Try This: Art-Inspired Chevron Tote Bag Tutorial

Try This - Art-Inspired Chevron Tote Bag

Try This: Art-Inspired Chevron Tote Bag

I've been on a bit of bag kick lately, no?  Sometimes, bags are the easiest way for me to take something that inspires me and make it my own thing.  And that is just what this week's project is: the product of inspiration.

If you get around the blogosphere as much as I do, there's no doubt that you've seen the painting below  by Etsy artist Jennifer Moreman in somebody's round-up.  As soon as I saw it, I knew I needed to use those colors, so I did a bit of a literal interpretation of this lovely painting for this week's bag tutorial.

Art-Inspired Chevron Tote Bag 01
Materials: 8 Small Rivets and Setter, 2 - 14" lengths of 1" Brown Leather Strapping, Hole Punch, Hammer, Chevron Templates

The following fabrics (the exact fabrics I used are in parentheses):
1/4 yd - Yellow (Kona Cotton Lemon)
1/4 yd - Teal (Kona Cotton Sage)
1/4 yd - Pink (Kona Cotton Bright Pink)
1/4 yd - Grey (Kona Cotton Ash)
1/4 yd - Peach* (Kona Cotton Peach)
1/4 yd - Gold (Snake Skin-Embossed Pleather that I picked up from JoAnn)
1/2 yd - Navy* (Kona Cotton Navy)

*In addition to the cuts you'll make to create the chevron pattern (instructions below), you'll need 3 - 12" x 16" and 1 - 3" x 42" cuts of Navy fabric  for the back and lining and 1 - 3" x 42" cut of the Peach fabric.  For the two 42" lengths, you can create them by sewing together shorter lengths of 3" strips, but try to keep the seams in the middle, which will be the bottom of the bag.

Heavy Sew-In Interfacing
in the following cuts:
1 - 3" x 42" (see note above to create the length from multiple pieces)
2 - 3" x 10"

Medium Sew-In Interfacing
in the following cuts:
2 - 12" x 16"

If you've never used rivets before, don't be intimidated.  They're super easy to use.  For beginners, I'd suggest getting yourself a little starter kit like this one.

Art-Inspired Chevron Tote Bag 02a
Art-Inspired Chevron Tote Bag 02b
Directions:  In addition to the fabric cuts above, begin by cutting and laying out the chevron pattern above by using the downloadable chevron template and the diagram above.  Each number in the diagram corresponds to the number on the associated chevron template piece.

Art-Inspired Chevron Tote Bag 03
Sew all the pieces on each side together using the same seam allowance (i.e. distance from the edge to the stitch) for every seam.  I used a 1/4" seam allowance.  Press.

Art-Inspired Chevron Tote Bag 04a Art-Inspired Chevron Tote Bag 04b
Pin and sew the two sides together matching up the seams so that you get a clean chevron.  Press.

Art-Inspired Chevron Tote Bag 05
Cut down to a 12" x 16" rectangle.

Art-Inspired Chevron Tote Bag 06
Using a bowl as a pattern, round the bottom corners of all the 12" x 16" pieces -- including the chevron front, the 3 navy panels for the back and lining, and the 2 pieces of medium-weight sew-in interfacing.  The bowl I used has about a 3" diameter.

Art-Inspired Chevron Tote Bag 07a
Art-Inspired Chevron Tote Bag 07b
Line up the two pieces of medium-weight sew-in interfacing with the back of the chevron front and one of the navy pieces.  On top of the medium interfacing, center the heavy-weight sew-in interfacing at the top of each piece and pin all three layers--chevron front/navy back, medium interfacing, and heavy interfacing together.  Stitch the three layers together at the top about 1/4" from the edge.  This step just keeps the three layers together for the rest of the steps, so you want this seam close enough to the edge that it won't show later.

Art-Inspired Chevron Tote Bag 08
Similar to the last step, stitch the 42" strip of heavy-weight sew-in interfacing to the 42" strip of peach fabric close to the edge.  This will just keep the two pieces together for the next steps.

Art-Inspired Chevron Tote Bag 09a
Art-Inspired Chevron Tote Bag 09b
With right sides facing, sew the chevron front to the 42" strip as shown.  This seam should be just inside the seam you made to affix the long peach strip to the long interfacing strip.  This will take a little patience and maneuvering to get those corners through the machine with the heavy interfacing.  Just go slow, taking it in strides around the corners.

Art-Inspired Chevron Tote Bag 10a
Art-Inspired Chevron Tote Bag 10b
Repeat the step above with the navy backing.  All the right sides should be facing in at this point.

Art-Inspired Chevron Tote Bag 11
Cut little notches into the seam allowances of the rounded bottom corners.  This will make the curves smoother when you turn the purse right-side-out.

Art-Inspired Chevron Tote Bag 12
Repeat these same construction steps with the remaining navy pieces--leaving about a 5" hole in one of the side seams.  This hole will be how you will turn the whole purse right-side-out.  If you want to install a pocket, you'd want to do it before constructing the lining.  For a magnetic snap, you'd want to do it after constructing it but before the next step.

Art-Inspired Chevron Tote Bag 13a Art-Inspired Chevron Tote Bag 13b Art-Inspired Chevron Tote Bag 13c
Turn the lining right-side-out and place into the wrong-side-out outer bag such that the right sides of each are facing each other and the seams match up.  Pin around the top, and stitch around twice, making sure to make your seam further in than the seam you made earlier to keep the layers in place.

Art-Inspired Chevron Tote Bag 14
Now pull the whole bag through the hole in the lining and top stitch the lining hole shut.

