Create a Sunshine Tote with Joanna Marsh | OLFA - CraftOLFA – Craft

Create a Sunshine Tote with Joanna Marsh

By Joanna Marsh


 Joanna Marsh, the designer behind Kustom Kwilts, created this Sunshine Tote – a bag large enough to haul playthings to the beach or everything you need for a short weekend trip.

“This pattern was inspired by needing a little extra ‘sunshine’ in my life. I love using rainbow colors to brighten up things, but you could also use ombre fabrics or a single piece of fabric, in lieu of piecing the panels.”

Supplies needed for Sunshine Tote

  • See fabric requirements listed below
  • Thread for piecing
  • Thread for quilting
  • Compass and pencil
  • Coordinating thread for piecing
  • Thread for hand quilting or for applique stitches (whatever your preference)
  • Binding Clips/sewing pins
  • Fabric marking pen
  • OLFA Rotary cutter, ruler, and cutting mat
  • Iron, pressing board
  • OLFA Rotary Circle Cutter

NOTE: All seam allowances are sewn at 1/4” unless otherwise stated. WOF=Width of fabric, RST=Right sides together, RSO=Right side out. Pattern assumes WOF is 42”.  

Fabric requirements and cutting instructions

For bag outer panels – (14) Fat Quarters in Rainbow color order or 1-yard focal fabric if not piecing the panels

  • Cut two sets of (14) 2.5” x 18” strips OR if you opt not to piece: (2) 18” x 28.5” from the focal fabric

Contrasting fabric for applique – ½ yard

  • Cut (1) 18” x 28.5” **

Backing fabric for quilting (won’t be seen in finished bag) – 1 ¾ yards

  • Cut (2) 24” x 33” for rainbow panels
  • Cut (1) 10” x 33” for the bottom

Exterior Bottom of bag and straps – 2/3 yards

  • Cut (1) 7.5” x 28.5” (bottom)
  • Cut (2) 8” x 25” (straps)

Lining – 1 yard

  • Cut (1) 28.5” x 41” **

Soft & Stable batting (36” x 58” pkg)

  • Cut (2) 20” x 30.5” (rainbow panels)
  • Cut (1) 8.5” x 30.5” (bottom)
  • Cut (2) 2” x 25” (straps)

Pellon SF101 – 1 yard

  • Cut (1) 18” x 28.5”

NOTE: **Cut measurements with stars may need to be trimmed to match the respective measurements once the panels are quilted (contrasting fabric for applique) and once the exterior is assembled (lining fabric).  

Assemble the Rainbow Panels

1. Cut two sets of rainbow strips (14) 2.5” x 18” for each set. You can use rainbow colors, ombres, or a single piece of fabric (note the difference in cutting instructions if using a single piece of fabric, rather than a pieced panel).

2. Sew the strips together in the order you like, matching the 18” edges and sewing them together, until you have a panel measuring 18” x 28.5”. Repeat with the remaining 14 strips to create a second panel. Press seams.

3. Make a “quilt sandwich” by taking the 24” x 33” piece of backing fabric for the quilting and placing it RSD (remember this fabric won’t be seen in the finished bag). Layer one of the 20” x 30” piece of Soft and Stable (or batting) on top of it. Then place the pieced panel on top of the batting, with the right side up. Baste the layers together using your desired method. Quilt as desired.

4. Take the quilted piece to your cutting mat and use a ruler and rotary cutter to square up and trim away the excess batting and fabric. Square up the newly quilted panel to measure 17” x 27”.

Repeat steps 3 and 4 for the second panel.

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for the bottom piece that measures 7.5” x 28.5” (and using the 10” x 33” backing fabric and 8.5” x 30.5” Soft & Stable), but trim and square up after quilting to measure 6.5” x 27”.

 Prep the Reverse Applique Fabric

6. Take the 18” x 28.5” piece of contrasting fabric for applique and the SF101 and fuse the SF101 to the wrong side of the fabric, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Trim the fused piece of fabric down to 17” x 27”.

7. Using the OLFA Rotary Circle Cutter, cut circles of different sizes out of this interfaced piece of fabric. Don’t cut any circles within 1/2” of any edges (you can—but know that some of the circle may get lost in seam allowances). Also, try to keep the circles at least 1” from each other. These will create little windows for your vibrant fabric to peek through!

8. Flip the interfaced fabric wrong side up and lightly trace a 1/4” seam allowance outside the cut-out circle. I used a compass and a pencil to speed this up.

