My creativity and motivation as an artist ebbs and flows. Sometimes, I get so jazzed about a project, I’ll work on it for hours (we’re talking hours, people, like all day hours). It wakes me up in the early morning, like I can’t wait to get the idea and vision out of my head and made in real life.
Then other times, I can’t be bothered (and naturally, that’s usually when I get a request to make a custom order). It’s inevitable, I guess, especially as I become a more avid gardener. During the spring and summer months, all I want to do is be outside, but during the winter, art projects abound.
This tote bag, well, the first version anyway since this tote was made special for my bff for her birthday, was created during one such winter. During a winter when I was jonesing to grow something, but it was snowing outside. I got out my sewing machine, some scraps of fabric, and appliqued some veggies over the logo on an old tote bag (sorry, Safeway). It’s my farmers’ market bag and I’ve gotten so many compliments on it and requests to make them and sell them. Knowing how I am, you just might see one on my Etsy shop some day, but until then, they’ll just be special gifts and something you can make too!
I suppose I should let you know that some basic sewing skills are required for this project. But as sewing projects go, this one is super simple. You will notice lots of rough edges and areas where I just zigzag stitched with abandon, but I think that adds to the charm of these bags. Also, the goal of this project is to use what you have so dig in your drawers for those fabric scraps and odd pieces and doll up a tote that you already have. This one had stains on it, even after I washed it, but that was nothing a little fabric apple couldn’t cure. So here’s what it takes:
Cut out a piece of fabric to be your pocket/mini-tote bag. I cut mine out approximately the same size as the logo, just a little shorter.
Using super cute contrasting stitching like the red thread I used here, stabilize the pocket so it’s sturdier. I did this by just stitching a piece of thick canvas to the back of the fabric I was using. You could also get fancy and use interfacing too – that’s what it’s for after all!
Add a bit of single fold bias tape (stuff I already had on hand – I know, I had red bias tape!) Â to the top of the pocket and add a handle. All of these details serve no purpose other than adding flair! My goal was to make the pocket look like a tote bag.
Place the pocket on the tote bag just to see where it’s going to end up. Make light marks on the tote bag at the edges of the pocket â€“ I put a mark at each top corner and made a line in the middle. You’re going to use these marks as boundry guidelines for sewing on the vegetables. Attaching the pocket will be one of the last things you’ll do.
Now the fun begins â€“ the fabric vegetables! Cut out the fabric into the rough shape of the vegetable you’re trying to mimic. If you have it, save yourself a headache and use some fabric glue to stick the vegetables in place before you sew them.
This is fabric asparagus. In general, I used straight stitching around the edges of the shape and fun zigzag stitching where it needed more texture or just general flair. And yes, I changed the thread several times so that the color of the thread would add to the look of the vegetable. So worth the effort, I think.
Fabric rainbow chard! The most fun of all since I got to use the shiny, colorful ribbon scraps I love. They make the perfect ribs!
Now for some fabric carrots. Yeah, I don’t know how it is that I just happen to have orange fabric in my stash. I’ve gone through a lot of creative phases in my day.
Those carrots need tops! Polka dots anyone? Just go crazy with the zigzag stitching here – just make sure you use fun, green thread!
An apple a day keeps the doctor away…plus, I just really wanted to use some of the cool, red fabric I had and another excuse to use ribbon. Brown ribbon makes the perfect stem!
This little apple covered a little stain. You’d never know it was under there.
Place the mini tote/pocket on top of the logo and just part of the vegetables and sew around all the edges except the top. I used red stitching again and used my original stitching (remember, when I added the canvas?) as a guideline.Â And there you have it â€“ a reusable tote with a little pizazz and a pocket to stash your personal things. Now you can shop the farmers’ market with style.