The Maker’s Tote Construction Continues…and a big confession!



Hi, Everyone!

So sorry for the delay in writing, but as I waited for a special zipper, I was able to get other things accomplished! At this date, I’m happy to announce my NEW Maker’s Tote is finished! YEAH!

After all that wait, I decided NOT to use the Riri zipper on this tote, as it was truly too long and would match better with my upcoming Explorer Tote, which I will blog about, too! Now on to the real stuff…

Last time I blogged, I had all the pieces of the Maker’s Tote done, and by done, I mean all the features I wanted in the lining piece were finished, and also the zipper facings, gussets, and top corners were rounded on both exterior and lining pieces…oh yes,  and contrast binding was sewn together, ironed and waiting to be applied to the exterior.

Now for my big confession…as you can see in the picture of my Tote, at this point, I do NOT proceed as the pattern directs, WHY? Well, be as I may, and I have tried plenty of times, I cannot get the zipper seams to look “straight” on the exterior of the Tote. Even though I follow the pattern to a “T”, first basting the zipper, then committing to the sewn lines. I think this would be fine, if you made your Tote Exterior with a somewhat busy print, but since I don’t do that…well, I just don’t. And if truth be told, I don’t like those two stitching lines across the front and back of my Tote, but I’m okay with it on the Maker’s Tote that I see. I’m positive, as a bag maker and designer, that the zipper is added the way the pattern calls for, for strength, but I have not found my way to cause any angst, as I use my version of the Maker’s Tote. So, if you like (or don’t mind) those stitching lines, I suggest you follow the construction of the Tote pattern step by step from this point and pay no attention to how I do it….I’m not judging!

However, if you would like to try it my way, here’s how I get the Maker’s Tote constructed without the two parallel stitching lines on the front and back of the Tote. Step by step, this is how I put my Tote Together:


  1. Sew Gussets to Lining piece – Find the center of your gussets and make sure you sew RST (right sides together) with lining the fabric of the gusset you want to see in the INTERIOR:
    1. GUSSETS: Now, sewing the gussets might not be as easy as I just wrote, because you are sewing a rounded piece to a straight piece. In the picture below you can see how I make slits in the gusset and lining pieces as I go around the curve. By the way this is also in your instructions. VERY IMPORTANT: Be very careful to make small slits that will not extend into the lining or gusset where you will see a hole later.
    2. ZIPPER: After all gussets are in place you will have a U-shaped Lining (see picture above).It’s time to put in your zipper. I use a separating zipper, as called for, however, I have noticed if you use a long enough zipper, others have done it without using a separating one. Personally, I think this would make putting this puppy together even more difficult, so I comply with the directions at this point.
      1. make sure you know which side of your Lining you want to look at when you open your Tote from the front. For instance, if you wan to look at the pleated pocket side (if you have one) then that is the side where your zipper will open from (or will be on the left). If you want to look at your recessed interior zipper pocket (if you have one) then that is the side you wan tot start from. This will make more sense once you have your lining and gussets together.
    3. Apply Zipper to first side of your Tote, (look at instructions for inch position from top of Tote) making sure your separating zipper is facing up and the front tab of your zipper is folded under your zipper and away from the left edge (see picture). TIP: it is helpful to mark a line straight across your lining at the recommended height, so you can follow it as you sew the zipper.
      1. Sew the first side of your zipper along the line you drew, STOPPING, about 1 1/2″ from the right side of your Lining. WHY? Because your zipper will extend beyond the Tote for easy opening. This takes a bit of trust, but do it and you will see how it works! After the First side is sewn and BEFORE the facing…Trim the Front of your zipper (remember, the part you tucked under!) Trimming this end (both zipper sides) will give you a more tailored look (as if you know what you’re doing) and get it away from the binding later. DON’T FORGET THIS STEP…ON BOTH SIDES! (picture below).
      2. Follow your pattern to sew the zipper facing to the first side.
      3. Sew the second side of your zipper! WAIT…
        1. You want the stoppers on the left side of your zipper to match up…so, this time you are going to pin the other side along the line you drew making sure your zipper lines up. Since you have a separating zipper…right?…you can open and close it several times after you pin it in place just to make sure, BEFORE you commit!
        2. You will be sewing the second side of your zipper to the lining starting at the right…again, trust me…(this is the way it will be more comfortable to sew on your machine), so this time you will start sewing 1 1/2″ inches away from the right side of your Tote, so it matches the first side.
          1. Apply facing to the second side as directed in pattern.




Wow…you did it! You have your LINING together…yeah for you! This is huge! Give yourself a hand, do a little maker’s dance, or get up and admire your work, what ever works for you to get your energy to attach your exterior! I’m not going to lie, it’s gonna get fiddly, so if you’re tired, come back tomorrow, or when you feel rested. You will thank me later! You’re almost there, but your goal is to have an awesome Tote and make it happily!

