Box-Bottom Tote Tutorial

Summer is upon us and around here, that means one thing... BEACH!!

Each year, we start summer with a beach trip to Hatteras, NC with some friends.  Feeling the need for a quick project I decided to use up some tropical scraps I had laying around for a quick little beach bag.

tropical tote - final

Now, please note...I'm not one to lug everything but the kitchen sink down to the water.  I pack light, so my bag is light.  A book, some sunscreen,  bottle of water and maybe a small snack are all that go with me and my beach chair.  However, if you like to take more than that with you, this tote is still perfect for those little things that get lost (or covered in sand!) in those humongous beach bags.

The whole thing took about 3 hours - and that's with me stopping to take notes and pictures!  I'm sure your bag will go faster than that.   Enjoy!

Box-Bottom Tote Tutorial


To start, you'll need to choose an outer fabric, an interior fabric, and fabrics for your accent stripe.  You could probably use scraps for this project, depending on how big your scraps are.

NOTE:  Sewing is right sides together with 1/4-inch seams unless otherwise noted.

tropical box bottom tote 1

From the outer fabric:  Cut two 4.5 x 14.5 inch pieces, and two 8 x 14.5 inch pieces for the outer shell.  Cut two 4 x 18.5 inch pieces for the straps.

For the accent stripe, cut fourteen 2.5 x 2.5 inch squares.

From the interior fabric, cut two 14 x 14.5 inch pieces for the main interior and two 4.5 x 6.5 inch pieces for the slip pocket.


Sew seven of your 2.5 inch squares together to form a strip 2.5 inches wide by (approximately) 15 inches long.  Repeat with the remaining seven squares so you have two strips.

Line up the long side of one of your strips with the long side of one of the 4.5 x 14.5 piece of outer fabric, right sides together.  Sew together and press seams to the outer fabric.

tropical box bottom tote 2

On the other side of the squares strip, line up one of the 8 x 14.5 inch piece of outer fabric and sew, right sides together.  Press toward outer fabric.

tropical box bottom tote 3

 You should now have a piece that looks like this:

tropical box bottom tote 4

Repeat with the second set, sewing the squares strip to the outer fabric pieces in the same way.  Trim to 14 inches across and 14.5 inches long.

Place your two outer panels right sides together.  You can chose to have the stripes meet or not.  I wanted my bag to look the same on both sides, so my stripes did not meet (see below).

tropical box bottom tote 5

Sew around the side, bottom and side edges of these pieces.  Do not sew across the top - leave it open.

To box the bottoms, pull your fabric apart and fold the bottom so that the seam is on top and the fabric forms a triangle.  Measure the tip of this triangle at two inches, using the 45-degree angle on your ruler as a guide.  With a fabric marker, mark the line on the left side of the ruler.  Sew on that line.

tropical box bottom tote 6

Once sewn, line up your ruler so that the 1/4-inch mark is on the line.  Trim.  This gives you a 1/4-inch seam.

tropical box bottom tote 7

Repeat for the other bottom corner of the bag.

tropical box bottom tote 8

Now, let's move to the pocket.  With right sides together, sew around all four edges of the fabric, leaving about two inches to turn. 

tropical box bottom tote 9

Turn the fabric right-side-out and press flat.  Tuck in your open edges at the top (the hole you turned the fabric through), press them inside and pin.  Topstitch across the top of the pocket.  It should be about 1/8-inch from the edge and it will close up that open spot.

The top edge should look like this:

tropical box bottom tote 10

Taking one of your interior pieces, pin your newly created pocket about 3-inches from the top edge of the interior piece.  Sew around the sides and bottom of the pocket, backstitching at the top on both sides for a little added strength.  (Leave the top open, or it will be a patch and not a pocket...LOL!)

tropical box bottom tote 11

 Now, to finish the interior, take your other large piece (14 x 14.5) and place it on the interior piece with the pocket sewn on.  Make sure your pocket is face up.

tropical box bottom tote 12

Just like the outer fabrics, sew the interior panels together on the sides and bottoms only.  Leave the top open.  Box the corners using the same method that we used for the outer fabrics... measuring two inches out and cutting a 1/4-inch seam.

