tote bag

Great Big Leather Tote from Sewing to Sell

My blogging bud Virginia from Gingercake Patterns just wrote a book called Sewing to Sell, and it’s about exactly that… helping you to launch or improve your handmade business. I took a look at this book, and I made one of the projects to share with you.
Great Big Leather ToteI was super impressed as I went through this book. Virginia has covered pretty much everything from A to Z in regards to starting a handmade business. Not only that, she has included 16 projects that you can make and sell at craft fairs or in your own shop.

dsc_1818I made the Great Big Tote, but I put my own spin on it. The basic look is the same, but I decided to use leather, and I didn’t have enough to make it as “great big” as the project in the book. So I made a Medium Big Tote. ;)


The Great Big Tote from the Sewing to Sell book by Virginia Lindsay

The projects in the book also include tips for sewing a bunch of them at once and for highlighting your product to sell. If you need a few more tried and true handmade goods to add to your inventory, you have a wide variety to choose from a few different categories: useful items, best use of materials, and great sellers. There are projects for kids, babies, women, or the home, covering a range of customers.

dsc_1817Even though I don’t have any plans to sell my handmade goods, there are so many great tips in this book, about photography, finding your personal style, even having the right sewing equipment. I learned a lot, and plan on going through the book again to glean some more of Virginia’s wisdom. :)


Plus, Sewing to Sell covers the business side of selling handmade, which is an invaluable resource. You basically have everything you need in this one book!

11060_FrontCover_FullSizeI think one of my favorite parts of the book, though, are the interviews with bloggers/handmade shop owners. I love reading through the experiences of others and hearing what has or hasn’t worked for them.


I love how this tote worked with the leather, and you know my love for bags, big and small. All of the projects in this book are perfect to customize to your own style. The book is available in hard copy or as an e-book, and I get to give away a hard copy of this book to one of my lucky readers! Yay!!


 Click here to enter the giveaway!

(open to US residents only, sorry!)


Make sure you check out all the other fantastic bloggers on the book review tour!

Disclosure: I received an e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

DIY Extra Large Beach Tote + the most stylish baby wipes I’ve ever seen

When you head to the beach (okay, when you head anywhere) with kids, you end up bringing a lot of stuff for all the inevitable messes and disasters. Diapers, wipes, sunscreen, snacks, extra clothes, sunglasses, water bottles, towels, toys… basically everything you own. I knew I wanted to make an extra large beach tote for these occasions – one that you can stuff to the brim with all the necessities – and bonus points if the necessities look super cute, like these ridiculously stylish baby wipes from Huggies. Because just like I can’t pass up fabulous fabric, I love when the things I have to carry with me look adorable.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Huggies. I received compensation for this post and these products. All opinions are my own.

DIY Extra Large Beach Tote

Making a tote bag is super easy – it’s similar to my simple tote bag tutorial, but I’ve added a lining and an extra long strap. And pockets. But you can make this in any size, for whatever toting needs you have… farmer’s market, weekend trips, anything!

I have yet to meet a mama of little ones who doesn’t use baby wipes on a daily basis. I take these everywhere – I even find myself using them when I don’t have my kids with me. But the regular crinkly plastic that wipes come in is not my fave. So when I first picked up this new Clutch ‘n Clean from Huggies, I was super impressed with the durable non-crinkly material. Hello, who hasn’t cringed as they’ve pulled out the noisy wipes in church?? It’s reusable, so you can leave the not-so-stylish containers under your changing table and refill this one when it’s empty.


There are several designs to choose from, and I actually stood in the aisle for a full five minutes trying to decide which one was cuter. But in the end, I’m always drawn to the stripes! I also really love that the colors are bright, so I can easily spot them in my bag for those wiping emergencies. We have a lot of them, friends. And then when you need to run to the restroom, they have a super convenient strap, so you don’t have to bring your entire tote with you.


Now grab some sturdy fabric from your stash so you can make an extra large beach tote too. :)

Bag dimensions

1. Cut your outer and lining fabrics (two of each). My approximate dimensions are in the photo above. You can make it any size you want, really, just be sure to make the lining an eensy bit smaller than your outer fabric. I suggest using a more durable fabric.


2. Cut out your straps – again, the length is up to you. I made mine extra long to accommodate my tall husband, in case he needs to carry the bag also. Cut a strip of fabric that is double the width you want. (Mine was about 70in. long and 6in. wide, before it was folded.) Then sew the long end, with the right sides together. Then turn it right side out, press, and pin it to the outer fabric as seen in the picture above. Repeat for the second strap and second outer fabric piece. (you can see detailed pictures on how to make a strap in this tutorial)


3. Stitch down the sides of the straps (you are only sewing through one layer of outer fabric at this point). Stop sewing about an inch from the top. Repeat for the second strap.


4. Pin the two outer layers together – right sides together. Sew all around the three edges (not the side where the straps stick out).


5. If you want to make pockets, now is the time to do it. Whatever size you want your pockets to be, cut your fabric twice the size of the pocket. Then fold it in half (right sides together), and stitch around the edges, leaving a small opening to turn the pocket right side out.


6. Turn the pocket right side out, press (folding under the little section that you didn’t sew), and stitch down the three sides onto the right side of the lining fabric. Repeat this for any more pockets you want.


7. If you want to divide a pocket into two, simply stitch down the center, making sure to back stitch at the top and the bottom.


8. Now place your lining pieces together and stitch the three sides, just as you did with the outer fabric.


9. Press down the top of both the outer fabric and the lining. You can finish the edges with either a serger or pinking shears (I would actually recommend doing this earlier, but if you do it now, make sure not to cut through your straps!)


