Monday, May 21, 2012

Tutorial: Grab N' Go Tote

What do you do in the summer that makes life easier?  I’m always trying to find things that make summer activities easier, more fun, and most of all COOLER.   I live in an area where it is not uncommon to have 100 plus degree weather for days on end.  Ok…I know there are way worse places but for a mountain girl who never dealt with extreme heat this is HOT – HOT – HOT.

To get away from the heat we sometimes hop in the car and head to the Calaveras Big Trees
  Or to Dillon Beach
This is usually not preplanned and I am rushing around at the last minute grabbing coolers, food, drinks, and other necessities.   So I’ve had some ideas in my head for a while about making summertime excursions easier and less stressful.   The first thing I wanted to have ready to go this year is a Grab N’ Go Picnic Tote.

You will need:
- 1 Cotton cloth dish towel  (measures approximately 20 X 28 inches)
- 18 inches of 1 inch wide Grosgrain ribbon cut into a 15” piece and a 3” piece
- Small pieces of Velcro
- Matching thread
Step 1 - Pockets
Working with the short side, press the end up 4 inches toward the center of the towel then fold that pocket down so that you have approximately 1 inch above the top of the first edge – press.   Fold the towel again so that you form a pocket that measures a total of 6 inches - press.  You should have two layered pockets one that is shorter on top.  See the photos for clarification.

Step 2 – Sewing the Pockets

Working just the 4 inch folded pocket, measure and mark the lines for the plastic-ware starting 1.5 inches from the side across the right side of the towel until you have marked 6 pockets.  Repeat starting at the left side of the towel.  Note you will have an extra center slot that is slightly wider than the others.  That is good.

Stitch the sides together along the 4 inch edge making sure to only catch the first pocket layers.  Stitch the slots for the plastic-ware.  I always backstitch at the beginning and end of each line.   Topstitch along the folded edge which is approximately 1 inch above the open edge of the slots. 
Fold the 4 inch pocket on top of the six inch pocket and secure with a pin.  Starting about 2.5 inches from the bottom edge of the 4 inch pocket you want to stitch that pocket down.  Stop stitching about 2.5 inches from the other edge.  Be sure to back stitch at the beginning and end of this seam.
Fold the entire pocket assembly toward the center of the towel and stitch a seam up the center through all layers.   Almost done!

Optional:  Attach ½ in pieces of Velcro to the center of the two large pocket tops and the inside edge of the fold down flap.  I use sew in Velcro because it stays put but you can use the stitch free type if you prefer or…you don’t have to do this at all.  I just like to have things tucked in and secure.

Now you need to stitch the 6 inch pocket to the back piece.  To do this you need to fold back the end of the 4 inch pocket to keep it out of the way while you stitch the side seam.  Also insert the grosgrain ribbon holders by folding each piece in half and placing it between the layers of the seam at the top of the inner pocket.  Make sure they line up.  Secure by backstitching several times then stitch down the seam and secure the end of the seam with backstitching. 
Optional Embellishments:  You can add buttons, flowers, decals or whatever embellishments you want to the outside of the tote.  I want my tote to fit easily into my trunk and not take up a lot of space so I haven’t added anything extra - well not yet anyway.
I have some other ideas floating around in my head that I plan to put into cloth and on paper so come back in a few days to see what other summer fun things we will have going.  Please leave us a comment and tell us what you do to make your summer activities easy, fun, and COOL!

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