Canvas & Vinyl Tote Bag – a fall must-sew!

Screen Shot 2016 09 09 at 2.05.32 PM Canvas & Vinyl Tote Bag   a fall must sew!

I’m a sucker for a basic tote and the Farmer’s Market Tote from Sew it All Volume 10 has been calling my name since we first got the samples in the building. It’s basic but sophisticated and sturdy…I love it. I’m apt to make things multiple times, especially if I really like the pattern, just to see how it sews up in different fabric.

Farmer’s Market Tote pattern, meet this awesome canvas from Art Gallery Fabric. I’m used to canvas that is stiff as a board but this stuff is so soft and supple. With my leftovers, I’m thinking I may make a skirt or some quick shorts – the canvas has enough drape that garments shouldn’t be problem at all.  The print is from Sharon Holland’s new line Tapestry. I love it so much – a blend of painterly prints and geometrics. This print is called Mudcloth; in addition to the canvas, there’s a quilting cotton, voile and a knit version in this print. I love the vibe  - it’s organic and artful but also sophisticated.

I decided I needed something a bit more sturdy (aka dirt-proof) for the base and found some clearance vinyl. I’m not a fan of plastic fabric, even worse if it make a noise of any kind, but this vinyl is actually quite soft and easy to sew, albeit it with some rather beefy seams. Using vinyl does require a few quick adjustments to the original pattern from Sew it All Vol. 10.

The French seams and flat-fell seams are pretty tough with a thick fabric like vinyl, but, bonus points, vinyl edges don’t ravel so you don’t have to worry as much about finishing the seams. If you’re interested in making the Farmer’s Market Tote with a vinyl base, adjust your steps as follows:

Instead of turning the seam allowances, use the vinyl to cover the canvas seam allowance on front and back. Sew the upper and lower panels together, trim the canvas seam allowance in half and turn the seam allowances toward the canvas (but don’t press!). Then topstitch the raw vinyl edge in place.

You’ll still have the raw edges of the canvas to contend with. For that, I turned the side edges of the canvas under twice before stitching them to the bottom vinyl panel. Then, when sewing the bag front and back together at the side edges, I simple stitched through the turned edges.

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For the handles, I embraced the raw-edged vinyl loveliness. Cut four strips that measure 1.5”x26”. With two straps placed together wrong sides facing, edgestitch each long side .25” from the edge. Then sew the straps in the place on the bag with three rows of straight stitching – or use decorative grommets or rivets to secure them in place.

Here are a few tips for working with vinyl:

  • Consider the construction tips first and plan to avoid steps that will result in ultra thick seams.
  • Use a leather sewing needle.
  • Trace pattern pieces with a removable fabric marker or use pattern weights.
  • Instead of pins, use wonderclips or binder clips.
  • Don’t use an iron with vinyl. But a steamer can be handy for removing creases. Or stick the panel under a heavy book or two overnight.
  • Use a rotary cutter, for pete’s sake.

Best thing: this tote sews up super quick and looks pretty darn snazzy, no? I think this might be my holiday season 2016 go-to gift.

 Canvas & Vinyl Tote Bag   a fall must sew!
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