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'Colour Me' - Basic Tote Bag - Tutorial

So it's the summer holidays and given the 'changeability' of the British weather, we've had plenty of opportunities to try out some different crafts and activities here at P&PD HQ.

Not long ago, we took delivery of the fabulously fun 'Colour Me' range from Michael Miller designed by Hayley Crouse, if you haven't already seen our previous post on this, then check it out here.

One rainy day last week, I decided it was time to test out this fabric with my children and one of their friends. So I cut out a half a metre of each design and set them to work colouring.....


We already had some fabric colouring pens to use, but if you don't then these are readily available on-line.

The children range in age from 3yrs to 9yrs, boys and girls (but a 12yr old has also since requested some of the fabric!), so I think the designs are pretty versatile.


They took it very seriously and were really excited by the prospect of having a major input on the final design of their bag!

Having promised 4 new tote bags by the next day, that evening I set to work!

The bag pattern is incredibly simple and would be an ideal project for anyone new to sewing. The bag can be embellished with trimmings, fabric floral brooches, buttons etc. to turn it into a unique and wonderful creation of your own.

A few points before I get started with the tutorial:

1 -Apologies for the lack of pictures at some steps and the mixture of fabric designs that feature. I was rushing through 4 bags and wasn't 100% focused on the images that might later be required - sorry!

2 - This pattern works for any fabric that doesn't have a specific direction. If you are using a design which needs the fabric to face a particular direction for the bag, see the bottom of this tutorial for a couple of tweaks to the pattern*

3 - We wanted to get started on the colouring straight away, but you could definitely make the bag first and then give to someone to colour in and personalise. You might just want to tell them to put a piece of cardboard or something similar, inside the bag when colouring, to avoid any of the colours bleeding through to the other side of the bag.

What you'll need:

1/2 metre of fabric - we used the Colour Me and the Elephant Tumble by Wyndham Fabrics. Matching cotton. Rotary cutter and mat or Scissors. Pins. Iron and ironing board.

Step 1 - Cutting the fabric

You will need to cut the following pieces:

2 x pieces - 3inch (7cm) x 22inch (56cm) - for the handles

1 piece - 14inch (36cm) x 36inch (90cm) for the body of the bag.

Step 2 - Making the handles

Take one of the handle pieces and with the wrong side facing up, press each length of the fabric in 1/4inch (just over 0.5cm) along both sides. Then fold the entire length of the piece in half to create the handle.

Stitch along both sides of the handle 1/8inch (0.3cm) from edge on one side and the same from the fold on the other side.

Repeat this entire process for the second handle.

Colour Me_Tote_Tutorial_1 (1)

Step 3 - Attach handles and hem top edges

Place the main piece of fabric - pattern side up and one of the shorter sides at the top, ready to work on.

Next you need to pin the handles to the shorter ends of the bag (which will later become the two top sides of the bag).

Take one of the handles and pin one end of it 3inches (17.5cm) from the side of the fabric - with raw edges together. Then ensuring the handle isn't twisted, pin the other end of the handle 3inches (17.5cm) from the other side of the fabric - again with raw edges together.

Now turn the piece of fabric around so that you can attach the 2nd handle to the opposite end of the fabric. Repeat the above step, being sure to check that your handle isn't twisted.

Using a zig zag stitch, sew along the top edge of the bag, attaching the handle in the process and also creating a neat hem.


Repeat this step for the other side of the bag, attaching the 2nd handle in the process.

Next, turn the fabric over so that the wrong side is facing upwards.

Now fold over the top edges of the bag by 1 1/2 inches (approx. 4cm) at both ends and press. Pin the handles in place, making sure they are perpendicular to the horizontal sides.


Sew this fold down with a 1/4 inch (0.5cm) seam allowance from the top edge and then with a second seam 1/4 inch (0.5cm) from the bottom zig zag stitch.

Repeat for both ends of the bag.

Colour Me_Tote_Tutorial_2 (1)

Step 4 - Sew together the bag

Fold the body of the bag in half, so that the right sides of the fabric are facing each other and the handles are now together at the top of the bag. Pin the sides of bags together, ensuring that the top edges of the bag meet perfectly.

Sew together the 2 sides of the bag using a 1/2 inch (1cm) seam allowance.


Snip off the bottom corners.

