Reusable shopping bags are so much better than paper or plastic: They’re more ergonomic, better for the environment, neater to store, and they’re way cuter!
Our Fold-Up Market Tote checks off all these boxes, plus they are super fun to sew. They are cleverly put together with only two pieces of fabric, four totally self-encased seams, and a nice cotton ribbon to tie the whole thing up.
Making a trio requires only a few materials: some thread, cotton ribbon, and three of Purl Soho’s beautiful linen fabrics: Linen Grid, Watercolor Linen, and Handkerchief Linen, making them strong, pretty, and ready for action! -Molly
Three yards of fabric is enough material for a trio of bags and we’ve chosen three lovely palettes for inspiration: Pink (pictured above), Gray (pictured below, left), and Mint (pictured below, right). Each one uses…
- 1 yard of Purl Soho’s Linen Grid
- 1 yard of Purl Soho’s Handkerchief Linen
- 1 yard of Purl Soho’s Watercolor Linen
- 3 yards of Studio Carta’s Fettuccia Ribbon, 1/4 inch in Natural
- A 110-yard spool of Gutermann’s Cotton Sewing Thread in color 1040
You will also need…
Finished Dimensions: 18 ¾ inches wide X 15 inches tall, plus a 16-inch handle drop
Machine wash and dry all the fabrics, but not the ribbon, before beginning.
The fabrics we used do not have a clear right or wrong side, so just assign the sides before beginning.
Backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam.
Cut + Prepare
From the ribbon cut…
- A 30-inch length.
Fold this length in half and tie each end with a simple overhand knot. This is the Tie. Put it aside for now.
From the fabric cut…
- Two 20 x 33-inch rectangles.
Fold and press one of the rectangles in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, so that the two long sides meet. This pressed fold is called the Long Fold.
Orient the piece so that the Long Fold is on the left and the two raw sides are on the right.
Make a small mark at the top raw edge 6 inches to the right of the Fold. This is Mark 1. Then make a second mark (Mark 2) on the right raw edge, 17 inches below the top right corner. Cut a diagonal line from Mark 1 to Mark 2, cutting off the top right corner in a long triangle shape, as shown above.
Repeat this for the second rectangle.
Sew the Center Seams
Unfold the fabric pieces and orient them so that each one’s Long Fold is running vertically and raw diagonal sides are at the left and right. With right sides together, pin the two pieces together along the straight right-hand side that runs below Mark 2.
Starting at Mark 2, sew these pinned sides together with a 3/4-inch seam allowance. Backstitch at the beginning and end of this seam.
Press the top raw edge of the seam allowance 3/8-inch towards the wrong side of the fabric, so that the raw edge meets up with the seam.
Press this side of the seam allowance over once more, towards the wrong side and along the seam, thus hiding the raw edge of the seam allowance.
Next, fold and press the raw diagonal edge that is above the straight folded edge ¼ inch towards the wrong side.
Then, fold and press the diagonal edge ½ inch over, thus hiding its raw edge. Pin both of these folded sides down. Only pin through the top fabric layer, not through to the second fabric piece underneath.
Edgestitch these folded edges down, following along the angles of the fold. You will have to open up the bag along the seam so that you are only sewing into one side of the bag.
Flip the bag over and repeat this process for the remaining seam allowance and raw diagonal edge. The resulting seam is called the Center Seam.
Repeat all of these steps for the left-hand raw sides.
Sew the Bottom
Turn the piece so that the right sides are facing out. Repress the Long Folds and line up both Center Seams so they are on top of each other. Pin the bottom raw edges together, being careful to keep the Center Seams directly on top of one another.
Sew this pinned edge together with a ¼-inch seam allowance.
Turn the piece wrong sides out. Press the bottom seam flat and then pin it once again.
Sew along this pinned edge with a ½-inch seam allowance. You have just sewn a French Seam, which encases the seam’s raw edges.
Sew the Handle
Turn the bag right sides out again. You will now sew a French Seam at the top of the handle. Pin together the top raw edges (the only raw edges remaining on the bag), wrong sides together.
Sew this pinned edge with a ½-inch seam allowance.
Turn the bag wrong sides out again and press the handle seam flat.
Make a mark along the handle’s top edge, 2 ½ inches from its left side. Slip the Tie in between the two layers of the handle and place the Tie’s folded edge under the mark.
Pin the handle’s top edge together, pinning the Tie in place as you do.
Sew this edge with a 1-inch seam allowance, thus sewing the Tie into place.
Press and pin this 1-inch seam allowance flat to one side.
Edgestitch this fold down.
Turn the bag right sides out and you’re all done. Now it’s time to fold up your Fold-Up Market Tote…
First, fold the bag in half lengthwise along the Center Seams so that the Long Folds meet one another.
Then fold so that the top edge of the handle meets the bottom edge of the Tote.
Then fold in half lengthwise so that the Center Seams meet the Long Folds.
And then starting at the bottom, roll towards the Tie…
And use the Tie to secure the whole thing with a bow!