Uppercase Box Tote Bag Sew-Along

Yesterday was a great day! We only had a few people at our journaling panel, but I got some great ideas out of the chat. But, the best part was during a long, but helpful staff meeting. Husband sent me a picture of my Uppercase Box package! Being the thoughtful guy he is, he picked me up for work and brought the box with him. Yea…I opened it in the car. I couldn’t wait! There were some awesome items, including My Lady Jane by  Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows. I also received a gorgeous tote bag designed by Risa Rodil.

Well, you know me, I have to personalize everything, and this tote bag is no exception! Sew along with me and create unique embroidered pieces to jazz up any tote! Every week I’ll post another step in creating one of my signature totes. From today’s lesson (sewing a box bottom on a tote bag) to easy applique, you’ll get every step-by-step tutorial with tons of photos. Excited? Me too! If you’re following along on social media, use the hashtag #theccsewalong so I can marvel at your creations!

Ready? Of course you are! Let’s get down to business to defeat the Huns.

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Read on to learn one of the easiest tote bag alterations on the planet (that makes a huge difference, too!).

The tote bag, as it is now, is simply one folded sheet of fabric with the sides sewn together. Most tote bags are made of five pieces: a front, a back, two sides, and a bottom. Constructed in this manner gives you a lot more room, and also means your bag will sit evenly on the floor. This is not a necessary step. I need a box bottom on my totes because mine often end up on the floor next to my desk. But, rather than painstakingly taking apart the tote, simply sewing two small lines will achieve the same outcome.

The first image shows the difference between untouched and altered. The left side of the bottom has not been tacked up, while the right side is pinned. To sew a box bottom seam, simply locate the very bottom crease on your tote (photo 2). If you press that crease flat, your corner will start to form a peak (photo 3). I pinned my “triangle” in place, to make sure I get my corners roughly the same size. The last photo shows the other side of the corner. I folded my side seams over the same way on both sides of the tote, just to stay consistent. Once pinned, simply run that bad boy through a sewing machine, or stitch the seam by hand. If you do it by hand, I’d recommend backstitching the whole thing in order to provide a strong seam.

And, if absolutely none of that makes sense, I love Liz Johnson’s box corner tutorial over at Sew4Home. This is the least invasive way of achieving boxed corners. But, that doesn’t mean this is the only way. Joan Hawley aka Lazy Girl wrote a great how-to that involves cutting small squares into the bottom of the tote.

No matter the alteration, if you’re going to change the shape of the tote, do it before you start any other embellishment. There’s nothing worse than getting the front all perfect and gorgeous, just to find half your design gets cut off after new seams are added.


For next week: think about what you’d like to embroider on the front. Since my fabric isn’t that thick, I’ll be embroidering onto different fabric and appliqueing it to the bag. Will you add words, your own design, clipart? Consider how much room you have to work with, colors you might like to play with – let your imagination run wild!

Remember, I’ll be using #theccsewalong, so follow along! You’ll learn how to add appliques to your tote, how to add a lining and strengthen handles! Useful tips you can use on any bag in the future. If you have questions, ideas, or just fun thoughts, pop ’em in the comments!

Happy sewing, lovelies!

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