Cancer Fighting Tote Bag Tutorial
As promised, here is the first of several tutorials to go with our Pink Ribbon Thread Sets that 10% of the proceeds will go to National Breast Cancer Foundation. This a cancer fighting tote bag can be filled with thoughtful things for someone who is going through Chemotherapy treatments.
If you happen to be unfamiliar with chemo, it generally works like this. The person with cancer has to go to a room full of chairs that are all equipped with IV’s. They get hooked up to an IV and their particular “cocktail” of drugs is given through the IV. This usually takes several hours and the person may have to go several times a week, for many weeks. This translates into lots and lots of hours just sitting, waiting, watching this drug drip into your body. The same drug that is causing you to lose your hair. The same drug that is making you feel sick and tired everyday; but the drug that will most likely save your life. A cancer patient has a great deal of time to sit around and think. That may be good, but it may not. So inside this bag, I will suggest some things that may help to get their mind off the gravity of the situation.
Special Note: If you don’t want to make the bag, you can use a ready made bag or tote. I will give you an option for that later.
- About 1-1/4 yards of fabric for the tote. (I used a hot pink linen-like fabric from my stash.)
- Black Grosgrain Ribbon for handle
- Sulky Fuse ‘n Stitch™ for handle
- 6″ x 15″ piece of cardboard to stabilize the bottom of tote
- Construction Thread (I used Sulky Poly Deco™ and serged my seams with serger thread.)
- Sulky 30 wt. Cotton in #1109 for topstitching to match my fabric (This is in the Pink Ribbon Cotton Collection)
- “Fighting like a Girl” Embroidery Design from the Sulky (Get it free here)
- The Pink Ribbon Rayon Thread Set for the Machine Embroidery Design
- Scrap of pink fabric for the “Fighting like a Girl” machine embroidery design
- Sulky Tear-Easy™ (Stabilizer for embroidery design)
- Sulky KK 2000 Temporary Spray Adhesive
First, cut out your pieces: Cut a 12″ x 17″ piece for the pocket, a 4″ x WOF (Width of Fabric)strip for the handle, a 6-1/2″ x WOF strip for the bottom insert and 24″ x WOF for the bag itself. Take the pocket piece, turn 1/4″ under along the 2 long sides, about 1″ for the bottom of the pocket, and 1-1/2″ under at the top – twice. Press these seams so they will stay put. Sew the bottom and top seams down.
Next, position the embroidery where you want it on the pocket. I hooped the fabric with Sulky Tear-Easy under it for the embroidery. I used a Sulky Prewound bobbin in grey in the bobbin and the Pink Ribbon Rayon Thread set for the design. Follow the color sequence sheet that comes with the design when you download it for color changes.
Then, take the 24″ x WOF piece and fold it in half, wrong sides together, matching the two short ends. Measure up 3″ from the bottom fold and mark. Center the pocket and topstitch the bottom and sides. I used Sulky KK 2000 to hold the pocket in place. The KK 2000 will dissipate when I iron the bag, but then I know the pocket won’t shift when I sew. Turn the bag so right sides are together and sew the two sides together using a 5/8″ seam allowance.
Fold the top edge down about 1-1/2″ and press, then fold again and press. Topstitch along the bottom edge of the fold.
Now it’s time to box the bottom. With the bag still turned inside out, pull the front from the back until a triangle forms in the bottom corner. Lay the bag down so the side seam is centered in the triangle.
Next, use a ruler to measure up 3″ from the point, and draw a line across. Pin the triangle and sew on this line. After sewing, cut the point off, leaving 1/2″ seam allowance and serge the edge. Repeat this on the other side.
The bag is almost done! Turn it right side out and set aside. (Yes, I opened this strip back up to show you this step better!) Time to make the handle. Cut a 1-3/4″ strip of Sulky Fuse ‘n Stitch the length of the 4″ strip of fabric that you cut for the handle. Iron the Fuse ‘n Stitch down in the center on the wrong side of the fabric.
Then, press the two edges around the Fuse ‘n Stitch so they overlap slightly in the middle. You don’t need to turn any of the raw edges under because they will be covered by the Grosgrain ribbon. Stitch down the center.
Use Sulky KK 2000 to place the ribbon onto the handle then topstitch down both sides of the ribbon. Audition your handle with the bag and decide the length you want it to be. Add 6″ and cut off the rest.
Fold the handle up 1-1/2″ and clip or pin it at the top, centered on the side seam.
Finally, sew the handle in place. Do the same on the other side.
Congrats! Your bag is done!
If you are giving this bag to someone who is about to start chemo, I have some suggestions for things to go in this bag. These are based on my own experience with my friend and input from others who have made this journey.
The front pocket of the bag is perfect for putting in a tablet, small laptop computer or e-reader. Chemo rooms are usually very cold so a blanket (you could monogram it), scarf, snuggly socks and even gloves are good to have. I also suggest a pretty journal and pen. With all that time to sit and think, it may be helpful to write down some thoughts. You may want to write a letter to your friend in the front of the journal. A small pillow, snacks and a book (make it a funny, light read!) are also great additions.
If you can think of more items that would be good in the bag, please let me know in the comments.
Breast Cancer can be a long and scary journey. The most important thing is to be there for your friend. Remember that she is still the same person; she is not her cancer. For more information on Breast Cancer, prevention and early detection, please check out National Breast Cancer Foundation’s website.