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Build Your Own Tote Bag: The Basic Bag

Lesson 2 of 8

Choose Your Fabric and Stabilizer

Betz White

Build Your Own Tote Bag: The Basic Bag

Betz White

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Lesson Info

2. Choose Your Fabric and Stabilizer

Lesson Info

Choose Your Fabric and Stabilizer

All right when we talk about our fabrics you really need to think about what am I using this bag for do I want it to be something I carry every day is a special occasion is that a beach bag is that you know need to goto work like what is the bag into before and that will help you make decisions about the fabrics so the bag that I have here is an example is made out of a cotton linen canvas and has an accent of a cotton linen fabric on the bottom and then I have it lined with a quilting cotton some people want to use a quoting cotton for the exterior of exterior of the bag which is fine but when we get to talk about stabilisers you may want to stabilize that differently because it's a little thinner but there's so many fun quoting cotton's out there that everybody wants to make banks let's go pick up including myself so um so we have campus and quoting cotton and then there's other fabrics that are really fine to use for bags this is a waxed canvas and again it's a cotton canvas but it'...

s been treated with wax it's like impregnated with the wax and it kind of has a cool leathery look you can see it looks kind of come look kind of distressed and it's just I think it's a really nice accent on a bag and there's a bag up there on the wall, in the corner with the brown bottom and strap that's made with wax campus, just to give you an idea. Also, you could use mother if you're daring. Actually, leather's pretty pretty easy to sew with and there's a couple of little tricks that you need to know for that one is using a special needle for your machine, for leather, and then another is using a teflon foot and a tough one foot just has a slick bottom on it, so that when you're sewing, it doesn't get stuck on your put a little trick I have in my toolbox is painter's tape, and if you put a little bit of that on the bottom of your foot, if you don't have a tough one foot than it'll slide along more easily, so we use that for leather and then also maybe wax campus if you have trouble when you're something with that something else to consider. When you're talking about, um, the exterior of your bag is the nap of the fabric, and the nap is, um, or a nap. Fabric is basically kind of fuzzy, like this is a corduroy, and you can see that, well, maybe you can see that one way it looks darker, and the other way it looks lighter, depending on the direction of the nap so you want to make sure that you cut the whole bag in the same direction so that one side doesn't look dark on one side looks light um or or accents like if you put a pocket on the bag you want to make sure the pocket is cut in the same direction either up or down whichever way you prefer I also have a little piece of wall here I love using wolf for bags it's pretty durable and just gives you a nice you know, fall feeling this is a plaid and so you're going to want to make sure that you're paying attention to um you know how you cut it that you're straight on grain and also if your plaid is not balanced it's kind of the same thing is the nap you don't want um the plaid to be looking like it's going in two different directions or in that case a print like this print has the elements going in two different directions but if you had a print where all the butterflies were straight up, you would want to make sure that they're up on your bag on the front and on the back so that you don't have flowing butter so yeah so definitely think about what your bag is going to be used for like a laminated cotton would be really nice for a beach bag or a diaper bag there's you know what kind of possibilities then after you've chosen what your main fabrics are, you need to think about thes stabilizers so the first stabilizer I know these air really exciting and this is probably like your favorite part of the whole class because they're so interesting to look at but this could literally be its own class because there are a gazillion stabilizers and I know a lot of people really get hung up on you know, what do I use? So I'm just going to talk about a couple for a starting point but really if you use different stabilizers combine you know, by a little half yard of some different kinds and triumph I think that's really the only way that you're going to figure out what you like but I like for my linings primarily um is this um pelon sf one o one and this is this is written down in your course materials on, but it is a cotton woven fabric and it has a little bumpy's of glue in the back and it's fuse herbal. So the cool thing about this is that because it's woven and not a non woven and act very much like you're movin fabric so that's definitely a plus and because it's cotton you can iron right on it with the high heat to refuse it and you don't have to worry about it melting to your fire so that I use on the lining of this bag and then this fluffy stuff is called if usable fleece so this is synthetic, so this definitely need to use our press cloth when were ironing on it and it's also if usable with the little blue dots on the back, both of those come in the non usable version and some people are very anti feuz they would rather so it in which basically is you're just you're you're sowing into the back of the, um, of the pattern piece of the bag peace rather than fusing at first and there's pros and cons about about that if you if you don't use it very well, it might the lamb in e and makes him bubbling, but I'll show you some tips on that so we won't have that problem and then my last piece here that we're not using oh actually is not my last piece a couple more pieces we're not using this, but I wanted to show it to you because it's kind of cool it's relatively new for bags and it's foam, this one's called soft and stable and it's like a really thin piece of foam. It has fabric on both sides and its light weight, but it's rigid and so you know you can like scrunch it down and it's sort of like pops back up again and the bag at the top there is made with that and it just, you know, besides definitely stand up. So if that's something some people really want, super standing up bag on, that's, it's, a little bulky to sell through. But some people just swear by this and it's a favorite for some people for sure, okay, and then this. Speaking of, you know, materials that stand up, this is called. Well, the brand name of this is politics and it's, considered a heavy duty stabilizer. This also comes infuse herbal and non phe usable, and this is really good for bag bottoms. So we'll talk about that when we get to that point of construction in the bag. But that is something that added the bottom of your bag. Um, just to give it a little extra stability, um, and then another option for that is just this needle point, canvas, it's, plastic canvas and that can be used that's, you know, a little stiffer than this that could be used in the bottom of your bag as well.

Class Description

Totes are the perfect place to stow away your farmers’ market finds, your library books, or your beachside accessories – they are also a lot of fun to make! 

Learn how to build your own versatile bag in Build Your Own Tote: The Basic Bag with Betz White. 

You’ll learn how to:

  • Assemble your sewing tools
  • Select fabrics and stabilizers
  • Line, stabilize, and add enclosures
  • Add a simple slip pocket
  • Create self-fabric handles and finish the bag

Betz will offer tips on marking, cutting, and pressing your fabric and she'll show you how to create depth by boxing the corners. She will take you step-by-step through the complete bag-making process, so you end up a bag that is sturdy and ready to be customized! 

If you have basic sewing skills and are ready to take on a fun and functional project, join Betz White for Build Your Own Tote: The Basic Bag.


Lynnette Simpson

5 stars +++++ I thoroughly enjoyed the whole course. I found that these classes gave me the understanding and confidence of sewing 'any' tote with both a slip and zipper pocket, etc. After watching these classes of Betz I'm able to put together my own tote without having to refer to patterns or instructions. I started as a beginner not able to figure my own dimensions. Now I have confidence to do just that. Yes, very happy I purchased this class and am happy with the confidence it has given me. Thanks Betz and creative live Cheers Lynnette


I enjoyed this class very much. Great class for the beginner who wants to fine tune their techniques. The instructor is very knowledgable and guides you through the ins and outs of making a better bag. I am looking forward to her next class, I believe it airs the end of January. Thank you Betz

a Creativelive Student

Betz is organized, pleasant, and interesting. I am enjoying her courses. I watched a free preview, and that sold me on getting all of her classes. Love you, Betz!