Quick videos for the love of sewing.

Sew a Tote in an Evening

Sewing is entertainment. Just like going to a movie or watching a sporting event, creating with fabric and thread is enjoyable and rewarding. Watch and learn how Nancy Zieman sews a tote in an evening with Clover’s Trace ‘n Create Bag Template-Florida Tote Collection—it’s sewing entertainment at it’s best!

Note: The Shape-Flex Nancy’s using in this video is by Baby Lock—a thick 1/8” polyester interfacing to stabilize bags and home-dec projects. Pellon offers a comparable product called Peltex. Both products are suitable for bag-making projects. Please note Pellon also offers a product called Shape-Flex®, an interfacing designed for garment making, and is not the product used in this video.

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55 Responses to “Sew a Tote in an Evening”

  1. Nancy Says:

    October 28th, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    Hi Marie, I think my blog will help show how the strap connectors are attached to the bag. If you need further assistance, please write me at info@ziemanproductions.com http://www.nancyzieman.com/blog/sewing-general/sew-a-tote-sewing-makerover-ideas/

  2. Marie kennedy Says:

    October 26th, 2015 at 6:57 am

    When visiting usa recently, i caught you doing a programme using the trace n create bag and was very impressed. As soon as I was home in Uk, i purchased the template and have been making the basic tote. However, i cannot figure out how the strap connectors are sewn into the bag between the main part and the lining. I have searched and searched for any further information but cannot find anything. The instructions only say ‘position strap connectors at markings right side together, topstitch to tote using piping or zipprr foot, but the picture shows the connectors inside the bag. I am very confused and at the point of giving up! You are my last hope!

  3. Nancy Says:

    November 11th, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    Hi Ann, You can find ALL things Sewing with Nancy at nancyzieman.com http://www.nancyzieman.com. To purchase reference materials, click on the yellow box that says Sewing With Nancy Books and DVDs – Buy Now on the right side of the page.

  4. Ann Becker Says:

    November 4th, 2014 at 11:32 am

    Looking for the free pattern & instructions for the tote and smaller bag demonstrated on Saturday November 1, 2014…I do not see it here. Thanks..
    I love your show, try to watch every Saturday on KBTC-Washington
    Go to your booth every year at the Sewing Expo at Puyallup Fair Grounds, Washington State.

  5. Charly Says:

    May 15th, 2013 at 7:30 am

    Great web site. Lots of helpful information below. I’m just giving this to several good friends ans also revealing within yummy. And indeed, as a result of a person’s perspiration!

  6. Nancy Says:

    March 5th, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Chris, You’ll find information about converting a tote to a back pack in my blog plus you’ll find additional creative bag ideas. Check out these links. http://www.nancyzieman.com/blog/nancy-zieman-tv/top-10-creative-bag-ideas-design-3—california-backpack/ or http://www.nancyzieman.com/blog/top-10-creative-designer-bag-sewing-tips/

  7. chris Bell Says:

    March 2nd, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    I saw part of a recent sewing with nancy featuring bags/ totes, it seemed your were converting a tote to a back pack (pink fabric and using snaps. Please where can I find more details before I go back to the UK
    chris Bell

  8. moficast Says:

    June 11th, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    Awesome issues here. I am very glad to see your article. Thanks so much and I am looking ahead to touch you. Will you please drop me a mail?

  9. biosics 3 Says:

    June 8th, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    Heya i’m for the first time here. I found this board and I find It really useful & it helped me out a lot. I hope to present one thing again and help others such as you helped me.

  10. Nancy Says:

    March 10th, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    Use all purpose sewing thread with a size 90 or even 100 needle. When using the heavy craft interfacing (Peltex) the larger needle size is ideal.

  11. jeremy Says:

    February 14th, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Dear Nancy,
    What type of thread and needle do you recommend to make this bag?
    Thank you

  12. Nancy Says:

    November 29th, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    Thanks, Karen! I appreciate your comments and tips. It would be great to see your finished totes. Consider posting them on my Facebook page!