When finished boxing the corners, turn your interior panel right side out (leave the outer fabrics wrong side out.)

tropical box bottom tote 13

Now, let's make the straps.

 Mark the lengthwise center of each of your 4 x 18.5 pieces with a fabric marker. 

tropical box bottom tote 14

Press each edge in to the mark you just made.

tropical box bottom tote 15

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Then, keeping the edges in the center, fold the folded edges together and press. 

tropical box bottom tote 17

Pin together, then sew a 1/8-inch seam to close.  Then topstitch another 1/8th seam on the other side to match.  Repeat the same process to make a strap out of the second 4 x 18.5 inch piece.

Your finished straps should look like this:

tropical box bottom tote 18

To attach the straps, pin them so that the outer edge of the strap is about 2.5 inches from the edge of the interior piece.  Pin it so that the raw edge of the strap is a little over the top edge of the interior fabric, not lined up perfectly.

tropical box bottom tote 19

Pin the other end of the strap about 2.5 inches from the opposite side.  To ensure your strap doesn't twist, make sure it forms a "U" shape as shown below. 

tropical box bottom tote 20

Repeat with the other strap, pinning to the other side of the interior panel.  Be sure you are only pinning each strap to one part of the interior - don't pin your interior together in the process.

Now comes the fun part!

Tuck your interior piece - still right side out, with straps pinned in place - into the wrong-side-out outer shell piece.  Line up your boxed corners as best you can, but don't worry too much about them.  Focus on getting your side seams lined up.  Pin in place.

tropical box bottom tote 21

With the interior and exterior facing (with straps in between), sew around the entire top with a 1/4 inch seam, leaving a 3 or 4 inch opening to turn.  I also like to backstitch on each side of each strap, for a little more strength in that spot.

Once finished, turn the bag, pulling the interior and exterior fabrics through the hole you left open.  This part can get a little frustrating - take your time and go slow.  :)

tropical box bottom tote 22

Once you have the bag turned right side out, tuck the interior into the exterior, matching up your boxed corners.  Press your seams for a crisp finish, tucking in the seams at the opening that you turned the bag through.

Top-stitch a 1/8-inch seam - just like we did for the pocket - to close your opening and give your bag that nice, finished look.  Now, tuck in a good book, some water and sunscreen, and head out to the ocean or pool!

tropical box bottom tote 23

Enjoy your summer!!


Linking up:
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Charmed by the Sea

Late last year, AnneMarie at GenX Quilters hosted a wonderful Quilt Along called Charmed Prints. Finally...in April...I finished mine. Only four months late. *cough*

Charmed by the Sea 2

The QAL was focused on using a charm pack to make a simple quilt with sashing and borders.  I needed something simple, and I had a three quarters of a leftover layer cake of Odyssea.  (For those of you who don't know, one layer cake is the equivalent of four charm packs.)  Seeing a good way to use some stash, I jumped in.  There were four blocks featured, of which I chose three - the Star BlockDiamond in the Square, and Pinwheel Block.  The remainder of my blocks are just the charms themselves, no additional cutting.  Easy peasy.

My boys had been bugging me for another quilt, and I wanted one that my family could share.  The Odyssea fabric was perfect as we are a family of beach bums, living for our annual Hatteras beach trip with friends.  So, I decided to call this one "Charmed by the Sea". 

charmed prints

It's my largest quilt to date - measuring 70-inches square - which makes it big enough to share and it's found a fabulous home on my living room couch.

Charmed by the Sea 3

With school going on and life being what it was, I had a hard time keeping up.  The top came together in late December and I pieced the back, making 9- and 16-patches out of my scraps and leftover charms.  My oldest son even helped with the block placement, which was fun.  :)

Charmed by the Sea 1

I quilted it in January - a simple meander on the LQS long-arm - and made the label, but then got stuck for some reason.  I hand-stitched the binding up until I had about 15 inches left and then stopped.  I don't know why. There it sat, in my living room, until April.  I finally picked it up to take with me on a beach trip with friends.  I finished it that night and took it out on the beach the next morning...without my camera.  *sheesh*.

