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Thread: Making Totes That Hold Up

  1. #1
    Super Member pumpkinpatchquilter's Avatar
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    I have just begun making totes for myself, family, and a few extra to sell at craft shows to earn a little extra spending money, as I am a stay at home Mom. I haven't done anything fance with them other than fold a section of quilted fabric in half, box the bottom corners, and add quilted handles...pockets are no problems...but do these kinds of bags hold up as long as there is reinforcement stitching? Do you have any suggestions that would be quick and easy to ensure they last longer?

    I'll attatch a picture of the first one I made for my daughter...
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  2. #2
    Super Member snipforfun's Avatar
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    The totes I make have box bottoms and I sew about 5 large buttons across the bottom. That keeps the fabric on the bottom from wearing thin.

  3. #3
    Senior Member LisaGibbs's Avatar
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    I have had many quilted bags and am making several right now for selling for my new sewing machine and I do not believe that you need to do anything extra to reinforce the seams to hold up. I always sew the handles an extra backstitch or two just because they hold the weight of the bag pulling down. I also believe if you add (I use plastic canvas, some use cardboard, foam board, mat board, etc.) a bottom type sewn envelope will help with structure.

    These are beautiful bags and I love the color choices you have choosen. Best of luck!!

  4. #4
    Power Poster blueangel's Avatar
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    I have not had a problem with mine holding up. Just make sure you reinforce the handles.

  5. #5
    Super Member buslady's Avatar
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    Boxing the handles helps, but if you want it to really hold heavy stuff, you can sew the straps around the bottom and back up, then the extra fabric of the handles helps with the load. Of course the purpose of the tote dictates some of that. I have made totes for daughter to carry books to and from college classes, those books are heavy and I wanted the extra strength. BTW your bag is beautiful!

  6. #6
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    I have made 3 totes and didn't add anything. My daughter takes hers to work every day and loves it. My grandaughter will be starting college in 2 weeks and is taking hers to use as tote for carrying all of her stuff from the dorm room to the bathroom. She did take it for a test drive when she and her friends went to the beach for a week and she said it held up great. I haven't used mine yet. It looks so pretty sitting on my kitchen desk/bookcase. lol I am using a pattern from a book by Lisa Lam...The Bag Making Bible.

    And I want to add too...as soon as I saw the picture of your daughter's bag I fell in love with it. I LOVE pink.

    I do have a pattern that I bought at JoAnn's that has reinforcement in the bottom but I probably won't get to making that for a year. LOL I have too many other projects that I want to do first.

  7. #7
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    I add boning in the side seams if I can. That way they don't flop over when I put them down. Just depends on the final look I want.

  8. #8
    Super Member GrannieAnnie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pumpkinpatchquilter
    I have just begun making totes for myself, family, and a few extra to sell at craft shows to earn a little extra spending money, as I am a stay at home Mom. I haven't done anything fance with them other than fold a section of quilted fabric in half, box the bottom corners, and add quilted handles...pockets are no problems...but do these kinds of bags hold up as long as there is reinforcement stitching? Do you have any suggestions that would be quick and easy to ensure they last longer?

    I'll attatch a picture of the first one I made for my daughter...
    I double sew all the seams. Should hold up quite well.

  9. #9
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    I made a tote bag for my carry-on about 6 years ago. It is still going strong. The one thing I did was sew the handles all the way across the bottom like buslady said. It was very heavy, especially on the way home. I wish I had made the handles like the bow-tuck bags.
    Sue

  10. #10
    Senior Member Granny Quilter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lindasidlow
    The totes I make have box bottoms and I sew about 5 large buttons across the bottom. That keeps the fabric on the bottom from wearing thin.
    The buttons sounds like a great idea

  11. #11
    Super Member pumpkinpatchquilter's Avatar
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    Thank you for all the replies and great advice. This makes me feel much more confident that the bags I'm making will hold up - and I like the idea about doing the straps that go all the way around for extra support. GOOD idea!

    I made this one yesterday, for my Mom. My parents are my best customers so far! LOL* They ordered a set of placemats off of Etsy from me and then a few days ago my Dad placed an order for this tote for my Momma...he is surprising her at work today with it. I hope she likes it! I feel confident it will last for her then after all your comments. :)

    OH - and thank you for the compliments on my daughters tote!! I really like it too, and she loves it! She is 9 and just started cheerleading this year so I thought she might feel like it was too "babyish" for her, but she carries it EVERYWHERE. Momma feels good about that... ;)
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  12. #12
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    I use my totes for carrying groceries and other purchases. They are made out of parachute fabric, super strong, super light and fold up very small. The handle goes across the bottom for extra support. I have a set of 5 that fold up into a very small pouch that snaps onto my purse handle. They can carry as many groceries as I used to put into 20! plastic bags. They were a gift from my daughter. They are the handiest thing I own and I wouldn't take $100 for them but I think she paid $35 for them. The aren't quilted but are of very bright, bold and fun prints. The big advantage is that until I want to use them they are in this super small pouch. They wash like a dream. If I can lift it, they can hold it. I can't praise them enough. I haven't carried a regular tote bag since I got them; I have about 5 gathering dust in my closet.