  13. Karen Davis Says:

    November 28th, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    This video was inspiring and helpful – thank you! I went right out and purchased everything needed to make several totes. I have to admit – the first tote took me five evenings with multiple mistakes and fabric replacements (ugh – do yourself a big favor and do your first in muslin, omitting the snaps, feet and bottom stabilizer to save money!). The second took three evenings with one mistake and the rest have been reliably one (very long) evening from start to finish!

    I found that if you’re planning to make several of these bags, for gifts perhaps, that it is easiest to prepare your fabrics, cut out blocks, fuse the exterior fabric with the stabilizer and cut the template shapes and bias fabric for piping in one evening, then do your sewing and assembly the next. As always, the prep take just as long as the sewing.

    As a tip, upholstery fabrics work very well and it’s easy to find the yardage required at very low prices at most fabric stores or WalMart. I found a beautiful toile upholstery fabric for $2.00/yd! I also found that the Pellon interfacing is MUCH less expensive at WalMart than anywhere else.

    Thanks for a wonderful video!

  14. Nancy Says:

    June 23rd, 2011 at 4:00 am

    Dear Mary,
    Thank you for your kind note and for your offer to use Alpaca fiber! What a wonderful offer—I’d love to work with it. You can contact me at info@ziemanproductions.com

    Again, thank you!

  15. Mary Says:

    June 18th, 2011 at 6:33 am

    Dear Nancy,
    Just wanted to say Thank You for all of your help over the years. Between you and Elanor Burns I became quite proficient with using my sewing machine. I’ve been able to do things I would not have attempted on my own.
    Life has interfered with my ability to sew as I please, but I still enjoy watching your videos. Please continue to educate me

    A few years ago I purchased some Alpacas. I am learning how to spin and felt this wonderfully soft, versatile fiber. I want to try using it as a quilt batting. If you would be interested in trying some yourself please drop me an email. Am not trying to sell you anything. Will send it to you free of charge as a gift for all you have given me.

    Your Friend and Admirer,
    BikerBabe Alpacas

  16. Nancy Says:

    March 8th, 2011 at 10:10 am

    Dear Shekoofeh, soon the Trace ‘n Create Bag Templates will be available in Europe and Australia. Where do you live?

  17. shekoofeh Says:

    March 8th, 2011 at 8:36 am

    Dear Nancy

    I realy like the tote, how can I find the patern, because I live overseas.Thanks

  18. Nancy Says:

    January 12th, 2011 at 5:23 am

    Sabrina, jeans and fatigues still require considerable inner support when made into a bag. I am a fan of the heavy interfacing from Pellon, Pel-Tex or the brand from Baby Lock, Shape Flex. (Pellon has a shape-flex interfacing, but it’s lightweight–it’s easy to confuse the two.) Just as this video shows, use the heavy-weight interfacing with your recycled fabric. I’d love to see your results. Consider posting a photo on my facebook page!

  19. Sabrina Says:

    January 11th, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    Hi Nancy:

    I make tote bags using jeans and military fatigues. Which stabalizers would you suggest that I use to make the bags look professional and sturdy?


  20. Nancy Says:

    December 28th, 2010 at 11:04 am

    Dear Teresa, I’m so glad that you love Nancy Zieman TV.com. You can watch other episodes of Sewing With Nancy on your computer by going to the link below and look for “Where to Watch.” Click on some of these options.

    And, yes, I’ll be in Puyallup in March. I’m presenting an evening event this year. I hope you’re able to attend.
    Thanks again for your interest.

  21. Teresa Gaddes Says:

    December 28th, 2010 at 10:12 am

    I am thrilled to see NancyZiemanTV.com !!! My PBS Station in Atlanta, GA just wasn’t cooperating having you on at 6:00 am on Saturday mornings!!
    Love watching you sew!!
    Will see you in Puyallup in March !!