9. Use a pair of sharp snips and clip the curves in approximately 1” increments. If your circles are very small, you may need to clip in smaller increments for smoother lines after pressing.

10. Smooth and fold the clipped curves wrong sides together to create the reverse applique. Press well.

11. Take one of the pieced and quilted panels from step 4 and place the contrasting applique fabric on top of the panel. You can baste the edges together here or use fabric glue to lightly glue the applique fabric on top.

12. Use your favorite applique finishing method to secure the top layer of fabric to the quilted panel. I chose to do some hand quilting around each circle to secure the fabrics together, but you could also use invisible applique stitches or a blanket stitch with your sewing machine.

Assemble the Bag Exterior

13. Take the panel with the reverse applique and place it right side up. Take the quilted bottom and match the 27” long edges with the bottom of the reverse applique panel. Pin or clip in place and sew the 27” edges together with a 1/4″ seam allowance. Press seam open. Take the remaining pieced panel and match the bottom of it with the remaining 27” edge of the bottom panel, RST and pin or clip in place. Sew together and press the seam open.

14. Measure the dimensions of the entire exterior that is now sewn together. Trim the 28.5” x 41” lining fabric to match the dimensions of the flat exterior. 15. Fold the quilted exterior in half RST, matching the 27” tops of each pieced panel and pinning or clipping the sides.

Sew together with a 1/4” seam allowance up each side, backstitching at the start and stop, and leaving the top of the bag unsewn. With the bag still wrong side out, place the bottom on a flat surface and fold the side seam straight down, making a little tent/point. Use a ruler to measure and mark 3-1/4” in from the point. The marked measurement needs to be 1/4” in from the seam where the bottom meets the side.

Sew directly on your marked line, then cut off the point, leaving 1/4″ seam allowance, but getting rid of the seam connecting the bottom and the side.

15. Repeat for the opposite side. 

Assemble the Lining

16. Fold the lining fabric in half, bringing the 27” raw edges together. This will be the top/opening of the bag. Pin or clip the sides together. On the center of one pinned side, measure and mark a 6” line. Sew both sides together but leave the 6” mark open for turning the bag right side out at the end.

17. Make the same tented points as you did in step 14, but measure 3” in from the point and sew directly on the line. Cut off the points, leaving a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Make the Straps

18. Take one of the 8” x 25” straps. Fold in half, wrong sides together, matching the 25” edges and press. Open the pressed edges out and fold them in to meet the center pressed mark and press again.

Then fold these into the center again so the piece now measures 2” x 25”. Take one piece of 2” x25” Soft & Stable and place it inside the folds. Fold the strap back again and press with the Soft & Stable inserted inside. Clip the edges together and topstitch 1/8” away from both edges.

I like to add a little more topstitching, but that isn’t necessary.

Assemble the Bag

19. Turn the quilted exterior right side out and leave the lining wrong side out. Take the quilted exterior and lay it flat. Find the center of the top edge of the bag and mark the top center of each quilted panel. Measure 3” from each side of the mark you made. Place the inner edge of one end of the strap against the left 3” mark from the center. Pin or clip in place. Fold the other edge of the strap over (make sure you’re not twisting the handle and place the inner edge against the right 3” mark. Pin or clip this strap in place as well. Repeat with the remaining strap on the opposite side of the exterior. Use a basting stitch to baste the straps in place 1/8” from the top of the bag. 

20. Place the exterior (still RSO) inside the lining (still wrong side out), making sure the straps are neatly tucked between the exterior and the lining.

21. Match the side seams and secure the tops together with binding clips. Sew the two layers together, catching the straps between the two layers, with a 1/4” seam allowance, backstitching at the start and stop. Sew around the top of the bag.

22. Carefully turn the bag right side out through the 6” opening in the side of the lining. Before tucking the lining down inside of the bag, turn the raw edges of the 6” opening inwards then stitch closed by hand or machine.  Push the lining down inside the bag.

23. Press the top of the bag so the lining and exterior sit neatly at the top of the bag, then topstitch around the top perimeter of the bag, about 1/8” from the edge.

Yay!! You’re done! Now you can choose to show off your awesome reverse applique or your amazing quilted panel on the opposite side of the tote.

I love using this tote at the library to lug home all the books my kiddo wants to check out. Don’t forget to share your gorgeous tote on Instagram with #olfacreates and #kksunshinetote.