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Denim Tote Bag with Maple Leaves Embroidery
This roomy, soft tote bag features an embroidered pocket on the front panel.

The design we used on the pocket is Maple Leaves.

The finished size of the bag is about 16"W x 14"H x 4"D.
Finished tote bag with embroidery of maple leaves on the front panel.


You will need :
  • embroidery threads, according to our color card,
  • denim fabric of 2-3 different shades for the bag,
  • 1/2 yard of cotton fabric for the lining,
  • medium-weight cut-away embroidery stabilizer.
If you are a fan of upcycling, you can use your old jeans for the project. Cut them near the seams, wash, air dry and press the pieces.
Pieces of cut old jeans

You will also need:
  • quilter's ruler,
  • rotary cutter and/or scissors,
  • tailor's chalk pencil,
  • iron,
  • #12 universal needle, and sewing thread,
  • #16 jeans needle and extra strong thread for jeans
  • magnetic snap closure or sew-on snap closure 1/2" large.
Snaps, needles and thread for the project

Cutting:
Out of the denim fabrics, cut,
  • 24 squares measuring 5" x 5" each,
  • one piece measuring 8 1/2" x 17 1/2",
  • 4 strips measuring 2" x 28" each for the handles,
Leave 1 piece of denim fabric for the outer pocket big enough to be hooped and measuring 9" x 17 1/2" after trimming,

Out of the fabric for the lining, cut
  • 1 piece measuring 17 1/2" x 31"
  • 1 piece measuring 9" x 17 1/2", and
  • 1-2 pieces measuring 7" x 12 1/2" (for the inner pocket/s).

Embroidery:
Open the color card, select threads. Stabilize a piece of denim fabric with medium-weight cut-away stabilizer. Hoop the fabric tightly. Upload the Maple Leaves file into your machine and embroider it.
Stitch-out of the Maple Leaves design.

Press the stitch-out and trim the piece to 9"H x 17 1/2"W.
A piece with embroidery cut for the pocket
Outer Pocket:
With right sides together, cover the stitch-out with the 9" x 17 1/2" lining piece. Align all edges, pin along the upper edge of the pocket.

Sew along the upper side, seam allowance 1/2".
Turn the pocket right side out. Press the seam.
The pocket with the lining

Topstitch 1/4" along the upper edge.
The outer pocket with the topstitched upper edge.

Handles
Prepare the 2" x 28" strips. Position them in 2 pairs, face to face.
4 strips for the handles

Stitch along one long edge, seam allowance 1/2".
The handles strips sewn together along one side.

Turn right side out. Press.
The strips turned to the right side.
Open. Fold the unfinished long edges 1/2" inside and press.
The long sides pressed 1/2" inside.

These are both handles with raw edges folded onto the wrong side and pressed.
The long sides pressed 1/2" inside.

Fold the handles again, align the folded edges. Topstitch along both long edges with about 1/8" - 1/4" seam allowance.
Long sides of the handles topstitched.

Back Panel:
For the back panel, you will need 16 5" x 5" squares. Arrange them in 4 rows, 4 squares in each row.

Sew the squares into rows. Press the seams open.

Topstitch on both sides of the seams with 1/4" seam allowance.
Topstitch the seams.

You can arrange the squares randomly, or in any pattern. These are all 4 rows finished.

Sew the rows together, seam allowance 1/4"
Rows of denim patches for the back panel

Press the seams open.
The wrong side of the back panel.

Topstitch on both sides of the seams with 1/4" seam allowance.
The topstitched seams of the back panel.

Front Panel:
For the front panel you will need eight 5" x 5" squares and the 8 1/2" x 17 1/2" strip.
Sew the squares in 2 rows in the same way as for the back panel. Topstitch the seams.
Sew one row to the upper edge of the 8 1/2" x 17 1/2" strip. Open the seam, press, topstitch on both sides.
The base for the front panel

Pin the pocket to the working piece over the solid part. Align the lower and side edges. Pin together.
Pin the remaining 4-square row to the bottom edge. Stitch through all layers. Seam allowance 1/2".
The pocket over the frant panel

Open and press the seam. Topstitch on both sides of the seam.

