Tote Bag Pattern for 18” Dolls Designed by Gladys Keith

Tote Bag Pattern for 18” Dolls
Designed by Gladys Keith
Over the years Gladys
has become our
resident tote bag
maker. While many
others have made a few
totes every now and
then, Gladys has
provided more than
75% of all totes used by
Dolly Mamas and
frequently we hear
requests for her pattern
and instructions. We
have made an attempt
here to memorialize
them in a format that is
easily accessed by
everyone. We are
providing the basic tote
bag pattern but
recommend that you let
your creativity inspire
you to add fun, youthful
touches to them.
Thank you, Gladys, for
being willing to share
this with us.
Supply list:
2 fabric pieces — 17” square
Although no special equipment is
2 lining pieces — 16 1/2” square
needed we do suggest that you
2 handle pieces — 4” X 16 1/2”
use a walking/even-feed foot on
Batting pieces (cotton batting is best)
your sewing machine because of
2 pieces — 17” square (for bag)
the many layers.
2 pieces — 1 1/4” X 16 1/2” (for handles)
Additional fabric for pocket(s)
Sew-on Velcro - approximately 2” Note: Sticky-backed/no-sew Velcro will not hold up and
should not be used.
Cut two 4” X 16 1/2” pieces of fabric .
Cut two 1 1/4” by 16 1/2 pieces of cotton batting.
Place batting piece on wrong side of handle piece with raw edges even. Repeat for second handle.
Stitch 1/4” from edge.
Fold strap at edge of
batting and press.
Do this again.
Press under 1/4” from sides with
no batting.
Fold on pressed folds and pin in place.
Top stitch approximately 1/8” from the edges.
Alternate method:
If you are using heavy fabric you can eliminate the batting. Cut the handles 5” wide. On each handle
piece fold both long edges to meet at a center fold line. It should look like a huge piece of double
fold bias tape at this point. Fold along the center and topstitch near the edges. This should result in
handles that are approximately 1 1/4” wide.
To help the young girls keep their dolly things organized it is nice for them to have pockets,
either sewn to the lining or to the exterior of the tote bag. Through experience we have
found that deeper pockets hold items more securely than do wide, shallow pockets. We
have also found that completely lined/faced pockets are more sturdy. Sooooo, if you have
enough fabric to completely line them and to make them deep go for it. However, the
following photos show the “standard” pocket that would be sewn on the lining.
The pocket in the photos was cut 10” X 12”. The top edge of the pocket has a 1” hem, top
stitched in place. Turn under 3/8” on the 3 remaining sides and press. Center the pocket
on the lining, making sure that it is no closer to the bottom than 4”. If you choose to place
the pocket higher make sure that it is no closer to the top than 4”. Topstitch in place, leaving
the top edge open.
Reinforce the upper corners.
Exterior pockets: A good size is approximately
10” square. Placement guidelines:
1) Centered from left to right.
2) At lease 4” from the bottom
3) No closer to the top edge than 3”.
Exterior pockets are the ideal place to add
embroidery, appliqué and other types of fun
embellishment, including all that rick rack you
have in your stash.
As you can see in the photos below each pocket
is different in size and design. Be creative!
Place a bag piece on top of a batting piece and machine quilt.
Now is a good time to practice free motion quilting. The bag
will have more stability the more quilting you add.
Note: There is no need to have a backing fabric. Just the
outer fabric and the batting is sufficient because the batting will
be later covered by the tote bag lining.
Trim quilted pieces to 16 1/2” square.
Place one handle on each quilted piece, extending the handles
1/4” beyond raw, top edge and 4” from sides. Machine baste
in place.
Place right sides together and stitch sides and
bottom using 1/4” seams.
Align bottom seam with side seam and measure
2” from the point. Sew across.
View from the right side.
Sew lining on the sides and bottom using 1/4” seams. Leave an opening in one side,
approximately 6” long.
Caution! — If you had earlier added a
pocket to the lining make sure that your
pocket opening faces up towards the top of
the tote bag.
Finish bottom corners as you did for the
Place lining and bag, one inside the other, right sides together. Make sure the handles
are sandwiched between the lining and the bag. Stitch around the top of the bag,
being careful that handles remain in their desired place and are also secured in this
seam. Turn bag right side out through the opening you left in the lining’s side seam.
Now topstitch the opening in the lining side seam closed.
Press upper edge of tote and pin if necessary
to hold securely while topstitching 1/4” from
upper edge.
Add 2” pieces of Velcro between the
handles at the upper edge.
This photo shows the topstitching
from the outside.
Fabric options
1. The instructions call for 2 -17” squares of fabric but if you want to eliminate the bottom seam
you can use a 17” X 34” piece, cutting it down to 16 1/2” X 33” after you have quilted it.
2. As you can see in the photos on page 1, both 17” pieces do not have to be from the same
fabric. One or both of the 17” pieces could be an orphan block left over from making a quilt.
3. Heavier fabrics such as corduroy, denim and home dec fabrics make great totes. Just remember that these totes are for young girls so try to avoid subtle drab tones and instead opt
for bright bold colors. Only choose a drab fabric if you plan to make it youthful by adding
lots of color in the trim, pockets and lining.
4. For purchased, pre-quilted fabric cut the piece 16 1/2” X 33”. If you choose to omit the lining you will need to bind the upper edge and serge the inside seams.
5. Printed panels found in the juvenile fabrics make a great sides to a tote.
Handle options
1. Handles do not have to be made from the same fabric as the totes but should coordinate.
2. Have you accumulated a stash of promotional totes from conferences or seminars? Although the totes are often too small for use by Dolly Mamas the webbing handles can be
removed and applied to a Dolly Mama tote.
1. Do you have large bright prints (think Amy Butler) that you’ve been looking for a use for?
Those make perfect tote bag linings.
2. Although we prefer cotton quilting weight fabrics for linings, poly/cotton broadcloth and
synthetics are equally acceptable. Just remember they need to sturdy enough to withstand
the use/abuse of a child.
1. Smaller printed panels make great pockets.
2. Add a lining and/or batting if you find your pocket is too flimsy.
The young girls living at the Women’s Shelter must “travel light” so the tote bags become even
more important. Please consider adding 2” pieces of Velcro to the upper edges of the pockets
to help insure small items don’t fall out.
1. Choose durable, sturdy options for trim. Beading and sequins will not hold up to abuse.
2. This is a good chance to use all that rick rack you have accumulated over the years. See
the photos on page 3.
3. The pockets on page 3 utilized machine embroidery designs. The fawn and pony are machine embroidery/appliqué designs. The teddy bear is pure machine embroidery. Tina
Abernathy gave us the embroidered teddy bear on a piece of fabric and we later turned into
a pocket. If you do not have an embroidery machine team up with someone who does or do
the appliqué work by hand. This is also a good place to use some youthful red work designs.
4. Home dec trims (braids and fringe) are durable and meant to withstand abuse.
5. Decorative buttons can add color and texture to an appliqué.
6. Wide grosgrain ribbon can be added as an accent or as a bow.
7. Please avoid using metal zippers, buckles or buttons since many of their finishes have not
been tested for their lead content and most of the older ones in our stash exceed the newer
lead content limits for children’s items.
Are you just not a creative person but are good at copying other’s ideas? If so, spend some
time browsing in pattern books at the local fabric stores. McCalls, Simplicity, Butterick and
Vogue usually have several patterns for tote bags in their hobbies/craft section.