Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Charm Madness Blog Hop - {Charm}ing Chevrons Tote Bag Tutorial

If you are looking for my Blogiversary giveaway, enter here.

Today is my stop on the Sew Lux Charm Madness Blog Hop.  I'm so glad you decided to drop by!  I have a fun project to share with you today, that I hope you will really like.

I recently did a giveaway on my blog, and I asked the participants what features made a great tote bag.  The #1 answer was pockets, followed closely by a bag that will stand on its own, and handles "just the right length".  I did take that advice into account when I created the Charming Chevron Tote.

So, let's get started.  You will need:

1 designer charm pack - I used Honey Honey by Kate Spain
1 solids charm pack - I used Bella White by Moda
1/2 yard fabric of your choice for lining
1 piece of fabric 10-1/2 x 15 inches
1 piece of fabric 5 x 9-1/2 inches
1 zipper at least 10 inches long
1/2 yard headliner foam (available at JoAnn Fabrics in the U.S. - Headliner foam comes in several colors - choose the color closest to your project so it won't show through)  
1 yard Pellon 808 interfacing
2 scraps of cotton batting 2-1/2 inches wide by 20 inches long

Making the Bag:
Choose 16 color charms in 4 colorways from your designer charm pack.

 Choose 16 solid charms and draw a line diagonally down the center of each one.

Pair up a designer charm with a solid charm...

And stitch 1/4 inch from the center on both sides to form 32 half square triangles.  I chain pieced these so they would go faster.

Cut each square diagonally down the center on the line you drew.

As you separate your HSTs, place them in two piles, one of each print in each pile.

Press the seam to the dark side.

Square up each triangle to 4.5 inches x 4.5 inches.

Arrange your HSTs in 4 rows of 4, with one colorway in each row, turning the HSTs to form chevrons as shown in the photo above.  Make 2 identical panels.

Stitch your HSTs together...  First in pairs...

Then in rows...

Then stitching the rows together to form a panel. Press the seams in one direction.

Cut 2 pieces of Pellon 808 interfacing, one for each panel.

Press the Pellon to the panels.  (I apologize for the photo - there is no way to get my ironing board away from the sun at this time of day.)

Cut 2 pieces of headliner foam, one for each panel.  I find that it is easier to cut the foam one piece at a time.  Note that headliner foam has a rough side and a smooth side.  When you sew the foam, put the rough side toward your fabric, so it won't slip, and the smooth side toward your feed dogs, so it will glide over them easily.

Here is your quilt sandwich:  Pieced panel, Pellon 808 interfacing fused to the panel, and headliner foam.  I recommend that you do not skip the interfacing (I did it once, and the results were less than satisfactory.)  However, it may be possible to use a lighter weight Pellon, although I haven't tried it.  The interfacing will keep the panel from becoming distorted against the foam. 

Pin the headliner foam to the panel and quilt as desired.  I find that it is a good idea to use my walking foot when quilting headliner foam.  You can quilt headliner foam the same way you quilt any other medium, but you probably don't want to quilt it too densely.  Here, I just outlined the chevrons.

Here is a view of the quilted panel from the foam side.  I think it looks pretty cool.

Place the quilted panels right sides together and match the seams where the charms meet. 

Be sure the panels are the same in the front and back.  Pin, pin, pin.

With right sides together and using a 1/2 inch seam allowance sew the side seams and bottom seam.  Sew them a second time for strength.

 Using sharp scissors, nip off the corners at the bottom.  Be careful not to cut your stitching.

Matching the side seam and the bottom seam, fold the corner into a point.  Be sure the seams match.  Fold the seam allowance in opposite directions.

Mark a line perpendicular to the seam line 2 inches up from the corner on both sides. 

This is your stitching line to shape the bottom of your bag.  Stitch it twice for strength.  To diminish bulk, trim off the excess about 3/8 inch from the stitching. 

Turn your bag right side out and admire your handiwork.

I really like the bottom...

And how the chevrons go all the way around the sides.

Making the Lining

From your 1/2 yard of fabric, cut two pieces 16-1/2 inches square.  (If you don't wish to put pockets in your lining, skip to Back to the lining now... below.)

