Beautiful in Blithe – with tote tutorial!

Welcome to The Sew and Tell Project!

I am beyond thrilled to be today’s stop on the Art Gallery Fabrics Blithe Blog Tour.  If you follow me (@elerihandmade) on Instagram, you have probably seen some of my Blithe fabric sneaks like this one!

Make sure you search #BlitheFabrics #BlitheFabricsBlogTour and #ArtGalleryFabrics hashtags on Instagram to see all the beautiful creations from the talented makers on this tour.  Today is my turn to share mine!

It is no secret that I LOVE all the Art Gallery Fabric lines I get to work with. The Blithe fabrics line, however has felt like a special textile gift to me.  Living in North Dakota, I annually experience the cool, quiet beauty of winter in my normal life. I grew up in California and still marvel each winter as the frost, snow, and wind whisks away the floral blooms leaving quiet, peace, and serenity. Mother Nature bares her soul and allows us to see winter as a time of natural rest for the earth that we plow and work and harvest. I feel the Blithe line designed by the talented Katarina Roccella perfectly celebrates the natural cycle of seasons with its cool tones, the bare branch motifs, and of course the sweet bird and stag prints.

Blithe Fabrics has prints available in FIVE different substrates: 100% woven cotton, 95/5 cotton lycra, canvas, voile, and a linen/cotton blend. There is material for any look you wish to make!

For the blog tour, I have two special treats for you! I am sharing a pattern mash I made for my beautiful Middle Miss. I used Philosopher’s Thoughts knit with the Isla Infinity Bodice and mashed it with the tiered Mia skirt to showcase five Blithe prints at once.

I actually had planned on creating a Simple Life Helena dress at first, but when this array of prints arrived to make my dress and tote, I was blown away and wanted them ALL to shine in my look and not just be used as linings or trims, so I decided to change my design plan.

I make dozens of knit dresses each year for my daughters to wear but wanted this one to be as special as the featured fabrics. One night as I was brainstorming I thought adding the Mia skirt would be the perfect way to maximize the impact of this fabric combination while maintaining a wearable design. The lined knit bodice is comfortable, and the skirt is the perfect fullness for my 8-year-old for school activities or play.

When we wandered around looking for the perfect spot for these pictures on a warmer-than-usual January day, we were blessed to see a small herd of deer wander through as if they approved of the fabric! Unfortunately, they did not want their picture taken as they did not wait for me to get my camera out!

The second treat I have for you is a mini-tutorial on the canvas purse I made for my Middle Miss. You may remember during Project Run and Play, I designed a small foldable, two-pocket purse to hold gel pens and a sketchbook. Today, I am including the steps I followed to make this purse! In honor of the natural feel of the Blithe Fabrics line, and my original Project Run and Play design, I have named my creation “The Wanderer Tote.” I hope this inspires you to try the soft and strong Art Gallery Fabrics canvas to make your own bag for yourself or for your tween!

Before I go into my tutorial, I want to say a sincere thank you to Katarina Roccella for creating such beautiful fabric lines to work with and to Art Gallery Fabrics for providing me with the fabric to create this look and the following tutorial.

Please make sure you follow us at @sewandtellproject to stay up-to-date with what the Sew and Tell team is always working on!



2 rectangles of Art Gallery Fabrics Canvas (mine were 10″ x 24″) (finished size will be folded in half lengthwise minus seam allowance – adjust according to desired finished size)

2 rectangles of Art Gallery Fabrics Premium cotton for lining (same size as your canvas)

Coordinating thread for piecing and topstitching.

1 small amount of coordinating Art Gallery Fabrics premium cotton for contrast pocket.  2 pocket pieces. I fussy cut my phone pocket to be 5″ x 6″ and my pen/scissor pocket to be 8″ x 6″

2 D-rings (I used 1″ Dritz D-Rings)

1 adjustable purse strap (or webbing and buckle slider to make one)

2 suede scraps (mine were 3″ x 1″ to go through the 1″ D-rings)

2 magnetic snap sets (I strongly recommend these by Dritz)

1 package of twill tape that coordinates either with your zipper tape or your lining

2 9″ purse or all-purpose zippers (adjust if you are making your bag smaller or larger)

fusible fleece cut 1″ narrower and shorter than your canvas pieces.

1 disappearing ink pen. I use Frixion pens.

I used a 1/2″ seam allowance and regular straight stitch throughout this tutorial unless otherwise noted. 

For our tote, we are basically going to do THREE steps: 1) sew the outer part of your bag including patch pockets and install purse hardware 2) create your zippered lining using this tutorial 3) attaching zippered lining to your outer bag.

Part One:

Make your Bag Outer

Apply fusible fleece to one of your canvas pieces. After applying fusible interfacing, fold both canvas pieces in half widthwise and press well. Take care during the rest of the steps of the tutorial to not iron out your crease. This will be your stitch line in the last step of the tutorial.

