Monday, February 4, 2013

Make A Bag Chapter 8: Darted Tote

With the 2-D flat totes behind us, we venture now into 3-D bag territory!

This is the volume/capacity of all our 3-D totes:

This is the first variation of the Darted Tote - the boxed tote,

which translates to its pattern as shown:
In the above diagram, the portions of the pattern that correspond to the parts of the finished bag can be seen: the dotted sides and the striped base. And like the flat tote, this pattern can be made in two pieces or one folded piece. The blacked-out sections are darts that, when sewn closed, introduce depth to the bag. 

Here is the pattern laid out on fabric:

The straps are made and attached to the bag first.

Then the bag is folded along its midline (red arrow), with its RS together, and the side seams sewn up (black arrows). Note that the actual width of the bag is shown by the yellow arrow. The yellow dashed lines are the actual edges of the bag, while the seams will eventually lie along the midline of the side panels.

This is another view, with the base being prepared for the dart and the seam forming the midline of the side panel.

This is the dart being formed - a 3" line (red line) sewn across the entire width of the side panel to provide the depth of the bag. The excess fabric is cut off to reduce bulk.

If this were an unlined bag, we would leave that little corner intact, to avoid having any exposed unfinished edges:

Repeat the corner-making and corner-snipping thing at the other seam to finish the outer bag.
Now make a second identical bag (sans straps) for the lining. Then sew the lining and the outer bag together at their opening, using the same method as with the Lined Flat Tote,

the only difference being that the straps are now sandwiched between the two layers at that top seam. 

This is the finished bag - outer face out

and lining face out.

This is a truly reversible bag because the straps, inserted into the top seam, are shared equally by both faces of the bag.

This next bag variation of the darted tote has rounded corners and angled darts.

It's made with two flat pieces of fabric but with darts angled diagonally from rounded corners. 

Our interpretation has an integrated handled that is bound with bias-cut fabric.

Here is the pattern laid out on the fabric. There is no seam allowance around the edges that will be bound. Also notice the correct shape of the darts - they are biconcave in order to produce the rounded surface on the RS of the bag.

Unlike the boxed tote variation, the darts in this bag are sewn before the side seams.

After the two halves of the outer bag are sewn together, the lining is made the same way and inserted into the outer bag.

The two layers are basted together around the mouth of the bag and the handle holes, and bias-cut fabric is bound over the exposed SA.

The neatest way to bind a closed loop is to join the ends (red arrow) of the bias strip before attaching it to the loop, not overlap the ends while you sew.

This is the bag, lining face out. Here you can see my shoddy workmanship in the awful stitching around the bias binding. Shudder. So ashamed. Please hand-stitch yours, okay? Don't be like me.

More examples of the darted tote: 


a squat coin purse;

a cinch sack;

unlined hem-faced mini totes;

satchel-style pouches;

and some regular shoulder totes.


  1. I haven't had a chance to get into this series yet, but I am so excited. Thank you so much for doing this. I'm really in awe.

  2. I'm loving this series. Bags have long been a great love of mine - your tutorials are so clear and your examples are fabulous - wonky bias sewing and all :) Thank you!

  3. Awesome bags! I never thought to do darts on rounded corners!

  4. These tutorials are AWESOME and inspiring, thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. I love making bags, I use many of the same techniques, although I think I will make a rounded dart lunch bag out of some neopreen!

  6. Your blog is so great and inspiring, thank you so much!! And your tutorials are great. I have just finished a kids chef's hat following your tutorial (years ago), thank you so much. It was easy sewing with your pictures and explanations. The hat will be used in our great german carnival in Cologne, where even the two-year-olds think they need "professional" dressing up... ;-) and my son needed a chef's hat for being the barbecue-master-chef :-). Thus I was thrilled when I found your tutorial. You see, after these years it still makes us sew-addicts happy!
    Love from Germany, Pats

  7. I have been a silent follower of all the beautiful things you make and the awesome indepth tutorials. Thank you so much for this tutorial, i finally learned how to make this bag, i have had the hardest time understanding how to do this and you made it look so easy. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with people like me.

  8. Binding those closed loopbags is quite tricky! I have been making each of the bags but have had to make my pieces several inches bigger because I struggle with get my completed bags on my machine when the openings aren't very large. Tomorrow I will attempt Wednesday's tutorial. I can't wait! Thanks for all your work!

  9. Very, very useful information. Thank you so much for the rounded corners tote!

  10. Thanks a lot for sharing all these tips.


  11. It is so wonderful to have all of this information together in one place and put into terms that are easy to understand. Thank you for your hard work!


  13. These are so well made, and the directions are really clear! Thank you for sharing this


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