Making the open pockets:

Take 2 charms from a similar colorway and sew them together.  Press the seam open.  Place them right sides together with your 5 x 9-1/2 inch piece of fabric and sew, beginning about 1-1/2 inches from the corner, stitch to the corner, around 3 sides, and about 1-1/2 inches onto the 4th side, leaving an opening about 6 inches long.

Snip off the corners, being careful not to cut your stitching.  If necessary, cut a tiny slit toward the corner, but end just before your stitching so your pocket corner stays intact.

Turn right side out, poking out the corners as much as possible.  Press flat, being sure to press the opening along the seam line.

On your lining fabric, finger press the center, and mark a line 3 inches from the top and 4-1/2 inches from the center in each direction.  This is your placement line for the pocket you just made.

Pin the pocket in place with the opening at the bottom so you can stitch it closed in one easy step.

Topstitch around the pocket.  Go around it a second time for strength.

Stitch in the ditch along the seam line between your two charms to make 2 pockets.  Stitch it a second time for strength.

Making a zipper pocket:

Finger press the center of the other lining piece.

Draw a line 3 inches down from the top.

On the 10-1/2 by 15 inch piece, finger press the center and draw a line 2 inches from the top.

Now draw a line on both sides of the pocket perpendicular to the first line you drew 3/4 inch from the edge and about 1/2 inch long.

Matching the centers, place the edge of the 10-1/2 by 15 inch piece along the line you drew on the lining piece.  Pin in place.

Using your presser foot as a guide, sew 1/4 inch from the line all the way around, backstitching at each end along the perpendicular line you drew earlier.

With very sharp scissors, and being careful not to cut your stitching lines, cut along the drawn line, stopping about 1/2 inch from the perpendicular line and cut into each corner.  Be careful not to cut the stitching.

Turn the pocket to the inside and carefully press along the seam line.

You have created an opening just the right size for your zipper.  With the zipper pull at one end and centering the zipper within the opening, pin your zipper in place.  Using a zipper foot, stitch close to the zipper.  If you wish, stitch again about 1/8 inch away from the first stitching. 

Be sure to backstitch the zipper at each end.  (It may help to pull the zipper tab down about an inch or so.)

Match the bottom and the top of the 10-1/2 x 15 inch piece along each side.  Making sure the lining fabric is out of the way, stitch a 1/2 inch seam in each side.  Stitch twice for strength.  Backstitch along the zipper tab, just to be sure.

Matching the top and the bottom of the 10-1/2 by 15 inch piece, sew the two ends together, being sure to keep the lining fabric out of the way of your stitching.

Pat yourself on the back - you have just created a zipper pocket in your lining.

Back to the lining now...

Using a 1/2 inch seam allowance, sew side seams and bottom seam of lining.  Sew twice for strength.

Snip off the corners.

Bring the side seam and the bottom seam together to form a point, making sure that the seams are exactly parallel and pointing opposite directions.  Pin. 

Mark your stitching line 2 inches from the point, perpendicular to the seam line.  Stitch along the line.  Stitch again for strength.

To diminish the bulk, trim off the corner about 3/8 inch from the seam.

Making the Handles

Choose 10 charms.

Cut them in half down the center into two 2-1/2 by 5 inch pieces each.

Stitch 5 half charms end to end to form a long chain.  Repeat 3 times to make 4 chains.

Place 2 of the chains you just created right sides together and place one of your batting pieces underneath.

Stitch on each side 1/4 inch from the edge.

Using a safety pin or other turning tool, Turn the strip right side out.  Press the seams flat.

Topstitch on each side 1/4 inch from the edge.

Using the intermediate seams joining the charms together on each side as a guide, pin the handles to the outside of the bag, right sides together.  Be sure that the handle is not twisted.

Stitch the handle to the bag.  Backstitch for strength.  Stitch forward again, just for good measure.


Turn the bag inside out.  Place the lining inside the bag so that the bag and the lining are right sides together.  Pin, pin, pin.  Sewing on the lining, and beginning at the outer edge of one of the handles, stitch 3/4 of the way around the bag.  Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of this seam.

Leave an opening between the handles on one side of the bag that is at least 6 inches long.

