Good Gifts for Quilters: Make a Tote Bag that Holds Everything

I must be the queen of the tote bags. I have them in all shapes and sizes, from the $1.99 variety with department stores logos to artfully hand-crafted varieties.

patchwork quilted tote bag by pokey bolton
Reversible Patchwork Tote by Pokey Bolton,
featured on “QATV.”

I like to stitch totes to give to my friends–tote bags make especially good gifts for quilters and needle workers who like to carry small projects with them.

There are many different styles of tote bags to choose from, but I like ones that have a gusset. Adding gussets to the bottom of the tote makes for a wider bottom that is more versatile for carrying books, groceries, or supplies.

Here are two ways to make a gusset, from Quilting Arts Managing Editor Rose DeBoer.

Method One: Cut First

how to make a gusset on a quilted bag

Layer your rectangles right sides together. At each of the bottom corners, mark out a square. The size of the square will determine the depth of the gusset.

With a ½” seam allowance, a 1″ square will create a 1″ gusset, a 2″ square yields a 3″ gusset. In general, an inch or so works well.

Love math? Here’s how it works. Add up both sides of the square and subtract 1. So a 3″ square will yield a 5″ gusset 3+3 = 6 – 1 = 5.

Right sides together, sew both side seams and the bottom seam. Open the seam allowances. Fold so that the side seam is aligned with the bottom seam. Stitch with a ½” seam allowance.

Method Two: Sew First

Again, start by layering your rectangles. This time do not cut the corner squares. Stitch down one side, across the bottom, and up the second side–pivoting at the corners.

At the bottom corner, open the seam allowances and fold so that the side seam is aligned with the bottom seam. Draw a line perpendicular to the seam an inch from the point. Trim off the corner ½” from the seam. If you want a larger gusset, stitch further from the point.

Now that you know how to make a gusset, how about some tote tutorials? We’ve bundled some of our favorite “Quilting Arts TV” episodes featuring stitched and quilted totes and bags.

Learn how to make the bags, plus get tips on how to personalize them with fabric, embellishments, and surface design techniques. Anyone likes to make quilted gifts will learn a lot from the experts in the Stitched and Quilted Tote Bag Bonanza bundle.

P.S. Do you have a different method of adding a gusset? Share it in the comments section below.

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3 thoughts on “Good Gifts for Quilters: Make a Tote Bag that Holds Everything

  1. I don’t know if you would call it a gusset… but my Nana taught me to sew the three seems..two sides and the bottom….then I could do what you showed in method two…OR make looks like a pleat or fold on both sides of the side seams with the fold going away from the seam. This may not be a gusset but I have made the pleats with the fold going either way and the results are very nice…and different.