The Scrapyard Tote – free sewing pattern
Sew a beautiful bag that’s just the right size to be a purse or handbag. This is a great project for using up scraps that you have left over from quilts or other bags, or you can use a charm pack (which is precut bundle of 40 5’’ squares).
To save time, I used 32 five inch squares from a charm pack. In the tutorial below, I’ll explain how to use charm squares or scraps from your fabric stash.
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Because of all the pieces in this bag – no two totes will ever be alike.
The finished bag is about 10 1/2’’ tall and 13’’ wide – not including the handles
I included a welt zipper pocket on the inside because that’s what I like, but you could do simple slip pockets instead or no pockets at all.
Some of you asked about a zipper at the top so I’m going to show you the right place to finish up using the zipper technique in my 1 Yard Magic Bags tutorial. You could also put a magnetic snap closure here if you like – the possibilities are endless.
So let’s get sewing!
To make the Scrapyard Tote, you will need:
32 squares of fabric 5’’ x 5’’ (mine were all different)
64 scrap fabric strips 1 1/2’’ x 5’’ AND 32 strips 2’’ x 5’’
1/2 yard of lining fabric
1/3 yard of handle fabric
two pieces of quilt batting approximately 15’’ x 15’’ (I used Hobbs 100% wool batting and I’ll explain why below)
1/4 yard fusible fleece interfacing for the handles
quilt basting spray (such as SpraynBond)
interfacing for the lining, if desired (I used Pellon SF101)
zippers and/or a magnetic snap closure, as desired
Cut fabric strips:
As I mentioned before, I used a charm pack, so I started by selecting 32 charm squares.
You could also cut 32 squares 5’’ x 5’’ from your scraps.
Sub-cut each square to get:
2 strips 1 1/2’’ x 5’’
1 strip 2’’ x 5’’
I stacked up piles of 4-5 squares at a time to make cutting go faster.
If you are working with smaller scraps than 5’’ x 5’’, you could just cut strips until you have 64 that are 1 1/2’’ x 5’’ and 32 that are 2’’ x 5’’.
Tip: Wait to cut your lining fabric until later because the size of your pieced bag exterior might vary a little bit.
Sew the Pieced Bag Exterior:
1. Sew all of the 2’’ x 5’’ strips to a 1 1/2’’ x 5’’ strip. I tried to be as random as possible and used a chain piecing technique to save time.
You will have 32 sewn pieces and 32 1 1/2’’ x 5’’ strips leftover.
Press the seams to one side.
2. Now sew one of the remaining 1 1/2’’ x 5’’ strips to each piece.
Once again, I tried to be random. Sometimes I sewed it to the wider strip on my sewn piece, sometimes to the narrower strip. Have fun with it!
After all the strips are sewn and you have 32 patchwork pieces, press the new seams to one side also.
3. To make one side of the bag, arrange 16 of the pieces in 4 columns of 4. Sew the columns.
trim the two outer columns so they are 4 1/2’’ wide
trim the two inner columns so they are 3 1/2’’ wide
5. Sew the four columns together. Repeat to make one more bag side.
6. Layer each bag side on top of a piece of 15’’ x 15’’ batting. Use quilt basting spray or safety pins to hold the layers together.
Note: It’s fine to use your favorite batting – whatever you have leftover from quiltmaking. I chose to use 100% wool batting because it has amazing loft and gives a beautiful soft look with quilting.
7. Quilt the layers together as desired. I quilted straight lines with a walking foot.
Tip: If you don’t want to quilt your bag sides, you could use fusible fleece instead of batting.
8. Trim the extra batting away around your quilted bag sides.
Measure the side pieces. They should measure 14 1/2’’ tall and 14 1/2’’ wide, but after all the piecing and quilting they might not be exactly that – so it’s good to measure now. (Mine were 14’’ x 14 1/4’’.)
Trim the bag pieces to make them the same size, if needed. Set them aside.
Make the lining:
1. From the bag lining fabric, cut 2 rectangles the same size as your quilted exterior pieces.
Optional: Apply fusible interfacing to the lining pieces, if desired.
2. Mark and cut 2’’ squares from the bottom corners of the bag exterior pieces and lining pieces, as seen above.
3. Now’s the time to add interior pockets if you want them.
I made one welt zipper pocket. Click here to see the technique in full.
I cut my pocket piece 16’’ tall and 12’’ wide and used a 9’’ zipper.
Assemble the Bag:
If you want to add a magnetic snap closure, now is the time to do it – install the pieces to the lining, centered and 2’’ below the top edge.
If you want a zipper at the top of the bag, finish your bag using my 1 Yard Magic Bags tutorial, and begin at the section called ‘Install the Zipper.’ Use a zipper that is at least 18’’ long.
1. Place the bag exterior pieces and lining pieces right sides out and pin the side and bottom edges together.
2. Stitch the side and bottom edges of both sets together with a 3/8’’ seam allowance. Leave a 6’’ opening in the bottom of the lining for turning the bag right side out later.
Press the seams open.
3. Sew each corner by flattening the side of the bag against the bottom. Stitch with a 3/8’’ seam allowance. Repeat for the 2 exterior corners and 2 lining corners.
4. With the bag exterior right side out and the lining inside out, place the lining over the exterior. The pieces should be right sides together.
Match the side seams and pin around the top edges.
5. Sew all the way around the top with a 3/8’’ seam allowance.
6. Turn the bag right side out through the opening in the lining.
Press the raw edges at the opening to the inside. Press around the top edge carefully.
7. Machine or hand stitch the opening in the lining closed.
8. Topstitch around the top edge of the bag 1/4’’ from the edge.
Make the Handles:
From your handle fabric, cut 4 strips 2 1/2’’ x 23’’.
From fusible fleece interfacing, cut 2 strips 2 1/2’’ x 23’’
Make the handles using my Japanese Style Fabric Bag Handles tutorial.
Pin the handles to the top of the bag, centered over the right and left patchwork seams, as seen above. Sew in place.
Your beautiful little bag is done!
I would love to see it – please post a picture on Instagram and tag me @sewcanshe so I can see it!
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I LOVE That tote & will be making one!! Thank you SO much for the wonderful tutorial!! 😀
I am new to your site – not sure how I missed it all these years but I am really enjoying reading back through it. Love your creativity and the amazing tutorials (like this one) which I have been pinning to use as I can. Last night I was thinking about all the charm squares I have and wanting a project to use some of them. This would be perfect. Thanks for writing this up!
This is another beautiful pattern from you! Looking forward to making this one!
Another beautiful pattern! Thank you!
Please could you give me the dimensions of the finished bag?