Attaching the Exterior: Let’s continue…now that you see what your Tote will look like, let’s fix it to the exterior foam interfaced piece! Yeah! Make sure your front pocket (not the back zippered exterior pocket, if you opted for one) is facing you, and “drop in your lining”  so that your zipper front is to the left of your Lining.

  1. Separate your zipper.
  2. Starting at the bottom of your Tote exterior and matching the middle seam of your Lining. Clip, pin, or what ever you feel more comfortable doing, your gussets to the exterior of your Tote.
    1. You will see a seam…this seam gets covered with your binding…clever?
    2. So with the outside of your gusset fabric together, you will refer back to the Sewing Gussets to Lining section in this post, and proceed the same. This time you will be sewing to the exterior.
      1. Don’t forget to CLIP AROUND EXTERIOR round part of your gussets! This really helps, so keep a small pair of fabric scissors, right by your sewing machine.
  3. Once you sew both of your gussets, the top rounded corners as well as the top of your tote should match with your lining
    1. Go ahead and stitch around your entire Tote and lining with a  1/4″ to 3/8″ seam allowance just to hold the Tote together before you sew you binding.


At this time, I want you to know, there is a YouTube video for this part of the Maker’s Tote here’s the link…watch it…its inspirational and builds muscle memory for the next steps…watch it as many times as you can and listen to every thing Anna says!  That being said, remember, if you followed my instructions you will already have the gussets on your lining. Don’t worry, you will get the idea!

Okay, now when you never want to put this through the machine again…well, you need to apply the binding! I usually hold my breath during this process, but I don’t recommend it. I do, keep saying to myself, “you are a sculptor!” This is so I don’t forget, that I can twist and bend this Tote as I need to get that binding on to the bag!

  1. Binding- I miter sew my binding pieces together as instructed in the patten, so when I start sewing the binding (RST) (see picture), I first trim the end of the binding, so I have a straight cut.
  2. I start at the side and back of the Tote with the binding, as opposed to the top of the Tote.
    1. fold a small “hem” as you start the binding (1″) and as you start sewing just catch the end of the fold.  This is in your pattern instructions!
    2. Refer to your pattern on how to sew you binding, all around your Tote, making sure that when you fold the binding to the right side, you sill see the side of the binding which has NO SEAMS…Oh. Ive done it!
      1. Make sure the right sides of your zipper is out of the way as you apply your binding!!!
  3. Be very careful around the gussets of the Tote and remember….”you are a sculptor!” and you can bend and twist as needed, but make sure you know where your needle is at all times. I sew this one with the needle position down as I sew and take no more than 10 stitches (I count!) as I go around the bag, straightening as I go, checking to make sure I have no bunching up on the exterior of the Tote or in the Lining…YOU CAN DO THIS!! SLOW IS KEY!
    1. I can’t stress this enough…count your stitches, especially as you go around the gussets again! Make sure your gusset seams STAY OPEN! Don’t worry about dinner, don’t worry about the wash, don’t think about anything else and tell the children you are on time out! 


Again, another milestone! At this point, I want you to know, I hand stitch the binding to the Exterior! OH YES, I DO! I am not putting that Tote under that machine again, but you do what feels right. If you are okay, stitching the binding on the machine at the end, go for it! I’ve seen it done, it can happen! In the interest of full disclosure, hand stitching the binding take me three hours…YES, 3 whole hours! Whether, I’m making one for me, or selling one, I cannot speed this up. So, this might make up your mind!


Here’s my Maker’s Tote waiting for hand stitching! LOVE this part! Now, I really wanted the handles on this Tote to be special and bring it to life! As you can see in the first picture, I MADE my handles out of some “special”  (special to me fat quarter) fabric and Foam Interfacing! If you would love to know how I did it, leave a comment, or message me on Instagram and I will Blog about it on Wednesday (Tuesday, I have a Divided Basket Class I’m teaching). If not, follow the directions in your pattern for our handles and you have yourself the most fabulous, amazing, useful, beautiful, eye catching Tote…EVER! Use it in good health, my friends! Hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to use the #makerstoteclub2017 on IG to show off your creations…link/tag me @mariaelenabliss to let me know this was helpful!

Here’s another confession….I am super excited to be part of a Blog Tour! The Blog Tour features the Art Gallery Fabric Line by Bonnie Christine, named Wonderful Things! If you would love to see ALL the Wonderful Things (pun intended) I have made with this fabric collection, meet me back here on July 28th! That’s my day on the Blog Tour. However check out Bonnie’s Blog for the complete schedule! Don’t miss a moment of it!

thanks, guys, for following along, and have a great week! Remember, if you wan to know how to make my Maker’s Tote Handles…leave a comment! Until July 28th (mark your calendars)!

Hugs and Happy Sewing,



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