  13. #13
    MTS
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    Quote Originally Posted by Granny Quilter
    Quote Originally Posted by lindasidlow
    The totes I make have box bottoms and I sew about 5 large buttons across the bottom. That keeps the fabric on the bottom from wearing thin.
    The buttons sounds like a great idea
    :thumbup: Great idea.

    Are French seams stronger?

  14. #14
    Power Poster amma's Avatar
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    Your bags are beautiful! The fabrics are so pretty :D:D:D

  15. #15
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    When it comes to tote bags I try and err in the direction of over-construction. I use felled seams, and if I don't make the handles go all the way under the bag, I extend them at least an inch into the bag and secure with boxed X stitching: Sew a square just smaller than the width of the handles, then sew an "X" across the box.
    I made a bag for a friend, actually, it was just a fabric gift bag, embroidered with her initials to hold her real gift, made out of cotton. Since it was just the gift wrapping, I didn't make it too strong. A few months later, she brought it to me to fix because the side seam had come loose. I almost fainted when she told me she was carrying books AND her laptop in it!

  16. #16
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    Also, here are my favorite sites for free patterns. You can take a look at the patterns for construction tips.
    http://pursepatterns.com/free_bag_patterns.html
    http://www.allpeoplequilt.com/projec...terns_ss1.html
    http://www.allcrafts.net/sewing/pursesew.htm

  17. #17
    Super Member Leota's Avatar
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    I made a tote in my sewing 101 class in 1998...nothing fancy, just to learn the basics of sewing and how to use the different commercial machines... Used it for two years as a purse...we all know the trauma/abuse our purses take.... used it forever as a book tote ... still going strong with absolutely no sign of wear....when it get's grungy, toss it in the washer with the towels or blue jeans (it's black) and it look brand new :).... yea, I say they hold up...

  18. #18
    Super Member Butterflyblue's Avatar
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    I've sewn five or six totes for myself for groceries and one quilted purse tote. I always use the method of securing handles posted by PaperPrincess (boxed x stitching), and they have held up well after MANY loads of groceries. I use the purse tote to carry my laptop sometimes.

  19. #19
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    Oh, one more thing I thought of. If possible, avoid a bottom seam. Make the front and back from a single piece of fabric. This is not always possible, due to fabric with directional prints or if the bag is pieced, but i always at least try and do this with the lining.

  20. #20
    Senior Member pjustice63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pumpkinpatchquilter
    I have just begun making totes for myself, family, and a few extra to sell at craft shows to earn a little extra spending money, as I am a stay at home Mom. I haven't done anything fance with them other than fold a section of quilted fabric in half, box the bottom corners, and add quilted handles...pockets are no problems...but do these kinds of bags hold up as long as there is reinforcement stitching? Do you have any suggestions that would be quick and easy to ensure they last longer?

    I'll attatch a picture of the first one I made for my daughter...
    The only thing I would recommend is use a stabilizer in it to make it stronger if you are in doubt.

  21. #21
    Super Member twixbar's Avatar
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    That is a great idea with the buttons, good tip.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by pumpkinpatchquilter
    I have just begun making totes for myself, family, and a few extra to sell at craft shows to earn a little extra spending money, as I am a stay at home Mom. I haven't done anything fance with them other than fold a section of quilted fabric in half, box the bottom corners, and add quilted handles...pockets are no problems...but do these kinds of bags hold up as long as there is reinforcement stitching? Do you have any suggestions that would be quick and easy to ensure they last longer?

    I'll attatch a picture of the first one I made for my daughter...

    I have seen using those thin plastic cutting sheets for cutting up vegetables.

  23. #23
    Super Member lizzy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lindasidlow
    The totes I make have box bottoms and I sew about 5 large buttons across the bottom. That keeps the fabric on the bottom from wearing thin.
    Great idea!!!!!
    For utility bags, I look for fabrics in the upholestery fabric ends, sale bin, etc. Also, some cottons are just much heavily woven than others. These also make good bags.

  24. #24
    Junior Member Derla's Avatar
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    I think that is a great idea - I made "professional totes" for Christmas presents last year --wish I'd known about the buttons on the bottom then.
    Quote Originally Posted by lindasidlow
    The totes I make have box bottoms and I sew about 5 large buttons across the bottom. That keeps the fabric on the bottom from wearing thin.
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  25. #25
    Super Member ksea's Avatar
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    Nice totes!!!

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