Tag Archives: tutorial

basic tote with a zip

Basic Tote – Adding a Zip

Following on from the basic tote pattern the other day, I’m going to show you how to line the bag and add a zip to the front pocket. Adding a contrast pocket could be a great way to use up precious scraps or more expensive fabrics.

To fit neatly, the zip should measure no more than 25cm. You can use continuous zipping like I did, or if you’re using a ready made zip you might need to trim some of the excess tape from the ends.bag with zip 1

  1. 1 pair of lining pieces  – use the main bag pattern piece and trim 2.5cm from the top edges
  2. 1 x back bag – I’ve added some iron on woven interfacing since its a light weight quilting cotton
  3. 1 x bag front – interfaced the same way
  4. 1 pair of straps
  5. 3cm x 27cm – used to cover zip inside pocket
  6. cut 2 squares to cover the ends of your zip 2.5cm x 2.5cm
  7. front pocket – with fusing as main bag pieces

Once you’ve got your pieces fused and ready we need to work with the zip. bind the ends of your zip so it is no more than 25cm in length. binding a zip end

Sew the zip to the pocket piece and use piece 5 as a facing to cover the zip tape.bag with zip 2

Mark where the zip needs to sit on the front bag piece and flip the pocket over. Line the zip up with the pins and sew the second side of the zip onto the main bag. bag with zip 3

Sew the back bag to the front. You need to get close to the zip ends, but don’t stitch over them.

Sew the lining and leave an opening in the bottom edge. Pin the straps at the notches (as per the basic tote pattern) and tack or stitch to the bag. Fit the bag inside the lining as shown. Match the side seams and sew the bag to the lining. bag with zip 4

Pull the bag through the opening in the lining and arrange the lining back inside the bag. Sew around the top – just on the lining edge – to form a hem. Sew the opening closed on the lining. bag with zip 5

And you’re done – how does it lookbasic tote with a zip collage?

Share a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #toteallypimpinproject and be sure to check out what Linden and Rachael have made too.

And remember to pin this into your business ideas folder.

image 8

Tote-ally Pimpin’ Project

Welcome to the Tote-ally Pimpin’ Project. It’s the first project I’m helping to host in the Facebook group The Sew Quilty Workshop, with the help of Linden (Vine Lines Quilting) and Rachael (Sew Today, Clean Tomorrow), and we’d love to have you there. Follow the link and request to join.

The bag we’re starting with is perfect for customization and would be great to make for a market stall or to sell online (YES you have my permission to use the pattern – go for it!)   The bag is a good size for a library bag, a lunch bag to take to work or as a gift bag instead of paper. First lets start with the basic tutorial.

Download the pattern here – it’s only 4 pages. The dimensions are written on the pieces if you’d rather draft it yourself.

Cutting instructions
1. Take notice of any pattern repeat on the fabric or any one way designs.
2. cut 1 pair main bag pieces 27cm x 34cm
3. cut 1 pocket piece 27cm x 16cm
4. cut 1 pair strap pieces 8cm x 50cm  OR
cut 2 x 50cm lengths of cotton webbing.

Fold and stitch a double 1cm hem on top edge of pocket piece.image one (image 1)
Position pocket on the main bag and stitch a row down the centre. (Image 2 and 3) image 2
With right sides together sew sides and bottom of main bag pieces together, catching the pocket on the three sides. image 3 (Image 4)
Neaten. (Image 5)
Fold the fabric strap pieces in half lengthways and finger press. Open and fold the two raw edges in to meet at the centre fold.image 4 (Image 6 and 7)
Fold in half lengthways again and sew down both edges.image 5 (Image 8, 9 and 10)
Locate the notches for the straps, and tack (either by machine or hand) to the top edge of the bag ON THE OUTSIDE. image 6(Image 11)
Fold a double 2cm hem on the top edge of the bag and stitch – catching the straps ends as you go. image 7 (Image 12)
Fold the straps out and pin.
Topstitch the top edge and catch the straps as you go. (Image 13)

And that’s it for the basic bag – now for the fun part – remodeling!

You could try quilting

or stitching























or even appliqued.

















