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Make-It Monday

Scrappy Happy Patchwork Tote

When cruising Instagram or the internet, only one thing beats coming upon a sewn something so pretty, I immediately want to make it myself. And that’s when clicking on that pretty something leads to a free sewing tutorial!

So many incredibly talented crafters share their knowledge, expertise, and imaginations online, asking nothing in return, and I’m beyond grateful to them all. I wouldn’t know what I do about sewing without their generosity! And these creative gifts don’t just teach and inspire; they instantly welcome you to the fabric-loving community, regardless of your experience or skill level. When I first started thinking about starting a sewing-related site, I wasn’t totally sure what or how I’d share. But one thing I knew for certain was that I hoped to contribute to this warm world that gives so much. I wanted to help spread the love—both for fabric, and for each other! And after some thought, I decided offering tutorials was a good place to start.

That said, welcome to Make-It Monday! This post kicks off what will be a weekly series of ideas and instructions. Each Monday I’ll share a new project with tips and photos to help you make your own. I’m particularly passionate about quilts, bags, and pillows, so you’ll definitely find those related items, but I’ll do my best to offer a variety of fun, functional products. So if you find yourself feeling weekday-weary after a Sunday that ended too soon, do check in for a little pick-me-up! After all, caffeine has nothing on creativity. (Though together they’re an unstoppable force!)

For my first MIM project, I decided to combine two of my main fabric passions. I’d recently finished a quilt top and, as always, had lots of random fabric pieces leftover. Rather than adding them my overflowing scrap bin, I decided to incorporate them into this:


The Scrappy Happy Patchwork Tote!


This canvas-and-cotton carryall measures 16″ (h) x 20″ (w) and has everything you want in a bag. Plenty of space. Interior and exterior pockets. And, best of all, scraptastic patchwork! Take it to the beach, pool, farmer’s market, library, office, coffee shop, fabric store, and anywhere else you need to haul stuff to or from. For my recent beach outing, it held two towels, books, magazines, a notebook, wallet, water bottle, sunscreen and more—with room to spare. And after a visit to one of the North Fork’s many lovely farm stands, it easily toted home apples, peaches, and the prettiest bouquet of sunflowers. The uses are endless, and so are the creative possibilities!


To make your very own Scrappy Happy Patchwork Tote, you’ll need:
Canvas or home décor fabric A for exterior panels and exterior pocket lining
Canvas or home décor fabric B for bottom panels, handles, exterior pocket binding and interior pocket
Quilting cotton for interior lining panels
Assorted quilting cotton scraps for exterior pocket
Annie’s Soft and Stable (optional, for base)
Fusible Fleece
Denim sewing needle (I used size 14)
Wonder (or other) Clips (not required, but helpful!)
Basting spray and/or quilting pins
Pencil or marking instrument
Scissors, rotary cutter, cutting mat


Cutting Instructions
From canvas/home décor A:
(2) 13” x 21” for upper exterior panels
(1) 12” x 23” for exterior pocket lining

From canvas/home décor B:
(2) 5” x 21” for handles
(2) 13” x 21” for interior and exterior bottom panels
(1) 10” x 16” for interior pocket
(1) 2.5” x 21” for exterior pocket binding

From quilting cotton yardage:
(2) 13” x 21” for upper interior lining

From quilting cotton scraps:
(84) 2” squares

Fusible Fleece:
(2) 13” x 21” for exterior top panels
(2) 4” x 20” for handles (optional, if you’d like them thicker)

(1) 12” x 23” for exterior pocket

Annie’s Soft and Stable (optional):
(1) 13” x 21” for base

A Few Notes
On interfacing: I tend to keep mine to a minimum, especially when using canvas or heavier fabrics, but feel free to incorporate wherever you’d like a little more weight! Additional interface-able possibilities for this project include the interior lining and interior pocket.

On stitch length: When topstitching and quilting throughout this project, I used a 3.5” stitch length. For all other sewing, I used my machine’s standard 2.2”. Adjust as you’d like!

On seams: I used a ¼” seam allowance when sewing the 2” squares together for the patchwork pocket. All other seam allowances are 1/2”.

Let’s Start Stitching!

1.     Following package instructions, iron the fusible fleece to your upper exterior panels and handles (if using). Put aside.

2.     Make Handles
a.     Take one 5” x 21” strip, fold in half lengthwise, and press.
b.     Open the strip, then bring each outer edge in to the pressed center line.
c.     Fold again along that line, and press to make a 1” strip.
d.     Top stitch 1/8” away from each edge.
e.     Repeat with other 5” x 21” strip, and set aside.






