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Build Your Own Tote Bag: The Basic Bag

Lesson 1 of 8

Tools to Get Started

Betz White

Build Your Own Tote Bag: The Basic Bag

Betz White

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Lesson Info

1. Tools to Get Started

Lesson Info

Tools to Get Started

Welcome to build your own tote the basic bag I'm that's white and I'm a sewing pattern designer and author of three selling books I've been sewing since I was a little kid and I just love tio share tips and tricks and everything you're going to need to know about bag making and bag making is so great because um oh that's a lot of straight lines for basic for basic bag like this and it's a really wonderful project to hone your skills you might be a little apprehensive about sewing a bag but I'm going to lay it all out for you and make it very approachable in this class you're going to learn to make this basic bag from start to finish and we'll be talking about fabrics, stabilizers, construction techniques and really talking about how to customize the scale in proportion so the first thing we're going to do is talk about our tools and materials um I'm going to be using just your basic kind of home domestic machine and really aa lot of people have questions about types of sewing machines ...

but I find that just a nice sturdy basic machine is all you need you don't really even need any fancy stitches just your basic straight stitch and you are going to need some different feet for your machine so the basic foot that comes with the machine is just fine for pretty much everything we're going to d'oh I also have here, this funky looking foot called a walking foot, and this is great if you've got some really heavy materials and it's often used in quoting because it helps really move all those layers through the machine. And some people find that when they have bulky seems and just a lot of material going through the machine that this walking foot helps, and actually, it kind of walks it sort on. Then this little foot here is a zipper foot. This bag that we're making right now does not have a zipper, but it's a really good foot tohave for maneuvering, kind of small places also for your machine. You are going to need needles, of course. Again, I usually just use a universal needle. Um, they come in these little packs of, you know, five or six needles, depending on the brand. This one is a top stitch needle, and I think that top stitching is kind of a sticking point with some people that just are really nervous about making that straight. So we have a couple tips there one is, if youse matching thread it's not so noticeable. I mean, I love a contrast top stitch, but if you really are, like, not sure that it's going to look good than you know match your threats so as you can see on my little example here this is a sort of had to reflect linen fabric and I've used white stitching here the top and which is normal normal thread and you can see that it blends pretty well um I'm sort of talking about needles and thread here at the same time because this top stitch needle has an elongated hole in it and that helps move the thread through there's also top stitching thread which is a little thicker and you can see the second line of stitching here is actually made with the top stitching thread so that's if you're you know a little more bold and you want your top stitching to show up a little more, you know, gaining confidence you can use that and then this other needle here is kind of funny looking it's a double needle and it's actually says jean's twin needle and you can use that on on moveon's like our bag is going to be made out of today and that will do two rows of stitching that air completely parallel so even if you're crooked, they'll be parallel perfectly in your group good way that you so but we're not going to worry about that today because you know, this is our this is our cut your teeth kind of bag we're just going to get started and um it'll be great so ok, so we talked about needles uh thread and now we're going talk about marking tools so there are several types of marking tools you're probably most familiar with this one it's a disappearing ink marker and this particular one has two different ends one disappears with just a wr and just over time it'll banish magically on then the other end is removed with water so it kind of depends on what your project is and what your fabrics are. This tool is um called a choc liner and it has a little um and I know container part section that has chalk powder in it and then the end has a little wheel so as you go along and that should feel seed on here anyway it lays down a little line of shock and that is great on darker fabrics where sometimes you know this purple or blue in clone show up as well and then another tool that I like that this is not actually made for sewing, but it's a fricassee on pen and there are marker versions and kind of a ball point version and they're really cool because they are removable with heat so you can mark a nice you know, dark line on your fabric and you know, for a placement of hardware or something like that and then you can just iron right over and it disappears so the only the only small worry about that is if you know your sewing a winter coat and then you go outside in the cold that they think comes back when it's really cold but you could make it go away with heat so eso again it's it's just a tool that sewers have sort of adopted even though it's it wasn't meant for that purpose. Okay, so our next thing to talk about is our cutting tools and I usually use a big pair of shears and a lot of people have different brands that they're particularly you know that they particularly favor. I have this on nick rid brand I askyou skinner's um just as long as they cut well and you only use them for fabric. I also have a pair of pinking shears here and they have the's little jaggi teeth and they are great for trimming seems and curves and just getting rid of bulk on your seem allowances and then a small paris scissors it's nice to have for trimming thread but not a necessity also have a seam ripper which sadly is a necessity and I think that's that's an obvious need in your sewing box and they do get dull so if you've had one forever or if you have like your grandma's or something like that, you might consider getting a new one because it's nice to have a sharp one this isn't a cutting tool per se, but you can use it to make a small hole it's called and all I always have to say that very carefully there nothing owl, it's all a w l and that's great for poking holes for hardware and some other things and then of course we have a rotary cutter and healing self healing matt to cut on and um you also use that with a plastic ruler and we'll get into that later too. I'm now let's talk about things to kind of hold your work together as you're working on it so traditionally pins to set the type in your layers together is you're selling um I'm a big pinar some people like not to pin, but I don't know if it's the precision or or what, but I'm I liked pin and then another option are these little wonder clips and these are pretty cool they'll hold your work together especially if you've got some really bulky areas they are a little bit challenging sometimes when you're moving through your machine that they could get caught on some things, but some people just swear by them and they're really cute too, so you know it's always extra bonus points for acute notions we've covered quite a bit of tools just have a few more I like to have a measuring tape handy as well as my ruler and these are all kind of some little miscellaneous things here that are a little unusual turning tools are good for working out corners so if you so a pocket and you have a right angle and you really want to work that point out there's a little bamboo turning tool and said that this tool doesn't actually turn your work you turn your work and then you use the point of this to work out that corner and then this actually is a turning tool this is ah more recent addition to my sewing kit um thiss it's a little hard to explain without a strapped to show you but you put the tube inside of ah narrow thing leaves own such as a strap and then you use the chopstick part to push it through and it works inside out that it's really cool and then a couple other things here a couple sticky things I've got this wonder tape which is a double sided tape and it's wash away so you can use that when you're trying to secure a zipper something like that on and it's difficult to pin and be hard depend a little edge of a zipper so that's very helpful and then I also have some glue for hardware just to keep that secure and in the last couple things to talk about our pressing tools so one thing that I like to use is a press clock and that's. Really important if you're ironing on synthetics, liken, interfacing or if you've got a fabric that's delicate and you don't want to iron right on it, and what else do I have? Zero thes tool spray bottles, one is a spray starch, and the other is water and water is great. Um, you could, you know, have steaming your iron, but sometimes you really just want to target a particular spot that you're working on in the water is a nice way to just sort of, like, dampen your work and precedent out. Another type of glue is free check, and that is really great also, when you're installing hardware, because if you've made a little hole to insert some hardware, you might want to just put a little frayed check around, um, the edges of the fabric, and that just keeps it from from fraying. It checks the frame so all right, so we have all of our tools, and now I think we should talk about the fabrics that we're going to use to make her pay.

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!