Welcome to the eighth project of How to Quilt: A Beginner’s Guide. This week we’re learning how to fuse applique and make a canvas tote bag!

To get started, we’ve made a playlist of uquilt videos that show you pre-sewing skills. Take a moment to watch and review. Be sure to refer to your sewing machine’s manual for specific threading and setup guidance.

Now that we’re caught up on our skills, let’s make a Fuse Applique Canvas Tote Bag!

Fuse Applique Canvas Tote

Fabric/Supply Requirements

1/8 yard of Dark Value 54″-wide canvas fabric
1/2 yard of Light Value 54″-wide canvas fabric
1/8 yard each of Dark Value fabric and Light Value fabric*
1/4 yard or so of Light Iron-On Fusible such as Heat N Bond Lite or Lite Steam-a-Seam 2
Coordinating threads for topstitching
Pins or Wonder Clips

*If using a different applique motif, use your judgement for what fabric is needed instead

Cutting Instructions

From the light value canvas fabric, cut:
(1) 14″ x Width of fabric strip, and then cut from it:
(2) 14″ x 17 3/4″

From the dark value canvas fabric, cut:
(1) 4″ x Width of Fabric, and then cut in half to make:
(2) 4″ x 24-26″ (there is a step to trim them later)

Fuse Applique

Click here to download the applique pattern used in the video. Print at 150% magnification.

If you want to build your flowers in layers with petals, or if you want to use a different applique motif with layers, refer to our guide for using an Applique Pressing Sheet.

Trace the applique motif onto the Fusible sheet with a pen or pencil an cut out roughly around the shapes.

Remove the paper back (not drawn on) and lay it on the wrong side of the applique fabric. Press for as long as it takes to melt the fusible; the fusible you use will come with manufacturer’s instructions for pressing time, so refer to it for specifics, but usually a ten count is sufficient.

Once the fusible is attached to the fabric, use a pair of scissors to cut out around the shape on the marked line.

To attach the applique motif to the bag, remove the paper and place the side of the applique with the fusible to the right side of the 14″ x 17 3/4″ canvas fabric rectangle. Arrange as you desire, keeping in mind that about 1 1/2″ of the top edge will not be visible and 2 1/2″ of the bottom of the bag will not be visible. Once arranged as desired, press in place in the same manner as when you pressed the fusible to the applique fabric.

Topstitch around the applique motifs. We used a straight stitch because the fusible prevents the edges of the applique from fraying, but decorative stitches like zig-zag and buttonhole are beautiful stitch options that can also increase the durability of the applique by protecting the edges of the applique. It may be helpful to practice with some scrap fabric to get a feel for the speed, length and width settings, and stitch you prefer.

Bag Preparation

Zig-Zag stitch around the sides and bottom of the 14″ x 17 3/4″ canvas fabric rectangles to secure the raw edge of the canvas. Be sure to stitch a few threads to the inside of the edge to keep the edges from rolling and warping. Zig-zag stitching over the edges reduces fraying. We set our stitch width to 5.0mm and our stitch length to 2.0mm, but use whatever width and length that works best for you.

Bag Handles

Press the 4″ x 27″ canvas strip in half to set a crease; note that it may take a longer press than the usual quilting cotton fabric. Open up the strip and fold the long edges towards the center crease, leaving approximately 1/8″ gap in the middle. Press to set a crease, and it’s okay to do one side at a time if needed.

Once pressed, fold along the center crease once more. Secure with pins or clips. Sew a top stitch in a coordinating thread 1/8″ from the open folded edge down the length of the strip. Repeat on the center fold side. Do the same thing to make the second handle.

Attaching Handles

After making both handles, lay a 14″ x 17 3/4″ canvas fabric rectangle out in your work area. Hold one of the handles with an end in each hand so the handle makes the shape of a U, with no twists. Place the handle ends against the top edge of the canvas rectangle, 2 1/2″ from the side of the rectangle, and secure. Gently lift the bag as if you were holding it to gauge if the handles feel too long. Adjust until the length feels good and trim any excess. Trim the second handle to be the same length as the first.

Sew a zig zag over the top edge of the canvas square, crossing the handles, too. Take your time going over the bulk of the handles!

Once the handles are sewn on, fold the top edge to the back to create a 1 1/2″ overlap. Fold the handles up and secure and press a crease along the folded top edge. Topstitch 1/8″ from the folded top edge and about a quarter inch from the bottom of the zig-zagged top edge.

Repeat on the other canvas rectangle to make the other half of the bag.

Bag Assembly

Lay the two bag halves right sides together and secure. Sew a quarter inch or so around the sides and bottom of the bag, backstitching at the beginning and end to extra reinforcement of the seam.

Pull the bottom corners into a peak and mark 2″ across the peak. Sew on the marked line. Repeat on the other corner to make boxed corners. You can trim the boxed corner, if desired, just zig-zag over the raw edge to protect the seam from raveling.

Turn your bag right sides out and enjoy!

fuse applique canvas tote

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