Zig zag stitch both raw edges along the sides of the bag, to give neatly finished hems which won't fray.


Turn the bag right side out and push the corners out and press.'s complete!

Here are the children the day after, on an outing to the cinema - feeling very proud with their new personalised bags!

Colour_Me_Tote_Bag_Tutorial_Girls_Shopping Colour_Me_Tote_Bag_Tutorial_Finished_Product

*If you are using a fabric which is directional (like the Colour Me - A Royal Life Panel - as seen in some of the pictures above), you will need to cut the main body of the bag in two different panels. In which case, simply cut the two handle pieces as per above, plus 2 x 13.5inch (35cm) x 18.5inch (47cm) for the back and front of the bag - be sure to check which way your pattern needs to face for the bag before cutting. Then follow the steps as above, but instead of one panel which you attach handles to both ends, you have two pieces, which need to have handles attached to the top edge of the fabric. When you get to step 4 - simply pin all three sides of the bag and sew around each edge as per above.

Any questions, please don't hesitate to email us at




Nature Trail Tote - by Katy Cameron - The Littlest Thistle

Nature-trail-toteAbout Me For SidebarDesigned and made by Katy Cameron


Finished size: 11.5inch x 13.5inch

Seam allowance, unless otherwise stated: 1/2inch



Dashwood - Double Border Nature TrailMaterials:

1/2 m Double Border print from Nature Trail by Dashwood Studios

1/2 m Bunnies print from Nature Trail by Dashwood Studios

1/2 m Fusible Woven Interfacing

1 m Cream Mini Pompom Braid 

1 m Orange Ricrac 

Basic sewing supplies

Cutting Instructions:

Cut the following pieces from the outer fabric:

2 front/back pieces, 12.5in x 14.5in (if using the double border print, fussy cut the borders between the duck and the hedgehog, and do not cut the selvage off)

Cut the following pieces from the lining fabric:

2 front and back pieces, 12.5in x 14.5in

2 handles 4in x 21in

Cut the following from the fusible woven interfacing:

2 front and back pieces, 12.5in x 14.5in

Cut the following pieces from each of the trims:

2 pieces 12.5in long

Preparing the pieces:

Step 2-3 1. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the woven interfacing to the back of the outer fabric pieces.

2. Sew the mini pompom trim to the outer bag pieces, 4in from the top of the 12.5in edge, parallel to the edge.

3. Sew the ricrac to the outer bag pieces, 1.5in from the bottom of the 12.5in edge, parallel to the edge.

 How To Make The Tote:

4. Take one front and one lining pieces and place right sides together, matching top edge. Stitch together along the top edge, then open out and press seams open. Repeat with the remaining outer and lining piece.

Step 5 5. Place the 2 pieces from step 4 right sides together, matching all edges and seams. Stitch all the way around, leaving a 4in turning gap in the bottom of the lining, then press the seam allowances open (you can do this by pressing one side at a time towards the body of the tote)

Step 6

6. Clip the corners of the outer and lining as per the photo and turn through the turning gap using a small pointed object, such as a chopstick, to push the corners square, and tucking the seam allowance from the turning gap inside.

7. Sew the turning gap closed, then tuck the lining inside the bag and press. Topstitch 1/8in from the top edge all the way around.

Step 88. Take one of the handles and fold in half, matching long edges, and press. Open out and fold the long edges in to the centre fold and press again. Fold along original fold line and press again.

Step 9a9. Open out along the original fold line so that the short ends are right sides together, as per the photo.

Step 9bUsing a 1/4in seam allowance, sew the short ends only, then clip the corners as you did in step 6. Turn the handle right sides out, so that the short seams are now on the inside, folding it along the original fold line.

10. Top stitch all the way round the handle 1/8in from edge.

11. Repeat steps 8 -10 with the other handle.



Step 1212. At each end of the 2 handles mark a box using a removable pen as per the photo, 1in up from the end.

13. Step 13Pin the handle ends to the bag so that the end of the handle is 2.5inch in from the side and 1.5inch down from the top, catching both the front and back of the bag with the pin. Stitch in place by sewing around the box twice, including the diagonals.




14. Step back and admire your new tote bag

About the pattern:

When I first saw this print I knew it would be perfect for a little girl who would be needing a present soon. The Nature Trail prints are so cute, and the wee trims just added a little extra something to the tote.



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