Create this stunning upcycled patchwork denim tote bag using the new “Sashiko” category of stitches on the Baby Lock Capella that is sure to be a conversation starter. Customize your tote by adjusting the size of the patchwork pieces, adding color, or using different upcycled fabrics. The possibilities are endless!
Download Project instructions here.
Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Created By: Mike Johns, National Baby Lock Training and Education Specialist
1. Begin by disassembling several pairs of upcycled denim jeans. Denim with little to no spandex is ideal for this project. The legs of the jeans will provide the largest usable areas of denim. Remove two of the rear pockets to use on the sides of the tote. If you choose to use yardage of fabric or denim, skip to the next step.
2. Begin with the Baby Lock Capella. The patchwork “Sashiko” panels on the front and back of the bag can be created using any size patches desired. The diagram below shows the approximate FINISHED sizes of the patchwork in the sample photos (download instructions)
3. Using the hoop of your choice (or the hoop most appropriate for the panel that you will be creating), hoop your denim piece. Due to the weight of the denim, no stabilizer is required; however, if you are using another fabric for your project you will need to use a stabilizer appropriate for your choice of fabric. From the Embroidery Selection Screen select Exclusives and then Sashiko. Select the Sashiko design of your choice and touch Set. The design is now set to the Embroidery Editing Screen. Select Size and resize as needed. In some cases, you may need to create duplicates of the design to create a larger embroidery design. At other times, you may not be able to resize the design down to a small enough size to fit your patchwork. In this situation simply stitch the design at the available size closest to the panel size and trim the embroidery to the desired size. As an alternative, you could simply create 8”x12” panels of the Sashiko designs and cut them into whatever size patches you like.
4. Once all patchwork panels have been stitched, trim the panels leaving AT LEAST ¼” seam allowance on all sides. If you are using upcycled denim, you may want to leave ½” of seam allowance to making piecing and ironing easier.
5. Switching over to the Baby Lock Sewing Machine, begin piecing the patches together as desired. The front and back panels of the bag will be created individually and should have a finished measurement of 14.5”x16” plus seam allowance. Press all seams open.
6. Adhere the Fusible Fleece to the backside of the front and back panels.
7. To create the bottom of the tote, cut a piece of the upcycled denim to 8”x16” PLUS whatever seam allowance you are using. Cut a matching piece of the Fusible Fleece and adhere the two pieces together. This bottom panel can be quilted together if desired.
8. The two side panels are created in the same fashion as the bottom and should measure 8”x14.5” PLUS whatever seam allowance you are using. The side panels on the sample tote have been channel quilted (straight line stitching spaced at approximately 1” apart). A patch pocket from the back of one of the upcycled jeans has also been topstitched to the center of each side panel for additional storage.
9. With all sides of the tote bag constructed, the bag can be assembled. Stitch the front and back sides of the tote to the bottom panel. Repeat the process to add the side panels to the bottom panel. Next, stitch the side panels to the front and back panels. The outer shell of the tote is now complete.
10. The tote bag handles are also created from the upcycled denim. Cut two pieces of denim measuring approximately 4.5”x18”. Fold each piece in half length wise and stitch down the raw edges of the denim using a ¼” seam allowance. Turn the tube of denim so the right side of the denim is facing outward. Press so that the seam is at center back of the handle. The raw edge of fabric at the end can be folded in and top-stitched or can be encased in double fold bias (or using whatever method you prefer).
11. Attach the handles to the front and back panels of the bag as desired. In the sample, the handles are placed approximately 4” in from the sides of the panel, approximately 4” apart, and approximately 2.5” down from the top edge of the tote. Top stitch the end of the handles in place.
12. The lining is created out of five pieces of Fabric B – the front and back panel which measure 14.5”x16 PLUS the desired seam allowance, the two side panels which measure 8”x14.5” PLUS the desired seam allowance, and the bottom panel which measures 8”x16” PLUS the desire seam allowance. Assemble the five panels in the same manner as the outer panels.
13. Turn the lining so that the wrong side is facing out and slide it into the outer part of the tote. Align the seams of the lining and outer shell of the tote and use clips or pins to hold them in place. Stitch the two parts of the tote together using a ¼” seam allowance.
14. Double fold bias binding is used to finish the upper edge of the tote. Purchased double hold binding can be used or you can create your own. To create your own cut 2 ½” strips of material (or slightly wider if you choose to use the denim) and join the strips end to end to create a single piece of binding that is approximately 52” in length (or longer). Fold the binding in half width wise and press. Open the binding and fold each raw edge so that it meets the center line that was just pressed into the material. Press again. With the two sides of the binding now folded and ironed into place so that the raw edges meet in the center, fold the binding back in half. This is your double fold binding (note, this does not have to be cut on the bias since it will not be going around curves). To attach the binding, place the folded material over the upper edge of the joined outer tote and lining so that the raw edges are inside the binding. Clip or pin in place. Stitch the binding in place using a stitch of your choice. The upper edge of the tote can also be finished using your favorite quilt binding technique.
15. Your Upcycled Denim “Sashiko” Tote is now ready for you to enjoy!
*Baby Lock Capella
*Baby Lock Sewing Machine (for final construction)
* Fusible Fleece
* Madeira Sewing Thread
* Fabric A – Multiple Pairs of Denim Jeans for Upcycle OR Denim Yardage
* Fabric B – Lining Fabric (Quilting Cotton was Used in Sample)
* Basic Sewing Notions (Scissors, Bobbins, Pins/Clips, Seam Ripper, etc.)