A tiny tote for a tot

This is a fun little boxy tote that a small child can haul his or her delights around in. It’s fully lined and utilizes a purse zipper. Switch up the fabric to make it feminine for a little girl — or even for a woman to use for cosmetics and the like.
My son likes to take his cars around everywhere he goes, but he’s still just a little guy and can’t carry anything too big. He also doesn’t quite get the idea of a shoulder strap or backpack, so these little straps work well for him. And, yes, his hair is out of control. And, no, he wouldn’t let me comb it.


(Click fabrics for direct links for purchase at Warehouse Fabrics Inc.)

Sports American Blue/White




Purse zipper - 12"
I had 1/4 yard of fabric and it was enough even with fussy cutting the pattern for the best effect. You’ll use two 21″ pieces of webbing, so you’ll need 1.25 yards. One 12″ purse zipper (or any zipper, but I prefer these for smaller hands. They are easier to grab). And also some heavy interfacing. I used Peltex. Peltex is definitely harder to sew with, but it’s very stiff. If you don’t want to bother with that, you could use Craft Fuse and/or batting. I also used some pre-made piping (one package is more than enough), but that is optional.

The pattern

Front pattern piece
Print out the pattern piece without scaling. You need it at 100%. Also make a pattern piece that measures 12-1/4″x5″ (called “bottom”) and one measuring 13.5″x5.75″ (called “top”).
Out of these pieces, cut:

Main fabric:
2 front pieces
2 top pieces
1 bottom piece

Lining fabric (I used the same fabric for the outside and inside):
2 front pieces
2 top pieces
1 bottom piece

2 front pieces
2 top pieces
1 bottom piece
But trim 1/4″ around each one.

NOTE: The little marks on the side of the “front” pattern are to be marked on your fabric with a fabric marker or a small snip in the seam allowance. This marks where your seam will line up later. Also, fold your front pieces in half and mark the center point on the top and bottom for later use.1/2″ seam allowances.

The process

Gather your outer bag pieces. At top are the “front” pieces, below that is the “bottom” piece and at the bottom are the two “top” pieces that go on either side of the zipper. Notice I “fussy cut” the pieces so that I could get good images on them.
Lay your zipper face-down on one of your “top” pieces and sew using your zipper foot. Sew the other side of your zipper tape to the other “top” piece.
Press open and top stitch next to the zipper.
Now add your interfacing. I used the heavy Peltex so I trimmed it a bit so it wouldn’t mess with the seam allowances so much. Fuse it to your “front” pieces, “”bottom” piece and next to the zipper on your “top” piece. Then sew your “top” and “bottom” together to form a band (right). They are different lengths, so they won’t match up perfectly.At this point, mark the center points of both the top and bottom pieces to help you line things up later.
Add your straps. Cut two 21″ pieces of webbing and lay them as shown in the picture at left. I measured in 1-3/4″ from either edge for strap placement. Also measure 2″ from the top and make a mark. You will sew each side of the strap from the bottom up the edge to the mark, across, and back down to the bottom. So the strap is not sewn all the way to the top of the bag, but stops about 2″ from the top (right picture).
Now you’ll add piping to your “front” bag pieces. Lay it at the bottom edge, and make sure it’s away from the edge of the bag enough that you’ll be able to have a 1/2″ seam allowance without sewing over the piping. Leave the first few inches of piping free and then start sewing around. Go slow around the corners. I don’t pin it, I just adjust it as I go. When  you get back around to the end, leave a few inches free and remove from your sewing machine.In the right photo, you’ll see that I unstitched the piping a bit to expose the piping inside. You’re going to snip some of that off in a minute — just the white piping, not the black fabric.
Line up the end of the piping inside the beginning and snip off that exposed white piping where the two meet, so they join and there is no bulk (left). Fold under the edge of the beginning of the piping to have a clean, finished edge (center). Insert the end of the piping into the beginning and fold it closed (right). Finish sewing this portion of piping to the bag.
Attach your “front” pieces to the “top/bottom” band. Start with one side. If your fabric is directional, make sure the top of your “front” piece matches up with the zipper part of your “top/bottom” band. Line up the marks on your “front” piece (from the pattern) with the seams on your “top/bottom” band. Also line up the center points of the “top” with the center point of the “front,” and do the same with the bottoms. Pin all the way around with lots of pins and then sew. I ain’t gonna lie: If you’re using Peltex, this is rather rough sewing. Careful around the corners to be sure the piping doesn’t get screwy.When you do the second side, make sure the zipper is open first!

Watch your fingers, too. You have lots of pins and you’ll be battling a little as you sew — lots of chances to stab yourself.

You’ll more or less repeat all of this with your lining pieces, except this part is so much easier because there’s no Peltex and no zipper. Take your “top” pieces and turn under about 1/2″ on one long side (center) and then sew to the bottom band (right). So there is a slit where the zipper would be.
Sew the “top/bottom” band to the “front” pieces as you did with the outer bag. Then insert into the main bag and pin the turned under edge along the zipper. Hand stitch in place. You know I love to finish everything by machine, but I’ve yet to find a viable way to do a bag shaped like this entirely by machine, so I hope you don’t mind grabbing a needle, thread and thimble!

Other views

(Click for bigger views)