tutorial: cider bottle tote

When sewing doesn’t dominate my work life, cider does.  The summer has brought a spark to our new cider business and we have been selling at two farmer’s markets each week – The Northampton Tuesday Market and the Lenox Farmer’s Market, up in the Berkshires. I love talking to people about our cider all day and pouring them samples. Some folks are all about cider and drank it in Normandy or England and are so glad to find something locally produced and dry and complex.  Others have never tried it before (!) and approach it with curiosity.  Some people say it is the best thing they have ever tasted and come every week to buy more, and others make terrible faces and walk away (it is true!).  We have decided that we need to be completely Zen about it.  We love what we make and know what goes into it.  We also know that some people won’t love it and there simply is no accounting for taste and we can’t get our knickers in a bind over it.  And we don’t.

I love cider and I love sewing and I love when my life my world has continuity, so today I bring you a tutorial for a Cider Tote – the marriage of my work worlds.  I am developing this with the idea that I might try to whip a pile of them out to sell alongside the cider at markets.  They’d make a nice gift wrap for the bottle.  I guess they can be used for wine too.

What you’ll need:

– cotton fabric

– contrasting thread

– hard cider

The size of your finished bag depends on the size of the bottle you are wanting to fit into it.  I wanted to fit a champagne bottle, so I laid it atop a folded piece of fabric (the fold was along the bottom edge of the bottle) and gave myself an extra inch on either side.  This bag measured 6″ wide and 18″ tall (so, that is a piece of fabric that is 6 x 36, which is folded in half).

1. Cut your fabric

Fold the cut piece of fabric so the fold is along the bottom edge.

To cut the tote handle, fold it in half lengthwise again and cut a half oval along the folded edge about 1″ from the top edge.

2. Draw a design.

 This is a perfect canvas for adding a little machine drawing – anything goes! Remove the pressure on your foot and use either a regular straight stitch, or, like me, use a straight stretch stitch for a nice bold line.

With the pressure off the foot, you can manipulate the fabric this way and that to draw your lines.  You can add guide lines with chalk or vanishing ink, or you can just go for it.  Practice on scrap if this is your first time drawing with thread.  We have a whole chapter devoted to it in our book, so go have a look at those pages in the copy that is close at hand if you have questions (ahem).

You can’t tell, but the other side of the tote is separated from the side you see and is behind the machine.  Of course, you don’t want to sew the two sides together in your excitement to draw with thread.  I mean, you’d be the first person to ever do something like that and how embarrassing that would be!

Those little hands in the photo above belong to my 7 year old boy who is making a canvas trivet for his Grandad’s teapot. I will show you that simple kid project soon.

This little botanical design is created by slowly pulling the fabric to the side of the line drawn for the stem, in a leaf shape.  The trick is to move the fabric slowly, even though the needle is moving top speed.

3. Sew up the bag

With the fabric folded and the front and back sides of the bag aligned, stitch the sides of your bag with a utility stitch that will sew a seam and overcast the raw edge of the fabric too.  The side seams are sewn right side out and the seams are exposed on this bag.  I used this stitch:

Align the center of your presser foot with the raw edges of the seam and stitch all the way up the side.

When you get about 5″ from the top of the bag, stop.  I have made a mark with vanishing ink on both sides so I know where to stop and separate the front from the back.  This is where the side seam ends and you can backstitch here to make the seam strong.

5. stitch the raw edges of the top of the bag

Continue stitching around the raw edge, even though you aren’t making a sea,.  this will keep the raw edge from fraying.

Can you see how I have separated the front of the bag from the back so I can stitch around the raw edge? Do the first side and then continue down the other side seam, and then finish the raw edges of the top of the other side of the bag.

6. Stitch the raw edges of the oval handle

I used a small zig zag stitch to overcast the edge of the handle opening. I decreased the pressure on my foot to 2 to give myself a little control when turning around the corners.

Do both handles separately, of course.

This is a quick and versatile project.  You can draw or print anything on the front.  You can pretty fabric or utility fabric or even paper.  Just another example of how going to the store takes longer than actually making something simple and sweet.

This entry was posted by nicoleblum.

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