10. Pin the lining inside the outer fabric and topstitch along the top. You want to stitch over the straps, otherwise you’ll have a gap between your straps and your outer fabric.


Now pack your bags and head to the beach!


I love having everything I need all in one spot.


The one thing I can never have enough of is tote bags. Okay, and fabric…


You can find Huggies Natural Care® Wipes in stylish packaging in grocery stores and mass retailers nationwide.

Handmade Gifts for Boys: embroidered kid art tote bag [a tutorial]

As I said yesterday, my boys love to do art. Their drawings and creations are seriously beginning to take over our house. Because not only do my boys love their art, they also hate to part with it. My oldest tapes it all over our walls, and the refrigerator is completely covered. I find myself sneaking papers into the recycling when the kids are asleep [I’m not the only one who does this, right??]

I wanted to come up with a creative way to keep my boys’ art, so the stitcher in me had to do some embroidery!

DIY embroidered kid art tote bag tutorial


  • 1/4 – 1/2 yard of woven material [depending on how big you want your tote]
  • embroidery hoop
  • embroidery floss and needle
  • scissors
  • water soluble transfer marker
  • sewing machine/thread
  • your child’s drawing

 photo 63e4dd47-de96-40db-be1f-ddab2f6f8869_zps711dc0ca.jpg

1. Stretch your fabric in your embroidery hoop. You will want to choose a fabric that is lighter in color and you can see light through – you will need to see your child’s drawing through the fabric.

 photo 44a565e3-9bee-4f5f-8e9e-a2c5c52b71c2_zps36770d27.jpg2. Hold your child’s drawing up to the light so you can trace the picture onto the fabric with your water soluble marker. If it helps, pin the picture to the fabric.

 photo f82e36f5-62bf-4e60-953a-875a10706f95_zpsc341a5f9.jpg3. After you’ve traced the whole drawing, stitch over it using your embroidery floss.

**If you stop at this step, wouldn’t this make a fabulous present for grandparents?? Just secure the fabric behind the hoop with glue.**

4. Make your tote bag, using this simple tutorial. By making the bag before you continue, you can make sure your pocket is an appropriate size.

 photo DSC_0073_zpse3b2039d.jpg5. Cut your embroidered fabric into a square and cut another piece of the same fabric in the same size. [the size you cut it into is your choice and will depend on how big your tote bag is]

 photo DSC_0079_zps07e6ba5d.jpg6. Put the two squares right sides together and sew along three sides, leaving the top open. A serger is not necessary for this step and can be easily done with a sewing machine as well.

 photo DSC_0097_zps0fa75b4f.jpg7. Fold the pocket right sides out. Fold the top edge down 1/4in. and press carefully.

 photo DSC_0109_zps5078a635.jpg8. Straight stitch across the top folded edge. Then place the pocket onto the tote bag and pin in place. [the bag is shown here without the straps]
 photo DSC_0127_zpse3c887bf.jpg9. Straight stitch around the three sides of the pocket, being careful not to sew through the other side of the tote bag. Remember to backstitch at the beginning and end of your stitches!

 photo DSC_0142_zpsdad0301f.jpgNow throw some books or art supplies in there, and you’ve got yourself a personalized gift!

 photo DSC_0144_zps05c9ffaf.jpg

Head over to Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy to check out Stacey’s DIY Football Peg Dolls and to enter today’s giveaway!

Handmade Gifts for Boys continues tomorrow, so I’ll see you then!

 photo HandmadeGiftsbutton-1_zps797a83c5.jpg

Simple Tote Bag: a tutorial

One thing I feel like I can never have too many of is a simple tote bag. Use it for groceries, library trips, whatever. And the great thing about a tote bag is that it’s so super easy – and quick – to make your own! I’ve made a few of these over the last year, including as part of a Christmas gift.

simple tote tutorial


  • Sturdy fabric – outdoor decor or canvas work well [a less sturdy fabric will work fine, it will just make a bag that isn’t as structured and won’t hold as much weight]
  • Coordinating thread
  • Scissors or rotary cutting tool
  • Iron
  • Sewing machine/serger

DSCF72711. Cut one long rectangle of fabric for the body of the bag and fold in half. The size depends on how big you want your bag to be. When folded in half, this fabric measures 14in x 16in. If you don’t have fabric long enough, you could also use two fabric pieces instead of one long piece.


2. Cut four rectangles for the straps. I made mine 22in x 2.5in – you can make yours longer if you prefer a slightly longer strap.


3. Serge or zig-zag stitch along the two longer sides of the bag body. [if you used two different pieces of fabric instead of one long piece, make sure you also sew along the bottom edge]


4. Finish the top [open] edge of your bag to prevent fraying. You can serge along the edge, zig-zag stitch, or use pinking shears and cut along the top edge.


5. Pinch the bottom corners.


6. Sew across the pinched fabric and cut off the triangle of fabric you created. This will help give the tote a boxy bottom so that it can stand and have a little more structure.


7. Fold the top edge over twice and press. Pin to hold in place.


8. Sew a straight stitch along the top edge.


9. Put two pieces of the long strap fabric right sides together. Sew/serge along the two long sides.


10. Turn right side out. Fold both ends under and press the whole strap.


11.Straight stitch around the perimeter of the strap.


12. Pin the strap onto one side of the bag and sew on each end.


close up of how I sewed on the strap

The X in the center isn’t totally necessary, but I think it just adds some extra stability to the strap.


13. Repeat with the other strap, and you now have a tote bag to use for whatever your heart desires!