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Quilted Tote Bag tutorial inspired by the Orangewood Quilt

Quilted Tote Bag Tutorial

using left over half square triangles from the Orangewood Quilt Pattern!

Quilted Tote Bag Tutorial


Two things about me….I love bags and I dislike waste!  So, what’s a girl to do with cute, left over half square triangles???  Make a tote bag….obviously!!!

If you’re making either the baby or small throw size of the Orangewood Quilt, you will end up with a few left over half square triangles (HSTs).  I really wanted to do something fun with them :). 

I fell in love with sewing by making purses and bags and thought it would be fun to make another tote bag — plus, I was in need of a new bag to carry some large files back and forth from the office.

This tutorial makes a fairly large tote and also assumes some basic sewing knowledge.  The goal of the tutorial is to provide a fun option to use the left over bits from making the quilt, but you can use this tutorial to customize your own tote bag if you’d like. Also, please note that all seams in this tutorial are 1/4 inch seams, unless otherwise noted.

The Orangewood Quilt is a fun and fast quilt to sew up.  You can read more about this quilt pattern and the inspiration behind it!  

Quilted Tote Bag Tutorial

Don’t have the pattern yet?  You can find pattern in the shop!

If you make either the baby or small throw size, you will end up with a total of 14 HSTs left over.  This tote bag will use 12 of those little beauties!!  
Quilted Tote Bag Tutorial

Fabric Requirements and Supplies

  • 12 left over HSTs (measuring 4 1/2” unfinished)
  • 1 yard of coordinating exterior fabric 
  • 1 1/4 yard of fabric for lining
  • 2 pieces of batting measuring 20 x 23 inches each
  • 1 3/4 yard of cotton belting for handles
  • Disappearing ink pen (or non-bleeding marker or pen)
  • Cutting mat
  • Ruler
Step 1 - Cut all of your fabric pieces:
  • From your exterior fabric: Cut two strips measuring 16.5 x 4.25 inches each and two strips measuring 20.5 x 3.75 inches each.  Also cut one 20 x 23 inch piece for the back.
  • From your lining:  Cut two pieces measuring 20 x 22.5 inches each.
  • Batting: Cut two pieces measuring 20 x 23 inches each.
  • Cotton belting: Cut two pieces measuring 31.5 inches each.

Step 2 - Create your HST feature panel.  
Mix up and arrange your HSTs any way you’d like and sew up a feature panel that is 3 HSTs wide by 4 HSTs tall using 1/4 inch seams.  Either press seams open or to the darker side, based on your preference.  Then sew your sashing.

Sew the 4.25 x 16.5 strips to each long side side of the panel.  Press seams open.  Then, sew the 3.75 x 20.5 inch strips to the top and bottom of the panel; again, press seams open.  

Once the feature panel is made, trim it down to 20 x 23 inches to match the size of the back panel.
Step 3: Baste and Quilt the front and back of your bag. 
We will only be making half of a quilt sandwich for this part.  Place your exterior bag pieces, right side down, on a flat surface and line up the batting on top.  Then baste with your preferred method.  I tend to prefer pin basting; however, for my bag I ended up spray basting since the pieces are on the smaller side.

Then quilt the two pieces however you’d like!  I chose to quilt a grid on the diagonal following the natural lines of the half square triangles.  I used a ruler and a hera marker to mark my pieces to make the quilting easier (especially the back side that doesn’t have any natural lines to follow).

I think the next time I make one I’d like to hand quilt or add some fun embroidery to spice it up a little bit.  I'm envisioning some cute hand quilting on the feature panel 😃 

Step 4: Sew the exterior of the tote
Next we’ll create the exterior of the tote bag.  Start by placing your two quilted pieces right sides together and pin around the sides and bottom - making sure to keep the top open.  Next sew a 1/4 inch seam all the way around.  Feel free to give yourself some margin here and error on the side of a larger seam than a tighter one.

You may decide to press your seams open.  Though, I’ll admit that I get lazy here and do not press these seams open.  

Quilted Tote Bag Tutorial

Quilted Tote Bag Tutorial

Step 5: Box the corners of your tote.
Boxing the corners of your tote will give it some shape.  I like to pull the bottom corner of the bag into a triangle, making sure to align the bottom seam with the side seam.  Then, lay this triangle flat.  Using a ruler, measure and mark 3 inches from the edge of the corner.  Then line up your ruler and mark from edge to edge.

Quilted Tote Bag Tutorial

Quilted Tote Bag Tutorial
Sew along this marked line (perhaps twice for a strong bottom) and be sure to backstitch on both ends of the seam.  Then trim 1/4 inch from this new seam.  Repeat this step for the other corner of the bag.  

Step 6: Sew the lining
Making the lining is similar to the exterior - with one very important change!  Place your lining pieces right sides together and pin the sides and bottom.  

Sew the sides and bottom using a 1/4 inch seam — and here’s the important part — leaving a gap of approximately 5 inches or so at the bottom.  You will be pulling your tote through this hole, so if you forget it you will be very sad. :(

Step 7: Construct your tote!!
Flip the exterior of your bag so that right sides are facing out.  Then, take your handles and pin.  I lined up my handles with the center of the outside half square triangles.  Leave a little bit of an overhang at the top and pin in place.  Then, using the front of your tote as a guide, pin the handles on the back of your tote.

Quilted Tote Bag Tutorial

Next, keep your lining inside-out and place the exterior of your tote inside the lining so that right sides are together.  Then, align both side seams and pin in place.  Pin all the way around the top of the tote.  Note - I tend to leave the pins that I already used on the handles in place and just pin a little bit of extra around them to ensure they don’t shift.  

Quilted Tote Bag Tutorial

Quilted Tote Bag Tutorial

Quilted Tote Bag Tutorial

Sew around the top of the tote with a 1/2 inch seam.  When I get to the handles, I usually back up and sew over them twice for added strength.  This makes me feel a little better about over loading my bag :)

Then, turn your bag right side out by pulling it through the hole you kept in the bottom of the lining.  Go slowly and carefully not to rip the seam.  Once all the way through I like to close that hole with my machine; however, many people like to hand stitch it closed.

Quilted Tote Bag Tutorial

Step 8: Topstitch and finish
Now that your tote bag is actually looking like a tote bag, it’s time to give it one final touch for a little bit of strength and finish.  

Once the bag is completely right side out and the lining closed, I like to tuck the lining down inside and tug on things a bit to get the tote into the right shape.  Then, press around the top seam.  Lastly, top stitch around the circumference of your bag opening - I tend to do this about a 1/4 inch from the top.  This will give your bag some extra shape and keep the lining from bunching up or opening.

Quilted Tote Bag Tutorial

Yay!  You’re finished and ready to use your tote bag!!  Time to overfill it with all the things!!

Quilted Tote Bag Tutorial

Quilted Tote Bag Tutorial

Thank you so much for following along!  I’d love to see your tote if you make one!! 

Please use the hashtags #nolliebeanpatterns and #orangewoodquilt when sharing your totebag on instagram. 

xoxo ~Jenni

Quilted Tote Bag Tutorial

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