Lego Tote Tutorial ~ Mo Bedell, featuring Mechanical Genius
Mo Bedell from Lime Gardenias is back! She’s done some favorite projects on the blog, like her Summer Reading Library Book Bag. Today she shares this fantastic Lego Tote tutorial featuring her new fabric collection, Mechanical Genius! The tote has lots of great details to love, like the outside pocket and the key chain loop.
The Mechanical Genius collection from Timeless Treasures will debut in early 2012, though you might see some as early as December. You should take a peek at Mo’s blog for more Mechanical Genius fun. Mo reports that the hand is lovely on the fabrics and the colors are just beautiful– quite saturated and just what she wanted. Mo was inspired by her 12 year old son to create the fabrics, which feature awesome prints like circuit boards and stripe based on Fibonacci’s number. She writes, “He was on a robotics team that I helped out with so being something we shared it felt like a nice place to start… The best part of all of it is he really does love the line and I am so excited to sew things for him out of it. That said, some of the prints work wonderfully for girls too and overall many of the prints can work for all ages.” It will be tons of fun to fussy cut some of those robots for things like Mo’s Easy Patch Pockets!
Enjoy today’s tutorial. We think these will make perfect holiday gifts for several kids on our gift list!
Legos are the toy that I feel I have gotten my money’s worth more than any other toy out there. Both my son and daughter spend countless hours working Legos. When we go places there are times they like to bring them along but having all of those little pieces floating around the car has not really worked for me. This tote is a great way to make them portable while keeping them contained. When I designed Mechanical Genius it was all inspired by my son and the things he loves and the Lego-inspired dot print was the first design I created for the group. I think it is the perfect fabric for this tote! I can’t wait to make and give these for the holidays!
- 3/4 yard for sides/bottom, lining and strap
- 1/2 yard for back, base plate pocket and smaller pieces on front
- Fat quarter or scrap for center panel on front of bag
- 3/4 yard batting, preferably cotton (I used warm and white.)
- Lego mini-figure key chain
- Lego Case (Sold at The Lego Store and various stores like Target. Here is a link.)
Optional Buckle Strap:
- Scraps of fabric
- Plastic 2-piece parachute buckle that works with 1” webbing (Though you will not need the webbing as you will make a fabric strap.)
- Cut 1: 6 ½” x 14” (Or you can configure it as shown in the blue version above without the focal print. The sky is the limit here on how you want to combine fabrics for the front.)
Print 2: (Back and front top and bottom pieces.)
- Cut 1: 12 ½” high by 14” wide for the back
- Cut 1: 10 ½” high x 14” wide for back pocket
- Cut 2: 3 ¾” x 14”
Print 3: (Inside lining, sides/bottom and strap, keychain loop and side pocket.)
- Inside lining cut 2: 12 ½” x 14”
- Side/bottom cut 1: 3 1/2:” x 43”
- Strap cut 2: 3 ½” x 44”
- Keychain loop cut 1: 1” x 3”
- Side pocket (for brick separator available at the Lego Store) cut 1: 3 ½” x 4”
- Cut 2: 12 ½” high by 14”
- Cut 2: 3 ½” x 42”
All seam allowances are 3/8” except where noted.
Prepare key chain strap. Fold strap piece in half length wise and press. Open and fold each edge towards the center, fold in half and press again. Stitch open edge together, close to the edge. Fold in half to make loop and press again.
Prepare side pocket: Turn top edge of pocket ¼” and press. Fold another ¼” and press to create top hem of pocket. Stitch. Turn bottom edge of pocket up ¼” and press.
Place pocket onto strap 3 ½” down from the top. Sew bottom edge of the pocket to strap. This pocket is where my kids keep their brick separator which is a plastic tool that helps you get stubborn Legos apart.
Assemble front. Sew top and bottom strips to the center focal print.
Put right sides of the top and center strip together. Place key chain loop between these two pieces with the folded end between the two pieces of fabric and the open ends up. I put my loop about 4” in from the left side but choose your placement with the focal print in mind. Make sure the loop and key chain won’t interfere with the focal areas of the print. Pin and sew.
Attach the bottom strip in the same way. Press and topstitch. Make sure you topstitch over the interior edges of the key chain loop. This will help it lay nice and flat.
Trim front to 12 ½” x 14” if necessary.
