These triangle totes are handy-dandy little things. Use them to hold make-up, coins, little toys, a handful of crayons and a small notebook – anything you can think of.
Materials you’ll need for all three bags:
- Two fat quarters of contrasting fabric
- Three zippers – 7 inch, 5 inch, and 3 inch (follow package instructions to shorten plastic zippers if necessary)
- sewing machine, thread, basic sewing tools
Skills you’ll need (links take you to video tutorials):
Ready? Let’s sew!
Gather your materials. For the large bag you’ll need two fabric rectangles, each 8″ tall and 15″ wide, one piece for the handle cut 3″ wide and 9″ long, and one 7″ zipper.
The medium bag pieces are cut 6″ x 11″ with the handle piece cut 3″ x 7″ and a 5″ zipper.
The small bag pieces are cut 4″ x 7″ with a 3″ zipper. The small bag has no handle.
We’ll start by prepping the handle. Fold your handle piece in half the long way and press a crease down the center. Open it back up and fold each edge in to the center crease. Press. Refold down the center crease and press.
Now stitch down the length of the handle, about 1/8 in from each edge. Press with steam to make all those stitches settle in and look nice. Set the handle aside for now.
Now we’re going to start with the bag itself. That means sewing in a zipper. Don’t worry! It’s easier than you think. Watch this video first if you’re nervous.
First, switch out your regular presser foot for a zipper foot. Now lay your outside fabric face up on your workspace. Lay the zipper face down over one short edge.
Lay the lining fabric face down over the zipper. Line up all the edges and sew them together as close to the teeth of the zipper as your zipper foot will let you get. When you open up the layers, the zipper will be sandwiched between the right sides of the two fabrics, with the zipper pull facing the outside fabric.
Now you need to attach the other ends of the fabric to the other flap of zipper tape. It will look weird when you get them all together – like a figure 8 with a zipper at the center. Don’t worry – it’s supposed to look like this.
See? When you turn it right side out you’ll have a tube with the main fabric on the outside, the lining fabric on the inside, and the zipper in between them.
Now that you’ve admired your nice zipper installation, turn the tube inside out, so the lining fabric is on the outside. Flatten the tube so that the zipper is running down one side. Mark the fold opposite the bottom of the zipper with a pin. Basically, you’re just finding the center here.
Reflatten the tube so that the bottom of the zipper is lined up with the pin. See? Now the zipper is exactly centered and you didn’t have to measure anything. Geometry is awesome!
Using 1/4 inch seam allowance, stitch across the bottom of the bag. Stitch right over the zipper (if you’re using a plastic zipper) but do it slowly. Trim the raw edge with pinking shears.
I sewed this seam twice. I don’t know about other kids, but my daughter likes to stuff as much as she can into any bag and I don’t want the seam to split.
Now we’re going to sew the top seam and attach the handle. First – unzip the zipper. You will be very unhappy if you forget this step so do it now! Reflatten the top of the bag so that the zipper is running up the side. Sandwich the handle between the two layers. Put one end at each edge of the bag for a handle like on the biggest bag (shown here – see the pins?).
Put the ends together as close as possible to the zipper for a handle like on the middle bag.
Make sure the raw edges of the handle are lined up with the raw edges of the bag and pin in place.
Using 1/4 inch seam allowance, sew across the top edge of the bag. I double-sew the seam here too – and you might even triple-sew across the handles. Strong is good. 🙂
Trim your seam allowance with pinking shears. Not too close to your seam – just neaten things up a bit.
Turn the bag right side out through the unzipped zipper opening. (See why you had to unzip it before sewing?)
Gorgeous! And so useful! Give yourself a pat on the back and make another. You can get all three bags out of a pair of fat quarters.
Here are all three together. The smallest bag has no handle – but I attached a bit of ribbon to the zipper pull.
Make a bunch for yourself, and to share with friends! When you make them, share photos in the Shiny Happy People group. We would love to see!