pottery barn inspired tote tutorial

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how to make a pottery barn inspired toteHello, I am Tasha from over at Creation Corner and I am so excited to be here participating in this fabulous knock off series. I love a good knock off. I would have to say that 80% of my ideas start from seeing another product and trying to figure out how to make it myself.

As Summer is just around the corner I have been getting in the mood for a new pool/beach bag.  During the summer I find I tote around 3 times as many things (which is saying a lot since I am the mother of 3 boys) then I do any other time of the year.  Which means…I need a good big cute bag.

Where did I find my inspiration to knock off today…

(Actually, this bag is from last year’s Pottery Barn collection)
I love of pockets.  I love all the room.  I love the simplicity.
Here is my knock off version
I made mine a little larger then Pottery Barns and added a little bit of added “Tasha” Ruffle.
Do you want to make your own?
Lets get started
Fabric (Decorators Fabric or something pretty sturdy)
Sewing Machine
Serger (if you have one)
Rotary Cutter and Mat
Iron and Ironing Board
I did not line my Summer Tote. I choose to use decorator fabric so it would already be stiff and hold up better.  If you decide to use cotton fabric you may want to line it and use iron-on interfacing.
First up is cutting out all the pieces:
I used my rotary cutter and mat to do it all.
You are going to cut:
2 Main Body Pieces 20 inches (length) x 18 inches (height)
2 Strap Pieces 26 inches x 5 inches
2 Side Pieces 5 inches x 18 inches
1 Bottom Piece 5 inches x 20 inches
1 Large Pocket Piece 20 inches x 11 inches
1 Ruffle Piece 6 inches x 32 inches
I choose to use two different fabrics to add contrast to my bag.  You could use all of one fabric or you could change which pieces you want out of which fabric.
Ruffle Side of the Bag:
After all your pieces are cut grab your ruffle piece because we are going to start with the Ruffle Side of the bag.
1. Take the ruffle piece and turn it right side down.  Fold and iron down about a 1/4 – 1/2 inch on both the top and bottom.   Go to your sewing machine and turn the stitch length to the highest you can and sew along the top and bottom.
2. Take one thread at both ends and start pulling to gather the fabric.
3. Your fabric should look ruffled something like this.  Ruffle the fabric until it is 20 inches in length.  (The same length as the main body fabric pieces.)
4. Then grab your iron and iron the ruffle flat.

5.  Get one of your main body fabric pieces and lay it out right side up.  Take the ironed ruffle and place it on the main body piece where you want it. Pin it in place.
6. Set your stitch length back to normal and sew the ruffle down.  The ruffle side of the bag is done for now.  Set it aside.

Pocket Side of Bag:

7. Grab your pocket piece of fabric. Fold it down about an inch and iron it flat.
8. Sew it down.
9. It should look like this when you are done.
10. Grab your second Main Body piece of fabric.  Line the pocket so the bottom (non-sewn part) meets at the bottom of the main body piece.

11. I wanted 3 pockets in the back of the bag.  So, now we are going to measure out where we will sew down the pockets at.  I decided to go in 7 1/2 inches from both sides of the fabric.
12. Pin down the line you are going to sew.  There should be two pinned down lines.
13. Sew the two lines down.
14. It should look something like this when you are done.  (Now your pocket fabric is secure on the main body piece.  The side of the pockets are still open though.)
Sewing the bottom of the bag on:

15. Grab the Main Body Piece with the Ruffle sewn on and the Bottom Fabric Piece.  Place the Ruffle Main Body Piece right side up.  Take the Bottom piece and pin it right side down (so both right sides are facing each other) to the main body fabric piece.
16. (I am serging all my inside sewing so I do not have any raw edges.) Sew the piece together and follow up with serging it.  (If you do not have a serger just sew the pieces together.  You can pinking shear the edges at the end so they are not as raw if you want to.)
17.  Once you have done that iron the fabric open.  Then grab your Pocket Main Body fabric piece.  Pin the other side of the bottom piece to the bottom of the pocket main body piece.
18. It should be where your raw edge of the pocket fabric is.  Sew/Serge it together.  Iron this piece open as well.  Now, you should have 1 big long main body piece.

Sewing on the sides of the bag:

19.  Open your 1 Main Big Body Piece up.  Lay it right side up.  Take one of the side pieces.  (This part can be pretty tricky.  Do not get too frustrated.  You may have to unpick a little, but that is okay.  Read carefully.) Lay the side piece right side down ON TOP of the bottom piece (that is now sewn to the two main body piece.).  It should be directly over the bottom piece.
20. Pin it in place at the top.
21. Sew along where you have pinned it BUT only where the bottom piece is at.  Do not sew the whole length. Cut out two small squares in the top corners.  This is going to help you sew the sides.
22.  Now turn the side and pin it to the Ruffle main body side.

23. Sew that side down.
24.  Now it is even trickier.  Turn the bottom piece to the last side you have not sewn. (On this same side of the bag) Can you see how one side of your bag is forming?
25. Pin it down
26. Sew/Serge it down. (Do not serge until you are done and are sure all 3 sides are sewn right and you like how they all meet.)

NOW DO IT TO THE OTHER SIDE!  (Repeat steps 19-26 with the other side piece of fabric)  When you are done BOTH sides will be in place and your bag should be formed!