Make your pockets. For both my square and rectangle pocket pieces, I sewed them right sides together leaving a small opening on the bottom. I clipped corners and then turned them right side out and then topstitched along top of pocket piece only. Do not worry about closing bottom opening since that will be sewn shut when you attach it to your canvas pieces.


Choose one side of canvas to be the part of your bag that will be visible when the bag is snapped shut and worn. I chose to place my detail pocket (look at that lovely buck!) for my phone to be visible when the bag is worn.

Sew pocket along side and bottom edges taking care to backstitch at top openings to avoid stress on the seam.

Next we will add our suede tabs and hardware.

Loop your suede through the D-Ring. Use a ruler to slide your suede pieces at least 1″ from the edge of your canvas. You do not want either your D-Ring or suede to get caught in the seam allowance when you sew the sides together. You will then pin or clip the other suede/D-ring to the OPPOSITE corner on the same piece of canvas.  When the bag is finished, you will fold it up and closed so the straps need to connect on opposite corners.

Using 3/8″ seam allowance, slowly and carefully sew your suede pieces to your canvas. Mea Culpa: I did NOT use a leather needle. I hand-cranked my wheel to start and sewed at a very SLOW speed and backstitched.

The outer part of your canvas bag is done. Now it is time to work on the interior part of your bag. Here is a picture to let you know what we are heading toward with our bag!

When you are finished, the bag will fold shut and be connected by the strong metal snaps. This design allows you to have two separate zippered pockets.

Take your second canvas piece. It is time to mark and install your metal snaps. I used a ruler and installed my snaps roughly 2″ down and 2″ in from each corner.

For this step, I actually recommend you use a NON-ERASABLE pen since your snap will cover it AND you are going to apply a small square of interfacing to each corner that you mark (and the heat from the iron might erase your markings). Mark ALL four corners.

Use your iron to apply your interfacing scraps. Then use the back of your metal snap to MARK where you will cut your slits for the prongs. Follow the package instructions on your metal snaps to install all four snaps. I install both snaps on one edge, and then double check my markings before installing the opposite side.

If you are adding a pocket to stash goodies between the zippered pockets of your folded bag, now is the time to pin and sew your second pocket as you did the patch pocket on the outer. I decided I wanted a larger slot to hold a pair of craft scissors, and then narrower pockets for the gel pens! I marked my pocket accordingly with an erasable pen,

The OUTER of my bag is complete with pockets and hardware. Now I place these two pieces right sides together and sew up the long edges on both sides leaving both the top and the bottom open.


Make your zippered lining.

Note: There are a lot of ways to make a zippered lining. This is the tutorial I used during Project Run and Play and I am linking here again as it worked very well for this design. Feel free to substitute with any zippered lining method you are comfortable with. The nice thing about this butterfly style bag, is until the center seam is sewn, both the top and the bottom can be unzipped so you can turn your bag inside out for a clean finish. 

I used this tutorial to create my zippered lining. I then sewed my lining down the long seams, right sides together and pinked my seam allowance.

Part Three: Attach your zippered lining to your outer canvas bag.  You will repeat this step on both ends of your bag.

I turned my outer bag in approx 1/2″ inch and pressed to conceal the raw edges. I pinned the zippered lining into my bag, and then topstitched along the edge all around taking care to sew slowly where my suede hardware is attached. Repeat for the other end of your bag.

Now it is time to turn this bag into TWO separate zippered pouches. I carefully smoothed out all the layers of canvas and lining, and used my ruler to trace my erasable pen along the seam, correcting to square it up as necessary. I then carefully stitched along that mark, backstitching at both the beginning and then end. Iron away your Frixion markings!


Attach your purse handle to your suede hardware. And clip your threads.


My finished bag is just perfect for holding a project notebook. The slots hold a small pair of blunt edge scissors, and an assortment of colorful pens. 

The strong magnetic metal snaps have no trouble keeping the bag folded tightly closed to be worn over the shoulder for wandering around, and can be easily plopped open if you want to access your craft supplies. For this bag, since I intended to keep it for myself (didn’t happen – daughter took it instantly), I cut back on the pen slots. However, you can customize this design to the serious artist or coloring aficionado and include multiple pen/crayon pockets, or none at all.

Thank you for following along with my tutorial. I have only sewn one purse pattern in my life, so if there is any confusion or a step that needs more clarity, please let me know and I am happy to help! 



  1. Felicia | 23rd Jan 17

    Super cute, as always! Love the tote!

  2. Diane | 23rd Jan 17

    What a clever way to enjoy such beautiful fabric patterns. It is obvious your model agrees and will enjoy the dress and tote. Perfect!

  3. Becca | 23rd Jan 17

    I love how you beautifully describe winter. If I’m inside by the fire I too can appreciate it like you. Love her dress, it showcases each fabric perfectly

  4. Courtney | 23rd Jan 17

    Super cute tote!! I love your thoughts on the winter rest too.

  5. Mara | 30th Jan 17

    Love, love the dress, sounds like you had an adventure taking the photos, Thank you for the tote pattern as well.

  6. Chris | 2nd Mar 17

    This bag is so darn cute. I just love it!

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