New This Month


Pins & Needles' Simple Tote

 This simple cloth tote by Rachel Low of Pins & Needles, embroidered with initials, brings a personal touch to all of your warm-weather excursions.

Photography: Mike Krautter

Source: Martha Stewart


  • Approximately 1/2 yard each of two different fabrics (one fabric for the outside of your bag and one for the inside)

  • Fabric marking pen

  • Flat ruler or tape measure

  • Embroidery hoop

  • Embroidery floss

  • Embroidery needle

  • Sewing thread

  • Sewing thread

  • Sewing machine

  • Iron

  • 1 1/4 yard of cotton webbing


  1. Cut each of your two fabrics (outer and lining) into a rectangle measuring 16 inches by 34 inches. Find the bottom center of both fabrics and fold in half, so your fold is on the bottom. 

  2. On one side of the outer fabric, find the top center. Using your fabric marking tool and tape measure or ruler, measure down 3 inches and mark. Then, measure down another 1 inch and mark. (You will stitch the initials or message in between these marks.) Draw the initials using your fabric marking tool -- we kept our initials 1 inch wide, but make yours as wide as you like.

  3. Secure fabric in an embroidery hoop to keep it from moving. With your embroidery floss and needle, stitch the initials using a basic straight stitch. 

  4. With your outer fabric still folded in half, right sides facing in, pin and sew along each of the long sides (use a 5/8-inch seam allowance). Follow the same step for your lining fabric. Make sure to iron your seams open. Lay the bottom of your bag flat so the crease and fold matches the side seams -- each side should look like a triangle.

  5. To create a gusset (the bottom of your bag), start at the tip of the triangle and measure 2 inches down and 2 inches to the left and right. Draw a line using your fabric marking tool. Repeat on the other side and the lining of the bag. Sew across, following the line. Trim excess fabric.

  6. Turn the lining of your bag right side out, then stick it inside the outside of the bag. Your right sides should be together and the two side seams should match up.

  7. Next, determine handle placement. With your ruler and marking tool, measure in from the seam 3 to 3 1/2 inches and mark. Repeat from the other seam. Repeat on other side of the bag.

  8. Cut webbing in half and sandwich one piece between the lining and outer bag fabric, ensuring the webbing lays flat. Pin the two ends where you marked the handle placement on the bag. Repeat for the other handle.

  9. Pin and sew around the top edge of the bag. Mark 3 inches where you will not sew in between the handles so you can then turn the bag right side out.

  10. Turn bag right side out. Iron along the top edge so that the seams match up. Either sew the hole closed or top-stitch along the top with a complementary thread as a nice finishing touch.

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