Friday 30 September 2016

How to make: Laura Ashley Embellished Tote Bag - with R&B Designs

Last week some fellow crafty bloggers and I spent the most wonderful afternoon at the beautiful Laura Ashley Manor Hotel. I had no idea Laura Ashley had a manor hotel, did you? well it is gorgeous let me tell you. We had a lovely time exploring the grounds, which was followed by a delicious afternoon tea and an afternoon of crafting. The fun and fabulous design duo Russell and Bawden (Amanda Russell & Juliet Bawden) led the workshop, and with their expertise and guidance we made some gorgeous Tote bags - using the latest Laura Ashley Fabric. I haven't used my sewing machine in a while so it was lovely dusting off the cobwebs. Here is my finished Tote bag, along with R&B's step by step instructions on how to make this lovely bag. I accidentally cut one of my shoulder straps so I made it work for me by adding fabric handles! I also embellished the bag using beads from old pieces of jewellery.

You will need

2 pieces of fabric 45cm wide x 47cm long 
I used the following fabric for this bag: Bacall Cranberry and Adlighton Fir
I packet of Bonda Web fusible webbing
Two pieces of 4cm wide x 76cm webbing for the handles
Other scraps of fabric with flowers and leaves
Embellishments such as buttons & beads
Embroidery floss for embellishment
Baking parchment
Sewing machine
Iron and ironing board

Step by Step

1. Cut out 2 pieces of fabric for the front and back of the bag, plus 2 straps from herring bone webbing. For my bag, I made one side plain and one side floral, and I used scraps of the floral fabric as my motifs for the front of the bag.

2. Then cut out your motifs / flowers from scraps of other fabrics and arrange them on the glue side of the Bonda Web (the bumpy side). Cover over the motifs with a sheet of non stick baking parchment to make a sandwich. TIP: Start with the large pieces and then add the smaller motifs to cover as much Bonda Web as possible. 

3. Using a hot iron, iron over the parchment. This will melt the glue on the back of the Bonda Web onto the fabric motifs. Leave to cool for 30 seconds to let the glue harden again. Turn over the sandwich and iron on the back of the Bonda Web paper so the glue sticks firmly to the back of the motifs. Cut out each motif and remove all the paper.

4. With right sides facing up, arrange the motifs on the bag front, leaving a 2cm seam allowance on each side of the bag. Note: I made my bag before applying the motifs but I highly recommend making the bag after, as it's much easier.

5. When you are happy with your arrangement, iron them into position.

6. You can either lave it as it is and begin embellishing at this stage, or like I did, you can sew around the edges to make the motifs more stable - I used my sewing machine but you could also hand sew. I like the 'homespun' look it gives the bag.

7. Now the fun part begins. Decorate the motifs with embroidery floss, beads and buttons. I recommend using an embroidery hoop to do this. I used sparkly thread to highlight parts of the leaves and flowers, then I used beads and butterflies to decorate from old pieces of Jewellery.

8. Now for the bag. To make the top of the bag take one piece of fabric and with wrong side facing upwards, turn under the top edge by 1cm. Iron down then turn over by another 1cm and sew in place. Repeat with the remaining bag piece.

9. With wrong sides facing, pin the bag pieces together on the 3 remaining sides of the bag. Then sew with a 0.5cm seam allowance. Trim the seam allowance, turn the bag wrong side out and press the seam. Make a French seam by pinning and sewing round the bag again, enclosing the first seams. Then turn the bag the right way out and press flat. 

10. Measure in 9cm from either side of the bag opening then pin and sew on the handles. I accidentally cut one of my shoulder straps so I made it work for me by adding fabric handles in the middle using my floral fabric.


Big thanks to Laura Ashley for a lovely afternoon at the manor hotel. If you'd like to see more of Amanda and Juliet's crafty work pop along to their website Russell and Bawden 

The Laura Ashley Manor Hotel

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  1. Beautiful 😐Jodie! You always make the sweetest things! 😍 xxx...Karen

    1. Aw bless you, thanks Karen :-) I really enjoyed making this x

  2. You have a very cute site :)