Everyone seems to be looking for the perfect summer tote bag, so when it came time to whip up a few gifts for our very favorite teacher-type people, I went on the hunt for the best tote bag pattern. When I came across Made Everyday’s free Reversible, Lined Tote Bag Pattern, I knew I needed to look no further. Since I knew I was sewing these for people who most likely would be toting around lesson plan books and papers to grade, I wanted to add a wee bit of strength to the handles. Thus was born, the Leather Handle Color Block Tote.
I love the way the strength of the double layer of duck cloth plays against the smoothness of the leather to provide durability while at the same time looking more like a classy bag than a highly functioning all-purpose tote bag.
I whipped up a batch of these DIY Leather Handle Color Blocked Totes in different color ways (pink and navy, natural un-bleached white and mustard, and black and white) but this color combination withe the leather handles were my favorite. I was thrilled with how quickly they go together once everything is cut and ready to sew. Since they don’t require interfacing, it’s as simple as sewing up a few rectangles, top stitching, and adding the handles. One can easily be sewing in under 30 minutes.
I used mustard and navy blue duck cloth from Organic Cotton Plus for the body of the tote and while the original pattern calls for making this reversible, I used solid mustard on the inside and added a large inner pocket for keeping those important things, like my cell phone and chapstick, handy. I love the weight duck cloth provides, without causing the bag to be stiff and awkward.
The leather handles were made by cutting two, 3 X 25 inch rectangles. Since the piece of leather I had on hand, from Leather Hide Store, was soft and buttery with a suede-like underside, I decided to go with just one layer. If you wanted a sturdier handle, you could cut four pieces and top stitch each pair, right sides together.
Overall, I’m very happy with how these turned out. The hardest part of the entire process was deciding which color way to give to which person. That and the need to talk myself out of keeping a leather handle color blocked tote for myself.