Reverse Applique Tween Tote Bag Tutorial

I made up this tutorial last year for a demo class I taught at my local quilt shop, People, Places Quilts.  I also had to create a finished sample of the project for display in the shop, which my daughter Mackenzie quickly claimed dibs on after the class was over.  It's super easy to do, doesn't take a lot of fabric and makes a great gift for the tween in your life!  Enjoy - but for personal use only please.  :-)

Suggested Materials

  • 1/3 yard Canvas or Duck Cotton Material
  • 2 Coordinating Fat Quarters or two pieces of fabric measuring 18" x 22"
  • Coordinating Ribbon 1" wide ribbon - optional
  • 1/2" wide Fusible Tape
  • Disappearing Ink Pen or chalk
  • Appliqué Scissors - optional

Step 1 – Prepare Pieces

  • For Tote Body cut 1 rectangle from canvas measuring 13” x 30”
  • For Tote Straps cut 2 strips from canvas measuring 3” x 23”
  • For Bag Lining and appliqué background cut 3” from the shorter side of main fat quarter. Should measure around 13” x 22”.
  • From coordinating fabric cut 1 pocket piece (optional) measuring 7.5” x 11”.  Fold pocket piece in half measuring 5.5” x 7.5” and press under raw edges ¼”.
  • From coordinating ribbon cut two strips measuring 13” long or cut two 1.5" x 13" strips from left over fabric - fold under raw edges 1/4".

Step 2 – Line and Design

  • Fold both Tote Body piece and 1 fat quarter for Bag Lining - in half matching short sides; wrong sides facing and press each piece at the fold.
  • Open fat quarter Wrong side facing up and place pocket piece about 3” down from the edge of fat quarter piece on Wrong side of fabric. Edge stitch in place.
  • Place Right side of Bag Lining to Wrong of Tote Body piece – matching at the folds.
  • Pin and baste stitch pieces together along the long sides– this will be the background for your reverse appliqué design on the front of your bag and the lining for the inside of the bag.

  • Draw your appliqué design on right side of the Tote Body Piece about 2” up from the folded bottom edge on one side.  Feel free to use either a pencil, disappearing ink pen, or chalk – but always test on a scrap piece of canvas to make sure you can remove any markings!
  • Using your markings as a guide, machine stitch your appliqué design on the right side of the canvas – you can use either a straight stitch or satin embroidery stitch.  I used multi-colored thread for extra pizzazz!
  • Using small scissors, carefully cut away canvas fabric from inside the outline of your design – making sure not to cut through your lining fabric – cut as close to the edge of your stitching as possible.

Step 3 – Handle it!

·        Prepare bag handles by folding strips in half lengthwise – fold raw edges in ¼” – press and edge stitch along folded edges.
·        Fold raw edges of each short end of Tote Body piece in about 2 ½” – press. 
·        Align raw edges of bag handles with raw edge of Tote Body – handles should be about 1 ½” in from the sides.
·        Stitch handles in place
·        Cover raw edges of handles and folded edges of tote body with coordinating ribbon or fabric binding made from left over fabric. Use fusible tape to attach.

Step 4 – Stitch it Up!

  • Fold right sides of bag together – stitch along each side using ¼” seam allowance.
  • Press down corners of bag and stitch 2” in from the tip of the corner to add depth to the tote.
  • Turn bag right side out and press.
Now you have a fabulous tote!  If you're an intermediate sewer this project can be completed in an afternoon.  Adorn the bag with a scarf accent made from leftover fabric or cut strips of fabric using pinking shears and tie with leftover ribbon to one of the handles. 

Happy Sewing!

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