Hi Riley Blake readers! Melissa here again, from Sew Like My Mom. I’m really excited to be sharing my project today with you all. I dreamed up the concept for this bag years ago but for some reason, never took the steps to put it into reality. Until now! Introducing The Polly Tote!
She’s unassuming at first glance. An over-sized tote with a zippered pocket on the outside. But hiding behind that little pink zipper? Every Mom’s dream come true!
I could cue horrible infomercial announcer voice here and start telling you how difficult it is to wrangle a handful of kids, bags of groceries, an unruly child–all at once while trying to walk through a parking lot. It’s nearly impossible, right? I only have 2 hands, but 4 kids, and that math just doesn’t add up. They don’t want to touch each other, ew her hands are sticky, she pushed me, etc. Sound familiar? Well, Polly to the rescue!!
OH. EM. GEE. I can’t believe I waited so many years to make this incredible tote!! We just played with it in the Preschool parking lot, but I can’t wait to run errands! They all actually stayed with me, held on without pushing, complaining, or whining. It. was. ah-mazing.
You can customize how many hand holds are hidden in your pocket and pull out only as many as you need at any given time. It’s not your average Mom tote, that’s for sure!
Inside the bag is another zippered pocket, plus 3 over-sized pockets for storing all the diapers/wipes/toys that accumulates in a Mom bag.
Ollie loved putting my phone in and out of the pockets! We ALL adore our new helper!
I named her Polly because of her many functions (get it? Poly?), and she doesn’t disappoint. Are you ready to make your own? Read on to find out how!
This bag takes a bit of prep time to get everything cut, but once you start sewing it goes pretty quickly. The exact amount of fabric you need will depend on what mix you want. 2 yards will be a safe estimate, though. You’ll also need 2 zippers. Length doesn’t matter as long as they’re not super short. Mine were 14″ and 16″ and I cut off the excess to fit inside the pockets.
For the Polly Tote, cut:
-Outer – 20″ x 18″ (x2)
-Lining – 20″ x 18″ (x2)
-Interfacing – 20″ x 18″ (x2)
-Straps – 5″ x 20″ (x2)
-Interfacing for straps – 4″ x 20″ (x2)
-Large Inside Pocket – 18″ x 20″ (or 2 piece 10″ x 20″ and piece together as I do in this tutorial)
-Handles – 2.5″ x 19″ (x number of kids)
-Outer Zip Pocket – 9″ x 13″
-Interfacing for Outer Zip Pocket – 9″ x 13″
-Inner Zip Pocket – 8.5″ x 16″
-Interfacing for Inner Zip Pocket – 8.5″ x 16″
WHEW! Did you get all that? Lets get sewing!
To start, fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the outer bag pieces. The bag pieces are 20″ wide and 18″ tall.
Fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the inner pocket piece.
Lay the pocket piece right sides together with one side of the outer bag, centering the pocket and lining it up with the bottom. Come down 1.5″ from the top of the piece and draw a line, leaving 1.5″ on either side. Come down 1/2″ and draw another line. Square it off with 2 little lines on the side.
Draw a line down the middle of your rectangle, stopping 1/4″ from each edge and draw little triangles to the corners.
Sew the pocket to the bag around the rectangle.
Cut along the line you drew in the middle of the rectangle, following the lines to each corner, clipping right up to your stitches.
Turn the pocket through the hole, pull to the inside of the bag, and press well. Iron this carefully, being sure to go slow at the corners and pull it to help it lay flat.
Lay a few pieces of tape sticky side up and place your zipper on them.
Place the zipper on the opening from the back, centering it and making sure the zipper pull is aligned all the way to the edge. Once you have it on just right, press down on the tape to secure it. Sew around the edge of the rectangle close to the edge.
Cut off the rest of the zipper so it’s all contained within the pocket.
Now grab your handle pieces, fold right sides together length-wise, and sew one short end and the long side at 1/4″ seam allowance. Clip the corners of the sewn in at an angle.
Turn the handle pieces right sides out and press. Take the finished end and fold it back 3.75″ and stitch close to the edge.
Once you have all your handles turned and loops stitched, line them up with the top edge of the pocket and pin in place. Stitch 1/4″ from the top edge of the pocket.
Open the zipper and pull the handles through it to keep them out of the way for stitching.
Fold the bottom edge of the pocket up and stitch around the 3 open sides.
Make sure you carefully move the rest of the bag out of the way while sewing.
Use pinking shears around the sewn edges of the pocket to keep things tidy inside your bag.
Now take the outer back piece, place right sides together, and sew down the sides and along the bottom.
Fold the corner of the bag on itself, making sure you line up the seams, and draw a line 2.5″ from the point. Stitch on the line and cut off the excess fabric. Repeat for the other side.
Get your straps and interfacing. Fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric in the middle of the straps with 1/2″ of fabric showing on either side of the interfacing. Fold the extra fabric over and press.
Fold the strap in half with wrong sides together and press well. Top stitch down both sides of the strap. Repeat for the other strap.
Pin raw edges of the straps to the top edge of the outer bag pieces 4″ from each side edge.
Stitch the straps down 1/4″ from the top, reinforcing them several times for stability.
Take your large inner pocket pieces, place right sides together, and sew along the top and bottom edges. If you’re using one piece, just fold in half and sew along the bottom. Flip right sides out and press well. Top stitch along the top edge.
Place the pocket piece on one lining piece 4″ from the top edge with the right sides facing up. Draw 2 lines with a fabric marking pen 6.5″ from the edge, creating 3 pockets. Stitch down your drawn lines, along both outer edges of the pocket, and along the bottom.
Create a second zippered pocket on the other lining piece in the same manner you did the one on the outside, minus the step to add the straps.
Sew the lining pieces together in the same manner you did the outer pieces, leaving a hole about 5″ wide in the bottom seam for turning the bag through.
**BAG SEWING HINT!! Sew your lining pieces with a seam allowance 1/8″ larger than your outer pieces (so if you’re been using 1/4″, move to 3/8″). It’ll make the lining just small enough to fit perfectly inside the bag!
Place your lining over your outer with right sides together and pin along the top, matching side seams.
Turn the bag through the hole you left in the lining. Stitch up your hole in the lining, press the top edge of the bag and top stitch 1/4″ from the top edge. And you’re done!
Thank you so much for having me today! I hope you all enjoy the Polly Tote and sew up a bunch for yourself and all your Mom friends! You can’t go wrong with this versatile and stylish tote. Be sure to check out my other stuff on Sew Like My Mom, join me on Facebook, and follow me on Pinterest and Instagram!