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Molly's Sketchbook: Twenty Minute Totes in Outside Oslo Fabric

Is it just me, or is this time of year "birthday season"? My early-September birthday seems to start off a bundle of birthdays in my life. Several good friends, my husband, my mother in law, and my niece were all born in September or October.  With all these birthdays in a cluster, it's easy to feel the handmade-present-crunch!

This year, I know just what will save me: the Twenty Minute Tote! I originally designed this as a last minute wedding favor, and ever since, it's been my favorite quick project. You can whip up a bunch of them in a couple of hours (each one really does take 20 minutes or less!) and end up with a stack of pretty presents.  Slip in a book, drop in some fancy chocolates and treats, or tuck in a nice bottle of wine. A homemade tote bag makes anything you put inside a lot more special. Plus, it's just about the most eco-friendly gift wrapping around!

Since this design is so simple, a lot rides on what fabric you choose. This time around, I used a gorgeous new collection of upholstery weight cotton called Outside Oslo. These bold, stylish prints are sophisticated without being serious and come in a rich palette of colors perfect for fall.  I added some sturdy cotton webbing handles for a pop of color, and I love the way they came out!

A quick project, some stunning new fabric, and a whole bunch of birthdays, it's a great way to get going on fall sewing! For all the how-to's, just visit my Twenty Minute Tote Project Journal here!

Reader Comments (13)

Anything in Outside Oslo fabric is instantly beautiful!

I will certainly try this tutorial, thank you very much for sharing!
September 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCami @
You are right. A home made tote makes every gift special! Love the fabrics you chose!!!
September 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVanilla
Oh, how I love those bags! And you're right -- the perfect gift wrap. The fabric is lovely, I'd never heard of it before. Must make up a batch myself!
September 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMeredith
Oh I love the How About Orange blog, her fabrics are so perfect for tote bags! Super cute, that's for sure :D
September 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMegan
I've made a bunch of these since the first tutorial. I love them! Now we have bags for trips to the library, church, toys, crocheting. I can't help myself.
My theory about September birthdays is ... well ... nine months after Christmas & New Year celebrations! (I'm September 27.)
Those fabrics are just fantastic. Thanks for the inspiration!
September 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJane
can this be made by hand sewing? i don't have a sewing machine but love this project.
September 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHande
Hi Hande-

This isn't an ideal hand sewing project, because it's made from thick fabric and needs to be very sturdy. But if you have a friend or family member with a machine it would be a great project to learn on.

Thank you for your question.

- Molly
September 19, 2011 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
These are so great and functional. Perfect for stuffing your yarn and needles in while looking stylish at the same time.

- Sarah
Thank you, I need exacly this bags now and its birthday season in my family too! Greetings from germany
September 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermüllerin art
thanks for sharing! would be great for a reusable birthday bag and probably less money :)
September 21, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermandyk
Made this bag yesterday, the decorations were so easy to follow and they came out supper cute and the best parts it was supper easy!! Love it, will definitely be making more!! Thanks for the idea.
September 27, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkandym
Love this! Just wanted to let you know I included it in my 2011 Ultimate Gift Guide (101 tutorials/recipes)! Check it out:
October 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDani Marie

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