I don’t currently own an ironing board and that I’m using an old towel instead). Then I ironed that seam over another half an inch to make a nice finished edge.

Then I tucked the ribbon under this seam, pushed up right to the crease in the fabric. Make sure you don’t twist your ribbon when you put it in.

Sew an 8th of an inch in from the bottom fold. Then flip your ribbon up and sew an 8th of an inch in from your top fold. When you’re done, your inside top seam will look like this. And the outside will look like this. Isn’t that nice?

And the outside will look like this. Isn’t that nice?

Thus ends my contribution of helpful pictures to this tutorial-ette. From here, is just got too caught up in sewing (and entertaining kids while I sewed) that I didn’t take any more pictures until I was done. Here’s what I did. I sewed the bag with French seams all the way around (Google French seams if you need help with this; it’s pretty straightforward, so don’t be scared off by the word French. You can refer to them as freedom seams if that’s your boat). Then I cut off the corners, and did those as French seams too. The cut of the corners part is hard to explain, but if you’ve ever made a boxed corner bag (my own term, sorry) of any sort, you probably know what I mean. If not, check out this great tutorial for the run-down on boxing out your corners. Of course, this step is just optional; the tote works fine without boxed corners. The benefit of boxed corners is that the bag will stand upright when you set it down, which is a big plus when you’re a little person trying to fill a bag as full as you can by yourself.

Here’s what the French seams business looked like on the inside. Lovely, right?

And here’s the finished tote. I did a little nuno-felted initial, but I’m not entirely satisfied with the freehand felt typography here. Oh well, my little girl loves it. So I’m happy. Of course, I should have a picture with the little model, because she sure is cute with her little tote. Sorry about that.

Have a great day!


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