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Materials:

  • Wool Blanket (I sourced this one in a charity shop)
  • Lace (8 ½” / 22cm)
  • Leather Straps (22” x 1 ½” / 56 cm x 4 cm) (I used an old leather skirt again sourced from a charity shop for this project)
  • Studs to add embellishment to the front of the bag. (Optional – can also be finished by sewing the straps in place.)

Note: Straps can also be made from the wool blanket.

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Tools:

  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Machine sewing thread (I generally use Gutterman threads)
  • Leather punch (Optional only needed if using the studs)
  • Rotary cutter (For cutting the recycled leather straps)
  • Cutting mat (For cutting the recycled leather straps)
  • Ruler
  • A standard machine needle size 14 & a leather machine needle

Making the Tote Bag:

  • Cut out 2 squares, 13” x 13” / 33 cm x 33 cm from the wool blanket. This bag was cut from the end of the blanket to include the decorative blanket-stitching as a feature for the top of the bag.
  • Note: if the blanket you have does not have the decorative stitching you can add it on yourself at this stage or you can just do a simple hem at the top of each side of the tote.
  • Cut out 1 x 8” x 8” / 20 cm x 20cm square, this will be used to make the front pocket for the tote bag. Again either cut a piece to include the decorative blanket-stitch or follow the note above.
  • Cut out 2 straps from the leather, using the rotary cutter and a ruler. This will give you a nice clean edge for the straps.

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  • Placing the lace just below the blanket-stitching on the pocket, (optional pin or sew in place) Machine-sew the lace onto the top of the pocket. Note: If using pins remove as you are sewing the lace in place.

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  • Pin the pocket onto the front side of the bag, I positioned it 3” / 8cm from the top of the bag and centered it along the width of the bag. Pin in place as shown in the image, leaving the pins far enough away from the edges of the pocket so as not to hit the pins with the machine needle.

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  • Machine-sew the pockets in place using a straight stitch with a size 14 needle. Remove pins and machine sew the 3 sides again this time using the zigzag setting on your machine. I chose a stitch that is quite close together and not too wide.

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  • Using the leather punch, pierce a hole in approximately ½” 1.5cm from the base of either end of one strap only.

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  • Place this strap onto the top of the front of the tote. Measure in 3” / 7.5 cm from the corners & down 2” / 5 cm from the top of the bag.

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  • Change the needle on your sewing machine to a leather-sewing needle and sew the strap in place. Along the base, sides and top of the strap starting below the blanket-stitching. This will create a rectangular box of stitching with the pierced hole in the middle.
  • Once you have this finished push the stud through the leather and the blanket. The weave of the blanket should be loose enough to push the stud through, if not cut a small hole in the blanket material. Place the back of the stud in place and firmly close shut.
  • Position the strap for the back of the bag, following the same instructions as above. This time sew an x shape across the small rectangle. This will give extra strength to the back strap. (See the image below)

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  • Finally facing the front and the back of the tote bag, right side to right side, pin along the 3 sides to be sewn together. Again pin as previously shown. Change the needle in the sewing machine back to the standard size 14 and machine sew the sides together. For added strength sew a second line along the edges next to the first line of sewing. Remove pins, trip away any excess material and turn the bag right side out.

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