Sweet Dolly Hugs ~Fabric Tote Bag

25 Oct

Once in a while I see a sewing project or tutorial that immediately inspires me, makes me say “I need to buy THAT fabric and make THAT right now!”  I am sure this is exactly the reason that fabric designers post these sorts of things, and hire their wonderful and inspirational design teams.  This is what happened about nine weeks ago when I saw a post by The Cottage Mama for Riley Blake Designs.  The post was called “The Lolly Dolly Pillow”  I loved everything about this pillow; the colors, the fabric, the ric-rac, and of course, the dolly that was joyously affixed to the front.  Straight away I went to Etsy to find a great bargain on this fabric line.  It is called Dress-Up Days, it was designed by Shari Butler of Doohikey Designs for Riley Blake.  The doll panel comes in a few different colors; grape, aqua and orange, and blue.  The grape was my favorite, although the aqua and orange was a close second.  I bought my fabric from Raspberry Creek Fabric.  They had the doll panel plus they also had a fat quarter bundle with seven of the dress up days prints for a really great price, perfect!

I knew exactly who I was going to make this project for.  A good friend of mine has a really sweet little girl who loves her dollies.  I really like watching her play, she is a kind and good-natured girl ~ she takes on the little mommy role perfectly. Plus her birthday was coming up quickly! Before my fabric arrived I started thinking about my sewing project.  Although I loved the pillow, I felt like a pillow on it’s own might not be the right gift.  For one thing, I would probably need to make a little quilt to go with it and I just had too many things on my plate for a quilting project.  For another thing, while I loved the fabric, it may not go with the decor in her room.  So I came up with this idea – a fabric tote bag that she could store all of her dollies and doll clothes in.  Or whatever she wanted to put in it!  The tote bag has cotton batting in between the outer and lining layer of fabric, so it’s really plush and huggable.  It has some little handles so that she can tow it wherever she likes.  The back panel looks like the front, but instead of a doll I appliqued her initial onto the white fabric.  Plus who can resist an adorable doll hanging off of the front!

There are a TON of tutorials and websites with great instruction on how to make tote bags out there, so this is hardly an original idea.  I will let you know how I made this one though, just in case you want to make one for your very own sweet little dolly!


~5 assorted fat quarters (I used dress up days jacks in green, grape damask, solid purple, grape chevron, and grape floral)

~Dress up days doll panel

~One yard white muslin (or thicker fabric)

~Thread (mine was purple)

~ Scrap fusible interfacing and heat n bond ultra

~ Sewing machine

~ 1 yard cotton batting


First you are going to make your front and back panel.  I kept all of the fabric the same as the Lolly Dolly Pillow, but when I realized how big my finished bag was going to be, I decided to make it a bit smaller.  You can’t make it too much smaller though because the Doll will be too big!  Here are the sizes of my fabric pieces for the front panel: Chevron ~ cut two pieces 18.5″ long x 6″ wide White: cut one piece 11″ long x 8.5″ wide.  Grape Damask: cut two pieces 5″ long x 8.5″ wide.  Now go to the Cottage Mama’s tutorial and use her instructions to put together the pieces for the front panel.  Do everything all the way up to and including attaching the doll to the panel; stop when you get to the part about the ruffle, and come back!  Here it is again: The Lolly Dolly Pillow.

If you used the same measurements as I did, your finished front panel should be 18.5″ long by 11.5″ wide.  Now we have to create a back panel.  The easiest way is to cut the same pieces as you did for the front panel.  Since I had only one fat quarter of each print, I had to cut different sizes.  As long as the finished product is the same size as the front panel,(18.5″x11.5″) it will be fine.   Assemble the back panel just like you did with the front.   Instead of a doll on the back, you can personalize the piece of white fabric by adding an applique.  To do this I first iron a scrap of fabric to some heavy duty heat n bond.  Then I like to find a nice simple font on my computer, blow it up to the size that you like.  Before you cut out the letter, pin it to the fabric.  I find if you are cutting through paper it makes the fabric easier to cut.

