What you’ll need:
1 metre of cotton, linen or cordorouy fabric.
1 metre of fusible fleece
1/2 metre of cotton fabric for the lining
1: Begin by cutting the fabric as follows:
Outer Bag Band & Lining Band: 35cm x 10cm: you will need 4 pieces this size.
Outer Bag Main Body: 45cm x 35cm: you will need 2 pieces this size.
Straps : 12cm x 65cm: you will need 2 pieces this size.
Lining Main Body: Cut a trapezium shape: 35cm (along the top edge), 45cm (along the bottom edge) and 33cm (each side); you will need 2 pieces this size.
35cm x 10cm: you will need 2 pieces this size.
45cm x 35cm: you will need 2 pieces this size.
5cm x 65cm: you will need 2 pieces this size.
2 – Fuse the fleece & make the straps
Fuse the fleece pieces according to the manufacturers instructions onto the wrong sides of the four outer bag pieces (2 x outer bag body & 2 x outer bag band).
Then take one of the strap pieces (cut from outer fabric) and press in along the long edge 1cm on both sides towards the wrong side of the fabric. Then fold the entire length in half lengthwise. Fuse the 5cm x 65cm fleece piece inside of this folded piece tucked under the folds. Repeat with the other strap piece.
Take each strap piece and stitch along both long sides 1/2cm from edge on one side and 1/2cm from the fold on the other. Then topstitch 1/4cm from the edge along both long sides; you should have four rows of stitching. Repeat this process for the second strap.
3 – Mark and sew the pleats
Using chalk or a fabric pen, start with one of the outer bag pieces (with the fusible fleece already attached), mark the centre of the top, then measure and mark 5cm out from the centre on both sides. Then mark 12cm out from the centre on both sides. Using each mark as a guide, fold the fabric in towards the centre by 2.5cm making your first pleat. Continue this process creating 4 pleats (2 on each side of the centre). Pin and baste in place, by sewing 1/2cm from the edge as shown in the image below. Repeat with the other outer body piece.
5 – Sew band pieces to the bag and lining pieces
Take the main body of the bag from above and one of the outer band pieces. With right sides facing, sew them together with a 1cm seam allowance.
Once sewn, turn right side down and press the seam towards the band piece. Then flip it over so the right side is facing up and top stitch 1/2cm from the seam along the band piece. Then stitch again 1/4cm from the seam. Repeat with the second outer bag and band pieces.
Then sew the lining pieces to the remaining band pieces with a 1cm seam allowance. Press the seam towards the darker fabric. There is no need to topstitch the lining.
6 – Sew outer bag pieces and lining pieces together.
Right sides facing, sew around the three sides of the outer bag leaving the top open; use a 1cm seam allowance. Repeat this with the 2 lining pieces, leaving a 10cm opening along the centre of the bottom for turning the bag right sides out during a later step.
7 – Make boxed corners on the outer bag and the lining
With the outer bag inside out, take one of the corners and pull either side of the bag away from itself to work the 2 seams together and form a triangle, pin in place. Then mark the fabric 5cm from the point of the triangle (as per the image below).
Sew along this line, making sure that the seams are aligned and then cut off the excess triangular piece of fabric. Repeat this with the other corner and then both of the corners on the lining of the bag. Turn the outer bag right side out, but keep the lining wrong side out.
8 – Attach the straps to the bag
Take one of the straps made in step 2 and pin the raw edge 7cm from one side of the top of the bag. Then making sure the strap isn’t twisted, pin the opposite end of the strap 7cm from the other side of the bag. As per the below picture. Repeat for the second strap on the opposite side of the outer bag.
Use a zigzag stitch to sew both straps in place on both sides.
9 – Sew the outer bag and lining together
Place the outer bag (still right side out), inside the lining (which is still wrong side out). Ensure the straps are downwards and tucked in. Sew together the raw edges around the whole of the top of the bag with a 1cm seam allowance.
10 – Turn the bag right side out and top stitch to finish
Pull the bag right side out, through the gap in the bottom of the lining. Push the corners out and then top stitch along the opening in the lining. Push the lining into the bag and iron the seam at the top of the opening. Topstitch 1/2cm from the edge all around the top of the bag and then again 1/4cm from the edge.
Enjoy your beautiful pleated tote!