Project Retro Carry-All Tote

By Elizabeth Cecchettini

Skill Level: Beginner  

-+ FromTo Love List

Needing a place to gather and carry all of your important items? This smart carry-all will be just the ticket! Pretty embroidery and large pockets add style and convenience to this tote bag. Download printable instructions.


  • Built-in Design found under the Novelty category
  • 2 yards of 45” wide printed cotton fabric
  • 2 yards of 45” wide printed cotton fabric
  • ½ yard of 45” solid cotton fabric
  • 5 yards of woven fusible interfacing
  • Baby Lock Tear-Away fusible stabilizer
  • Two ½” diameter wooden dowel rods, cut to measure 15 1/2”
  • Firm cardboard or 1/8” thick balsa wood for bottom insert: 5” x 16”
  • Assortment of embroidery threads that coordinate with printed fabric
  • 4 spools of Madeira Aerolock serger thread to coordinate
  • Water soluble marker
  • All purpose thread
  • Basic sewing supplies


  • Baby Lock Ellisimo Gold II Embroidery and Sewing Machine
  • Baby Lock Serger


  1. Enlarge each pattern piece approximately 250% for the tote.

  2. Lay out the pattern pieces on the printed fabric and cut as follows:

    1. Two Left fronts-lining pieces (lay pattern piece on the wrong side of fabric, twice)

    2. Four Right fronts-2 outside fronts and 2 lining pieces (lay fabric wrong sides together)

    3. Four Side panels-2 outside panels and 2 lining panels) 5½” x 15¼”

    4. Three Bottom panels (1 for tote bottom and 2 for bottom insert)

  3. To add firmness and structure to the tote, cut fusible interfacing to line each piece and fuse to the back side of all of the above tote pieces.

  4. From the solid fabric, two left fronts will first be embroidered and then cut from left side pattern piece. To prepare the solid fabric for embroidery; fuse a piece of interfacing to the enti

    1. With a water-soluble marker, mark the proper placement for embroidery, using the pattern markings as a guide and trace the pattern outline on the fabric.

  5. Prepare the machine for embroidery, first attaching the embroidery unit.

  6. Insert the solid fabric and stabilizer into the embroidery hoop.

  7. Attach the frame to the machine, confirm the design placement.

  8. Embroider the design, clipping jump threads as needed.

  9. Remove frame from the machine and gently tear away the stabilizer.

  10. Repeat the above process for the second left front.

  11. Cut out the two embroidered fronts using the left front pattern piece.

  12. Pin the linings to each of the four front panels, wrong sides together. At the sewing machine, stitch the angled seam (Diagram 1). Clip the seam at the inside corner. Turn the fabrics rig

  13. Lay one right front atop of one left front. Top-stitch the center line of the two fronts, through all layers (Diagram 2). Repeat for the remaining two fronts

  14. Baste the outside front layers together (Diagram 3).

  15. Baste the side panels together with wrong sides facing.

  16. Prepare the serger for a 4-thread overlock stitch.

  17. Pin the side panels to the side fronts. At the serger, stitch the side panels to both front panels. Press the seams.

  18. To finish the top edge of the tote and make a casing for the dowel rod handles, first serge along the top edge on both sides.

  19. Fold and press the fabric to the inside 1¼”.Top-stitch near the edge forming the casings for the dowel rods. (Diagram 4)

  20. At the top of each side panel, pinch the fabric into a dart about ½” deep. Pin and stitch from the top edge to the casing stitching line.

  21. Pin the bottom panel to the tote, right sides together matching the corners. Baste the seams and then serge the seams to finish.

  22. To make the bottom insert, stitch the two remaining bottom pieces right sides together, along each of the long seams. Turn the tube right sides out and press.

  23. Insert the firm board and tuck the end seams to the inside. Top-stitch the ends closed. Place the insert into the bottom of the tote.

If you like this project These May also be something you'd enjoy

View All Projects
Asset 1

Or, If You'd like to improve your skills,

we have great classes to help you take your sewing to the next level.

Login to Add To LoveList

Don't have an account? Open one today.

Explore the benefits of having a Baby Lock account. Start Now