Topstitch along the lines, shown in red: along the edges of the embroidery and along the side edges. This will make you 3 front pockets.
Red lines show where to topstitch the pocket.

Assembly:
With a chalk pencil draw a line 1 1/2" from the top edge of both panels.
With a chalk pencil draw a slight line 1" from the top edge of the panels.

Turn the upper edges of both panels 1 1/2" back and press. Unfold.
Turn the upper edges of both panels 1 1/2" back and press.

Pin one handle to the upper edge of the front panel, equal distance from the side edges.

Topstitch the handle to the panel within the folded area.

Attach the handle to the back panel in the same way.
Attach handles to the upper edges of both panels.

On the lower edge of both panels, cut out 2" x 2" squares at the corners.
Cut out 2"x2" squares at the corners.
Cut out 2"x2" squares at the corners.

Position the panels face to face, align all edges. Pin the bottom. Stitch together with seam allowance 1/2".
Align the edges of the panels.

Open and press the seam.
Bottom seam pressed open.

Topstitch 1/4" on both sides of the seam.
Topstitch 1/4" from the seam.

Fold the bag with right sides together, unfold the upper edges and align all edges. Stitch one of the sides, seam allowance 1/2".
Fold the bag with right sides together, unfold the upper edges and align all edges.

Unfold and press the seam.
Stitch one of the sides, seam allowance 1/2". Unfold and press the seam.

Topstitch 1/4" on each side of the seam.

Repeat for the second side.
Topstitch 1/4" on each side of the seam.

Fold the bottom of the bag so that the bottom and the side seams align. Pin.
Align the bottom and side seams at the bottom.

Stitch. Seam allowance 1/2". Stitch several parallel lines.
Fold the upper edge back, handles out, pin. Topstitch along the upper edge and over the handles, seam allowance 1/4".

The Lining:
Fold the 7" x 12 1/2" piece widthwise in half, face inwards. Stitch along 2 sides, seam allowance 1/4". Turn right side out. Press.

Tuck the unfinished raw edge 1/2" inside. Press. Topstitch it closed.
Fold the fabric and stitch 2 sides closed.

If you are making 2 inner pockets, repeat for the remaining piece.
Ready pockets.

Fold the short edges of the 17 1/2" x 31" lining piece 1" back and press.
Fold the short edges of the lining 1/2" back and press.

Pin the pockets 3" from one of the folded edges and equal distance from the sides.
Pin the pocket 3" from the upper edge of the lining.

Topstitch the pocket in place. Repeat with the second pocket.
Topstitch the pocket in place.

Unfold the upper edges. Fold the lining widthwise in half. Align the edges. Stitch the sides together, seam allowance 1/4".
Press the bottom line. Fold the upper edges back. You can topstitch the folded edge in place, optional.
Sew the sides of the lining together.

To make box corners, separate the front and back sides at the corners. Center the seam on the side with the bottom crease. We show these steps on a different fabric for better viewing.
Center the seam on the side with the bottom pressed line.

Measure 2" along the seam from the corner.
Measure 2" along the seam from the corner.

Draw a line perpendicular to the seam across the corner.
Draw a line perpendicular to the seam across the corner.

Stitch along the line.
Stitch along the line.

Turn the corners up onto the sides and stitch by hand to the side seams.
Turn the corners onto the sides.

Turn the bag wrong side out, insert it into the lining. Line up the side seams.

Pin the upper edge of the lining to the bag, overlapping the folded edge slightly by 1/4".
Insert the bag in the lining.

If you use a magnetic snap, attach it now. If you use a sew-on snap, you can sew it on later. Stitch the lining to the bag by hand.
Sew on the snap.
Sew-on snap attached to the bag.


Have fun!
Finished bag, front panel.
Finished bag, back panel.

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