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Gibson Girl Vintage Tote Bag

Our second black-and-white tote bag features monochrome Gibson Girl designs on the front and back. This tasteful tote has a great vintage look and is perfect for any occasion.

The finished size of this tote is 12" (wide) x 14" (high) x 3" (deep).

You will need white fabric for embroidery; about 3/4 yard of black-and-white cotton fabric for the front and back panels and the lining; and 1/4 yard of a second black-and-white cotton fabric for the bottom, side panels, handles and ruffles. You will also need fusible interfacing and 1 1/2 yard of white 1" wide webbing for the handles.


Out of the first black-and white fabric, cut:
two rectangles measuring 13" x 15 1/2" (the front and back panels)
two rectangles measuring 17" x 15 1/2" (the lining)

Out of the second black and white fabric, cut:
two rectangles measuring 4" x 15 1/2" (side panels)
one rectangle measuring 4" x 13" (bottom panel)
two strips measuring 2" x 27" (handles)
two strips measuring 1 1/2" x 36" (ruffles)

Out of fusible interfacing, cut:
two rectangles measuring 13" x 14 1/2" (for the front and back panels)
two rectangles measuring 4" x 14 1/2 "(for the side panels)
one rectangle measuring 4" x 13" (for the bottom)

Note: If you want your bag soft, you can use felted quilt batting, like high loft DreamPoly, or polyester felt instead of the interfacing. To give the bag firmer sides, we recommend Pellon Peltex or Floriani one-side fusible interfacing.
If you are using felt or batting, cut it 1" larger on all sides and trim after sewing.


Stablize the white fabric with a tear-away stabilizer and make the embroidery. We used the Gibson Girls designs.

After the embroidery is finished, tear away the stabilizer. Press the embroidery. Place it on a table face down. Draw an oval shape around the embroidery. Cut out the embroidery 1/4" from the drawn line.

With sharp scissors, make notches around the edge as shown.

Fold the fabric 1/4" back and press with a hot iron.

Take the two strips for ruffles and join the short edges of each. You will get two rings. Fold each ring in half lengthwise and press.

Using the straight stitch in your sewing machine set to the maximum length (6-8 mm), stitch 1/4" from the raw edge.

Pull the ends of threads to make ruffles. Distribute them evenly around the circle. Place around the embroidered ovals. Tuck the raw edges under the edges of the ovals. Pin in place. Top stitch in place.

Making the Tote:

Step One: Place the two fabric panels measuring 13" x 15 1/2" over the interfacing panels measuring 13" x 14 1/2". Align the bottom and the sides of the panels. The upper edge of the fabric panels should project 1" past the interfacing panels.

Fuse the fabric to the interfacing with an iron, following the manufacturer's instructions.

In the same way, fuse the fabric to the interfacing of the side panels. The upper edge on the fabric should project 1" past the interfacing.

For the bottom, align the fabric and the interfacing panel along all the edges and fuse them.

Step Two: Position the embroidered ovals in the center of the front and back panels.
Pin in place, then attach to the panels using either zig-zag or blanket stitch.

Step Three: Sew the side panels to the bottom panel, leaving 1/2" unstitched at each end of the seams. Seam allowance is 1/2".

Step Four: With the right sides together, pin the bottom and side panels to the bag's front. Using a zipper foot, stitch the parts together. See the diagram below.
Repeat with the back panel.

Step Five: Place the lining rectangles face to face. Align all sides. Cut away 2 1/2" x 2 1/2" squares in the lower corners.

Straight stitch the shorter sides. Seam allowance is 1/2". Press the seams open. Straight stitch the bottom. Press the seams open.

Fold the lining to align the raw edges of the cut-away corners. Straight stitch 1/4"from the edges.

Fold the upper edge of the lining 1" back and press.

Step Six: Making handles. Cut the 1 1/2 yard of webbing in half.

Fold the 2" x 27" fabric strips in half lengthwise, face inwards. Straight stitch 1/4" from the raw edge. Press the seam open. Turn them out. Position the seam in the center of the strip and press with hot iron.

Place the fabric strips over the strips of webbing. Top stitch both edges of the fabric.

Step Seven: Position each handle 3 1/2" from the sides. Pin. Top stitch in place.

Step Seven: Fold the upper edge of the tote 1" inside. Tuck the lining inside the tote. Align the edges of the tote and the lining. Pin them together with several pins.

Top stitch 1/4" from the edge of the tote. Top stitch again 3/8" from the edge.

The tote bag is ready. Enjoy!

We hope that you liked our idea and will come up with many of your own.

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