Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Basic Denim Patchwork Tote with Applique

Hello all, today we are going to make a very useful tote from some not so useful anymore jeans.

First you will need to cut 8 squares of denim.  I cut mine 7" square, which resulted in a 12' square bag, with 1/2" seam allowances.
Then lay out your squares.
 Stitch together, press open seam allowances and topstitch 1/8" from each side of seam.  The topstitching accomplishes a couple of things here, it reinforces the seams, helps the seams lay neater since this bag is not lined inside, and adds a little more detail.  I choose to topstitch mine with pink thread to complement my applique.
You would think that pink thread on blue denim would show up better but no.  Squint real hard, maybe you will be able to see it. :)
Now to add the bird applique.  You can find the pattern here. bird applique
Cut one of the body and one of the wing.

First, using a zigzag stitch, stitch the wing to the body.  Like so.
Then, zigzag stitch the body to the bag.  When placing the bird on the bag, keep in mind that you will "lose" about an inch from the bottom of the bag.  (This happens after adding the corner gussets to create a base for the bag.)
After the bird is all stitched on, find a button for his eye and stitch that on.  (For some reason I always wait to do this last. But go ahead, save yourself a lot of pain and suffering and do it now.)

Next, stitch the bottom seam, press, and topstitch.  Then stitch the side seams.

Now we need to make a gusset to help give the tote a bottom.  With the bag wrong side out, line up the side seam to the bottom seam to create a triangle, pin, and mark 1" from the outside edge.  Here's a picture to help.
Stitch the line that you marked.  Turn it right side out to make sure that everything stayed lined up, then back to wrong side out to trim  the bulk of the "triangle" away.  Then back to right side out.

Turn under about 1/2" inch on top side of bag and hem.

Now cut two strips of denim that measure about 4"x27".  Press the strips in half long ways, then fold in from each side to meet the first press, and press.  It should look like this.
Fold it all together and topstitch down each side of handle about 1/4" from edge.

Now, at the top of the bag, measure in 1 1/2" from each side seam and place a pin.  I'm going to call this a "pin fence".  Normally I would say measure and pin the handle to the bag, but that many layers of denim is awful thick to pin through.  So, I make a pin fence and hold the handle in place while I stitch it.
There are a couple of methods you could use to attach the handle.  I choose to simply stitch over the hem stitching, going back and forth a couple of times.

And that's it.  Now you can go shopping with your brand new tote!

I plan on adding some more applique patterns in the future so keep watching for them. :)

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