  22. Nancy Says:

    December 22nd, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Dear Jackie, thanks for your interest in adding a zipper to a tote. You’ll find the instructions for a zipper closure in my book and DVD, 12 Easy Sew Bags. Here’s a link.

  23. Jackie Johnson Says:

    December 22nd, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    I would like to add a zipper also. Will the instructions be published on your website? I am thrilled with your videos, because we don’t have television but I can watch you on my computer. Thanks!

  24. Nancy Says:

    December 21st, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    Dear Karen, Thank you for your comment. I didn’t realized until reading your note that two manufacturers have products named Shape Flex! Yikes. I featured Shape Flex by Baby Lock. Shape Flex by Pellon is very lightweight. Pellon’s version of the interfacing that you need for the tote is Pel-tex. Again, thanks for bringing this to my attention.

  25. Karen Says:

    December 20th, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    I too ordered the wrong Shape-Flex after watching the Video. It arrived in the mail today.

  26. Nancy Says:

    December 18th, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    Cathy, yes we’ve added zippers to a tote. You’ll find the instructions for a zipper closure in my book and DVD, 12 Easy Sew Bags. Here’s a link.

  27. Cathy Says:

    December 18th, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Nancy, love the video! Do you have an easy technique to add a zipper to the tote? For traveling, I need my items more secure. Thanks!

  28. Nancy Says:

    December 16th, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    Dara, thank you for your comment. I didn’t realized until reading your note that two manufacturers have products named Shape Flex! Yikes. The Shape Flex that you ordered is from Pellon–very lightweight as you found out. Pellon’s version of the interfacing that you need for the tote is Pel-tex. I featured the brand that Baby Lock dealers should be able to offer, also called Shape Flex by Baby Lock, but the heavy weight type. Please email me at info@ziemanproductions.com so we can help you out.

  29. Dara Says:

    December 16th, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    After watching this video, I was excited to try my hand at making this tote. As my local fabric stores did not have any “Shape Flex,” I ordered it on-line. I was surprised when I received it as it looked nothing like the product shown in this video. It was much thinner; like ordinary fabric. I was very disappointed. Is the stabilizer featured in this video actually called “Shape Flex?”

  30. Nancy Says:

    December 9th, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Karen, thanks for your kind comments! You made my day. The show that you are referring to is Cotton Theory Quilting—Reversible Jackets with Betty Cotton. The book and DVD are available through Nancy’s Notions. Here’s the link:

  31. Karen Says:

    December 9th, 2010 at 1:31 pm


    I love your show and over the years have found your insight very helpful! I think I ha been watching as long as you have been on the air!

    I was watching I think last week when you had a guest that showed how to make a reversible quilted jacket with
    a fantastic way of putting all the pieces together with contrasting fabic strips. I am sorry but I don’t remember the guest name but I loved the idea and thought this would be a Fantastic gift!

    Could someone please give me some feed back on where I can get the info on this show and how to get her book, dvd.

    Thank-You For Making Sewing so much Fun for me!

  32. Marilyn Says:

    December 8th, 2010 at 8:22 am

    Can’t wait to make one. ” Making a list and checking it twice” so I get all the products needed to make this great tote!!

  33. Nancy Says:

    December 8th, 2010 at 7:02 am

    Dear Judy, Thank you for your interest in watching Sewing With Nancy. Go to the link below and in the upper right hand corner, you’ll see “Where to Watch.” Click on some of these options and you’ll be able to watch shows of Sewing With Nancy on your computer!

  34. Judy Lesiak Says:

    December 8th, 2010 at 4:24 am

    Liked your TV program but it has recently been dropped/rescheduled. I miss it.

  35. Ginger Says:

    December 7th, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    OK! You reeled me in. Now I want to make bags. Great video, you are amazing. Thanks for your never ending energy.

  36. Judy Salb Says:

    December 7th, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    What a fun project. And now I have found yet another sewing foot, pearl and piping, that I am off to purchase. Thanks Nancy

  37. Nancy Says:

    December 7th, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    Brenda, you can get the Clover Trace ‘n Create Template from the list of the participating Baby Lock Dealers. Or, you can purchase online from Sewing and Craft Club or Nancy’s Notions.

