I’m back again, this time sewing up a useful and BIG everyday tote bag for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network!

I’m one half of The Sewing Directory, www.thesewingdirectory.co.uk with Fiona Pullen. I love to make many things including ‘useful’ stuff for my home, bags, some dressmaking, machine embroidery and quilts, as well as dabbling with paints and dyes for mixed media ideas!

This month’s project is another useful and roomy bag – great for throwing in your lunch and a water bottle and waterproof for a day out! I spotted the project on Purl Soho’s great website and the contrasting lines of bias binding really appealed to me to make this bag stand out!

I decided that the weighty black Denim Fabric could be used on both sides to give the contrasting light and dark look that this bag needs. I chose a zingy orange bias binding and matching thread to give the pop of colour that makes this bag so appealing and some super thick webbing for the handles. I also selected some 100 jeans needles as these thick fabrics are going to be tough to sew!

The instructions are fairly straightforward but there is not much instruction on using the bias binding. The link that is designed to help you in the article is a dead link, so here is what I did – rightly or wrongly, but it works! The binding acts as a neat finish for all the raw edges on this bag and so I folded the binding in half, pressed lightly and then inserted the raw edge of the fabric between the two sides of binding and edge-stitched as instructed. You can see what I mean in the pocket below. It gives a neat finish.

In the instructions it refers to pinning on the binding but I found it easier to use Wonder Clips to hold the binding in place as the fabric and handles are so thick my pins would probably bend! When sewing the handles, my machine coped well with the thickness of the fabric as I was using a jeans needle. You could try using a walking foot to help the layers sew evenly, but I found I didn’t need to use one.

Once the handles and pocket are sewn down on the one side, by turning over 1” and stitching them in place, it doesn’t mention finishing off the other side in a similar way so I folded the other piece over by 1” and stitched it down to hold the handles in place to match.

Be careful when cutting the strip of bias binding lengthways for the accent panels as it is quite narrow already – take your time to get two even pieces for the central contrast strip on the bag.

One final point, when you stitch around the three sides of the bag, it is probably worth trying to match the bias binding feature lines in the centre. Although the instructions don’t say this, it will look neater on the finished bag if the two sides match (mine didn’t quite match but I can live with it)!

I love the way this bag is constructed with the binding covering all the raw edges and giving that cheerful ‘pop’ of colour inside – it looks really stylish! I am dying to get out and use it now!