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Tote Bag

Level: Easy

Moderate if you make the bag yourself

Shopping bags, knitting bags, grocery bags, and tote bags are used by everyone for everything under the sun. Another bag that I will tell you how to make and decorate is called a Grandma's Bag. Most new grandmas will be thrilled with this bag and use it for many things.

My daughter made me a Grandma's Bag on the first Mother's Day after my first grandchild was born. It's a simple bag, but means so much. My grandson's feet prints are colorfully placed all over the tote. It has been so much fun to use it in my daily errands. Then I started using it when that first-born boy was older and able to appreciate the things I held inside the tote. When going to visit, I use my Grandma's bag to hold all the things that I have collected to make my visit special. Sometimes it might be only the things he has left behind at my house and a few new or borrowed books to read while I'm visiting. It always holds a few treasures that I hide at his house after I arrive so that we can go on a treasure hunt. He started knowing about this treasure hunt when he was very little and the treasures were just barely hidden at his eye level. Now that he is older the hiding of the treasures has become more of a challenge. He now knows that this very special bag with his baby footprints on it means that Grandma has brought some fun with her.

Tote bag Fabric and Thread (if making your own tote)
Handle strapping (optional) Fabric paints
Paper plates, soap, water and towels for baby clean up.

1. Purchase a ready made canvas bag or make one following the easy instructions in steps 2 through 7.

2. Purchase 3/4 yd. of light colored duck or canvas. The measurements of the bag are optional, however, the bag I have measures 15 in. x 15 in. and has two handles about 24 in. long.

3. Cut two pieces of fabric 16 in. by 18 in. and with right sides together sew the bottom seam together (16 in. side).

4. Fold and press down a turned edge on each side opposite the seam you sewed in step 3. This fold will be 1 or 2 inches from the raw edge. This will be the handle end of the bag or the top edge of the bag. Don't stitch this edge down yet.

5. From the remaining fabric cut two straps for handles (4 in. by 27 in.) or purchase handle strapping from the fabric store. Choose a color that will look nice with the color paints you are using in the final steps. Sew and turn the handle strips and then position the handles and evenly space them by measuring the width of the bag's cut pieces. Carefully pin them in place and attach them to the bag panels with a loop at each edge of the pressed end of the panel. If you purchased strapping then sew this on to the flat surface of the bag over the bottom of the bag and the seam you sewed in step 3. When you sew the handles in place don't stitch them beyond the fold you pressed in step 4.

6. Fold the fabric in half and sew the two opposite edges together including the pressed down edge from step 4. After these seams are sewn then fold down the top pressed edge and top stitch this hem in place. The handles could be re-stitched when this top edge is stitched down to make them more securely fastened.

7. If desired, it is possible to make a square bottom on the bag by turning it wrong side out and stitching across the bottom seam in step 3 on each end of this seam. This stitching makes the bag sit on the floor without falling over and also allows the bag to hold more.

8. Now begin decorating your completed tote bag. Purchase small squeeze bottles of fabric paint in two or three colors of your choice. Squeeze a small amount of this paint onto a paper plate and spread the paint in a thin coating and big enough to cover the length of the baby's foot. Carefully place the baby's foot on the paper plate picking up enough paint to make a clear print when pressed on the fabric. Test the first print on a piece of scrap fabric or paper. You will need to adjust the amount of paint in order to print the whole foot without smearing. Randomly print the feet all over the tote bag and then change colors and print again. The patience and age of the baby will determine how much and how many colors of paint you will be able to use. You will want to do the hands also but this will become impossible because most babies won't keep their hands open enough to print them. It's best to do this in two stages because of drying the bag before starting the other side. Hope the baby cooperates! No grandchildren? Then do dog or cat prints on the tote bag instead.