Introducing the Jolly Braid Tote Bag
I’ve made several different bags in the past, and this is my favorite pattern for several reasons:
- The size of the bag (12″x11″x5″) is perfect.
- The design is timeless.
- The bag is easy to sew! The pattern instructions are clear and there’s a great video tutorial.
- The Soft and Stable adds great shape to the bag and quilts easily.
One reason I chose to make a bag instead of buying one is to personalize it to fit my style and needs.
Before I began sewing the braid, I chose six jolly bars for my handles because I wanted them to look like a cohesive unit rather than patchwork. I chose prints that had duplicates so each handle mirrored the other.
For the braid, instead of randomly adding strips, I decided to follow the gradation of color as it was packaged in the jolly bar.
I placed the dark fabrics in the middle so that they would be on the bottom of the bag. By laying out my strips in advance, I was able to achieve the look I wanted.
The pattern doesn’t include any interior pockets. Since I like to keep small objects accessible, I used extra jolly bars to create pockets and top-stitched them to the bag lining. I stitched down the middle of one jolly bar pocket to divide it into two smaller sections. The full size pocket holds my pens and mobile phone.
- I used clear Elmer’s Re-Stick washable glue stick (found in the school supplies aisle) to tack the beginning triangle in place and skipped the pins. After I ironed each strip, I added a dab of glue to hold it in place while I stitched on the next strip. By using small dabs of the glue, I didn’t need to use any pins.
- I left the paper backing on the pieced unit until I added the side pieces; it stabilized the bias edges along the braid as I stitched.
- I used 505 Basting Spray to ensure my bag unit and Soft and Stable didn’t shift while I quilted it. (I always have this on hand to baste quilts.)
- I used a clear monofilament thread when I quilted my bag to add texture without additional color that would compete with the gold shimmer on the fabrics.
- I have large hands, so I left a 5″ opening (instead of 3″) when I stitched the lining to the bag. It made turning the bag right-side-out much easier for me.
Check out other blogger’s who are quilting along! Find photos on Instagram by searching on #jollybraidtote or #jollybraidtotebag.