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Saturday, 16 July 2016

Tutorial: Tote Bag Organizer

Tote Organizer by Craftsy Member Ocsamantha
Barbara's Tote Organizer and Tote Bag Ensemble...
When I last revisited my Wave Purse Organizer project, it was to showcase Barbara's "take it and run with it" customization results. Today, I am back with more from Barbara and her sewing buddy Cindy.

The two of them — having just loads of fun, I can tell — came up with a simplified method of making a double-sided organizer. (Simplified in the sense of not requiring that it be made from one single piece.) This one is sized specifically for a tote bag. When I saw the photos of their results, I immediately understood how they did it, having mused over that very same idea myself over the past months, upon finishing my customized tote.

As the saying goes, it's not rocket science. This particular tote bag organizer is just two finished fabric rectangles with one wrapped around the bottom of the other. I mean, what can be easier than that?


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The picture at the top of this post is meant to show scale. (Her tote bag is 26" x 9.5".) If you truly want a "tote bag sized" organizer like this, you must be prepared to sacrifice a good amount of fabric. However — and this in no way is meant to disparage Barbara's very beautiful matching set — if you want an organizer for its true purpose of being able to be taken from one bag to another, it may well be a good idea to use fabric scraps for this project. (How? Patchwork piece them!)

Tote Organizer by Craftsy Member Ocsamantha
One side of Barb's tote organizer...

Barbara very kindly shared with me the measurements that she used to make her organizer. Her two pieces of fabric measured 27" wide x 22" high (main body stand-up piece) and 27" wide x 27" high (bottom wrap-around pocket piece). The resulting pocket height from the wrap-around piece on either side is 6" to 6.5".

You will also need to interface the two pieces with a medium weight fusible (she used Pellon 808 CraftFuse), cut about a half inch smaller all the way around.

Tote Organizer by Craftsy Member Ocsamantha
Other side of Barb's tote organizer...

Finally, if you are making the key clip, use a 3.5" x 4" piece of fabric and follow the instructions from my WPO project.



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Here are the basic instructions (and sorry for the lack of photos, but I have never made this):
The pocket assembly wraps around the
bottom of the main assembly...


  1. Fuse interfacing onto the two fabric pieces.
  2. Fold the MAIN body piece in half along the width (with right sides facing) and sew along the open edges, leaving a sizeable gap on one of the shorter sides for turning (and for adding in the key clip, if applicable).
  3. Repeat the above process with the wrap-around POCKET piece.
  4. Turn both assemblies right side out and give them a good press.
  5. With the MAIN assembly, pin the key clip at the desired location (if applicable) and then topstitch all the way around, at 1/4" or less.
  6. Topstitch the POCKET assembly in a similar fashion.
  7. Fold the POCKET assembly in half across the width and press; this will ultimately be wrapped around the bottom of the MAIN assembly (see diagram above). (NOTE: In the spirit of my original WPO, if you want taller pockets on one side and shorter ones on the other, fold this piece so that one side is higher than the other.)
Stop here and plan how you want to divide the pockets on either side, because you will need to sew the side with the most pockets first. Keep in mind that after you divide the first set of pockets, the pocket divisions for the other side will have to be made along one (or more) of those same stitching lines.

Mark your first set of pockets and stitch all the way up onto the main body assembly for each dividing line. (Extending the stitching like this helps keep the organizer's shape.) NOTE: You may want to use clips at the sides to keep the other half of the pocket assembly out of your way as you do this.

Now fold the other half of the pocket assembly back up against the main body. Working from the side where you just finished sewing the pocket dividers, sew on top of one (or more) of the existing stitching lines to create pocket divisions for the other side of the organizer.


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If you're still a little bit fuzzy about the dividing pockets part, take a look again at the two pictures of the alternating sides of Barbara's organizer.

Tote Organizer by Craftsy Member Ocsamantha
The pocket divisions on this side were sewn first...

The second picture showing the side with four pockets was done first, by laying down three stitching lines. After the other half of the pocket assembly was flipped back up, she then sewed along two of the existing lines to create just three pockets for the other side, as shown here...

Tote Organizer by Craftsy Member Ocsamantha
This side was created by sewing on top of two of the existing stitching lines...

All that remains after dividing the pockets is to sew up the sides.

So here ends the tutorial for Tote Bag Organizer #1. (Thank you to Barbara and Cindy!)

Next month, I will share with you a tutorial for a Tote Bag Organizer #2, which is a design that piggybacks onto my original Wave Purse Organizer. If you want to prep for it, go to my original WPO tutorial and make it, but do not divide the pockets yet and do not attach the key clip... :-)


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