After the successful pillowcase aprons I made for my Sunday School class, I wondered what else I could construct from pillowcases. Several weeks ago, I ran across a shopping tote bag made out of strips of fabric that I was going to make with fabric left over from the projects I am making for my kitchen, until last Saturday, while shopping at our local Salvation Army, I came across this black and white gingham pillowcase. Racing is a big deal in the metro Kansas City area since we have a racetrack now and I figured this pillowcase once had been part of a boy's sheet set, but it came home with me since I could not locate sheets to match in the store.
The pillowcase is 31 inches long by 19 inches wide. I made my own pattern out of a brown paper sack based on the shopping tote idea I saw. It had fabric handles that were part of the bag which I liked, so I imitated the same idea on the paper sack, taping pieces of paper together. I also lined the bag with fabric, which could be another pillowcase.
Based on the size of the paper shopping bag with the handles which I removed, I needed to cut off 6 inches of the pillowcase from the open end. The totebag I saw had curved sides, so I traced around a saucer to get the curves. Measure from side in 4 1/2 inches; mark and 4 1/2 down side; mark; and matching marks with the saucer, trace around edge with a pencil and cut out. Tape the cut off pieces to the middle section for the handle to make it approximately 3 inches longer and 4 inches wide. .
After cutting the pattern out on both pillowcases, I turned the gingham pillowcase inside out and slipped the liner one inside of the gingham one -- right sides together. Pin the fabric together around the curves, then sew a 1/4 inch seam allowance (DO NOT stitch ends of the handle together at the top as you need to turn the gingham pillowcase inside out), and clip curves (DO NOT clip through sewing thread seam). Clipping curves gives the fabric a little give. Turn fabric inside out through the handle openings and iron. I consider the iron as much a part of my sewing equipment as I do the sewing machine as it helps to smooth the fabric and seams.
After pushing the liner fabric down inside the gingham bag, sew the gingham fabric together at the top of the handle--side seam to side seam. Don't forget to backstitch the ends of the seam, then push the seam inside the handle, iron flat and fold the liner fabric inside and whip stitch or blind stitch closed. Finally, topstitch around top of bag and handle. Viola, shopping bag!
Since this shopping tote went together so quickly, I just had to make another one too! This time it was the striped one I had originally wanted!