Braided Handle Canvas Tote
With Spring here already and Summer just around the corner I decided that I needed to make myself a new warm weather bag. I wanted it to be pretty, but also practical and I did not want to take forever to make it!
For the fabric I turned to Carr Textiles Organic Cotton Duck Canvas. Not only is it sturdy, but it’s also made with 100% organic cotton and comes in great colors, plus it’s 60-inches wide, so even one yard is a lot of fabric.
Since this fabric has such a nice heft I decided to use it to make the handle of the bag as well as the body. Whitney has a beautiful tote with braided leather handles which inspired me to give braided canvas handles a try. I really like how they add something un-expected to the utiliarian feel of the fabric.
It was Joelle’s (brilliant) idea to add the snaps on the outside of the bag, turning a simple U-shape into a prettier and more closed tear drop shaped bag in a jiffy!
Overall this bag was such fun to make and it turned out clean and professional looking, which is always something I strive for when sewing at home. I can see myself using it on a daily basis because of its practical size, its inside pocket and its strength, but also simply because I love the way it looks. –Molly
- 3/4-yards of Carr Textiles Organic Cotton Duck in Stone
- 1/4-yard of Carr Textile Organic Cotton Duck in White
- 3-yards of Bamboo Bias Tape in White
- Cotton thread in color 1006 (to match the White Duck) and 3260 (to match the Stone Duck)
- Nickel Plated Sew on Snaps in size 4
- A Braided Handle Tote template available for free download here. Printed, cut out, and taped together as directed on the template
From the Stone Cotton Duck cut:
- two template shapes for the bag panels
- four 2-inch by 30-inch strips for the handles
- one 6 1/2-inch by 11-inch piece for the pocket
From the White Cotton Duck cut:
- four 2-inch by 30-inch strips for the handles
Making the Handles and Pocket
You will be folding and finishing all of the 2-inch by 30-inch strips in the same manner before braiding them for the handle:
- Press the strip in half lengthwise across the entire 30-inch length of the strip.
- Open up the strip and press the long raw edges in to the middle crease and then closed, this will hide the long raw edge entirely.
- Edge stitch the strip closed along the long folded edge.
- Repeat this process for all of the Stone and White strips.
Pin two of the finished Stone strips with one of the finished White strips.
Braid the three strips together neatly, folding over the left outside strip to the middle, then the right outside strip.
Sew the ends of the braid together flatly and trim the ends. You will have a 23-inch braided handle.
Repeat this process for the remaining two Stone strips and one White strip.
Pin the bamboo bias tape across the bottom 6 1/2-inch sides of the pocket piece, covering the raw edge.
Edge stitch the bias tape on using the white thread.
Fold and press the finished edge of the pocket up 4-inches. Pin the bias tape around the right and left sides of the pocket. Tuck the raw ends of the bias tape under at the bottom of the pocket. You can leave the top edge of the bias tape and the cotton duck raw since you will be sewing over it later.
Edge stitch on the bias tape with the white thread.
Here is a more detailed picture of tucking under the raw edge of the bias tape. You will use this technique elsewhere in the bag so try to make it look pretty neat.
Sewing the Bag
Place the raw edges of one of the handles along the top raw edge, 3-inches from the left and right sides of the bag, with the handle facing down. Make sure the handle isn’t twisted. Then pin the bias tape across the top raw edge, encasing the raw edge of the bag handle as well.
Top stitch the bias tape down using the white thread sewing over the bag handle as well.
Repeat for the second handle and panel.
Fold and press the top bias-tape-finished edge of one of the panels over 1 1/4-inch. Insert the raw edge of the pocket under this fold centered in between the bag handle. Pin the fold down.
Repeat this for the second bag panel without the pocket insertion step.
Using the stone colored thread sew down this fold 1/4-inch from the top edge of the bag and again from the bottom edge of the fold sewing over the handles in the process.
This will secure the handles and sew in the pocket.
Repeat for the second panel.
Place the two bag panels right sides together and pin bias tape across their raw edge, thus pinning them together. Tuck the raw beginning and end of the bias tape into itself as you did for the pocket. Edge stitch the bias tape down using the white thread, making sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam. Make sure you catch both sides of the bias tape and both bag panels.
Turn the bag right side out. Hand stitch the opposite sides of one snap 1 1/4-inches from a side seam of the bag and 1/4-inch from the top. Repeat for the second side seam and a second snap.
The bag is all done! It can be used open at the top…
… or you can give it a little shape by snapping the snaps shut.