Sunday, July 14, 2013

Summer Ruffle Tote

 Hope you are enjoying your summer!    I wanted to share with you a fun accent you can make to a Tote Bag for the summer! These are made using the plain Muslin Canvas Tote Bags that are available at Craft stores such as Hobby Lobby and Walmart. This one is for the larger, plain tote with no pockets.

The Ruffle is so fun, it is Gathered down the middle of the Ruffle instead at the top to give it a different accent!

 I have given you 3 options with this tutorial! :)  Option 1 with a simple ruffle for the front and back


 or Option 2 that is a little more involved with  a ruffle on the front and fabric pockets with dividers on the back!


or Option 3, ruffle on front, the same fabric pockets with dividers on the back with a Ruffle hand sewn on at the top of the pockets:


The pockets are very handy for
organizing things:

Note: I purchased my yellow  polk-a-dot fabric at Hobby Lobby. :)

Option 1: Ruffle Only on Front and Back:
1 Regular Sized Plain muslin tote bag (I purchased mine at Hobby Lobby)
2  long Strips of fabric cut 4 1/2 in. wide by 29 in. long


Option 2: Ruffle on Front and Fabric Pockets on Back:
1 Regular Sized plain muslin tote bag (purchased at Hobby Lobby)
1 long Strip of fabric cut at 4 1/2 in. wide by 29 in. long
Fabric Piece cut at: 14 in. wide x 171/2 in. long

Option 3: Ruffle on Front, Fabric Pockets on Back topped with a Ruffle:
1 Regular sized Plain muslin tote bag (purchased at Hobby Lobby)
2  long Strips of fabric cut 4 1/2 in. wide by 29 in. long
Fabric Piece cut at: 14 in. wide x 17 1/2 in. long

* We will start the tutorial by making the ruffles.  If you are doing Option 1 and Option 3, Ruffles  for the front and back then you will take  your 2 strips of fabric cut 4 1/2 in. wide x 29 in. long and make a single hem on both long edges of the fabric for both strips.

If you are doing Option 2: You will do the same as described above but only for 1 strip of fabric...

This is what your strip(s) will look like once your sides are hemmed...

 Now you are going to sew a gather stitch across the whole length of the strip right down the middle...  (A gather stitch is where you begin with your threads long at the beginning, do not back stitch, stitch the widest stitch apart that your machine can go, and leave long threads at the end of your stitch pattern, do not back stitch at the end either...

 Once you have made your gather stitch, pull the top threads only to make your gathers and adjust your ruffles down the fabric...

once you have your gathers pulled and they fit across the bag the way you like them to, you need to hem the ends of each of the strips of the gathers.  Fold them over and stitch a hem at the ends of each gather for each strip just like you did for the side hems.  Sew them on sewing machine...

At this point, if you are doing Option 1, we will pin the ruffles to the front and back of the tote and sew them on.

*If you are doing Option 2 and Option 3, the fabric pockets on the back, do not pin and sew your ruffle onto the front of the tote just yet, we will first make our pockets for the back and attach them,  then we will attach the ruffle as our final step(s).  (It just makes it easier to work with without the ruffle attached).  :)

For Option1:
Now that your ruffles are made, find where you want your ruffle to go towards the top of your tote and pin one ruffle to the front... 

OPEN your Bag and Slide it onto your sewing machine, (I remove the front compartment on my machine to give myself some working room),  be very careful that your bag is open and straddling the machine so you do not stitch your bag closed...

Now that your front ruffle is stitched on, flip your bag over and line up your second ruffle at the sides to match the front ruffle and repeat the same steps above, stitch your ruffle onto the back and your bag is complete!

For Option 2 and Option 3:

You already have your ruffle(s) made. Great!  Let's make the fabric pockets for the back.

Take your big piece of fabric you cut   14 in. wide x 17 1/2  in. long

and fold it in half  top to bottom so you have your crease of fabric at the top running horizontal and your right sides of the fabric are facing out on both sides of your fabric (so your wrong sides of fabric should be touching at this point).  This will make it so the pockets are lined on the inside as well...

Next we will take your sides of both pieces of fabric that are laying on top of each other and pin a double roll hem down each side of the fabric...

Now pin a double roll hem at the bottom of the fabric.  NOTE, you do not need to pin a hem at the top because it is the crease in the fabric

Place this fabric piece on your sewing machine and stitch your hem around all three sides that you just pinned...

This is what it should look like once your hem is stitched around all three sides...

At this point, I made a fake top hem about 1 in. down  right below the folded crease so it looks more natural...

I did this by marking it with pins... then stitching across

Once you have this done, it is time to attach this square piece of fabric to the back of your tote. 

 We will attach it by sewing exactly where you stitched your 3 side double roll hems. Pin your fabric square onto  your tote...  matching up the sides with the side seams of the tote. At the bottom, pin it just above the angled corners.  Be careful again not to pin your fabric pockets to the entire bag, only the back portion of the bag.  

Once you OPEN  and slide your bag onto the arm of your sewing machine, you are going to attach the fabric square to the back portion of your tote only.  

Do this by stitching along the three sides of your fabric square where you first hemmed the fabric...
Remember to NOT stitch along the top folded crease of the fabric pocket  or you will stitch your pocket closed and will have to pick it open with a seam ripper. :(

It can get a little challenging to wrestle the bag and keep the fabric in place at this point, mine looked like this... Just keep remembering to check and make sure the front part of your totebag is not in the way underneath your stitching or you will stitch your tote bag closed.

Once you have your back fabric piece attached at all three sides, you now just have to stitch some lines to make some divisions.  I pinned mine first to mark where I wanted my lines to go  Each of my lines are 4 1/2 in. in from the sides of my bag...

Here is what it looked like as I was stitching my lines down to create divisions.  You can see off to the left, the first line division I stitched down...

For Option 2 and Option 3:
Now that you have your fabric pockets and divisions made on the back, it is time to attach your ruffle strip to the front of the tote.  Follow the instructions that I showed above for Option 1, but of course only attach your  ruffle to the front of your tote.  Option 2, your bag is now complete!

**If you are doing Option 3, make sure you place your ruffle on the front, so that it matches up on the sides to meet the ruffle that you will stitch at the top of the pockets on the back.  

***If you are doing Option 3:  Take your second ruffle line up the ends to match your front ruffle and attach it at the top of the pockets  stitching it on by hand.   I tacked it on by stitching it down the middle of the gather. Only stitch it to the top of the pockets and not to the bag or you will stitch the bag closed. 

Once you have this last ruffle tacked on, your bag is complete! Enjoy!

If you would like to see another tutorial I have done on how to make a different style of ruffled tote bags, you can see that on my blog here:
With Much Love & Gratitude,


  1. Very cute! I love the polka dots:)

    Have a great week!!

    p.s. it was fun to visit today. Pass along to your friend my new address

  2. I'm back because I just thought of something...did you make 21 of those?

  3. I just finished making my ruffle tote, inspired by you. Thanks for sharing!

  4. If you are planning a nice romantic date at a location besides your home, then chances are that you will want to transport a bottle of wine. However, imagine how impressed your date will be when you transport your bottle or your bottles of wine in a sophisticated wine tote, instead of trying to hold on to the bottle with your arms, or with your hands? Imagine yourself trying to carry one bottle of wine, let alone several bottles of wine or champagne on a date.
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