Sewing for Sisters Day 1

As promised this week I am going to be doing a series of posts called Sewing for Sisters. Ok well they aren’t all going to be sewing related but most are. This is to celebrate the beauty that is sisterhood. I myself have a younger sister and our second daughter is due to arrive any day now. So I thought what better way to honor the unique relationship of sisters than to devote a week to our partners in crime. Here is the first installment of the series. I hope you enjoy it and check back tomorrow for another fun project.

Sweet Sister Totes

 As you know I live in the hot hot South. We Southerners have some customs and traditions that are unique to us when it comes to new baby arrivals. We hang decorated wreaths on hospital doors to announce the arrival, height, weight, sex and often name of the new babies. We put large ribbons on our mailboxes when we get home to let our neighbors know our new bundle of joy has arrived. And when it comes to siblings we make a BIG TO-DO over bringing home a new baby. Moms and Dads often arrange for siblings to “give” each other gifts to celebrate the occasion.

 So in honor of my little one, due to arrive literally any minute now, (sooner rather than later I hope, it’s blazin’ hot) I decided my girls would give each other new custom tote bags full of little treasures. They can use these for years to come at the library, park, museum, going to Grandmother’s house…..anywhere and they will always know this is the first thing they gave each other as new sisters.

 So without further rambling here is how to make these Sweet Sister Totes for you own little clan.

 So I had like 3 yards of this soft linen in my fabric stash for who knows what reason. (OK I admit I hoard fabric, don’t judge). The Elder A loves the color red so that was an easy choice for the lining of her tote and I let her decide that would like to have green for hers.

 I made these in 2 different sizes, one slightly larger than the other. The totes are fully lined with boxed corners, piped trim and cute appliquéd fronts. So let’s get started.

 First I cut the 4 pieces for each tote, 2 outer and 2 lining, making 8 total since I was making 2.

The Elder A’s was 16×14 and was 14×12. This includes seam allowance (1/2″) on all 4 sides, don’t forget that part.

 I also cut handles from the lining fabric. The Elder A’s was 20” and was 18”. Cut 2 of each of those.

 If you are doing an appliqué now is the time. Take one of you outer pieces and place the design in the center before beginning any construction. (No I do not have some awesome machine that let’s me know will have brown hair and blue eyes….just a Mother’s gut feeling)

Designs from Planet Appliqué.

Now take the 2 outer pieces, right sides together and sew along the sides and bottom, NOT across the top. Do the same thing with the lining pieces BUT leave a 2” opening at the bottom of the lining so you can turn the bag later.

 Now for my bags I added a 3” trim piece that I piped to the front pieces BEFORE I sewed them together in the above step, but that is totally optional. This is how they looked.

Piped and trimmed edge

 Now to box the corners. If you Google boxed corner tote, or any variation there of, you could spend days sifting through the how-to sites and videos. This is basically how I did it and they turned out really nice. All you do it line up the side seams with the bottom seam, at the corner making a triangle. Then it is up to you how “deep” you want the box corner to be. I personally used 1 ½” but you could use more or less. Using you ruler measure down from the top point of the triangle and draw a straight line across, creating the bottom edge of the triangle and then sew a straight stitch across that line. Cut off the excess, aka the triangle itself, and there you have it…a beautiful boxed corner.

Boxed corner

 Do this on both the outer and lining pieces 2 corners. Double check that you are measuring the same distance on all 4 corners. Once that is finished it is time to assemble the bag.

Turn the lining right side out and slide in down into the bag that is wrong side out, placing right sides together. Stitch all around the top edge and then carefully pull the outer bag through the hole you left in the bottom of the lining. Sew up the lining hole and then push the lining back down into the bag. There you have the base for you tote.

Lining inside bag, right sides together

Bag before straps

 Now on to the straps.

These can be done with ribbon, rope, twill tape…whatever. I chose to use the lining fabric and make my own. The 2 pieces are 3” wide and can be any given length long. To sew the straps is a lot like making bias tape, another subject you could spend days on Google reading about. Take each strap piece and turn the short ends, to the wrong side ¼” and press well. Beware of burning your fingers. Then take the strap pieces and fold in half length wise, WRONG sides together and press well. You should get a long skinny tube that looks like this. Now topstitch all the way around, all 4 sides for both straps.

Strap with topstitch sewn all around

 Now to attach the straps to the bag I measure over 2” from the side seams and placed my straps there. Sew one end down and then measure from the other side and sew the other end down. Be carefully not to twist the straps. Repeat for the back and you are DONE!!

Strap sewn to bag along top edge

 Look how cute and special these are. I can’t wait for The Elder A to give her baby sister this special gift and be surprised when baby sister gives her bag back to her full of her favorite things.

I cannot take credit for the appliqué design. I bought these from Becca at Planet Appliqué. She is utterly fabulous and has hundreds of adorable designs and runs GREAT monthly specials. Sometimes the designs are as cheap as 99¢ each. Go check out her site.

 Tomorrow on Sewing for Sisters I will be doing a super quick and easy project to tame those crazy beach towels from falling off the back of lounge chairs. Stay tuned this week because on Friday I have a very special guest planned who knows more about sister than anyone I know. You won’t want to miss her guest post. Happy Sewing. See ya tomorrow.



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