I don’t know about you, but at Christmastime, my tree doesn’t look anything like those in the magazines. Sure, there’s gifts under the tree, but I try to keep them in neat-ish piles, because if I don’t, I inevitably forget to bring a gift somewhere. So this year, I hauled out my reusable tote bags and stuffed them with the gifts meant for each party and occasion we were going to. “This bag is for Christmas Eve at my parents, and this one is for Christmas Day at my in-laws. This one needs to go to my friend when we see her on her birthday, and this one…” Well, you get the idea. And although this made me more organized, the bags weren’t really festive, which bummed me out.
Lo and behold, I was walking the aisles of Target recently and what did I find, but canvas holiday placemats! (What can’t you find at Target?!) And a lightbulb went off in my head. They were cute and looked to be about the right size for turning into tote bags! I bought two sets (each set came with two placemats, or enough to make one bag, but I knew I wanted more than one bag so I bought two), headed to the fabric store for some duck canvas, and went to work.
I have details of the pattern I use and my modifications in this post, but since these holiday ones ended up being a slightly different size, I’ll let you know what I did here.
Once I took the pom-poms off and seam-ripped the hem, I was left with two rectangles that were 15″ x 19.5″. My usual tote bag uses rectangles 15.5″ x 20″, which means these were going to end up a 1/2″ narrower and shorter. I don’t know if I could have asked for better! (A note, here. The tote bag pattern asks for a 20″ x 30″ rectangle for the bag body. Except if you’re using a directional print, you’ll have to cut (2) 20″ x 15.5″ rectangles, and then sew them together at the bottom using a 1/2″ seam allowance so that both sides of the bag have the print going the right way. After sewing, you’ll have a 20″ x 30″ rectangle, which is perfect for continuing with the pattern.)
Because my bag was going to be slightly smaller, I adjusted by cutting the bag bottom piece at 13.5″ x 19.5″. I ended up still doing 3″ boxed corners, but if I was to do it again, I think I would do 2.5″ or 2.75″ boxed corners so that they retained some more height.
I left the strap lengths the same, but since my bag was smaller, I had to cut the lining smaller (19.25″ x 28.75″). I used yellow for the lining. I prefer pale colors because it makes it easier to look inside and find what you need, but my stash is running dangerously low on white/off-white. Luckily, I had about 30″ of this yellow solid, and I can’t tell you how happy these little accidents make me. The bags are so much more cheerful and festive with yellow, aren’t they?
So there you have it, now run off to Target! Just kidding, but be on the lookout for everyday objects you can use in your sewing. I have found it difficult to find cute holiday canvas prints in fabric shops (in person and online), but stumbled upon just the right material for $3 in the Target dollar spot. I’m hoping I can keep an eye out for other holiday canvas prints, for Valentine’s Day or St. Patrick’s day for example!