Ruffled Tote Tutorial by Dandelions on the Wall

BonBon Break

Ruffled Tote Tutorial

~:: by Christina of  Dandelions on the Wall ::~

Tote Tutorial

bbb originalWhen I became a mom, small, tidy purses lost their appeal. Instead, I found that I prefer a big bag. You know—one that will hold my stuff, plus snacks, and dry pair of underwear, and toy trucks. One that won’t bulge awkwardly if I have to shove in just one more sippy cup while we’re at the park. That doesn’t mean I don’t prefer a cute bag, though!


So I decided to get crafty. I’ve made a couple of these bags now, and I just love the way they turn out. They’re full of character and charm, and they’ll hold your gear. Use a canvas bag you have on hand. Maybe that bag you got at a convention, or as a giveaway? You know–the one with the tacky logo. Or pick up an inexpensive canvas tote at the craft store to get started.



pin2Canvas Bag {you choose the size, color, etc.}


pin2Fabric {I purchased ¼ yard each of three different materials for this bag}


pin2Rotary Cutter and Cutting Mat, if you have them






pin2Sewing Machine









pin2Begin by preparing your bag and fabric. Wash each according to manufacturer instructions, and then press. Trim the edges of your fabric to eliminate any fraying that happened in the wash.



pin2Measure your bag. Find the length of your bag from just below the top seam, to just above the pleats at the bottom of the bag, as pictured. My measurement came to eleven inches.


pin2Decide on a width for your ruffles by doing some quick math. I chose three fabrics for my bag, so I wanted to evenly space three ruffles. At 3.5 inches each, my ruffles would cover 10.5 inches, leaving just a bit of space for the canvas bag to show through between fabrics. {If you’re covering a logo, consider placing the fabrics side-by-side, without any canvas peeking through.}


pin2Choose the length for your fabric strips. To get a nice, full ruffle, you want at least two times as much material as your bag is wide, per side.

For example:


13.5” bag width x 2 = 27” minimum fabric length.


27” fabric length x 2 strips = 54” total material, so your ruffles wrap around both sides of your bag.


Are you still with me? I promise this is the last of the math!


The full width of my fabric was just a bit more than double the width of my bag, and I like full ruffles, so I simply cut 3.5 inch strips from each of the three fabrics.


pin2Cut TWO strips from each fabric.




To repeat: You should now have SIX strips of fabric. Two of each print. Each strip should be NO LESS than double the width of your canvas bag.




pin2Attach the two matching strips at one end, to create one very long strip of each fabric. You will now have three very long strips of fabric, one in each pattern you selected.


pin2Adjust the stitch length on your sewing machine to give a very long, loose stitch. You’ll use these stitches to create ruffles in the next steps.




pin2With your material right side up, sew down the two long sides of each strip of fabric. Pull a bit of extra thread from your spool and bobbin before cutting the strings, so you’ve got something to work with when you begin ruffling the fabric.




pin2To create a ruffle, grasp the thread from the bottom side of your fabric strip. Hold the thread firmly, but gently {to avoid breaking the thread}, and begin working the fabric away from the end of the thread, so that it bunches and puckers, creating a ruffle. It may take a moment or two, but you’ll get the feel for how the fabric gathers.


pin2I like to work toward the center of each fabric strip, marked by the seam you made earlier when attaching the two fabric strips.




pin2Complete the same steps to gather both sides of each of the three fabric strips. You’ll know you’ve gathered and ruffled enough when the fabric is just long enough to wrap all the way around your bag.


pin2Select the placement for your ruffles, and start pinning. Attach one end of the fabric strip on one of the side seams of the bag, and then work around the bag, pinning as you go. Don’t be afraid to use a lot of pins! Your ruffles will have a more even appearance if you spend a few extra minutes with the pin cushion now.




pin2Once you’ve made it all the way around the bag, fold the end of the strip under and pin it in place over top of the end that you first pinned down. This will allow the beginning and end of your material to disappear into the ruffles.


pin2Pin each of the three ruffles in place.



pin2Readjust your sewing machine’s stitch length to a more secure stitch, and then begin sewing the ruffles down. Try to stitch over top of the long stitch you used to create the ruffles. Pause often, and lift the foot of your sewing machine to work the material under the foot as you’d like it. Working slowly to attach the ruffles to your bag may feel frustrating, but it will really pay off when your ruffles have a more even, purposeful appearance.




pin2When you’ve finished attaching each of the ruffles, use your scissors to clean up the loose threads and things, and you’re done! Fill that bag and show off your work!

ABOUT CHRISTINA:  Christina is a food and craft blogger at Dandelions on the Wall.  She stays at home with her son, taking delight in homeschooling and living a life full of creativity and play.

When she isn’t elbows-deep in craft glue or play dough, you’ll likely find Christina with her camera, capturing images of anyone—or anything—who will listen! Christina most enjoys time spent with her husband and family in their sunny, chicken-inhabited, backyard garden. Find Christina on Facebook.

 This piece was written by Christina of Dandelions on the Wall exclusively for Bonbon Break Media, LLC


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