Inspired to Sew

While flipping through the June issue of Martha Stewart Living, this simple tote bag project caught my eye:


I went through my stash and found the necessary supplies. I would have preferred a darker colored bias tape, but the pink was all I had.


I made several modifications:
–lined all pieces, including the pockets and the handles
–added heavyweight interfacing to the tote front and back
–used extra-wide double fold bias tape
–added a magnetic snap closure
–made my own handles because they weren’t included in the pattern
–encased all edges of the handles in bias tape because I didn’t want to see any raw edges
–sewed the handles 3.5” in from the sides of the bag (instead of 4”)



Although lining all of the pieces means a bit more work, I think it’s worth the extra effort because the finished product looks more polished. For me, the hardest part was binding the front and back together with the bias tape because I am really bad at sewing bias tape around curved edges. In fact, my first attempt was so horrible that I ripped it out entirely. It was bad – there were bunched up spots at the curved corners and spots where I missed the bias tape entirely on the back side. The second attempt, while far from perfect, was at least acceptable to me. The funny thing is that the second time, I didn’t even pin down the bias tape before sewing – I just winged it and it turned out better! There was no way I could have done it with regular width bias tape, so I’m glad I had the extra-wide stuff on hand.



27 Comments on “Inspired to Sew”

  1. lisa says:

    looks awesome – wish i had some sewing talent.

  2. Damn it! Now I have yet another project to add to the list. Yours looks wonderful. I love the color choices. Thank for the details on it. Martha would be proud!

  3. Jennifer says:

    I saw that tote in the magazine! I love your version.

  4. Tonia says:

    What a great bag!!! I love it.

  5. carol says:

    very cute bag! i also have trouble with sewing bias tape, and i’ve used it on small things like dish soap aprons!

  6. jen says:

    looks great! it’s always better to have something with your own sewing quirks in it! 😀
    looks super polished to me.
    and great colors.

  7. elise says:

    wow, your bag looks great! almost motivates me to work on those needle cases i’ve been meaning to make (almost).

  8. Navi says:

    Beautiful! I love amy butler’s fabrics.

  9. Veronique says:

    Oooh, lovely! And great attention to detail!

  10. lola says:

    I’ll pick that magazine up! I’m in need of a good size tote. Thanks for posting.

    I got my magazine the other day. Thanks so much. More inspiration.

  11. Maryann says:

    Very pretty, both the bag and the fabric choices. And you’ve surely got me inspired too ;o)

  12. Karen says:

    That came out great! And I like your fabric choice much better than the one on the web site.

  13. ruth says:

    ditto.. I think your choice of fabric (amy butler?) is way better than the one in the magazine. =) great bag!! have a good weekend! =)
    p.s. did you hear about In Sheep’s Clothing closing out? Definately a good time to hit up for discounted stuff =)

  14. domesticat says:

    I love! I want one!

  15. vanessa says:

    oh yes I was eyeing on this project when I got her mag..too cute! love that fabric you picked. wish i have time to sit down and sew.

  16. Nora says:

    Beautiful work.

  17. Ooh–your bag looks great! And I think the pink bias tape goes really well with the fabric; the tape on the handles looks especially nice. Color me impressed!

  18. Leslie says:

    The bag is very pretty!

  19. erin says:

    You bag is so pretty, I love it! I bought this issue of MS Living just for this bag project, only to realise that the instructions can be found online 🙂

  20. kaet says:

    great bag! i like it, and i think the light pink bias tape is fine

  21. Venus says:

    Love it! Your new bag looks awesome!

  22. Julia says:

    *Love* Look at all those useful posckets! ;D

  23. Stephanie says:

    Oh wow. That is sooo cute. You did a great job and I just love the modifications (I’m sure your bag is much more finished than the original). I think the pink bias tape is just the right touch with the AB fabric. I’ve been feeling inspired to sew lately, so I’m thinking I might work on those lounge pants I want to make for everyone for Christmas.

  24. Beth says:

    It looks terrific! You did such a nice job on your tote.

  25. YOur bag makes me want to learn how to sew. 🙂

  26. Wow! The purse is so pretty! I really need to start using my sewing machine. I’ve got the fabric for Amy Butler’s In Stitches apron all cut out and ready to be sewn up. This is kind of a kick in the pants for me!

  27. You did a great job on that bag and those are great modifications – better than the sample! But you’re an enabler … now I have to resubscribe to Martha.