Pin the letter to the fabric, cut it out.

Peel off the back of the heat n bond and position it in the middle of the white fabric.  Press it into place with your iron.  I used a no-stitch heat n bond ultra so that the fabric won’t fray.  If you are using regular heat n bond you should finish your applique by doing a nice tight zig-zag stitch around the design.

Next we need to cut some fabric for the side panels and the bottom of the bag.  For the sides I used a fat quarter of jacks in green.  Cut two pieces of jacks in green that are 18.5″ long and 10.5″ wide.  For the bottom of my tote bag I used solid purple.  Cut one piece of solid purple 18.5″ x 11.5″ for the bottom.

Now we need to assemble the pieces.  Take your back panel and place it right side up.  Grab your bottom piece and line up one of the longer edges with the bottom of your back panel.  The bottom panel will be a little bit longer, (this is so that your side panels will have room to be sewn on) just make sure your back panel is centered on it.Pin it into place and sew it together with a 1/2″ seam. Repeat this step with your front panel on the opposite side of the bottom, and your side panels on each side.  Once they are all into place, iron your seams.  Here are some pictures of these steps:

For the liner of your tote bag, cut 5 pieces from your white muslin that are the same size as your front pieces.  For example: 2 pieces 18.5″ x 11.5″, 2 pieces 18.5″ x 10.5 inches, and one piece for the bottom, 18.5 x 11.5.  Assemble them exactly the way we just did for the outer shell.

Next lay out a large piece of cotton batting on the floor.  Put the outer pieces of your bag over top and cut around, so that you have a piece of cotton batting the exact same shape.  We are going to sew up the sides of the bag now.  Put the piece of cotton batting on the wrong side of your outer layer.  With the outer layer right side up, line up the long side of the front panel, with the long side of the side panel directly beside it.  Pin them together (right sides together)  repeat this step with each of the other long sides.  Now sew down each of the pinned sides with a 1/2″ seam allowance, make sure to catch the cotton batting into the stitches as well.  Repeat this with the lining as well.  You should now have to “bag” shape pieces that are inside out.

Let’s make the handles.  You need two strips of fabric for the handles.  Mine were 3″ wide by 22″ long.  If I were making it again I would make them at least two inches wider.  Interface the wrong side of the fabric strips.  Now with the wrong interfaced side facing up,  fold over each long side 1/4″ and press.  Then fold over in half (wrong sides together, right side facing out) and press again.  Sew down each long side of the strip.

Last but not least ~ it’s time to assemble the bag!  Make sure the outer layer of your bag is inside out.  Pin your handles onto the inside of the sides of the bag.  The raw ends of the handles should be facing out the top.   I pinned mine two inches from the corner of the bag.    Turn the inner layer right side out.  Put it inside the outer layer.  Now the right sides should be together, are you with me?  Pin the bag together around the top, make sure all of the corners line up.  Sew all the way around the top, make sure you catch the handles in your stitching BUT leave about a 5″ gap open.  With this open space, turn the bag right side out.  Now use your iron to press everything nicely, turn in the fabric in the space that is still open.  Last but not least, top stitch all the way around the top of the bag, closing the open hole.  You are done!!!  What do you think?

I hope you enjoyed this post, thanks for stopping by!

~Lisa K


3 Responses to “Sweet Dolly Hugs ~Fabric Tote Bag”

  1. Lindsay Wilkes - The Cottage Home October 25, 2012 at 11:42 pm #

    SO cute!! What a great idea to turn this into a bag…..thanks so much for sharing :). Have a wonderful night, Lindsay


  1. Exciting October!…And a BIG announcement. | Sweet Benanna&Sam - November 2, 2012

    […] October I completed several projects that I just adored, Sweet Little Red, Howl at the Moon, and Sweet Dolly Hugs, to name a few.  I have to say that these few posts boosted my readership immensely.  I went from […]

  2. Happy New Year! ~ The Best of 2012~ « Sweet Benanna&Sam - January 1, 2013


I love to hear your sweet comments!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: