I think one easy gift to make would be a tote bag, there are so many free patterns and ideas on the internet you just have to pick one you like.
One of the main feature of making one tote standing out from the other I must say is the fabric used, second would be the workmanship — a bit of style to the finishing like the tote handle used and even a coloured lining really makes a difference.
Here I have created two more tote bags as gifts – one for my sister and one for someone special in Australia.
Australian themed fabric tote bag with black lining – I’ve added a black lining to the tote bag to give it ‘structure’ as the fabric is rather thin and the inner lining support fabric also adds durability too in terms of heavy load. The design or pattern of the fabric makes a difference in terms of aesthetic and what better way to give someone this tote who loves art and is in Australia.
Denim with flowers fabric tote bag – I spent sometime hunting for a light-blue strip handle to match dark blue denim fabric so that the tote bag design stand out. I did not use any lining for this bag as the material is thick and durable but added a denim fabric flap to steady the bag handle and as a aesthetic feature too. The fabric comes with machined embroidered flowers patterns which is just so gorgeous I could not resist a impulse buy.
So maybe if you need to craft a gift for a Lady in the future and you have some really nice fabrics to part with a tote bag maybe a real good item to make. A tote bag is also easy to pack for mailing to overseas, I folded the tote into 4 parts and mail it out in a envelope.
“Saving the best for last” … I made this purse especially for my mommy from fabric scraps saved.
The green piece of fabric scrap came from a ‘custom-order’ cushions cover I ordered from a home furnishing shop, yes…I asked for all scraps to be returned to me. This material is actually a soft furnishing fabric; the type that can be use for curtains or cushion covers, the inner lining which is batik material is leftover from my other sewing projects.
To achieve ‘form’ or shape to the purse I used fusible lining to the green fabric and darts at the bottom of the purse design.
I’ve attached a yellow ribbon to the bell as a finishing touch.
The size of the purse is about 14cm (Length) x 8.5cm (Height) x 6cm (Base). The purse handle is a ‘sew-in’ type.
There are many resources on the internet offering purse making supplies, pattern and instructions so take your time to vet through them for ideas. I work ‘backwards’ as I have my fabric scrap then my purse handle and I draw my pattern freehand.
As I am not very good with words I try best to provide photos for my work-in-progress. The few main pointers to remember or note is use fusible lining and add darts to your purse design, use iron to press the seams. A bit of practice and patience, do not start on your beloved piece of fabric if it is your first attempt at sewing a purse, try with very cheap fabric to be safe.
Tip: Never pin your fabric overnight then machine them in the next day or days after as it will leave tiny holes on the fabric.
I made this tote bag for my sister. This is a large bag, dimension about : length 44cm x width 32xm x side/ border 11.5xm; handle is about 17cm.
My dear sister likes to carry so many things in so many different bags I thought the idea of one big tote bag would be ideal especially for work, market and even out shopping.
I fell in love with the design of the fabric then came the idea of sewing the tote bag to minimise cutting the fabric to prevent any wastage. This fabric is actually a uphostery fabric, it is heavy weight and very durable but extremely expensive. I bought the ‘jeans material’ from Daiso Shop at S$2 a piece. The bag handle is ‘ready-made’ which I bought from craft shop at $16 a pair.
As the fabric is heavy weight I do not use fusing interlining a consideration you have to plan for heavy load.
Another plus point of uphostery is that the fabric width is very long like in the range of 140cm. I like my material washable so do be careful when choosing uphostery fabric as most tend to only allow dry cleaning. Such fabric are available in home interior stores, you can asked the sales person for their advice or look at the back of the fabric sample to see the icons suitability. Please be prepared to budget for such fabric purchase in the region of at least S$70~S$100 per meter as shop only sells by the meter.
I spend one-time a few hundred dollars buying a few pieces of uphostery fabrics and it has been my most crazy and extravagant purchase to date, I do not think I will go for such shopping spree to date or definately will not dare to do it again for a long time.
In Singapore, you have a choice of mainly uphostery fabric from Europe or Taiwan depending on your budget and taste.
So the next time you fall in love with a piece of fabric and have been pondering what is the best way to cut it in order to minimise fabric wastage the idea of sewing a tote bag is a good one as you need only to cut the fabric to half (lengthwise) and compliment additional material to the side / border. You could sew the bag handle using fabric if you do not wish to spend on ‘ready-made bag handle’.
There are loads of tote bag design and pattern to adapt from the internet so have fun researching for the best idea to suit your precious fabric.
A journey of crafting, experiences, knowledge and joy