How To: Make a Ruffle Pillow Tote Bag – Part 3

In Part 1, we made the ruffle, attached it to the tote main pieces and added some trims to personalize. Then in Part 2, we used a few tricks to whip up strong clean straps. So all that is left is to insert the lining. But before we dive in you have to decide if you want to go the extra mile or not? Want to add pockets in your lining? If not, skip the next two steps and jump down below.

optional step to add pockets to your diy tote bag

Most tote bag patterns I have found want you to dangle a pocket from the top of the bag. They insert the pocket as a flap between the seam of the tote body and the lining. On soft bags this drives me nuts because if you put your phone in the pocket than the top of the bag droops down due to the weight. That was when I came up with the idea above to instead put the pockets across the bottom of the bag. Its personal preference and both ways work just fine.

insert the lining and flip right side out

For Step B above, use the same plate from Part 2 of this tutorial. That way the lining and the main fabric will line up properly. Oh, and after Step D you can trim the fabric 1/4″ from the stitch line to match the rounding. This will reduce the bulk in the corners so you get a nice clean finish.

after a simple flip just stitch and you have a brand new tote bag

I took my pillow tote out for a run to Mitsuwa and immediately proceeded to stuff it full of cute stuff from Mars and the book store – and of course tons of candy from the grocery store. By the end I had 2 issues of Cutie magazine, a Jackie Bread The Bears’ School charm, some stickers, a couple onigiri, and matcha Kit Kat and Crunch bars to tote around. That was along with my wallet, make up pouch, keys, phone, and obligatory spring allergies stack of Kleenex. Fairly proud it held up to the task (♥ó㉨ò)ノ♡

handmade cherry gingham ruffle tote bag

How To: Make a Ruffle Pillow Tote Bag – Part 2

When we last left off on Part 1, the ruffle for the edge of our Pillow Tote Bag was ready to be secured in place. So lets pick up things from there.

adding the ruffle and trims before putting in the lining

In a Tokyo  ¥100 store (like our dollar stores) I found a ton of really cute patches and lace trims. So for my tote bag I choose to personalize it with a cream monogram I picked up.  That didn’t seem substantial enough so also added a simple pink ribbon. The color of the ribbon will be picked up in the color of the lining.

super easy how to sew and turn fabric staps right side out

This is one of my all time favorite tricks. While yes you can use a safety pin to turn the strap right side out, this is just so much easier. And you can reuse the ribbon for your next strap or for another project. I used to be so annoyed with having to turn narrow straps but never again with this tip.

how to attach straps to the tote bag

If you are like me, you get really annoyed at tote bags that have chintzy straps. When the fabric is too soft they roll and twist and look a mess. And if they are made of a delicate fabric they stand the chance of ripping at any time as they can’t take the weight of all the goodies a gal needs in her bag these days. So I am a huge fan of using strapping. Like I said above, its very similar to seat belt material. But you can find it in a ton of widths and colors. I use it on its own for bag straps, but for this project wanted the clean continuity of the cherry fabric. The pattern I drafted allows for a 1″ material to be used inside the fabric straps.

At this stage the bag has taken shape. All that is left is to make and insert the lining. I have another nice trick for linings. So next post we will start there. I hope you are enjoying this tutorial on how to make a ruffle pillow tote bag.