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Samarra Khaja's Back to School Bag Tutorial

Hello, Lovely People of the World!

Samarra Khaja here reporting L-I-V-E (er, you know, virtually) from Timeless Treasures Blog Headquarters! (It’s super swanky here, btw!)
Have you pondered what to make with my latest Back-to-School collection of fabrics? Well ponder no longer!

I know that school has recently ended and we’re now in full summer swing. We’re all busy thinking of beach vacations and cool drinks…who wants some more lemonade, aside from me!?

However, now’s the perfect time to get a few projects ready before next school year begins, because it will pop back around before we know it!

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So with that in mind, I’ve teamed up with Quilter Steff to bring you this sweet little tutorial for a S-U-P-E-R  C-U-T-E Note Tote (you know, because it looks like a giant piece of notebook paper, red margin and all!)

Suuuuuure, you can make one for your little school-goer, but you know you’re going to want one of these for yourself too! (In that case, consider adding some extra bells and whistles like an inside pocket, a small pen compartment or even a handy key loop!)

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Let’s get started!

Cutting Instructions:

Cut 2 pieces of “Handwriting” fabric 13″ x 15.5″

The handwriting should be running along the 13″ cut so it is running across the bag like it would on a page. From these two pieces cut a strip off of the left side of each piece that is 3″ wide.

Cut 2 pieces of red Sketch fabric (I used color Cherry) for stripe 1.5″ x 15.5″

Cut 2 pieces of red Sketch fabric for straps 4″ x 22″ (or longer depending on preference).

Cut 2 pieces of black polka dot (Sketch Dot) for bag lining 13.25″ x 15.5″

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Sewing Instructions:

All seams are sewn with a scant 1/4 inch.

1.Start by piecing the outside panels of the bag. Begin by laying out the three pieces that make up each side of the tote. From left to right, you’ll have the 3″ strip of “handwriting” fabric followed by the piece of red “margin” fabric and then the wider piece of handwriting fabric. Sew the two narrow pieces (the 3″ hand writing fabric to the 1.5″ red strip) together first, and press the seams towards the handwriting fabric.

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2. Sew these two pieces to the large handwriting fabric, pairing the red “margin” fabric to the large piece of handwriting fabric, and press those seams towards the handwriting fabric. By pressing the seams towards the handwriting fabric you make a natural depression in the margin fabric that provides space for the handle to settle when attaching it to the bag. These three pieces complete the side panel of the bag. You will need to sew together the panels for both sides of the tote.

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3. To construct the handle you will start at the ironing board. Start by pressing the long strip of fabric in half down the entire length of fabric with the wrong sides together. It should be approximately 2″ wide once folded and ironed. The line created down the middle of the fabric will serve as a reference for step 4.

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4. Unfold the long strip of fabric and use the center line (created from ironing) as a guide for folding the fabric in towards the center of the strip. The fabric will be folded in approximately one inch from each edge of the fabric towards the mid-line. You will now have the raw edges of the fabric meeting in the middle of the strip along the folded line. Be sure to iron so the shape of the straps is nice and crisp. Fold and press the fabric along the center line once more to create a handle that is 4 layers thick.

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5. Take the freshly pressed strap to the sewing machine. Sew along the long edges of the strap approximately 1/8 of an inch in from the edges. You do not have to sew across the skinny ends as those will be tucked into the inside of the bag. This stitching will help provide durability to the handle.

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6. Now you will want to determine how long you would like the handles to be. Ours on our bag are about 22″ long. If you’d like a longer drop, you can make them longer, or if the bag is for a small child, you can make them shorter.

7. Now you will sew the handles into the top of the bag, and at the same time sew the inside lining to the top edge of the outside panel. You will place the outside panel of the tote right-side up on the table with the margin on the left-hand side. Lay the outside panel with right side facing down, being sure to accurately line-up the top edge and sides of the two pieces. Pin the pieces together in the middle of the upper seam.

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The handle will go in between the two layers of fabric with the left side lining-up with the red “margin” stripe. Fold the lining fabric back on itself keeping the center pin in place so you can see where the margin fabric is and line that up with the handle. The end of the strap should stick off the top edge of the fabric about 3/4 to 1 inch. Pin into place.
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The handle will then loop down between the two layers of fabric and come back out towards the right-hand side of the bag, with the other end also sticking off the top edge of the outside panel. Measure in from the edge of the bag approximately 2.75 ” and pin the strap in place.

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8. Once pinned into place you will take the three layers (side panel, handle and lining) to the sewing machine to sew along the top seam of the bag. You will want to sew 1/4 inch in from the top of the bag, and back stitch over where the handles go through the seam.

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You will repeat this process for the second side of the bag.

9. Once both sides have been sewn along the top seams, you will press one top seam toward the  lining, and the second toward the outside panel. This will allow the seams to nicely “lock” together when you sew the sides of the tote together. After they have been pressed, lay the two pieces on top of one another with the lining fabric paired up, and the outside panels lined up. You will want to pin the pieces into place, especially at the side seams where the two panels come together (the seams you just pressed).

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10. On the bottom of the lining fabric, leave approximately 2.5″ un-sewn so that you have a space to turn the bag right-side-out. Starting on the bottom of the lining (after marking your 2.5″ gap for turning) sew using 1/4″ seam allowance all the way around the bag. Be sure to stop leaving your turning gap. To minimize bulk in the corners of the bag, snip the excess fabric from the corner seams. Be careful to not snip through the seams or you’ll have holes in your bag.

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11. Now you will pull the outside of the bag through the opening in the lining.and press the lining nice and flat so it can be sewn shut from the outside. We used a nice contrasting color thread as a design element.

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12. Push the lining into the bottom of the bag and press the top seam of the bag flat before sewing all the way around the top of the bag approximately 1/4″ in from the top of the bag.

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Ta-daa! You’ve just made your very own Note Tote!

Now when the end of summer rolls around,  you’ll have the perfect bag to to take all those shiny new school supplies to the first day of class in.

Enjoy…and, as always, study hard!

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Want to follow along with Samarra‘s latest projects? Catch up with her blog, facebook page and twitter feed for more!

12 replies
  1. Katiuska Merino Delgado
    Katiuska Merino Delgado says:

    It´s a big idea. What good are your tutorials, I’m on face. Congratulations!!!

  2. Katiuska Merino Delgado
    Katiuska Merino Delgado says:

    It´s a big idea. What good are your tutorials, I’m on face. Congratulations!!!

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