Tuesday, April 26, 2011

DIY L.L. Bean Tote Bag

When you get married in another state, and 99% of your guests are traveling there, you really do HAVE TO provide welcome bags. I mean, it's the least you could do after you forced all those people to travel 5 hours away from their homes, and pay gas prices that would make a grown man cry (in my defense, I had no idea gas was going to get so out of control).

Anyway, I'm making welcome bags for my lovely guests - something that I probably would have done even if I got married in CT, but it being a Maine wedding, I have this theme that really lends itself to a certain kind of bag: LL Bean Tote bag. They are adorable, iconic, summery and they really do scream "Maine". But when you have 118 of your 120 guests coming from out of state, then you really have to put the pedal to the metal with the making of the bags. So far I have made 6... I figured I need about 35 bags, and 12 "baskets" for families of 5+ staying together.

Anyway, the making of the bag is actually fairly simple:

2 (8 x 14) pieces of White duck cotton*
1 (8 x 14) piece Navy Blue duck cotton*
2 strips (30 inches) of ribbon or belting
white and navy thread
stitch withchery

*this is the size, method and colors that I used. You could use canvas if you wanted a sturdier bag, but keep in mind that you'd also need a heavy duty needle, good thread, more money and patience, because its not the easiest to work with. Also, I used these colors because they match my wedding, any combination or size would do.

On your 2 white pieces, iron down a 1/2 inch seam
like so

sew this down - it will be the top of the bag
Take your blue piece and iron down 1/2 seam on both sides

like so - do not sew down!

on your two sewn white pieces, you will add your handles - 1 (30 inch) strip per side. For this size bag, I put the handles at the 4 and 10 inch lines, leaving 4 inches between. The stitch witchery is underneath, waiting to make things meld - remember that the side your sewed should be the top!

then make the melting happen for the stitch witchery. You don't have to do this step if you prefer pinning, but I just find this to be easier

sew the handles down. If you used stitch witchery, you will notice that this is no hassle of removing pins, pricking yourself, or the dreaded "bunching and gathering" - signs of a crappy seamstress - which I am.

Once you have sewn on the handles for each white piece, you will want to pin your blue piece on, good side out. It is important that you measure the distance from the top of the white to the blue part and keep it the same for both pieces and sides, otherwise you end up with a bag that does not line up.

See then? your bag is almost a bag!
sew the blue in place

flip the almost bag inside out and pin the edges just above the blue piece

This is the tricky part - you want to fold the blue into itself

like so..

can't describe it really, just make it look like this

and then iron it down

I just had to keep taking pictures because I knew I wouldn't be able to explain how to do it

But really, this is how it should look.

sew down the sides of the bag, making sure everything lines up perfectly. When you are done - this is what you will have

Iron down those flappy edges

and boom, you have a cute little tote bag in 30 minutes! If you wanted to line your bag with a pretty contrasting fabric, you would repeat all the steps, flip your contrasting bag inside out, put it inside the original tote and then sew the top edges together.

I'm making 35 of these bags, so there is no way I am making a lining! But you easily could. My sister came over last night to help. We managed to get steps 1 and 2 done for 25 bags.

And we still need 10 more!
But, the good news, for me anyway, is that I will have a really cute, completely original set of welcome bags when I am done... and hopefully some people will actually use them for some amount of time.

When we were done, and my sister left, I finished up the bag you see in the tutorial, and then took a deep sigh knowing how much more work had to be done. As I cleaned up my craft room (HA!) and headed for bed, I saw the cutest thing ever:

totally worth it.
Tip Junkie handmade projects

1 comment:

  1. A funny crafty blogger you are - You make me laugh!