Creating a Tote Bag

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Have you ever had a bundle of fat quarters that you loved but weren’t sure what you wanted to make with them? How about creating your own fabric from them and using them for a quilt project.

Creating fabric from fat quarters

How about creating a tote bag!

That is exactly what I did with a huge fat quarter bundle of fabrics that I won.

Especially when you have a helper like cute little Simon! Sometimes having an assistant can make quilting a little difficult. Thank goodness he is cute!

Creating a Tote Bag

This was a 30 fat quarters bundle of Lark by Amy Butler, that I won in February. See that little earbud set….that will be going along with me this weekend so I can watch some videos when I have high-speed internet!

You’ll find some great deals on fat quarter bundles here so you can create your own fabric.

Fat Quarter Bundle of fabrics

I have to admit that I was so excited to win this great bundle of fabric but when I got it I had no idea of what to make. I don’t usually go for big prints and to me I couldn’t see how they all coordinated……so the fabrics sat in my stash.

Well I decided I needed a bigger tote bag for this weekend as we are going to Missouri Star Quilt Co. so I pulled out this bundle and started cutting.

Cutting the fabrics

I cut the fat quarters into 5″ squares and decided I wanted to add a sashing strip between the squares.

I have a pretty good selection of fabrics and I wanted to use only fabric from my stash.

I had a fat quarter of solid Indigo Quilter’s Candy that I had bought from Connecting Threads last year so I cut it into 1½” strips and added it between the blocks. Of course, I didn’t have enough… what to do??

Creating a Tote Bag

More cutting

Digging further in my stash I found a turquoise that was at least 15 years old but matched perfectly. Good thing I hang on to all of my fabrics! You just never know when they might come in handy!

I cut it into 1½” strips.

Creating a Tote Bag

The funny thing was, the more I worked on it; the more I liked the combination of prints and couldn’t wait to quilt my fabric!

Still working with my stash I pulled out a piece of solid red…..another really old piece and used it for the back. Feeling it I am sure this is actually Palencia which is a blend of polyester and cotton that I used as lining in clothes many years ago….we just won’t tell anybody about the polyester!

Creating a Tote Bag showing the backside

I did some fast free motion quilting on my 15-91 Singer sewing machine using Warm & Natural batting.

I love the way it looks! Contemporary and modern fabric here I come!

Me working on the deck creating fabric

While we Builder Bob was grilling dinner I brought it out on the deck to figure out how I wanted to straps. I didn’t use a pattern for this………..just the idea in my head so who knows how it will turn out!

Created fabric huge tote bag

I’ll have to show you what the tote looks like…..believe me I’ll be able to fit lots of goodies in it this weekend when I go to the Missouri Star Quilt Co. grand opening!

My new tote bag is empty and ready to go for a trip to Missouri Star Quilt Co! We are leaving early this morning, we’ll take our time and just stop whenever we see something interesting. We’ll stay in Chillicothe, MO tonight which is real close to Hamilton, MO where Missouri Star Quilt Co. is…….can’t wait!

Checkout my visit to Missouri Star Quilt Co. and the quilt stash I bought!

Creating fabric for a large tote bag

I decided to make this at the last moment and didn’t use a pattern but I have written lots of notes to myself of things I will do a little differently next time.

The straps could be just a little shorter and I normally use a heavier interface but was out of it. It will be a bit before I do a tutorial but will do it eventually.

Large tote with lark fabrics

I still have lots of Lark by Amy Butler so I’m sure I’ll be making other things with it.

I didn’t want a lining in this tote and I added the zippered pocket as an afterthought. I made it big enough to hold my glasses, wallet, and keys.

I also added binding around the top edge with interfacing in it.

Inside the tote bag

To give the bottom support I used an old piece of cutting mat and made a sleeve to cover it. Those old mats come in handy for so many things!

Bottom of tote bag with cutting mat in it

I won some vintage buttons last winter and I used one on the outside pocket.

Next time I will add binding on the top of the pocket as an accent.

antique buttons on tote pockets

Simon, you are not coming with us!! Maybe he is just inspecting it……looks like it needs to be wider if I’m carrying him in it.

Cat in the tote bag

Get creative and create your own fabric for a tote bag!

Be sure and check out my fabric baskets tutorial that is fast and easy to make in several different sizes. This is a great way to use some of the leftover fat quarters!

Creating fabric from fat quarters

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Connie with her dogs

About Connie

Hi, I’m Connie Kresin Campbell, the quilter, writer, and photographer behind Freemotion By the River. I enjoy inspiring others with my quilt tutorials and patterns. You’ll also see my sweet adopted dogs from time to time.

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  1. Connie – did you ever put together a real tutorial for this tote bag from 2012? I know it was a REALLY long time ago. If I at least had some dimensions it would really be helpful . This seems like the simplest bag I’ve come across, and I think I could make it if I had a little more info about it. can you assist? I really love the bag. ☺️😊😁. I also already subscribe to your newsletter 👍❤️. 01/11/2024

  2. Susie Jones says:

    Hi Connie, just love the bag. Making bags is a favorite thing to make ( my cat Dusty is a huge helpper too). I am looking forward in getting your newsletters. Thanks for sharing.

