Pretty simple and straight-forward project to make a market tote with three kitchen towels. Extra points if you thrift them or find some cute ones at a Dollar Store. Use the front pocket to store your Market Produce Bags (check out link for tutorial!) or fold the whole thing up into the inside pocket and throw in your purse!
– three kitchen towels
– sewing supplies
1. Let’s start with your front pocket first, shall we? Since towels come in all different sizes, I can only give you rough estimates on the dimensions to cut. My towels were 18″x15″ so I cut a 16″x9″ rectangle for the front pocket. The sizes can be customized to fit your towels. The only thing you have to keep in mind when measuring for your front pocket is that it will be tri-folded over itself so make sure you make it long enough.
2. I was able to cut the rectangle I used for my pocket from a portion of the hand towel that had three finished edges. You’ll have to secure the unfinished edge by double folding and sewing in place.
3. Sew a 7″ strip of your ribbon on the inside of the top of your fabric/pocket. Scorch the end to prevent the ribbon from fraying if you can. If not, just fold over twice and sew to seal.
4. Sew a 10″ strip of ribbon 7″ from the other side of the fabric rectangle/pocket. These directions might sound confusing but you’re essentially just sewing the ribbons onto your pocket so that you can close it. It might be easier to picture if you lay out the fabric, fold each side inward (as your pocket will be) and mark where you want the ribbon closures. Check out the second picture in this post if you need to see a full view of the pocket.
5. Position your pocket on the front of one of your towels. Pin in place and sew along the edges, making sure to omit the closing flap.
6. Next, let’s work on the straps. Step 1: Cut four 10″x2″ strips (or two 20″x2″ and skip Step 2 if your towel size permits). Step 2: Sew two strips together using a 1/4″ seam. Step 3: Fold and iron one side of strip .25″ and the other side .5″ inward. Step 4: Fold each side inward to meet in the middle. Iron and sew. Repeat steps 2-4 with other strap.
7. Cut a 13″x5″ piece of fabric. Fold bottom part up and sew along edges to make inside pocket. (Similar to the outside pocket construction.) Sew into the inside of the tote.
8. Using a zigzag stitch, sew straps 5.5″ inward from edge. Repeat for all.
9. Place the two towels right sides facing and sew along the edges.
10. Optional: Depending on the size of your kitchen towels, you may want to alter the length of them so that your bag isn’t hanging down by your knees. I think a French seam is the easiest way to achieve this. First, you’re going to cut your fabric to the size you desire and wrong sides facing, sew along the unfinished edge. Trim close to the seam and flip inside out. With right sides facing, sew a 1/4″ seam along the bottom, encasing the unfinished edge. (Thank you, Sr. Angelus, for showing me the wonders of the French Seam!)
11. Pinch the corners to the desired width (mine is approx. 3″ across) and sew straight across. By the time I get to this step, I’m so ready to be done with the project that I usually just kinda wing it. You can, of course, measure and line up exactly if you’re more patient than I am!