  38. Darlene Parker Says:

    December 7th, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    Just read my e-mail and saw this message. The tote bag was very interesting and the techniques are going to be very helpful when making the tote. May have to view the video a few more times but it definitly looks like a very doable project just in time for the holiday.

  39. Terri Says:

    December 7th, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    What a neat tote!! Looking forward to trying it out. Thanks for sharing!!!

  40. Mary Bowles Says:

    December 7th, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    Nancy, I love your show and now have found your TV website…..I’m so excited ! I recentlly bought my first Babyloc machine in Fayetteville, Ar at the Bee Sew Inn. I love it. The tote video was great, I can’t wait to try it out.
    thank you for all you do.

    I’m a life long seamstress, 13 years ago I started an embroidery business and love it !

  41. Erika V Says:

    December 7th, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    This tote seems so easy and quick to make – I love it. I will definitely make one for me and my mom. I enjoy making purses and totes, this one seems like the perfect size. I really enjoyed your video.

  42. Brenda Says:

    December 7th, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    Loved the video, and the bag. Didn’t tell us how to get the pattern…..

  43. Mary Lowe Says:

    December 7th, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    Been making bags for year, but wow how simple with your pattern and all the fancy little extra’s to make this project easy. My first time watching, what a great way to learn new idea’s . Thanks

  44. Heather Says:

    December 7th, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    I loved the video!
    I’m pretty much a novice sewer and this helped me with a few questions I have had.

  45. Helen Says:

    December 7th, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    This looks like a real sew simple project. I think I will try it after the holidays. Thank you.

  46. Sandy Says:

    December 7th, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    What a great idea Nancy! This is just what I need to complete that holiday bag I’ve been procrastinating completing! Can’t wait to get started now……

  47. Julie Blake Says:

    December 7th, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Thanks again, Nancy.
    This is a great way of reaching even more people with your no-nonsense skills. I do not have an expensive machine, nor all the attachments, but I’m sure I can adapt.
    Keep these coming, Nancy, and thanks for including projects anyone can use!

  48. Pam McCalligett Says:

    December 7th, 2010 at 10:35 am

    I love this hands on video…even if I get stuck I have Nancy right in my sewing room to help me out! Great job Nancy Z.!

  49. Jo Says:

    December 7th, 2010 at 8:47 am

    WOW, what a great video. I learned about new products to help in making the totes and for them to look even more professional. Thanks Nancy

  50. Susan H Says:

    December 7th, 2010 at 8:27 am

    I have not been quilting or sewing in ages due to my current life and work schedule (and knitting of course). I keep saying I want to get back to it, I really do miss it. After watching this video I will be heading to my local Baby Lock vendor to buy all the supplies and whip out this GREAT tote. (one can NEVER have too many totes you know !!!)

  51. Patricia Lidell Says:

    December 7th, 2010 at 8:21 am

    Great idea. Looking forward to making a tote.

  52. Mary Ann Urbanoski Says:

    December 7th, 2010 at 8:17 am

    Hi Nancy,

    I love your videos. As I am a visual learner it helps me a lot. Working in a quilt shop doesn’t hurt either ( running to get all your templates and such) he he!

    Keep making the videos Thank you so much

  53. Anne Says:

    December 7th, 2010 at 7:44 am

    Excellent instructional video! I prefer adding body with the Shape-Flex interfacing because canvas plus interfacing adds weight. Very stylish bag! I have made seven totes from the Trace ‘n Create “City Bag” collection. Five of those bags were gifts for my daughter’s bridal attendants. Love the templates!

  54. Pat Gilmore-Lee Says:

    December 7th, 2010 at 7:11 am

    Very interesting and useful.

  55. Pat Gilmore-Lee Says:

    December 7th, 2010 at 7:03 am

    Very interesting.

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