  3. HI Connie, I was cursing the net looking for a quick bag pattern to make for a gift. I click on the prettiest bag and up comes you to my surprise. I just recently started to get your emails and enjoy them greatly.
    Wish you had a tutorial for the bag, sizes etc. It is perfect.
    Have a wonderful day.
    Nova Scotia

    1. Hi Connie beautiful bags I love them I just got me a sewing machine made me a fews bags but love your I’m from California got a son that lives in MO I like it there. You take care I be checking you out every now and then ok.
      Sincerely, Ruth

  4. Tami Chaulk says:

    I hadn’t seen this particular post, so I’m a bit late with my reply. I just wanted to say how much I have enjoyed following you. I was going thru Pinterest looking for something to make for my sister-in-laws birthday and ran across this. When I saw the picture I knew right away how long it had been. I followed along during your taking care of Pelly. I would update my hubby about your journey.

  5. Stella Montes says:

    I want to make a tote bag for my yoga mat I like your bag I don’t know how to make the straps I like the way you put them on your material before you see it

  6. astrid detjens-de boom says:

    I am a dutcn women living in Germany and i saw some of your tutorials and i love them ..Thank you for having so much for free.I will look forward to your newsletter and will surely enjoy them and work them out Thank you so much!, Sorry for my bad english it was long ago l learned it at school !,sincerely regards Astrid

  7. Melinda Arivett says:

    How did you get the flat bottom?

  8. You really need to do a tutorial for this bag! I love it but still a newboe and need help. Lol

  9. QuiltGram says:

    Love the colors and sashing!!!

  10. Great combination of colors! And…what is it with our cats and dogs on fabric? Theres always a pet laying on my stuff! I love it!

  11. Amy, a redeemed sheep says:

    I wanna see it all finished! It looks fabulous!

  12. Such a great combination of the Amy Butler with the solids…I also love your design. Can't wait to see the finished product. Have fun on your trip!

  13. Such a great combination of the Amy Butler with the solids…I also love your design. Can't wait to see the finished product. Have fun on your trip!

  14. That looks magic! Just beautiful colours together. Looking forward to see how it turns out 🙂

  15. Connie this is looking Great!! I am looking forward to seeing the finished product!

    Have a Great time this week end!


  16. LOVE the tote so far. Can't wait to see the finished tote packed full of goodies. I bet you will still need another bag to get all the stash home from the grand opening.

    Have a great time. Wish I was going to be there too. 🙁

  17. Betty Lou says:

    Looks like your on your way to becoming a modern quilty diva—–I guess sometimes we just have to be forced to work with something new before we decide we like it. It is going to make a great tote.

  18. I'm lmbo!! You are so funny! What are you planning on toting? The entire store back to your place?? lol The tote is lovely and my lips are sealed about the polyester! Have a terrific time this weekend!! Can't wait to see pics of what you come home with. 🙂 You will take photos of some wonderful quilts at the show, too?

  19. Hi Connie. Isn't it amazing how a win or a gift outside of our comfort zone can expand our horizons. I love the pattern that you are using. Can't wait to see the finished tote. Love your assistant too (mine is a Siamese).

  20. I love how you've put those bright fabrics together!!! Look forward to seeing the bag…

  21. Denise :) says:

    Connie, this is awesome! Joc is looking for just these types of fabrics — bright colors and big, bold prints — for her weekly "Ellie" pics. I'll have to send her a link to this line! And I really like the navy and turquoise as sashing — they really compliment the blocks. Can't wait to see a final — and enjoy your high-speed streaming!! 🙂

  22. its looking good Connie and have fun at the quilt show.xx

  23. Your tote bag is looking great!! I can't wait to see the finished product!!

  24. I am loving it so far! You should do a tutorial for the bag – the straps are fantastic!!!

    1. Absolutley! I think you should do a tutorial for this bag. I love it but need some help…lol

  25. All those colors look great together, and I look forward to seeing the completed bag.

  26. I love Lark… and so do my cats 🙂 There seems to be an instant attraction. However, they must not be nearly as sweet as yours because I wont let them sit on it just yet. I'm doing a EPP quilt and don't think I'll ever get tired of looking at the beautiful fabric.

  27. Connie, your combination of fabrics look fabulous together.

  28. Your new and old fabrics look great together! I'm sew excited for your trip.

  29. wowie-zowie, Connie! I was scrolling through Google Reader and had to slam on the brakes when I saw your pics–I love it! What a fabulous idea for using a multitude of fabrics-this would make a great charm pack tote, too! I can hardly wait to see the finished product of your creativity!

  30. Dora, the Quilter says:

    Have lots and lots of fun at Missouri Star Quilts. I'm so glad you get to go!

  31. Looks like it's going to be a great tote bag Connie…love how you used what you had in your stash to work with these pretty fabrics!!

    Look forward to seeing all the goodies you bring back from Missouri Star Quilt!!!

  32. Looks great! Love the black and teal to set off the colors!

  33. I love the tote Connie! Maybe I need to make one with my fat quarter bundle that I won. :O)

    Vicki @ Quilting Lodge

  34. Your tote will be fabulous and will hold all those treasures you are sure to find this weekend.Have fun!!

  35. I love it already!! Such a cute helper! Can't wait to see the results!

  36. What a great bag this is turning into! Hmmmm – do you think it is big enough for a Missouri Star trip?