Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Polka Dot Embroidered Tote Bag

Some simple embroidery on bright polka dot fabric turned into a sweet little tote bag.
Polka dot embroidered tote bag tutorial
Red and white polka dot is a favourite pattern of mine, and last November the lovely Caroline from CJ Made had a sewing supplies giveaway that I was lucky enough to win which contained a load of red and white polka dot fabric. I made a top for myself and with some of the left overs I thought I'd try a little embroidery inspired something that I'd seen on pinterest.

To make an embroidered polka dot tote bag you will need:
1 x piece of polka dot fabric 36cm(14") x 77cm(30") for the main body of the bag
2 x pieces of polka dot fabric 10cm(4") x 61cm(24") for the handles
Embroidery thread in your choice of colours, mine are DMC 3824, 3753, 3819 and 973
A sharp needle, scissors, sewing machine, sewing thread

First you need to decide on a design and where you want it. I did a band of flowers to run across the top of the bag. The rest is a centralised band of running stitch. This is a gift for my niece so I added her name to the back too just as an added extra. Just make sure any fancy design element is at least 3" away from the short edge of the fabric or it will get in the way of the top hem later.
The embroidery is worked with 3 strands of thread throughout.
Starting roughly in the centre, stitch about 5" (12cm) of running stitch then lazy daisy flowers on 3 dots in a row, then continue with running stitch the full length of the fabric.
Then pick another colour and repeat the process, doing the same number of rows each side of your original central one.
flower polka dot embroidered tote bag tutorial
I did 3 lines of each of my 4 colours so 12 lines in total. To add the name on the back I used a water-soluble marker to write in a fancy font where the last line of stitching was due to go, then worked it in backstitch.
personalised Polka dot embroidered tote bag tutorial
I then waited about for nearly 3 months and this birthday was imminent to make it up into a bag. You don't have to wait this long! Originally this was going to be a cushion but my brother and his family are moving overseas later this year and I suddenly realised that a cushion would just be an extra bulky thing to pack. A bag can roll up to nearly nothing and just tuck in a case so a much better present under the circumstances. Maybe it was just as well I didn't rush to make the cushion cover after all!

So, now it's time to turn your embroidered piece into a tote. Start by pressing everything with the iron, then fold the main piece in half WRONG SIDES TOGETHER and using a small seam allowance (1/4" or 1/2 cm ish) sew up either side. Now turn the bag inside out, press the edges flat and then stitch these seams again, this time with a 1/2" or 1.25cm seam allowance.
Polka dot embroidered tote bag tutorial
This makes a french seam which just makes the inside a bit tidier, especially for people like me who don't have an overlocker (serger). Turn the bag back out the right way and admire your lovely neat seams. 
Fold and press a narrow hem at the top open edge then fold over again an inch (2.5cm) Pin but don't sew yet.
Polka dot embroidered tote bag tutorial

Now make the handles, make both the same. Fold and press a narrow hem on both long sides of your handle pieces, then fold in half again, lining up the edges.
Polka dot embroidered tote bag tutorial
Top stitch down both sides.

Tuck one end of one handle under the hem you made on the front of the main bag piece, about 5cm (2") from the side seam.
Polka dot embroidered tote bag tutorial
Fold it back up on itself and secure with a pin. Repeat for the other end of the handle on the other side of the bag, making sure your handle is smooth and not twisted.
Now repeat on the back half of the bag with the other handle. 
Top stitch round the top of the bag, just away for the hem edge. Repeat another line of top stitching around the top edge of the bag.
Top stitching on a Polka dot embroidered tote bag tutorial
Polka dot embroidered tote bag tutorial
See how nice and neat that french seam makes the inside - makes me so happy!
French seams on a Polka dot embroidered tote bag tutorial
Red & White polkadot fabric bag with embroidery
Personalised Polka dot embroidered tote bag tutorial

Polka dot embroidered tote bag tutorial
Sum of their Stories
Sum of their Stories

Hello, I'm Julie. I love making things and this is where I share my enthusiasm.

29 comments:

  1. What a cool idea! I have never seen embroidery on polka dot fabric before. It adds a lovely touch to the bag.

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    1. Thank you Pam, as soon as I saw some examples on line I thought I needed to give it a try. I love the orderly feel you get with the polka dots and how easy it is to make a pattern on the pattern. (if you see what I mean!)

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    2. I've featured your lovely embroidered bag today, Julie.

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  2. This is so pretty! I am so glad that the fabric has been made into something practical and stylish too - I bet your friend will absolutely love it x

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    1. Glad you approve Caroline, I have just a tiny bit left now, I'm thinking of experimenting with some more embroidery on the scraps. Nothing goes to waste in our house!

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  3. Super cute. What a great idea. jo x

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  4. Your embroidery is gorgeous, what a special present for your lucky niece!

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    1. Thanks Josie, she was especially pleased to find her name hidden on the back.

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  5. Although I am not a red lover, think for things for kitchen's and his bag it is beautiful. The embroidery adds dimension

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    1. Thanks, I'm the opposite, red is my fave. I'd had it all over the place if I could! Probably best confined just somewhere like the kitchen though as you suggest.

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  6. That is really pretty! Makes me want to sew something!! Visiting from Snickerdoodle Sunday party.

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    1. Thanks Victoria, I love a quick sewing project like this when that urge to sew comes along!

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  7. Julie, this is such a pretty bag! I love polka dots and tote bags, so this is a project I must do!!
    Demi x

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    1. Thanks Demi, polks dots are a classic aren't they?

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  8. That's such a good idea for adding a little bit of detail xx

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    1. Thanks Anna, I knew I had to try the idea when I saw it on pinterest. I think I'll try something that is more of a contrast next time.

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  9. Super cute little bag. It looks perfect to carry books in. One of these is very handy and I have a soft spot for polka dots.

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    1. It's a great book bag size, you're right. I'm the same about polks dots, in fashion or not I always have a soft spot for them.

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  10. How much fun is this!? Did you do the embroidery by hand??

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    1. Yes Danielle, it was really simple running stitch mostly with a few lazy daisy flowers, really simple stuff. The dots make it easy to keep everything even and straight too.

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  11. Julie that is so much more than just a tote! You have given it style and personality!

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    1. Awh Mary, what a lovely comment. Style and personality eh! Thank you so much.

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  12. Love your personalized tote. Using embroidery is so clever. It adds just the right touch. Thank you for sharing at the Snickerdoodle Create~Bake~Make link party! I am featuring your tote bag this Saturday at Snickerdoodle. Hope to see you there.

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    1. Thank you so much Sharon, what an honour.

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  13. What a great idea! I love how the embroidery looks over the fabric design! :) Lisa

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  14. This is such a pretty tote bag! The embroidery looks fairly simple but adds such a unique touch to the overall look of the bag.

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  15. It's a lovely bag, perfect for summer. Thank you for sharing at The Really Crafty Link Party this week. Pinned!

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