3.     Make Exterior Patchwork Pocket
a.     Using your 2” squares, make 6 rows. Each row will have 14 squares.
b.     Press seams as you’d like. I alternated mine (row 1 pressed right, row 2 left, row 3 right, etc.) so seams nestled together when joining rows. Once rows were joined, I pressed those seams open.
c.     Prepare for quilting. Spray baste and/or pin your patchwork panel to the 12” x 23” batting. Spray baste and/or pin this to the 12” x 23” canvas A panel.
d.     Quilt as desired. I used a ruler and pencil to mark diagonal lines/Xs through the square corners, and quilted along these lines.
e.     Trim the quilted patchwork panel so it measures 9.75” x 21”.
f.      Make binding. Take your 2.5” x 21” canvas B strip and press in half lengthwise. Align raw edge to the top edge of the pocket, pin, and sew (using a ¼” seam). Turn folded edge to the back (inside the pocket), press, and pin. Stitch in the ditch OR stitch ¼” away from the binding seam to secure to canvas pocket lining.







4.     Attach Patchwork Pocket to Front Upper Panel
a.     Take patchwork pocket and one upper exterior panel. Align bottom edges, pin or clip in place along bottom edge and sides.
b.     Mark the center of the patchwork pocket along the binding (10.5” from either side). Draw a straight line down to the pocket’s bottom edge.
c.     Topstitch along the drawn line. Be sure to backstitch at the top.




5.     Attach Exterior Upper Panels to Exterior Bottom Panel and Soft & Stable
a.     Align bottom edge of front upper/pocket panel with bottom panel edge, right sides together. Place Soft & Stable piece on top of bottom panel, aligning those edges. You’ll have a fabric sandwich with the bottom panel in the middle and the foam on top. Pin or clip, sew along edge.
b.     Repeat with back upper panel.
c.     Press seams toward foam.
d.     Topstitch ¼” on bottom panel to secure seams.






6.     Complete Tote Exterior
a.     Fold tote in half, right sides together. Be sure to match bottom panel seams. Pin/clip each side, then sew. Press seams. You’ll now have an inside-out mega pouch!
b.     Make 4” box corners. Leaving bag inside-out, mark a 2”-square at each corner. Cut and remove squares. For each corner, open the opening, then press fabric/foam together so that the bottom panel side seam meets the center of opposite side. Pin/clip in place, sew. For extra support, sew again.
c.     Turn tote right-side out, set aside.







7.     Make Interior Pocket
a.     Find your 10” x 16” canvas B rectangle. Fold in half, right sides together, so the piece measures 8” x 10”. Press.
b.     Pin and sew along sides and bottom. Leave a 3”-4” opening along bottom edge for turning. Be sure to backstitch on either side of the opening.
c.     Clip corners and turn pocket right side-out through the opening. Tuck edges of opening inside the pocket so that they’re even with the ½” seam. Press pocket.
d.     Topstitch along top folded edge.





8.     Attach Interior Pocket to Upper Lining
a.     Take one upper lining panel. Place pocket in the center of the panel, 3” below top raw edge. Pin.
b.     Sew along sides and bottom of pocket to secure in place. I stitched 1/8” from edges.





9.     Complete Tote Interior
a.     Repeat Step 5 to attach upper lining panels to bottom lining panel (but without foam).
b.     Repeat Step 6a to join lining sides, BUT be sure to leave a 6”-8” opening along one side for turning. Press seams.
c.     Repeat Step 6b to make lining box corners.






10.     Assemble Tote
a.     Find your handles and tote exterior. On both sides of tote exterior, mark handle placement. To do this, mark the center of the bag exterior (10” from tote sides) along the top edge. Then mark 2.5” to either side of that point. The inside edge of each strap will meet this mark. Pin straps in place on both the front and back of tote, right sides together. Once pinned, the straps will hang toward the bottom of the bag. Be sure they don’t twist!
b.     Slide tote exterior inside lining, right sides together. Align side seams along top edge. Pin/clip top edge. (You’ll need to un-pin and re-pin the handles here so you don’t accidentally sew pins inside the bag!)
c.     Sew along top raw edge.
d.     Turn bag right-side out through opening in lining. Press lining opening seam so it’s flush with finished seam, then sew shut. (I stitched 1/8” from edge.)
e.     Push lining into exterior and lift handles. Press, then topstitch ¼” along top edge.








11.     Enjoy your Scrappy Happy Patchwork Tote!


That’ll do it for my first tutorial! I hope you enjoy—and I’d love to see your crafty creations. Feel free to tag me on Instagram and share via #threadandpen!

I’ll be posting more sewing-related fun this week and will have another project for you to try next Monday. I hope you’ll check back! And please feel free to say hi anytime. I’d love to meet you and swap stitching stories!

In words and stitches,


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