“Unlimited Possibilities Tote Bag”

26 10 2015

IMG_20151019_222229_379-1My sister commissioned me to make a tote bag as a gift for her friend/mentor/Tres Dias leader. Have you heard of Tres Dias or Emmaus Walk? It’s a three day Christian retreat sponsored several times a year. In November, my sister will be one of the presenters; I believe her topic is “the church.” She’ll explain to the retreat attendees how the church helped her spiritual growth as a child and teen and how the church supported her with prayer and encouragement during a very hard time in her life.

IMG_20151019_214252_500Knowing that her friend collects sheep, Liz asked me to make a wall quilt with sheep and include the Bible verse Isaiah 40:11. Since all the sheep quilt patterns I have are more for a nursery than for a kitchen or family room, I suggested a tote bag gift. For the next step, procuring fabric, I turned to equilter.com and typed “sheep” in the search box. Liz deliberated over several choices and settled on the Makower print pictured. I recommended using the sheep print as the lining of the tote bag and selecting a black print for the outside of the bag. I wrote the Bible verse on a large label turned pocket. (Labels by Studio 8 for Quilting Treasures.)


You can find a link to printer-friendly instructions for the “Unlimited Possibilities Tote Bag” on the Patterns page of this blog. I made a few modifications described below. Since I wanted the tote bag to be stiff yet a little fluffy, I experimented with layering the outside of the bag with batting and heavy fusible interfacing. From the picture below, can you see that the batting is between the black print and the interfacing? I machine quilted these 3 layers together, interfacing on the bottom.


After trimming the quilt sandwich to 16” x 33,” as per the instructions, I sewed the shell of the bag together. To make a boxy bottom, I used my 2 ½” square ruler to mark the seam line. I squished the side (fold) of the bag to match the bottom seam of the bag and placed the diagonal line of the ruler on the seam. I marked the bag 2 ½” down from the corner on both sides using the corners of the square ruler as a measurement.


I drew a line to connect the marks and sewed on the line. To reinforce, I sewed another seam ¼” closer to the corner of the bag. Then I trimmed off the excess seam allowance with pinking shears.


I repeated this procedure with the bag’s lining, but I did not trim off the excess seam allowance since the lining is not as bulky as the outside of the bag.

IMG_20151023_125800_027With the leftover fabric I made coasters for other members of the retreat leadership team. I cut the sheep fabric and batting 4 1/2″ square, and I cut the black prints for the backs of the coasters 6 1/2″ square. After pressing 1/4″ to the wrong side all around the black prints, I placed a square of batting and a sheep print square in the center of the wrong side of each black print square. I folded the pressed black print up and over to the top of the sheep print, encasing the batting, and top-stitched with black thread. Black ribbon holds two coasters together nicely.

I can’t wait to hear my sister’s friend’s reaction to her “sheep-ish” gift.




4 responses

26 10 2015
Mary Ed Williams

Very cute!!

26 10 2015

Love the sheep !!

28 10 2015

Love the cute tote bag and that this is going to a Tres Dias cause! I went through in Georgia 20 years ago!

8 11 2015
Bibby Moore

You have inspired me. I am making 12 of these for friends. Joanns had Christmas and thanksgiving fabric 50% off so I bought 1/2 yard of all those I really liked. I decided to use the nylon band for handles and it was the most expensive part…$1.99/yard for 1.5 yards each bag. I will look at the Scrap Exchange for a less expensive alternative. I will send you a picture when they are finished.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: