There are two things that I love: summer and Breaking Bad. Sadly, one has come to an end and the other is on the way out. But that doesn't mean it has to be over. Tote bags are the perfect summer accessory - they're useful, simple, customisable and great for starter crafters. A bit of embroidery is an easy way to turn a basic bag into something awesome and unique.
Got an Crafternoon idea for Rachel to tackle? Love this concept as much as us? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
The great thing about embroidery is that you can stitch almost anything onto almost anything. For my Breaking Bad design I drew a picture based on the photo above (click here for my design), but you don't have to limit yourself at all.
Why not try a Ryan Gosling "Hey Girl"? How about an American Hustle reference? Perhaps a Tweet from your favourite rapper? Or maybe something of your own creation? The world is your obscure-pop-culture-referencing oyster.
Things you will need:
• A design
• Unbleached calico fabric (240cm) - $5 for 50cm
• Water soluble stabilizer (50cm) - $2.70 for 30cm
• Embroidery thread - $1.58 each
• Embroidery hoop (25cm) - $5.99
• Embroidery needles - $3.49
• Cream cotton thread - $3.29
• Fabric scissors
• Measuring tape
• Sewing machine
• Pencil & fabric chalk
Step 1 - Cut it out
Fold the fabric in half selvedge to selvedge, mark 40cm x 88cm and cut. Separate the two pieces - one piece will be the lining of the bag. Fold each of the pieces in half and press with an iron, this crease will be the bottom of the bag. Also, make sure to cut a strip of fabric approximately 10cm x 88cm for the strap of the bag (or wider depending on your width preference).
Step 2 - Draw it up
Draw or trace your design onto the water soluble stabilizer and, with the fold of the fabric at the bottom, pin your design onto the top layer of fabric. Leave at least 15cm between the top of the bag and the design it will be folded over later.
Step #3 - Stitch it on
Place the embroidery hoop around your design - only put the top layer through the hoop - and get to work stitching your design using a simple back stitch.
For my Breaking Bad dudes I've used three strands of embroidery thread for the details and six for the outlines. The more strands you use, the bolder your embroidery will be.
Once your design is complete, run the fabric under water and gently rub to remove water soluble stabilizer. Once it has all dissolved away, let the fabric air dry and gently iron.
Step 4 - Sew it up
Now we're up to the part where we actually make the tote bag. Fold fabric piece in half so the back of your embroidery design is facing out. Pin along the sides, making sure the width of the bag is the same all the way down (the width of my bag is 33cm works well), with an extra cm or so on either side as a seam allowance on either side.
Sew down both edges - not along the top though. Cut the corners of your 1cm seams on a diagonal and iron seams flat. This makes the corners of the bag less bulky. Repeat with lining fabric.
Step 5 - Put it together
Fit lining inside the embroidered fabric (your embroidery work will need to be facing right side out now) so that the seams of both pieces are lined up and faced together. If you like, you can slip a few sneaky pins into the bottom corners and along the sides of the bag to keep the lining in the right place.
Pin and sew the lining and outer fabric together around the mouth of the tote bag so the fabric is sitting flush. Keep in mind that you want to the length of the bag to be approx. 41cm from bottom to where you sew. Create a crease along the stitch line by ironing the seam toward the inside of the bag then fold back out flat. If you need to, trim the seam so that it is no more than 2cm.
Step 6 - Making the strap
Fold the strip of fabric used for the strap in half lengthways, iron flat and unfold. Then fold the outside edges of the fabric into the centre crease and iron again. Finally fold the two edges together and pin to keep them straight, and then sew a straight line 3mm from the edge down both sides of the strap.
Step 7 - Attaching the strap
Keeping up? Okay, here is the potentially tricky part...
Pin the strap ends to the top edge on the outside of the bag, so that each end is centered against the side seams. Sew the strap to the bag, following the already existing stitch line/crease we made earlier.
Turn your bag inside out and fold then sew the 'rim' down approx. 2.5cm, so that the raw edge of the strap ends are now covered and press. Throw a few pins in and iron to keep everything in place and sew across the strap and all the way around the bag 3mm from the bottom fold.
Then finally turn your bag right side out again and fold your strap up so it is hanging outside the bag and sew a line 3mm from the top of the back through your strap and...
Voila! You totes just made a rad as Breaking Bag - ready to take to the beach, that shady back-room deal, or your Breaking Bad marathon.