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Thread: Making a tote bag...can I do this?

  1. #1

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    I'm using a Simplicity pattern to make a simple tote bag. The pattern calls for double-faced pre-quilted fabric. The fabric I want to use is a plain cotton, not pre-quilted. I am going to quilt the fabric myself before cutting out the pattern.

    I would like to use a duck canvas for the backing in order to give the tote more stability. So it would be top layer cotton, batting, and bottom layer duck canvas. I'll quilt using a plain diagonal grid.

    Does anyone see any reason I should not use the duck canvas for the backing? Will that be too heavy? Too thick?

    Any advice would be appreciated!

    This is the tote bag I'll be making:

    Simplicity 2551
    Name:  Attachment-141739.jpe
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  2. #2
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    I don't think it will necessarily be too heavy but a couple of things to think about. Are the seams finished on the inside of the tote? Might make it a little difficult to finish the inside of it.

  3. #3

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    Thanks, Tippy. I'm going to line the bag so I won't have to worry about finishing the seams.

  4. #4
    Senior Member VickyS's Avatar
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    When I've made tote bags, I like to finish the seams with a french seam to give the tote added strength. With that in mind, duck canvas AND batting may be too much for the cotton. Why not ditch the batting and just quilt the cotton and canvas (Canvas for strength inside and cotton for color and looks outside).

    You'll get the same look (maybe not as Poofy) and it will be a lot easier to construct (not so many broken needles from the thickness of the folded seams).

    Just remember to finish those seams to add to the strength of the tote.

  5. #5
    Senior Member VickyS's Avatar
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    Quick added note: Even if you line the bag, the seams should be finished if you want the tote to wear well.

    It's the difference between a couple of months and a couple of years worth of wearability.

  6. #6

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    Vicky, what do you think of using fusible fleece instead of batting? Great point about finishing the seams! Thank you.

  7. #7
    Super Member bamamama's Avatar
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    I have a pattern that calls for a cotton and 2 layers of duck cloth for stability. I think it will be perfect.

  8. #8

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    Oh, that's good to hear, bamamama! Do you quilt them together for your pattern?

  9. #9
    Senior Member VickyS's Avatar
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    I don't know about fusible fleece!

    My big concern is how thick of a sandwich you will be sewing. Most totes have you fold the handles into a roll or into thirds so they don't break. Your picture shows pockets, which also are a sandwich of cotton, batting, canvas. That's 6 layers of material to work with on a simple seam and up to 12 layers of material when you go to attach the handles.

    That's pretty thick.

    I've made totes/backpacks with wide wale corduroy, ripstop nylon, prequilted fabric and denim. I have made my own pattern, based upon what I want to put into the tote. I usually triple roll the handle, and make sure it completely goes around the bottom of the tote in a continuous loop so I get the most wear out of the tote, since the handle connection is the thing that breaks first - that or the bottom corners of the tote.

    Go for it - however you want to make it. These are just things to think about as you plan what you want to do with the tote.

  10. #10

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    Thank you for the advice, Vicky. I did not consider how many layers of fabric that would quickly add up to.

    This is a birthday gift for an 85-year-old woman, so I doubt she'll be carrying anything too very heavy in it.

    I think I'll stick with two layers, lined, with finished seams.

  11. #11
    Super Member grann of 6's Avatar
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    Just make sure you use a needle for heavyweight fabric, either a 90/14, or a denim needle.

  12. #12
    Super Member QuiltswithConvicts's Avatar
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    The only drawback I can think of is using a seam allowance larger than 1/4". The duck ravels more than regular quilting fabric. I would wash it first as it will shrink more than quilting fabric shrinks.

    You could try ironing a lightweight fusible interfacing to the duck to help it not ravel so much!

  13. #13
    Super Member mom-6's Avatar
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    When I use upholstry fabric (pretty much the same weight and thickness as the duck fabric) for totes, I do not use batting or attempt to do french seams.

  14. #14
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    Same advice as everyone else. Make sure your machine can handle the bulk. I also make lots of totes and finish the seams using twill tape. Cutthe basic rectangle, apply the tape to the raw edges, then assemble. If you had a serger available, you could also serge the edges. I also finish the seams (with tape or felled seam) even if I'm gonna line it. I think it wears better.

  15. #15
    Super Member Becky Crafts's Avatar
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    I made a tote bag for Christmas with a cotton Dresden Plate front & home deco fabric for bottom & back. I used the felted pellon between for stability. It worked nice! I lined it, so didn't have to worry about the seams. Just another thought...

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