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Meet Monaluna! + Simple Life Tote Bag Tutorial

Hi Everyone! I’m Jennifer Moore, the designer behind Monaluna organic fabrics. Today I want to tell you about our new Simple Life collection, give you a little project inspiration and share a fun tote bag tutorial with you.

Simple Life was inspired by a year that I spent living in Denmark, just a bit south of Copenhagen, when I was 18. I was an exchange student that year, and I lived with a Danish family in a little house right on the beach. I have so many cozy (or “hyggeligt”, in Danish) memories of that place, and especially the kitchen, where I remember having strawberry cake and coffee after school, and lingonberry jam on toast at breakfast. The simple lines and cheery colors of Simple Life represent that time for me, and remind me of the lovely Scandinavian aesthetic.

This collection comes on three different fabrics, so it’s wonderfully versatile. All 9 prints come on our signature poplin, which is medium weight with a really nice drape, so it’s perfect for quilting, but also apparel, pillows, and a wide range of other projects.

Six of the prints come on our lightweight canvas, which is an ideal fabric for projects like bags and pouches, hats, pillows and even structured apparel, like pants and a-line skirts. It’s a nice substitute for denim or twill.

 

 

 

We also have 4 prints on our lovely, lightweight cotton lawn. If you haven’t sewn with lawn before, it’s really fun to work with – very light and airy, but still crisp, perfect for projects like scarves, slips and summer robes, delicate tops, gathered dresses and sheer curtains.

Like all of our fabrics, the Simple Life ranges are all 100% organic cotton. Our fabrics meet the GOTS certification, which ensures that the entire production process, from the farming of the cotton crops through processing, printing and finishing, meets strict environmental and social standards. This means that there are no harmful pesticides, chemicals or dyes used in the production of the fabric, and also that the labor is fair and safe.

One of my favorite projects to sew with this collection is this roomy tote bag. Here’s a tutorial so you can try it at home!

Simple Life Tote Bag Tutorial

Materials

2/3 yard cotton canvas

8×8” Square or scrap of contrasting canvas

3/4 yard cotton poplin or lining weight fabric

1 ¼ yard craft weight fusible interfacing

100 inches sturdy cotton webbing

coordinating thread (I used white)

 

Cutting

From your canvas:

2 15×15” squares (front and back)

2 5×15” pieces (sides)

1 5×15” piece (bottom. This piece can have a different orientation if prints are directional)

1 8×8” piece (pocket)

 

From your poplin:

2 15×15” squares

3 5×15” pieces

1 10×10” pocket

 

From your interfacing:

2 15×15” squares

3 5×15” pieces

 

  1. Cut all pieces to size

 

  1. Apply interfacing to the wrong side of your canvas pieces following manufacturer’s instructions

 

  1. Prepare the inside pocket: fold your 10×10” square in half, with the fold at the top. Press side and bottom edges 3/8” to the wrong side.

 

 

With the finished side up, center the pocket on the back lining piece, about 3” below the top edge, and pin in place. Topstitch down one side, across the bottom and up the opposite side, about 1/8” from edge. If desired, measure 3” in from the right edge of the pocket and topstitch an additional vertical seam to divide the pocket into 2 compartments.

 

  1. With right sides facing, join the front lining piece of the bottom lining piece with a ½” seam allowance, beginning and ending your seam ½” from the raw edges. Then join the bottom to the back lining piece in the same manner, to form a long rectangle. Then, pin the sides in place, matching edges and corners. Stitch with a 1/2” seam allowance, pivoting at the corners and carefully moving the seam allowance out of the way of stitching.

 

On the second side, stop stitching 2” up from the bottom and back stitch. Leave a 3” gap, and resume stitching to the top. This will be your turning hole when you finish the bag. When you finish stitching, clip the corners to reduce bulk.

 

  1. Prepare the outer pocket: Fold the top edge of the canvas pocket piece (8×8” square) 3/8” to the wrong side, and then fold over again, encasing the raw edge. Topstitch ¼” from top edge.

Center the pocket on the front canvas piece, 3 ½” from each side edge, with the bottom raw edges matching. Center your 50” cut of webbing on top of the pocket edges, with the raw edges matching the bottom edges. The outside edge of the webbing should be about 3” in from the front sides.

Stitch very close to each edge of the webbing, stopping and backstitching 1” from the top edge of the bag.

Repeat on the back side of the bag, making sure that the webbing is in the same position as it is on the front side.

 

  1. Sew the canvas outer bag. Using the same process, stitch the front canvas piece to the bottom and the bottom to the back with a 1/2” seam allowance, stopping and starting your stitching ½” from the edges. Press seam allowance toward the bottom panel.

 

  1. Then pin in and stitch the side panels. This time, don’t leave a gap for turning but stitch all the way to the top. Clip the corners.

 

  1. Turn the canvas bag right side out, and press or finger press the seams.

 

  1. Put the right-side-out bag inside the wrong-side-out lining bag (so that right sides of fabric are facing), matching the raw top edges and side seams, and being sure to tuck the webbing handles out of the way. Pin and stitch all the way around the top with a ½” seam allowance.

 

  1. Gently pull the canvas bag out through the turning hole and open out. Stitch the turning hole closed.

 

 

  1. Fold the lining to the inside of the bag and press the bag, particularly around the top edge, making sure that the lining is completely turned to the inside of the bag.

 

  1. Topstitch all the way around the top of the bag, sewing over the webbing straps, ½” from the top edge.

 

Have you sewn a bag for spring?