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Jelly Roll Tote Bag Over the months I have had many emails from ladies who craft for charity and I have promised to put up some suitable patterns. These jelly roll bags are designed specifically for that purpose, but they are easy to make and can be made from any spare fabric just for yourself or your family and friends.

I think they vary, but the Fabric Freedom jelly roll that I used contained 50 strips of fabric in a wonderful variety of colors. For each jelly roll bag you will need about 1/2 yard of fabric for the lining and at most 8 strips of fabric 2.1/2" wide, so you will get a minimum of 6 bags from a jelly roll plus 3 yards of lining.

Choose 4 strips of fabric and cut them into 10.1/2" lengths. This length is chosen to give you exactly 4 lengths from each strip. With right sides together and using a 1/4" seam, sew 7 strips together as shown. Repeat this with another 7 strips for the back panel of the bag. This leaves you 2 strips spare for the next jelly roll bag.

Using another 2 strips from your jelly roll, cut 4 lengths of 14.1/2". Sew one each across the top and bottom of both the panels. Again, this will leave you some spare for the next bag. Place these 2 panels right sides together and sew round 3 edges the sides and bottom of the bag.

Cut another strip in half across the short edge to give 2 lengths of 21". These will form the straps of the jelly roll bag. Cut a strip 2.1/2" wide from the lining fabric and cut this in half to make 2 lengths of 21". Using a 1/4" seam and with right sides together, sew one jelly roll length to one lining length of fabric down both sides, leaving the short edges open. Turn this tube inside out by turning the edges over and pulling it through. Press the straps and then sew down each side to hold the strap together. This also gives a little more strength to the straps. Pin the ends of the straps to the top of the jelly roll bag with all raw edges together. Check that they are the same distance apart on the back and front panels. Cut two 14.1/2" squares of lining fabric and with right sides together sew down each side to form a tube.

This free tote pattern provided by Nancy's Fabrics (888).870.2252

With right sides together, pull this tube over the top of the bag and straps, matching the raw edges. Pin in place and sew round the top edge of the bag, taking care that all the layers of the straps are caught up in the stitching.

Pull the bottom of the lining up away from the bag and turn under a small seam at the open end. This will be the bottom of the lining when it is pushed back inside the jelly roll tote bag. Stitch close to the edge and push the lining back inside the bag.

Pin around the top of the bag and stitch in place. This gives a sharp edge to the top of the bag and stops the lining from coming out too easily. That's the first bag complete.

A different jelly roll bag can be made to use up smaller lengths of strips using the courthouse steps pattern as shown above. Begin with a 2.1/2" square and add strips top and bottom and then to each side until you have reached the size that you want. I do find that I sometimes need to use a little extra fabric from my stash when I get towards the end of the jelly roll strips so that I am not stuck with colors that don't go or mismatched straps. To make a tote bag from scraps or from the end of the jelly roll, you can use 2.1/2" squares: 7 rows and 7 columns. The one below was made by sewing 3 strips together and cutting into 2.1/2" strips. These are just a few ideas for the jelly roll bag panels - you can use any quilt block design to make up a 14.1/2" square, or you can make different size bags by varying the panel size. I just find that the 14.1/2" panel is quite an economic size to make.

This free tote pattern provided by Nancy's Fabrics (888).870.2252

How to Make a Fabric Tote with Jelly Roll Fabric Strips  
How to Make a Fabric Tote with Jelly Roll Fabric Strips  

Here is a great tutorial on making a fabric tote using 2.5" jelly roll fabric strips.