I made this tote bag during my Australia Day public holiday. I really loved the fabric but it's bright and offbeat enough that I'd be shy to wear any clothes made out of it. So I made a bag
I made up the pattern. I just wanted something with pleats and big enough to hold A4-size notebooks for uni without being too big.
This one shows the shape best (I swear the top isn't crooked; I think the velco is stuck together unevenly):
The inside's just lined with the same white fabric as on the strap. There's one large-ish pocket inside, and it closes with velcro because I was too lazy to put in a zip
I'm going to make an effort to use it as much as possible during the single semester I've got left of uni, heh!
...And now the tutorial
Pleated Tote Tute (aka a lesson in fudging it)
The measurements I'm giving in this tute are for a bag that holds A4 papers. My seam allowances of about 1.5cm are included. You can change this stuff as you see fit
I should point out that I totally just fudged this the first time I made it and am not an expert at all. But onward!
FIRST, THE OUTSIDE
1. Cut your fabric.
a. You need two rectangles 34cm wide by 9cm high (these are yoke of the bag) and two rectangles 50cm wide by 35cm high (these are the side panels).
b. Take the two larger rectangles. You need to cut a curve into each of the bottom corners. To make these symmetrical, fold each rectangle in half sideways, and then lay them exactly on top of each other. Make sure that the edges are all on the same side! Use something round to trace a nice rounded corner (I used a roll of masking tape):
If the fabric isn't too thick, you can cut through all four layers of fabric at the same time, careful not to let them shift. Otherwise, cut one layer at a time and then trace around the curve for each subsequent later. Minor differences can be hidden in the seam, however
You end up with:
2. Make your pleats.
Take one large rectangle (side panel) and one small one (yoke). You need to reduce the 50cm width of the side panel to the 34cm width of the yoke.
a. Find the centre of each rectangle by folding it in half. Mark where the fold is (in pen on the wrong side of the fabric, or with a pin) for each of them, and then lay them back down the right way up like this, lining up the centre for each of them (if you're doing this on a surface where it's possible, eg. on the carpet or a padded ironing board, stick a pin the exact centre of each to hold them in place; you could also tape them down):
b. I did my pleats by eye, because I'm too impatient to measure things. First I lined up the outer edge of the side panel with the outer edge of the yoke like so:
and then I just folded two pleats in so that it would lie flat. They won't need to be very deep pleats; if you put in four per panel like me, they'll end up being about 2cm (ie. using 4cm of fabric each). Pin them down where they look good to you. Make sure that they are straight; that is, that the top edge of the fabric is parallel with itself in all the folds. It will look something like this:
Repeat this for the other half, making it as symmetrical as you can (if you're more meticulous than I am, you might like to measure the first set of pleats so you can match the distances exactly). Note that the pleats all face in towards the centre (they are a mirror image). You will have this:
c. Repeat this process so far for the other two rectangles.
d. Hold up the two pleated side panels back-to-back, and check whether your pleats match up from the top. They don't need to be perfectly aligned since you won't see them right next to each other like this again, but it's nice to have them fairly similar. If you measured them like I didn't, you shouldn't have any problems. Otherwise, un-pin and re-pin as necessary.
e. Now, sew right around the top of one side panel, as close as reasonable to the edge, over the pleats, to secure them in place. If you're not using a machine (poor you!), tacking is all right at this point. (It's probably even possible to not sew and just keep it pinned for this step, but that is only for people who like to live dangerously.)
f. Do the same for the other side panel.
You'll have this:
3. Attach the yokes
a. Get rid of one of the side panels for the time being. Pick up one yoke and put it face down on top of the pleated side panel you kept. Since the top of the panel is now curved, you need to align it with the centre (that is, the lowest part of the curve) like this. Make sure it goes straight across, rather than diagonally, by measuring the distance from the top corners of the side panel to the top of the yoke. Once everything is straight, pin it like that.
Now sew it! Turn it over to do this (ie. the pleated side is visible) so that you can see what's happening, or risk a lot of unpicking.
b. Do the same for the other side panel and yoke. You will have two of these:
As you can see, the yoke might not line up perfectly with the edges of the side panel. Don't stress out too much about this.
4. Finish the outside
N.B. If you want to put in a zipper for closing the bag, the whole process of putting the pieces together is different. Look at lee's zip top tote tute for that. However, if you're putting in some other kind of clasp (or no clasp) read on.
a. You've now got the two sides of the bag finished, and the rest of the outside is simple; you just sew them together like the side panels of any tote bag. That is, line the two panels up with the good faces of the fabric together, pin them, and then sew all the way around (except for the top, obviously):
Turn it the right side out, and tadaa! That's the outside of your pleated tote. Making the lining will be less convoluted.
...Continued on page 2 of this thread! I had to split it over two posts, because clearly I'm verbose