Join Rachael, Linden and myself over in the Facebook group – The Sew Quilty Workshop – as we roll out our own versions of the bag and see what everyone else has been making. I’d love to see yours.

how to line a skirt

How to Line a Skirt

There are a few reasons why you might like to line a skirt – for modesty if the main fabric is a bit see through, to help the fabric sit smoothly and not cling to your legs when wearing stockings/leggings, or perhaps to make the skirt feel thicker if the main fabric is too light. The type of lining you choose needs to complement the main fabric so it doesn’t interfere with the main fabric and because you are going to be washing them together.
The most common fabric labelled as lining is thin, plain coloured and has a slippery/slinky feel. It can be made from polyester, acetate or silk and would be suitable for lining most garments. If you wanted a cotton lining – say for breath-ability – you could use cotton voile or any other light weight plain weave cotton.
The two simplest ways to line a skirt is to either sew the lining with the main fabric as one, or to sew the lining separately and joined only at the waist. Here I’m going to show you how to use a separate lining attached at the waist and around the zip.
Firstly cut your skirt pieces from the main fabric. For the lining you’ll use the same pattern piece but shorten the length by 2.5cm.
Sew the main fabric side seams, centre back and zip as normal.
Sew the lining side seams and centre back the same way.
Press all seams flat – do not press the opening for the zip on the lining.

Arrange the main skirt (right side out) with the lining inside (inside out) matching up the zip and zip opening in the lining.
Pin the lining to the zip tape on both sides.


Sew the fabrics together as close to the zip as you can get. You may need to use your zip foot/half foot to get close enough on the flap side.


Leave some room for the fabric to move around the end of the zip. Having the lining caught too close might cause your zip to become distorted.

Another option is to hand sew the lining around the zip. A slip stitch with matching thread will work best here.
Press the lining away from the zip teeth.
Hem the lining and the main skirt using the same hem allowance – remember you’ve already trimmed the lining so it will sit 2.5cm shorter than the main skirt.
Attach the waistband with the main skirt and lining as one.
And you’re done. A lined skirt does feel luxurious and is well worth the effort.
The skirt pattern used is the women’s A-line skirt available at Very Debra on Etsy.

This article first appeared in One Thimble Issue 4 .


steps to perfect piping

5 Steps to Perfect Piping

Have you tried pipping an edge of your garment? Say a neckline or the hem of a short sleeve? Apart from looking super special it’s a great way to help ease in a gaping neckline or adding an extra pop of colour.

Step 1

I like to use knitting yarn inside my piping for clothing as it’s soft enough to sew over and is a lot cheaper than cord. Alternatively, cotton cord is sold by the meter and comes in a variety of thicknesses.  It’s what I prefer for soft furnishings.

Firstly we need to cut the strips. For clothing, piping should be cut on the bias because it will give us the stretch we need if we want to ease in an edge (on a neckline for example.) Soft furnishings and accessories piping can be cut on the straight grain and will use less fabric.

Cut bias strips 4cm wide and join if necessary.

Step 2

  1. Fold the bias strip over the end of your yarn and position under the half foot of your sewing machine
  2. begin sewing and use the yarn “bump” as a guide for the foot to run along
  3. sew all the way to the end
  4. trim so the seam allowance on the piping is between 6mm and 1cm (this is especially important when using darker piping in a pale coloured item as you won’t want the seam allowance to show through.)

piping collage 1

Step 3

Next we sew the piping onto our project.

  1. position the piping along the required edge leaving a tail hanging off the end. Sew on top of the first row of stitching
  2. with your lining facing the right side of your work, and the piped fabric on top, sew just to the left of your previous row (as indicated by the yellow line in the photo)
  3. and if all goes well you’ll have something like this.

piping collage 2Step 4

Now what if you have to insert a zip? You can make your piping sit back away from the edge which will give you space to add a zip.

  1. instead of leaving a tail hanging off the back, fold the piping at an angle
  2. sew on the lining or facing as instructed above
  3. see how the piping is now set neatly back from the edge
  4. leaving you seam allowance to insert a zip.

piping collage 3

Step 5

Or what about joining your piping when it meets?

  1. when you begin sewing, fold the piping at an angle
  2. then when you come around to where it meets, turn the piping at a slighter angle and run it off the edge. This is where you’ll be glad you used yarn instead of cording as you’ll be able to sew over the top with no problems.

piping collage 4


I’ll be doing a second post soon about further methods for joining the ends, how to sew a zip along a piped edge (like you would in a cushion cover) and how to sew piping on curves and corners.

In the meantime, practice and let me know how you go. I’d love to see your work on Instagram too so use the hash tag #stitchingrules.