I have been teaching a group of about 15 elementary and middle school girls to sew at an after school club I started at my daughter’s school. It’s been a fun challenge streamlining projects that can be made by students with no sewing experience.
Cost is also a factor since I’m volunteering and working with an extremely limited budget. Getting canvas for 15 tote bags can be quite expensive, so I decided to use a canvas painter’s drop cloth. I had the girls make their own prints with some of my fabric stamps and craft paint. That was fun!
The girls made their own straps which was quite hard for absolute beginners so I am recommended buying webbing for straps to make this project quicker.
To make a drop cloth tote bag ( or one made from any type of canvas), you need the following supplies:
- A piece of fabric 18 x 36 inches. Approximately 1/2 a yard of canvas
- 1.5 yards webbing for straps.
- Matching thread
- Mark a one inch line along the outside of canvas along the top and bottom. Make marks for strap placement 4 inches to either side
2. Fold over hem then fold under again to tuck away the raw edges.
3. Secure straps under hem pointing down from he top of the bag. Pin the straps securely.
4. Sew along the edge of the hem securing the straps underneath. Make sure to backstitch at the start and finish of the seam.
5. Fold strap upwards and press flat with an iron.
6. Sew across the strap near the top edge of the bag. This will secure the straps in the right direction and make the bag stronger.
7. Line up edges go bag from top to bottom with the RIGHT side facing out. It will feel like you are sewing it incorrectly but this is how you start a French Seam which has two steps. Use oils to secure the seams.
8. Sew along edges with a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Then trim the seams down to a scant 1/8 inch if you can. If that’s too close for comfort, 1/4 inch is fine.
9. Now turn the bag inside out and make sure it’s lying perfectly flat and all the sides are pushed out. You can use your scissor edge to fro this. Press flat with steam iron
10. Sew from top to bottom with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.
11. It’s time to make the boxed corner of the bag. It also has French seams. Turn bag the out as shown, creating a triangle, with the seam in the middle. Measure with ruler straight across two inches and draw a line.
12. Sew across line making sure to backstitch with 1/2 seam allowance. trim down to 1/8 inch as before.
13. Turn bag inside out and sew along the edge that was created by the box corner, encasing the raw seams. Done!