It’s almost summer, and I love making totes for summer activities. A while back, I showed you how to make a large beach tote out of laminated cotton and nylon flag fabric. Since I use totes for many purposes, I make a bunch. I especially use them at the grocery store because I don’t like to waste plastic bags. Do you bring your own bags to the grocery store? If so, here’s a cute pattern to make a vinyl mesh tote. It’s actually pretty multi-purpose. Since it’s made of vinyl mesh, it’s strong, and can hold a lot. I also used laminated cotton as an accent fabric, so it is easy to clean.
Sometimes you’ll see this mesh referred to as “pet mesh”. It is 100 % polyester mesh with a vinyl coating. Your local hardware store may carry it in black, but we can order from our distributor for you in a variety of colors. Check with your local Rocky Mountain Sewing and Vacuum store and have them order some for you. For this bag you’ll need a piece that is 18″ x 36″, and that’s just the size that we get when we order it.
You can really use any fabric for the accent pieces on this bag. The mesh makes up the entire bag, so the fabric is really just a decorative accent. I used laminated cotton so my bag is easy to clean – and it doesn’t ravel, making it perfect for this tote. Laminated cottons start out as 100% cotton fabric and are then coated with a phthalate-free laminate. They are usually 54″ to 58″ wide, and are pliable and easy to work with. Use a Teflon foot when sewing this fabric. You need ½ yard for this tote bag.
I used webbing for the straps for the bag. Webbing is usually made from cotton, nylon, polyester and polypropylene. All webbing will unravel if the ends are not secured or finished in some way. When cutting a length of any trim or webbing, it is advisable to wrap the area that will be cut in tape and cut through the tape so that some tape remains on each end.
A natural fiber such as cotton will need to be secured with stitching, such as a zigzag seam finish. Melt the ends of the webbing that is made from artificial fibers such as nylon, polyester and polypropylene. Just run an open flame across the edge of the webbing.
Note: The melted material is not sewing machine needle friendly! Be careful to avoid hitting any melted fibers with your sewing machine needle.
You need 3 yards of webbing for this bag.
Recap on supplies needed:
- ½ yard vinyl mesh
- ½ yard accent fabric
- 3 yards webbing
The Vinyl Mesh Tote Bag
This vinyl mesh tote is so easy to make. I love the fact that by using the vinyl mesh, the bag doesn’t have to be lined.
Cut the Fabric
- A piece of vinyl mesh 18″ x 36″
- Five pieces of accent fabric:
- 12″ x 18″ (cut one).This is the accent fabric at the bottom of the tote.
- 3″ x 18″ (cut two). These are the accent fabric at the top of the tote.
- 15″ x 9″ (cut two). Note these are the pockets and are self lining. The pieces are folded in the middle of the 15″ length, leaving pocket that is 7.5″ x 9″. Make sure of your orientation if using directional fabric.
Mark the Mesh
Make the following placement marks on the mesh. Chalk works great.
- Vertical center of bag (18″ from short edge)
- Vert. lines 2.25″ from each short edge
- Vertical lines 5.25″ from each short edge
- Vert. lines 12.75″ from each short edge
- Horizontal lines 4.5″ from each long edge, between the two vertical lines as illustrated
Prepare the Accent Fabric
Stitch a ¼” hem on one long edge of each of the 3″ x 18″ pieces of accent fabric. The pieces will now be 2.75″ x 18″.
(Hatched lines illustrate wrong side of fabric)
Press under ¼” on both long edges of the 12″ x 18″ piece of accent fabric. This piece will be 11.5″ x 18″ once the hems are folded in.
Note: Since I used laminated cotton, I could not press the fabric. Instead, I stitched a line ¼” from the long edge and finger pressed, making it easy to fold this under when needed.
Attach the Top Accent Fabric to the Mesh
Align long raw edge of top fabric along line marked on mesh. Line should be 2.25″ from short edge of mesh. Sew top fabric in place with ¼” seam. (Seam will be 2.5″ from edge of mesh).
Press top fabric up, aligning raw edges of fabric with edge of mesh. Top stitch seam lines and stitch top edge of fabric to top edge of mesh. Note: you can wrap the ¼” pressed hem around the edge of the mesh, or you can just sew it on top of the mesh.
Fold each 15″ x 9″ pocket fabric in half so that you have two 9″ x 7.5″ pockets.
Center each pocket on either side of mesh as illustrated. Align raw edge bottom of pocket along line 12.75″ from the top on the mesh. Fabric bottom edge should be 12.75″ from the top edges of the bag. Folded top edge of pocket should be 5.25″ from top edge of bag and be aligned with the line drawn on the mesh at 5.25″ from top edges of bag. Raw edge sides of pockets should be aligned with the line drawn on mesh 4.5″ from either edge. Stitch in place across sides and bottom of pockets.
Cut the 3 yd length of webbing in half. Place each piece of strap webbing over the raw edges of the sides of the pockets as illustrated. Stitch in place along each edge of the strap. Be sure to completely cover the raw edges of the pockets.
Note: A 54″ piece of webbing allows for a generous handle for the bag. You may wish to adjust length of handle to suit your needs.
Sew the Bottom
Center bottom fabric on mesh, covering raw edge of bottoms of pockets and straps. Stitch in place, close to edge.
Sew the Sides
Make French seams to sew the sides together:
- Sew bag wrong sides together with a ¼” seam.
- Turn bag inside out and stitch side seams again with a 3/8” seam. Be sure to completely enclose first seam.
With vinyl mesh tote still wrong side out, cut a 2″ square from the each bottom corner.
Match the side seam with the center of the bottom of the bag and sew a ¼ “ seam. Use a zig zag or overcast stitch to finish the edge.
Repeat for the other side. This will give you a nice boxed bottom.
If you want a flat tote, do not cut out the corners.
Turn the bag right side out and you’re done with your vinyl mesh tote!
Here is a pdf file of the instructions for the vinyl mesh tote. Feel free to print these out if it helps when making your own tote.
Embroidery on Vinyl Mesh
Yes, you can! Embroidery designs sew out quite nicely on vinyl mesh. Use a tear away or wash away stabilizer. Here’s a picture of a Halloween purse I made with vinyl mesh with a witch embroidery. Isn’t she lovely?