Monday, October 28, 2013

Easy Peasy Tote Bag Pocket

I just love tote bags. I guess because I always have something to tote, but I was a bag-a-holic long before I had anything to carry around with me. My grandmother always had a big  handbag that contained everything but the kitchen sink, so I guess it's just in my genes.

Anyway, I am participating in the 2014 Sketchbook Project, a wonderful sharing of ideas and art. I try to carry my sketchbook and an assortment of pencils, water pens, markers and erasers with me when I know I'll have some down time - doctors' offices, traveling, etc. All of this paraphernalia takes up room, thus the need for a tote bag, but not just any tote bag. The sketchbook is only 5" x 7", so a big bag isn't necessary, but all those writing instruments! I hate digging in the bottom of any bag for a pen.

These fabulous new stamps from Ann Butler and KellyCraft were the answer to a prayer for a simple way to dress this little bag up AND hold my writing instruments at the same time. I had seen a baby quilt made by Ann using her stamps at the Craft and Hobby Association Tradeshow this summer, so the idea to use the patterns for quilts was not mine, but I loved the look and thought it was perfect for this tiny tote bag. By using Ann's ColorBox Crafter's Inks, I was able to make this quickly and easily, then heat set it with my iron so it's now washable.
As it turned out, I had many more writing instruments than this pocket was made for, but it fit my sketchbook perfectly. No more bent pages, no more frayed corners, just pristine, blissful white pages. The writing instruments were relegated to the inside of the bag (with maybe one or two of my favorites in the pocket with my Sketchbook), and while I'll still have to dig in it to find just the one I'm searching for, I'll be able to carry twice as many!

Here's how I made it:

EZ De's Stamps, EZ-De's 3" Tri Triangle Set A (KellyCraft)
Get-It-Straight Laser Square (KellyCraft)
ColorBox Crafter's Ink, Aruba, Limon and Sweet Pea (Clearsnap®)
Muslin fabric, 8" x 10"
Acrylic block, 5" x 7"
Iron-on Interfacing
Sewing machine with white thread
Fabritac Adhesive (Beacon)
Twill tape, 6"
Small tote bag (Hobby Lobby)

1. Determine one straight edge and put the Laser Square in place. Turn on the beam and place the cursor about 1 1/2" from the right edge. Add both large triangle stamps barely at the edge of your acrylic block, inking one in Limon and one in Aruba. Line the base of the block up with the laser line and press to apply ink to the fabric. Repeat with one of the stamps and Sweet Pea ink, turning the triangle to fit inside the first two. Continue inking and stamping until the fabric is fully covered.
After you stamp the first two triangles, you can probably eliminate the need for the Get-It-Straight Laser Square, but I was taking no chances!
2. Heat set the ink according to package instructions.
#3. Using felt gives you the appearance of a great quilted surface.

3. Cut interfacing and felt to the size of your finished pocket and an additional piece of muslin the size of the pocket front. Iron the interfacing onto the back side of the stamped fabric. Cover with felt and pin in place. Stitch along the triangle lines to suggest quilting.

4. Pin the stamped fabric face up to the extra piece of muslin . Stitch along top and sides and turn the pocket inside out. Tuck the bottom of both pieces of the muslin in to create a false seam, then top stitch the edges 1/4" from the edge all around.

5. Stitch buttons to the front. Use Fabritac to glue the sides and bottom of the pocket to your tote bag.

6. If you're making this for a gift, stamp "Just for You" in Aruba ink on the twill. Attach to handle with stitching and sew on additional buttons.

That's it. This little tote would make a nice Christmas gift as well, and you have plenty of time to get them done!

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