Constructing A Canvas Tote

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First, determine the overall size of the bag by the number and size of the tools to be carried, then draw and cut out the patterns for the three major components of the bag (labeled A, B and C in the drawing on the facing page) from a sheet of clear Mylar or paper. Pin the patterns to the canvas, aligning them parallel to the weave in the fabric, and trace the pattern onto the canvas with a soft pencil. Then cut out the pieces.

Fold over the last Vz in. of the fabric to eliminate raw edges (to keep the weave from unraveling). Mold the fold in place by flattening it down with a piece of wood. Pushing down hard, run the edge of the board (round the edge so it won't cut the fabric) back and forth along the seam, creating a sharp crease. Sew the hem down with a zigzag stitch using a heavy-duty sewing machine or by hand. If you wish, you can sew a leather edging over these seams to add beauty and to extend the life of the bag.

If you don't have access to a heavy-duty sewing machine and you don't want to strain your home machine, consider having the cut pieces sewn at a local tent and awning shop (or a sail-maker's loft, if you are lucky enough to live in the kind of town that has such a place). If you are stitching the canvas by hand, use a # 13 or # 14 needle and waxed thread. You will need a hefty thimble or a sail-maker's sewing palm to help you push the needle through the canvas, especially when sewing through three layers.

Needles, thread, thimbles and other supplies can be purchased at awning shops.

Now lay the pocket layer (piece A) over the larger layer (piece B) and sew it in place at the corners. On the longer sides of piece B, lay down a length of bungee cord about 1 in. in from the edge. Sew the ends to hold the cord in place.

Make the strap from a piece of 2-in. wide webbing or a strip of canvas folded over on itself. Cut it to length and lay it down over pieces A and B as shown in the drawing. If you wish, you can add leather sleeves at the carry points to make the bag more comfortable to carry. Sew the webbing strap to the two canvas layers. Note that you also sew through the bungee cords.

Next, sew the water-repellent fabric bottom (piece C) to pieces A and B. This forms a tool pocket between the canvas layers in the area between the straps. Then, folding the bag inside out, sew up the corners, running the machine up and down the seam several times. When you fold the bag right side out, the stitches disappear inside. Finally, if the canvas is untreated, brush it with several coats of canvas sealant, available at most building-supply or awning shops, to keep moisture from working its way into the seams and weakening the bag.

and hem the edges.

Piece A

Optional: Add leather sleeve at carry points.

Step 2: Lay piece A on piece B. Lay on bungee-cord retainers and tack ends in place.

Step 3: Lay on webbing and sew to pieces A and B.

Piece B

Stitch A and B in corners only.

Piece At

Piece A

2-in. wide webbing

Bungee cord

Step 5: Turn bag inside out and sew up corners.

Step 4: Sew water-repellent piece C over pieces A and B.

Stitch line

Piece C

Step 6: Turn bag right side out.

Piece A forms ' layer for pockets here and on opposite side.

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