Charmed by the Sea 4

So, despite the fact that it is a beach quilt, made for the beach, inspired by the beach, and in honor of the beach....I have no pictures on the beach.

Maybe next week...when we head to the beach.  :)

Quilt Stats

Pattern: Charmed Prints Quilt Along by AnneMarie at GenX Quilters
Size: approx. 70" x 70" 
Quilt Top Fabric: Odyssea Layer Cake by MoMo for Moda and Kona White
Backing: Athena in Ocean Blue (from Odyssea line)
Binding: Ionia in Ocean Blue (from Odyssea line)
Pieced and Quilted by: Angie Kimel


Linking up:
Making Monday Marvelous Linky PartyThe Southern InstituteFresh Poppy Design


WIP Wednesday - time for catching up

Summer is in full swing here and things are finally starting to settle down a bit. I realized this morning that I haven't posted a WIP Wednesday in...well...forever!  I actually have several things to share and my posting is further behind than my projects - which is nice for once!

My last update was February.  Yes, February.  I'm such a slacker...  So, I'm going to go beyond what I've done in the last week...but don't worry, I won't let the post get that long.  :)

In Progress

Oh My Stars QAL:  Yes, the actual QAL finished a long time ago, and I still only have a few stars.  I've completely changed direction here, though.  I've exchanged the white backround I was using for a dark gray.  Can't remember the color...one of the Free Spirit ones.  Still using Terrain and I've managed to create quite a stash of it in the past few weeks.  Fat Quarter Shop had it half-price and I also snatched up some at a local fabric shop.  I may qualify as a hoarder now.


Paintbox Quilt:  Squares are steadily coming in from my TwitterB group.  Only a few more outstanding.  I'm going to have to supplement with my own blocks, but I'm good with that as I need to dig into my stash to make room for new fabrics.  :)

Tangled Webs Pattern:  Still working on this, but I have made a big decision.  The pattern will be FREE.  I've debated it for several weeks and "decided" I should charge for it because of the time involved, but it never felt right.  I've grown my skills thanks to the generosity of other bloggers and I feel that my first pattern should be a thank-you gift of sorts.  So...be watching for my pattern soon.  :)

Sherbet Socks: The initial motivation for learning to knit was socks.  No matter what time of year, my feet are always cold.  I hate cold feet.  I want knit socks.  Warm, toast, colorful knit socks.  Well, I've finally (five months later!) started a pair.  I love the fun colors. (BTW - the pic is old...they are halfway down my foot now. )  :)


Sewing Room:  Work has started on finishing up my sewing-room re-do.  All of my stuff is out of the room and I hope to finish pulling border down tonight and paint tomorrow.  I made a little schematic on Monday so I could play around with furniture placement.  (I told y'all I'm a little OCD...).  The back page is the room - to scale, of course - and the top is my furniture pieces.  I then cut them out and move them around.  Like a puzzle, I guess.



Charmed Prints Quilt:  I actually finished this in April, but haven't posted.  Pics and a full write-up soon.

charmed prints

Prince Charming Quilt Top:  I finished my Quilt Top last month in hopes of having the quilt done in time for Tula Pink's visit.  No such luck on finishing the quilt, but she did sign the label I made.  Now, to get to the long arm!

Quilt top pic ... as promised for @tulapink

Tropical Tote:  This was last week's easy Saturday project.   The boys left on a two-week trip to Michigan and I needed some sewing therapy.  Tutorial will be up next week.

tropical tote

and finally.... Baseball!  We finished up the Spring baseball season on Friday.  Both boys' teams finished in second place in their divisions.  So proud of them and all of their hard work.  They both want to be pitchers and are well on their way.  It's wonderful to watch them excel at things they love.  :)

ready on third :)Hey....batta', batta', batta'.

Would love to hear what you've been up to... don't forget to link up with Lee!!

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced