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Topic: question: strong tote.  (Read 2019 times)
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« on: August 09, 2007 12:46:40 AM »

i really want to make a bag for school. but im afraid it will rip right when i pick it up from the weight from all my junk. is there any way i could make it stronger/sturdier?
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2007 04:29:49 AM »

I use tapestry/upholstery weight fabric remnant pieces for tote bags  Smiley  They definitely hold their shape and hold up better for heavy use.  I am lucky because there is a really nice fabric store in the DC area (G Street) and they have really nice remnant upholstery stuff for $7/yd!!

Also, not sure what design you may have in mind, but if it's an open-top tote and you are using webbing-type strap material for handles, use one long piece and make it go around the bottom of the bag, stitching it down all around.  Make sure the join is NOT on the very top or very bottom, but somewhere on the body, and reinforce it  with X stitches where the handles leave the bag (at the top).  You can also add a nice reinforced bottom  Smiley

See the Land's End tote for ideas:  http://www.landsend.com/pp/OpenTopTotes-66223_118740_1341.html?CM_MERCH=PAGE_66221
« Last Edit: August 09, 2007 11:06:10 AM by LSTinVA » THIS ROCKS   Logged
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2007 08:37:28 AM »

You can use cotton twill or canvas, too. Cotton twill is pretty durable-I use it a lot in my designs. Canvas has more of a plain, rugged look.  Both can be embellished with so many things (patches, embroidery, fabric paint, stencils, pins, etc). I recommend lining it with a durable cotton fabric and perhaps use something for an interfacing. I'd personally go for a sew in with a little loft to give the bag some definition. Also, LSTinVA had a great idea for handle placement.

« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2007 11:04:44 AM »

I'm surprised at how strong just regular fabric is.  I've made my daughter several purses using cotton and regular thread.  Amazingly, all of the bags have held up fine and she carries a load.  catdaddytn

« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2007 11:18:00 AM »

thank you so much.
i was also wondering if using a zig zag stitch on the seams would make it stronger.
and if so, is it the regular stitch and then over it again with the zig zag stitch?
haha. sorry for all the questions.
i just want to make sure that this bag with hold up because it is my first bag that i am make that is going to carry a lot of heavy stuff.
thanks in advance.
« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2007 12:28:48 PM »

Zig Zag is a good idea -- also, make sure the thread you use is suitable for the fabric!  Cheap thread can ruin a nice project, so be sure to get what is appropriate!!!
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2007 08:07:35 AM »

It will also help if you finish the seams (sides and bottom, at least) with a flat-felled or French seam-- this gives you two lines of stitching, thus a safety net if one line of stitches gets pulled out.

If that's too awkward for the type of bag you're doing, you can "fake" a flat-felled seam by pressing both raw edges of the seam to one side, and then topstitching 1/4 inch from the seam itself. 
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« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2007 11:10:12 AM »

i really would recommend french seams for the whole thing

basically, for each weight-bearing seam (sides and bottom, mainly), sew the seams the WRONG way, like, right-sides out, first, then trim your fabric as close as you can without making it fray right through the stitches, and turn it wrong-sides-out and sew that seam again, enclosing the first seam's allowance. your seam will be bulky, and almost look like piping from inside, but if the seam breaks, there is a backup seam right inside it that has never had any weight on it yet, so it isn't already about to break also.

plus, this way, if a seam does break, it's really easy to fix when you get home, because the fabric doesn't get all screwed up...


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« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2007 01:37:59 AM »

You can also reinforce the weight baring parts. Or make tripple stitches
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2007 05:21:19 PM »

Oooh, I forgot to mention that one way to eliminate a major seam is to use one long rectangle that is folded in half so that the fold is on the bottom.  This works if your pattern is such that nothing appears "upside down."  Stripes and repeated geometric patterns are good for this.
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