Thursday, December 31, 2015

Nautical Tote bag Tutorial

Happy New Year!!! I'm starting off the blog posts of 2016 with a great tutorial and giveaway! At the end of this blog post, you can read all the ways to enter to win this adorable tote bag and a 4 piece potholder set!

This giveaway has ended.

This tote bag turned out so cute, I love the nautical fabrics. It has two inside pockets and one outside pocket. You can easily piece together fabric scraps or make a quilt block to make the outside pieces of the bag. At the end of this blog post, you can read all the ways to enter to win this adorable tote bag!

***Be sure to read the "Customizing Your Tote Bag" section at the end of this post.***

IMPORTANT: Before I get to the tutorial and how to enter the giveaway, here is something anyone that reads my blog needs to know. All giveaways will be announced on the blog FIRST. A few days after the blog giveaway announcement, the giveaway will then be announced on the Fluffy Puppy Quilt Works Facebook page. In those days between the two announcements, blog readers will have a chance to gain an extra giveaway entry by commenting on the blog. This extra chance to enter will end once the giveaway is announced on Facebook. Thank you, now onto the tutorial!

What you need:

For the outside of the bag:

  • Enough fabric to piece together a 16" x 13" rectangle for each side. I used two 16" x 10 1/2" pieces (life saver fabric) with 16" x 3" (polka dot fabric) pieces sewn on top.

For the lining:

  • Enough fabric to piece together a 16" x 13" rectangle for each side. I used two solid pieces of polka dot fabric.

Outside fabric:

  • Enough for a 7 1/2" x 8 1/2" rectangle. I used a 7" x 7 1/2" piece (anchor fabric) with a 2" x 7 1/2" piece (polka dot fabric)

Inside pocket:

  • Fabric for a 9" x 16" piece. I used a 6 1/2" x 16" piece (polka dot fabric) with a 3" x 16" (life saver fabric) piece.

Pocket lining:

  • 1-9" x 16" piece for the inner pocket.

  • 1-8 1/2" x 7 1/2" piece for the outer pocket.

Other materials:

  • 2-18" x 15" pieces of medium/light weight interfacing. The weight you would use for place mats works well.*

  • 2-18" x 15" pieces of low loft quilt batting*

  • At least 1 yard of 1" wide webbing for the straps.
*These pieces allow some room for trimming.

Outside fabric and outer pocket.

Lining fabric and inner pocket.
Piece together your pockets, outer pieces, and lining. You can use whole pieces of fabric if you want, I just like the look of it pieced together. Plus it's nice to have that option to use scraps.

Put your pocket linings and pockets right sides together. Sew around the perimeter using a 1/4" seam allowance. Leave an opening at least 2"-3" wide on each one. Trim the corners so that they will lay flatter when you turn each pocket.

Pinned together pockets and pocket lining.
Outer pocket sewn to lining right sides together. Corners have been trimmed.
Opening for turning.
Turn the pockets and press.

Layer the outside fabric, batting, and interfacing. Lay the batting on the interfacing, then the fabric on the batting, and baste. Quilt however you like. I quilted cross hatching on mine.

Trim the batting and interfacing even with the fabric. On one of your quilted outer fabric pieces, mark a line across the entire outer piece 1 1/2" up from the bottom. Find the center of your piece and mark 3 1/2" away from the center. This makes a 7" wide section for your 7" wide outer pocket.

Line up your pocket even with the lines so that it is straight and centered.

Pin it on well, then sew around the outer edge.

You can use whatever stitch you want depending on how you want your tote bag to look. Zigzag, decorative, or a simple straight stitch.

Put your outer pieces right sides together and sew from the top right corner, around to the top left corner using a 1/4" seam allowance.

Don't turn the bag around yet! Flatten the bottom corners, then mark a line 1" in from each corner. Sew along the line. Clip off the corners.

Now you can turn the bag around! Sew the inner pocket onto the lining. Place the inner pocket about 1" up from the bottom of the lining. Pin well and sew around the sides and bottom of the pocket. Sew right on the edge so that when you sew together the lining pieces, you won't see the side seams where you first sewed the pocket on.

Now here is where you can customize this for what you want to put in it. I just marked the center of the pocket and sewed down it so that I had two equal sized pockets. You can offset the line and make two different sized pockets, or put two lines to make three pockets.

Put your lining pieces right sides together and sew around the sides and bottom using a 1/4" seam allowance. Leave an opening at the bottom about 4"-5" wide.

Put the outside of your bag into the lining so that the right sides are together. Sew around the top of the bag.

The bag is inside the lining.
Pull the bag out through the opening in the lining. Fold in the lining opening and sew it closed with a straight stitch. Put the lining into the bag and press around the edge of the bag well. Top stitch to help keep the lining down.

Cut your webbing strip in half and zigzag stitch onto each side of the bag.

Customizing Your Tote Bag

There are lots of ways to make this simple quilted tote pattern your own! Check out this list for some ideas.
  • The front pocket. Piece something together, or use a simple solid. You could even quilt the front pocket after you sew the front and lining right sides together, turn it right sides out, and before you sew it onto the back. If you want to, you don't have to add the front pocket. You could even add a front pocket to both sides of your tote bag.

  • The bag quilting. I tried using cross hatching and straight line quilting, though you could even do free motion quilting. Or, simply use fusible interfacing and batting so you don't have to quilt it at all!

  • The bag piecing. I added a simple band to the top by sewing together two pieces of fabric to make my 16" x 13" outer fabric pieces. You could piece together more fabric for this, or use solid pieces.

  • The lining. Unlike for my front pocket and outer fabric, I used solid pieces of fabric for the lining. Since it's going on the inside of the bag, I like to use a nice, light colored fabric that isn't too busy. This makes it easier to find things inside your tote.

  • The inner pockets. I mention in the original Quilted Tote Bag Tutorial post that you can customize the size of the inner pockets by choosing where you sew across them. This is nice because you can plan exactly how you want your tote depending on what you will be using it for. Another benefit of sewing your own purses and bags!

  • The straps. Originally, I used webbing for the straps since it's already made, and it is nice and strong. On my next tote, I wanted the straps to exactly match the rest of the bag so I made some by making wide bias tape. This creates another area you can decorate your tote: by stitching down the straps when you use fabric (not webbing) to make them.

  • The stiffness/amount of padding. I used a layer of thin quilt batting + a layer of thin interfacing. You can leave out the interfacing for a softer bag, or leave out the batting for a thinner bag. If you want a stiffer bag, use a thicker interfacing. For a more padded bag use thicker batting, or multiple layers of thin batting. A padded tote would be great for carrying electronic devices.


  1. Love the bag! Could also use some new hot pads. Love your blog.

  2. Great tutorial! The tote bag is great and potholders too! Thank you for such a great giveaway!

  3. Your bag turned out great! Love those nautical prints! We featured your bag over on the FWFS blog!


  4. That bag is so cute! Definitely want to make one.

  5. I love how cheerful this bag looks - it's marvelous!

    urchiken at gmail dot com

  6. Extra giveaway entries have closed. Thank you all for entering! Please enter again by visiting the Facebook page and liking and sharing the original giveaway post.

  7. Wonderful giveaway. My hotpads are toast and I could really use some new ones. Thanks for the chance to win this giveaway.

  8. Great tutorial and your pictures were very helpful. Thanks for writing it!


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