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IT'S A CINCH tote: This tote can be adjusted to be bigger or smaller depending on your needs. Pull the straps on the sides to create a shorter, slouchy bag.

Skill Level: Intermediate


* 1/2 yard each of canvas or linen fabric (exterior), cotton fabric (lining) & coordinating cotton fabric (exterior pocket)

* 1/4 yard each of coordinating cotton fabric (strap) & leather or vinyl (bag base)

* 60" of 11/2"-wide bias strips for binding

* 11/2 yards of 1"-wide strapping

* Two 1" buckles

* 1/2 yard of fleece

* All-purpose thread

* Temporary spray adhesive

* Binder clips

* Teflon presser foot (optional)


Download the It's a Cinch Tote template from until Sept. 30, 2019. Purchase the pattern at after the expiration date. Print, tile and cut out the template.

From the exterior fabric, lining fabric, pocket fabric and fleece, cut two 15" squares each.

From the strap fabric, cut two strips 23/4" x the width of the fabric.

From the leather or vinyl, cut two 6"x15" rectangles.


Fold the strap strips in half lengthwise with right sides together. Stitch the long edge using a 1/4" seam allowance. Turn the tube right side out.

Trim the strapping into one 43" piece and two 10" pieces.

Thread the 43" strapping piece into one fabric tube. Adjust the fabric so the seam is at one side of the strapping. Tuck the open tube ends around the end of the strapping, smoothing the fabric so it lays flat. Topstitch 1/8" from all edges.

Cut two 13" pieces from the remaining tube. Thread the fabric tubes with the 10" strapping pieces and finish in the same manner as the longer strap.

Thread one buckle onto one 10" finished strap. Fold one short end over 21/2" with the center bar in the fold. Baste the end of folded side in place. Repeat to attach the remaining buckle to the remaining 10" strap.


Using the template, mark the front pocket placement on one purse exterior square; designate as the purse front. Pin the purse front to the pocket lining fabric with wrong sides together, matching the corners. Stitch along the marked pocket line. Cut 1/8" from stitched line to create the pocket opening.

Cut a 20" length of bias strip and press in half lengthwise with wrong sides together. Use to bind the curved pocket opening.

Using temporary spray adhesive, adhere the remaining pocket lining wrong side to the fleece. Place the bag front over the pocket lining with the pocket linings facing. Align the corners and baste around all sides using a 1/4" seam allowance.

Adhere the purse back exterior fabric to the remaining fleece using temporary spray adhesive.

With right sides facing, align the lining fabric at the corners; pin. Trim away a 2" square from each lower corner.

Stitch the side seams using a 5/8" seam allowance. Stitch across the lower edge, leaving a 3" opening for turning.

Create boxed corners by matching the seams at each corner and stitching along the raw edges using a 5/8" seam allowance.

Align the prepared bag front and back with right sides facing; pin. Trim away a 2" square from each lower corner. Stitch the side seams using a 5/8" seam allowance.

Center one 10" strap over one side seam, aligning the end without the buckle with the bag lower edge. Stitch the straps along each long edge and across the upper edge, stitching as close to the buckle as possible.

tip Use a zipper foot to get stitching closer to the buckle.

Repeat to stitch the remaining 10" strap over the opposite side seam.

Measure and mark 9" from each end of the long strap piece. Align the mark with the upper edge of the bag, centering it on the side seam. Stitch to the bag 3/4" from the bag upper edge by sewing a rectangle shape.

Change the machine needle to the appropriate type for the contrasting base material. If available, install a Teflon presser foot.

With right sides facing, stitch the base rectangles along each short edge using a 1/2" inch seam allowance. Finger press the seams open, lengthen the stitch to 3.0 or longer and topstitch on either side of the seams for added detail, catching the seam allowance in the stitching.

Slide the contrasting base over the bag with the base wrong side facing the bag right side, matching the seams and bottom edges. Secure using binder clips. Topstitch along the upper edge of the contrast base 1/8" from the edge. Cut out the base lower corners to match the bag lower corners.

With right sides together and treating the exterior and base as one piece, stitch the lower edge of the bag. Match the seams at the corners and stitch the corners closed to box them.

Insert the lining into the bag body with wrong sides together. Baste the top edge of the bag using a scant 1/4" seam. Use the remaining 40" of bias strip to bind the bag upper edge.

Slide the straps ends through the buckles. Adjust the bag height by lengthening or shortening the straps equally on both sides.

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Author:Davey, Jennifer
Publication:Sew News
Date:Jul 31, 2019
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