Friday, February 8, 2013

Make A Bag Chapter 10: Wrapped Tote

The Wrapped Tote is another popular structure in bags. By simply changing the shape of the side pieces to circles, tear-drops or triangles, this bag takes on the more familiar forms of duffels, clutch purses and handbags.

We start with the old volume-and-dimensions diagram

and draft our pattern - two side pieces and a big piece that wraps around their edges to become the front, base and back,

like so:

To assemble, the main piece is sewn to one side piece after the other.

We picked a bowtie theme for our Wrapped Tote, making the fastener and straps in that design. 

The tie was made in two halves 

that spanned the entire width of the bag opening.

The straps are closed-ended corded rouleau straps, tied to fabric anchors on either side of the bag,

like so:

The lining is an identical bag edge-stitched to the outer bag around their opening, enclosing the ties in the seam in the process.

The straps are tied on,

and the bow tied over the opening

to complete the bag.

It can be used either face out, even though the strap anchors are sewn only to the outer layer.

Here follows another variation of the Wrapped Tote - the messenger bag/satchel,

which is simply the Wrapped Tote with a flap. The pattern is exactly the same as the plain old Wrapped Tote, extended into a top+flap portion.

The fabric layout (the side pieces are overlapping the main grey piece only to squeeze everything into the camera frame): 

I added piping to the seams of this bag, just to make it a bit more interesting.

The lining is an identical bag-with-flap. When assembling the layers, however, we are not going to edgestitch them around their openings the way we did with the earlier Wrapped Tote. We are instead going to sew the layers with their RS together to create a real seam to enclose the piping all around the edge of the flap and then turn the whole bag RS out through a hole in the lining i.e. the  TWBRSOTAHITL method. The adjustable strap is open at one end and closed at the other 

and inserted into the side seams when the layers are sewn together. 

More detailed process-instructions for making a messenger bag can be found in this earlier post. I left almost the entire width of the front edge of the bag unsewn for turning out:

This opening will be edge-stitched closed when the bag has been turned RS out.

Here is the finished bag, either face out:

The piping adds a bit of color to the otherwise plain grey flap in the outer face

and provides structure to the fabric (i.e. acts like a natural frame because of its rigidity). There is no need to topstitch around the edge of the flap when there is piping present; you may choose to still do so if you like the look of the extra lines of stitching. 

Here are a few other bags I've made using the Wrapped Tote structure -

a diaper bag

Emily's duffle:

and pencil cases!


  1. Lots of nice bags can be made from this pattern! Love the bows in your bag!

  2. Belissimo trabalho. Obrigada por partilhar. Beijos

  3. OK, I am confused... or maybe not... The link is to a messenger bag that is a gusseted tote, not a wrapped tote, right?

    1. Anonymous: Yes, you are right. I did say that the link was to a messenger bag; I didn't say it was to a gusseted messenger bag.

    2. More info - didn't include earlier because brain dead - I didn't include instructions in this post to assemble a bag-with-a-flap (aka messenger bag) so linked to an earlier post that had instructions on assembling a bag-with-a-flap. Thought it would be helpful especially for how to sew both layers together at that junction where the flap joins the side panel. Messenger bags can be constructed as gusseted bags, wrapped bags and even blocked bags but they all have that fiddly corner where the flap joins the side panel.

  4. I am really enjoying your bag tutorials. Very informative and since I'm a visual person, your graphics make it so much easier for me. Thank you.


  5. Thank you for this tutorial series! I'm new to sewing and learning so much as I work my way through these bags.

  6. All these different bags are making me look at the ones when I'm out shopping differently. I want to make all these they are so cute! That duffel bag looks so complicated to me with all the different colored parts even on the sides. I've only ever really done darted bags before. I want to try a gusset one. I'm curious about the innards of non reversible bags. Will that be part of the series? For example how to do the inside pockets or dividers for messenger bags & purses. All my favorites I've bought don't have smooth reversible insides but instead lots of places to separate and store things.

  7. I wish I had a mom like you, unfortunately mine have no idea how to sew, and I’m learning on my own.. And for sure you are one of the best explain things ... many many thanks..

  8. Really this informative bag tutorials.Thank you.
    Knuckle Clutch

  9. I loved it! but I wonder how the pipe. I saw that you put a cord to sustain. May I suggest a tutorial? thank you! My name is Luciana.


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