As you may have heard, it rains in the Pacific Northwest. A lot. That’s how we grow those giant moss-covered trees and all of that local produce we’re so fond of. But sometimes that means that you need a waterproof bag. So I recently experimented with waxing canvas. I started with this tote bag that I sewed, and I thought I’d share my method for sewing a simple, sturdy tote that’s perfect for carrying around on errands. This will be the first part of the three-part tutorial I’ll share this week, with the next part showing you how to wax the canvas, and the third part demonstrating how to add the leather straps.
Canvas fabric, about 1/2 yard. I used this striped fabric from Ikea
Tailor’s chalk/fabric pencil
Sewing machine that can do a zigzag stitch
Optional: Cotton webbing for handles, 56 inches. (I’ll be showing you how to add leather handles in the third part of this tutorial.)
1. Measure and cut a rectangle of fabric 32 inches long and 15 inches wide.
2. Fold in half with the right sides together, and pin the edges. I used lots of pins to keep my stripes lined up, but you probably won’t need so many.
3. Sew along the pinned edges, leaving about a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Finish the seam to prevent raveling, either by zigzagging over the edge or serging it, if you have a serger.
4. I skipped this step, because I’ll be adding leather handles, but if you want to sew on cotton webbing handles, this is the place to do it. (I did this demonstration on a piece of scrap fabric, not my actual bag.) Cut two pieces of cotton webbing, each 28 inches long. Zigzag or serge the edges to keep them from raveling. On the exterior (right side) of the bag, measure 3 1/4 inches from the left seam you just sewed, and pin the end of your strap to this point. Sew it to the top edge, as marked in pink in the photo on the top left. Take the other end of this strap, and do the same thing on the top edge 3 1/4 inches from the right-hand side seam. Make sure not to twist the strap! Flip the bag over to the other side and attach the other strap in the same way. Now continue with the rest of the tutorial, and when you fold over and sew the top edge of the bag, fold the strap as shown and secure the it with the lines of stitching, as shown in pink.
5. Finish the top edge of the bag, either by serging or zigzagging over the edge, then fold the edge to the inside by 1/4 inch and iron.
6. Fold the edge in again 3/4 of an inch, iron, and pin in place.
7. Stitch around the top edge of the bag about 1/8 from the bottom of the hem, and 1/8 from the top.
Now you have a handle-less bag.
Next I’ll show you had to wax it to make it waterproof!