If you are anything like me your will let out a happy sigh of relief because you are almost done!

Finishing the Top of the Bag:

27.  Now that the bag is basically formed we are going to finish off the top and then add the handles.  First, finishing the top. Grab your iron and the top of your bag.  Turn down the top towards the inside of the bag about a 1/4 of an inch.
28. Then turn it down again so there is no raw edge.  Pin it in place.
29.  Sew down all the way around the bag.  Somehow I forgot to take a picture of this step, but you can see how it should look like in this picture.

Making the Handles:

30. Take your two handle pieces of fabric.
31. Fold each of them in half.  Iron them down.
32. Open them up.  Using the ironed middle crease as a guide fold the bottom up to the middle crease and iron it down.
33. Turn the fabric and do the same to the other side.  Iron them down.

34. Fold it back up along the crease.  Iron it down.
35. It should look like this.
36. Open up all 4 ends and fold down about a 1/4- 1/2 of an inch and iron it down. Fold it all back up and iron flat.

37. Sew along all the edges.  Do this to both handles.

Sewing the Handles Down:

38. Mark the middle of each side with a pin.  Then place your handles where you would like to stitch them down.
39. Place a pin in them and sew the handles down on both sides.
40. and 41. You are now done!!!  Happiness!

It should look something like this!

Now, you have a fun Summer Tote to haul all your towels, sunscreen, snacks, shovels, etc. in
I am loving mine already!
Seriously!?! WOW! Head on over to Creation Corner and see what other goodness Tasha has up her sleeve!

Speaking of wow, Vanessa from Little Big Girl Studio is sharing a fantastic mini Boden knock off at Craftiness is Not Optional today- definitely go say hi.

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  1. I love this tote! It would make a great travel bag, too. Definitely putting this on my "to-make" list!

    Stopping by from Craft Gossip. Have a great weekend!

  2. Love this bag!! I found it at the perfect time too, I was just wondering what I was going to do with the rest of the fabric I bought for a diaper bag that didn't work like it should have. Thanks so much for sharing how to make it!!

  3. Thanks for the tutorial- the instructions were pretty easy, except for the straps (I don't have a serger so I think that made a difference). I made it through and now i have a gorgeous new big bag, and made a smaller version for my mother in bright spring fabric. We both love our new totes!

  4. Well, I just wanted to let you know that I got one made. Yay! I deceided to just do the "pocket" piece on both sides instead of the "ruffle". I love my new tote…it's a big one!

  5. This bag is WAY cuter than the Pottery Barn's version!!!! I definitely want to try it if I can find the time! I would like to make it as part of my niece's graduation gift, but I am not sure I'll get it done this month . . . we'll see! Thanks for the great tutorial! Can't wait to try it!

  6. Oh my! Your bag is WAY cuter than Pottery Barn's! I would love to try to make that as part of my niece's graduation gift. Hope I can find the time to try it between now & the end of the month! Thanks for the tutorial! I can't wait to try it!

  7. Awesome!! I absolutely LOVE this tutorial!! Now I have another thing on my big, overstuffed, to-do list. LOL! Can't wait to make one!! Looks like it would make the perfect shopping bag…carry coupon binder in the center, shopping list and other necessities in the outside pockets….YEP, I'll have to make myself one. 🙂

  8. How much fabric do you need to start with in each type of fabric? Where do you think is the best place to buy this type of sturdy fabric? Thanks!

  9. I looooooove it. My husband & I have 6 monkies(kiddos) so I may make 2 bags. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Awesome job, Tasha! This seriously does seem like it would be absolutely perfect for summer! 🙂 Great tutorial too!

  11. Love this bag! I just made mine last night, wasn’t hard at all! The longest part was just cutting out the fabric…thanks for the pattern!

    1. Kimberly, I tried that recently as well and couldn’t get over there. No idea why (maybe I’ll email Tasha to check in). I love her too, though!

  12. Just wondering, can someone let me know the final measurments of this- just of the main body? I was thinking of doing this for my final in my sewing class…and as I am traveling with two toddlers from Scotland to Seattle over Christmas, I was thinking this would be a perfect carry-on bag. I just need something with lots of pockets, so would probably do them on both sides instead of the ruffle. Thanks.

    1. Hey Angela, I don’t know what the finished measurements are (and Tasha’s blog is no longer public). When I make bags, they end up being an inch smaller than the cut out dimensions.
      I think this would be a great carry on bag, by the way! 🙂

  13. I can’t wait to make this into a bag for carrying my little ones things.. 🙂 Thank you for this pattern .. Others cost.. You are awesome 🙂

  14. I’m going to try my hand at this bag. I plan on making it a tad smaller all the way around and adding pockets on both sides, inside and outside, and a zipper closure. Omit the ruffle. Thanks for the tutorial.

  15. Awesome Bag!
    I was just dreaming of making one. Thanks for the great tutorial.
    I have a question for you. I am wanting to put grommets on the bag with a soft twisted rope, however, I cannot find rope that is soft unless it is 3/4″ wide which is too wide. Any ideas?

    Thank you

    1. Carolyn, could you use larger grommets? I haven’t seen the softer rope in a smaller width, but perhaps larger grommets would work???

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