Turn the bag right side out and adjust the lining and the top of the bag so that the lining does not show above the top of the bag.  The foam can make this tricky, so just work with it until you are satisfied.  Pin the opening closed along the top of the bag.  Beginning at a side seam, top stitch very  close to the edge of the top of the bag, sewing through all layers, being careful to catch the lining at the opening so that it is stitched closed.  Topstitch again 3/8 inch away from the first stitching.

Voila!  Your bag is done.  It was a bit of effort, but worth it for a sturdy bag that stands by itself, has pockets, and lots of interior room to tote your stuff.

I hope you have enjoyed my {Charm}ing Chevron Bag tutorial.  If you make one, I'd love to see a picture!

Thanks for stopping by.  Be sure to check in with all the other Charm Madness blog hoppers - there is lots of charm-ing stuff to make out there. 

Here's the list of those that have already been posted:

Tuesday 3/19 - Jennie at Clover & Violet
Wednesday, 3/20 - Jess at Sew Crafty Jess
Thursday, 3/21 - Rhonda at Quilter in the Gap
Friday, 3/22 - Jenelle at Echinops &Aster
Sunday, 3/24 - Week 1 Giveaway Post

Tuesday, 3/26 - Lori at Lori H Designs
Wednesday, 3/27 - Kelsey at Kelsey Sews
Thursday, 3/28 - Lindsay at CraftBuds/LindsaySews
Friday - 3/29 - Jennifer at That Girl, ThatQuilt
Saturday, 3/30 - Stacey at The Tilted Quilt
Sunday, 3/31 - Week 2 Giveaway Post

Monday, 4/1 - Alyce at Blossom Heart Quilts 
Tuesday, 4/2 - Wendi at prsd4tim2

 And here are the ones yet to come:
Wednesday, 4/3 - Elizabeth at Don't Call Me Betsy
Thursday, 4/4 - Ginny at Fish Creek Studio
Saturday, 4/6 - Leona at Leona's Quilting Adventure
Sunday, 4/7 - Week 3 Giveaway Post
Be sure to have a look around.  
And if you'd like to make your own charm-ing project, I believe Sew Lux is offering a discount through the end of the blog hop.   Check it out!
And did I mention there are PRIZES??? 

Three Ways to Win Prizes
  • Enter the three weekly giveaway drawings on Sundays during the blog hop at the Sew Lux blog.
  • Link up your own charm project -  Linky post will be open for entries between 3/23 – 4/6.
  • Enter the Grand Prize Winner Giveaway by counting the total number of charms used in all the blog hop tutorials.  Complete the entry form on 4/7 or 4/8.

Thanks again for stopping by.


  1. Thanks for sharing your great tutorial.

  2. What a great tote bag, I love the look of the chevrons, especially on the bottom of the bag.

  3. what a great tutorial & adorable bag! Still gotta get me some of that foam...

  4. It`s super cute.Thanks for the great tutorial!!

  5. Super tut and the bag is adorable with its chevrons. Thank you. BTW, I used to use headliner foam until Soft 'n Stable came out. It's a step up from headliner, it's covered with fabric on both sides and sews so much easier. Superior Thread Co. has it - in fact, they may actually be the supplier. You might want to give it a try.

  6. Great job on your tutorial...very thorough. I love the look of the bag. I've never heard of headliner foam...I'll have to look it up. Thanks again.

  7. Great tutorial and a lovely tote - thanks!

  8. such a lovely bag. You make it look effortless, but I know how hard piecing chevrons is!

  9. Great, great tutorial!!!! What a wonderful, pretty tote - one that anyone would enjoy having. Thank you for your very clear and precise instructions with all the wonderful photos.

  10. Love this tutorial! Great photos and wonderful instructions! Maybe this weekend I can set down at my sewing machine and make one. Thanks!!

  11. That is a beautiful tote and I love the pockets and zipper. Thanks for the tutorial.

  12. fantastic tutorial and really nice bag. I love chevrons.

  13. Love the chevron design on the tote - thanks for the tutorial!

  14. WoW! Your bag is beautiful! You did an awesome job on your tutorial with lots of great photos. I've never sewn with foam before but you made it look easy, hehe. You did a super job! Thanks for sharing it with us!


  15. What a great tote! Love that it has a zipper and pockets!


I love comments! Please - make my day!