Assemble back pocket. Turn top edge ¼”, turn and press another ¼”, press and stitch to create the hem. Baste back pocket to back piece stitching close to the edge on both sides, leaving bottom edge open. This pocket is a great place to store your Lego base plates.
Cut bottom corners on front and back, batting front and back and lining front and back pieces. Place front and back right sides of fabric and batting together. Using a coffee cup or Tupperware lid as shown, trace the curve on both corners and cut. The slightly rounded corners look better and allow for easier pinning.
Sew back and front to sides. Place completed front on top of the batting with fabric right side up. The batting does a good job of sticking to the fabric so smooth it down carefully and you won’t need pins. Place the outside bottom/side fabric piece to one of the long strips of batting, wrong side of fabric to the batting. Place fabric right sides together and begin pinning the bottom/side fabric and lining strips to the front fabric and lining of the bag as shown.
Take your time and pin generously to keep all the layers together. Remember to make sure the side pocket on the strap is laying how you want it for sewing. After pinning, stitch. There will be a bit of extra bottom/side length– Just go ahead and trim it after you have sewn the front and bottom/side together.
After sewing the front, pin the back to the front bottom/side and complete the same way as the front. Clip your corners, turn and press. I have a pressing tool that is a smaller narrower version of a pressing ham. It’s more like a pressing sausage– This works well to push into each corner and press.
Assemble lining just as you assembled the outside of the bag. The only difference is to leave a 6” opening in the bottom edge of the lining so you can turn your bag after you sew the outside and lining together. Don’t forget to clip your corners.
Leaving your lining inside out slide it over the outside of the bag so that the right sides are together.
Carefully match your top edges together, pin and sew all the way around.
Turn bag right side out through the hole in the lining and carefully press. Take time to carefully press the top edge so that it looks right when you topstitch.
Sew up hole in lining.
Assemble and Attach Strap:
Lay the two fabric strap pieces right sides together. Lay the batting strap piece on top. The batting piece should have been cut an inch shorter than the fabric straps so center the batting so that there is 1” of just fabric on each end. Pin and then sew together leaving short ends open.
Turn right side out. At each end tuck the open edges in and press so that the ends are nice and tidy. This is where not having that batting go all the way to each end of the strap allows for less bulk at the ends. Press and topstitch all the way around the finished strap.
Placing strap 1” down from the top edge of the bag, attach securely by stitching in a rectangle all the way around the edge of the strap where it overlays the bag.
You are finished!
My son wanted some hardware on his bag simply for the cool factor. Though I don’t think the strap is necessary, it is a fun touch.
Optional Buckle Strap fabric:
- Bottom strap Cut 2: 2 ½” x 8”
- Top strap: 2 ½” x 12”
Lightweight Fusible Interfacing:
- Cut 1: 2 ½” x 7”
- Cut 1: 2 ½” x 11”
Apply interfacing to one each of the buckle strap fabric pieces centering it and leaving ½” on each end of just fabric.
Bottom strap: Put right sides together and sew leaving short ends open. Turn (turning tools will help though they are not necessary) and tuck your ends in just like you did on the strap. Press and topstitch all the way around. Assemble top strap in the same way.
Feed the end of the strap through one half of the buckle and stitch closed as close as you can to the buckle while still giving it a little space to move. You don’t want it to look overly stiff by stitching too close to the buckle. Repeat for the other half of the buckle on the other strap. Think about which half of the buckle you want right side up on your finished bag.
You will attach the buckle to the front piece after it has been assembled but before you have stitched it to the bottom/side. Fold the front piece in half and finger press at the bottom to determine and mark the middle. Place the buckle strap on the front piece right in the middle being careful to measure either side of the buckle to make sure it is in the center.
Baste along the bottom edge. Assemble front and batting to bottom/side fabric and batting as instructed above.
When the bag construction is complete, attach the top strap. I gave a little bit of extra length in the buckle straps to account for the different buckles you may use so you may need to trim the top strap so that it fits the bag properly. Do this by closing the buckle and taking the top strap up and over the case in the bag. Find the right length and mark it on the strap. Take the case out of the bag and open the buckle. Leaving yourself an inch to sew onto the bag and a half inch to tuck inside the ends so you can have a finished edge, cut the strap to fit. Tuck your ends inside the strap and press. Pin the strap where you have marked and stitch in a rectangle, just as you attached the strap to the bag.
These can be addicting and it is a great gift to make and give!
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