Art-Inspired Chevron Tote Bag 15
Tuck the lining into the bag, and press the whole thing.  You might have to pull out your binder clips to sort of manipulate the bag into a more structured form.

Art-Inspired Chevron Tote Bag 16
To add the straps, first punch two holes about 1/2" apart in each end of each leather strap - 8 holes in total.  The holes should be just big enough for the rivets to fit through.

Art-Inspired Chevron Tote Bag 17
Trace these holes onto your bag where you want them affixed on both the front and back.  I placed each pair of holes 2.5" from the bag's mid-point and about 1/2" from the top.  I created a little template for myself with some scrap paper just to make sure my holes were identically placed on the front and back of the bag.  Use the same hole punch as above to punch holes in the bag where you placed your marks.

Art-Inspired Chevron Tote Bag 18
Attach the handles to the bag using the rivets and setter.  The rivets that you use should only be about as long as the thickness of the fabric + straps together.  Install the rivets according to the directions with your installation kit.  I also watched this video, which I found really helpful.  These are super easy to install and only take about 2 to 3 whacks of the hammer each.  

There we go.  This art-inspired chevron tote is complete!  

Art-Inspired Chevron Tote Bag 19
Art-Inspired Chevron Tote Bag 20
Art-Inspired Chevron Tote Bag 21

Michael has an uncanny ability to take the most awkward pictures of me.  With that said, here I am using the bag.   It's a sturdy little guy, and fits tons of stuff!
Art-Inspired Chevron Tote Bag 22

Alright, here's the money shot -- a side-by-side of my inspiration and the final product.  Not too bad.
Art-Inspired Chevron Tote Bag - Side by Side
If you do give this tutorial a try, please be sure and share a picture through the "Share Your Projects" link at the top of the blog page. I'd love to feature some!

Mandy P
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  1. I wish I had the know how and patience to do this stuff! So cute!

  2. So pretty! I'm thinking I may start on my Christmas gifts early!

  3. wow! I'm super impressed! This looks stunning! I'm envisioning so many iterations and color combos right now...

    Great job!!

  4. This is amazing! I love your blog!

  5. Okay, I seriously need to learn how to sew! This is the best looking bag evaaaaa!

  6. I love your designs. You've got a good eye for color and design.

  7. I love your designs. You've got a good eye for color and design.

  8. Oh my gosh! This is stunning and you have some serious tote-making skills. I'm uber impressed. And I think the photo of you is lovely!

  9. Love it!! When I click on the link for the chevron template, it takes me to the google drive homepage. Not sure what to do from there. Thanks and I can't wait to start making it!

    1. It should work. You might just have to click through, since Google has been using clicks to documents to promote it's new Google Drive cloud service.

    2. ok. do I have to download it before I can view it? It only gives me the option to get it, not to click out of it...idk

    3. It worked! I got it! Thanks again!

  10. I adore this tote!!! I hope you will upload a photo of it into SewSet, a new on-line sewing pattern & tutorial search engine. People would love to find this when looking! I love it!
    - Jess

    1. Thanks again for sharing! I featured it as one of today's top patterns - I adore this!

  11. I thought I was burned out on both sewing purses and Chevron until I saw this!! Is instantly going into my "Must Sew" pinterest board :) One question: my sewing machine pushes fabric like crazy, even with a walking foot, a kabillion pins and zero pressure. I just know those stripes will end up misaligned. Can you think of any reason you couldn't first sew the left piece together with its matching right piece, and THEN stitch them to the other colors? It seems doable (if more pivoting), but I suspect I'm missing something. Thoughts?

    1. Awesome! Glad you like!

      You know, I'm sure it would be fine doing it that way. I'm terrible at pivoting, so I did it this way.

  12. This is a fun interpretation of my painting. Thanks for sharing! I am happy to inspire :)

  13. This is so beautiful! Way beyond my skill so I'm hoping you have an Etsy shop!! Going to find out now... :)

  14. AHHHH!!! I love this!!! I saw it on SewSet! So awesome! It's my first "favorite" there! haha!

  15. I love this <3 sooooo coool
    Please check out my blog!

  16. That's such a great idea! Thank you for sharing :)


  17. unos tutoriales buenisimos gracias por todo un saludo

  18. P e r f e c t. Bag of my dreams. Colors, pattern..all is very good

  19. I am in love with different versions of the chevron pattern and this bag is making me want to bust out the sewing machine! Thank you for the inspiration!!

    1. Better yet, if you ever list this for sale on Etsy, I'd like to buy one :)

  20. Is there a way to turn this into a messenger bag? I love the pattern!

  21. This bag is gorgeous! You did an excellent job on it. Nice tutorial! Thanks so much for sharing this.

  22. Hi, where did you bought your handles? Thanks the bag is awesome !

  23. Thank you! If you read this post I wrote recently about rivets, there's a whole list of sources at the bottom for rivets, tools, and leather straps (like the ones I used for this project). I hope that helps!

  24. I am like a year late to this party, and new to your blog, but this bag is awesome, great DIY, thanks for sharing!

  25. Your photos are great! Really help with the step by step.

  26. cannot wait to go home & try this !! will update to my blog later!!

    Thanks for your detail tutorial!!

  27. Hermoso, te felicito, soy argentina, voy a tratar de hacerlo!!
    Gracias por el tuto!!

  28. just finished my bag with some minor variations: I found a leather jacket at goodwill for $3 so I used the leather from the jacket for the back panel. then I used the sash with the jacket for the straps, and I made the straps so that it makes a crossover bag. love it!


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