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Make It : Tote and Telephone Booth Tutorial

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Today's guest post comes with British sensibility and a stiff upper lip. (Okay, so maybe I'm joking about the lip, but the British part is true.)

Samantha Cotterill from mummysam has graciously offered up two projects to take home: a tote bag and a soft telephone booth—one of the projects featured in her new book, Fanciful Felties from mummysam.

Always the clever bee, Samantha whipped up some sewing instructions for her tote bag:

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  • Patterned fabric for upper portion of bag (2 pieces, each measuring 15 ½”w x 12”h)
  • Patterned fabric for outside pocket (7”w x 13”h)
  • Plain fabric for lower portion of bag  (15 ½”w x 8”h)
  • Plain fabric for handles (2 pieces, each measuring 4”w x 22”h)



1) Place the plain fabric for the bag wrong side up. On each of the longer sides, fold the fabric over ½” towards the center and press with an iron. Set aside. (fig 1)

2)    Place each patterned fabric wrong side up and fold only the lower edge over ½” towards the center and press. Make sure to check that your pattern is in the right direction to avoid any upside down “disasters” when you finish your bag. (Which I noted due to a few of those occurrences on my end!) (fig 2)

3)    With the right sides together, pin the long edge of the plain fabric to the bottom edge of a patterned panel. Repeat this step with the other plain edge, sewing it to the bottom of the second patterned panel. Again, keep an eye on the direction of your pattern.  Stitch together, using a ¼” seam allowance and press the seams open with an iron. (fig 3)

4)    Position the entire piece flat, with wrong sides facing up, and iron smooth. Turn the side edges ½” towards the center and press. (fig 4) You may wish to turn the entire panel over and press again. (fig 5)

5)    Fold the entire piece in half, keeping best to match up the sides of the bag, and iron flat. (Don’t worry about them matching perfectly…. sometimes the little quirkiness of imperfection is what makes this project so wonderful.) Pin the edges in place and edge stitch together, making sure to go through all of the layers of fabric.

6)    Turn the bag right side out, and fold the top edge of the bag ½” towards the inside and press. Fold the top edge over again, this time using a ¾” measurement. Press.  With the inside of the bag facing you, stitch a 5/8” seam around the entire top of the bag.


1)    With the wrong sides facing up, fold each handle piece in half width-wise, making sure to line up the raw edges. Press with an iron.

2)    Sew the open sides together, keeping the top and bottom edges open, and make sure to backstitch at each end.

3)    Turn each handle right side out and press flat with an iron. Fold the top and bottom edges of the handle ½” towards the inside. Press again.

4)    Edge stitch along all the length of each handle where the seam meets. Take this opportunity to play around with some fun colors of thread, as this can be a subtle decision that will make it truly your own!

5)    Pin the handles into position. I like to measure roughly three inches in from each side, and pin the center of the handle base into position along the inside of the bag. The bottom edge of the handle should sit roughly 1 ½” down from the top edge. Edge stitch a rectangle at the base of the handle to secure it into place, and if you’d like, you can fill it in further with a sewn “x” shape for added strength.

Again, this is another place where you have a lot of flexibility. Whether it is changing the length of the handles or repositioning where they attach to the bag, this is a wonderful opportunity to personalize the bag.

Front pocket

1) With wrong side facing up, fold the sides in ½” towards the center and press.

2) With the right sides together, fold the pocket in half, making sure the edges are evenly matched. Press

3) Edge stitch the side seams together. Turn the pocket right side out and fold the top edges ¼” towards the inside. Fold over again, this time using a ½” measurement. Stitch just above the bottom edge of the fold, making sure to enclose the first seam. Press the edges.

4) Pin the back of the pocket into position, making sure the top edges of the pocket meet with the top edge of the tote bag. Attach the two edges together with an edge stitch along the top.

Telephone Booth accessory


If you would like to have even more fun with this project, download this telephone booth (instructions and pattern) from my new book to give it some extra charm!"

Can't get enough of Samantha's work? Be sure to visit her shop, or visit her in person tonight: She'll be in Brooklyn for an Etsy Craft lab teaching people to sew the Charles character from her book.

Is it just me or do you feel like a cup of tea right about now?

Comments (11)

  • Amazing! I love the illustrated instructions. Now, I must go buy some supplies....

  • How quaint & charming! My 1 year old loves Samantha's creations as much as I do! Her designs are simple with clean lines and beautiful attention to detail. Her work is a breath of fresh air compared to all the plastic on the market now. A true artist!

  • I love the expressions on the people's faces. They look like they are so soft to play with, perfect for little ones. Thankyou for featuring this wonderful artist! I'm looking forward to purchasing her book.

  • Mummysam will be at Etsy labs tonight, can't wait to meet her. Thanks Craft Dept for this great bag tutorial! I love her work, she's awesome.

  • I love these unique craft ideas!! I cannot wait to try out some of these crafts with my daughter... she is sure to love these. This artist is truly talented!

  • This is such a fun bag, and I love the telephone booth accessory that goes with it. Perfect to keep a little one occupied! I love her drawings and the fabric with her illustrations is terrific. Thanks for featuring this great artist!

  • Thanks for featuring Samantha on your blog! We are so thrilled that you appreciate her work as much as we do!

  • [...] But for those of you who haven’t seen the press that Samantha is getting lately, check out a new project she created just for the Martha Stewart Crafts Dept. blog here. [...]

  • In our family, we love everything that Sam designs. She is a creative genius.

  • Thanks for sharing! Your creations are so wonderful.

  • its looking nice...different..thanks for sharing

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