My husband grew up mostly in Albuquerque, NM, and for him the Native American culture was just part of his upbringing. When he worked for Marriott, he was the liaison for the 22 Federally recognized tribes in the state of Arizona, as well as other government organizations. I think of all his accounts, his favorites to work with were the Native Americans. He loved them and their humility and friendliness, he loved their culture and their pride, and he absolutely loved their art. It is no surprise to me, then, that he is really excited that the mainstream America is embracing the tribal motifs, even in simplified forms… like these tribal inspired drawstring tote bags.
He was pretty thrilled with how these bags turned out! I took the liberty of writing up a tutorial in case anyone else wants to make them too!
- 1/2 yard Faux leather at least 54” wide (real leather is awesome, but too thick for this project.)
- 1 fat quarter exterior contrast fabric- to go even more with the tribal theme, I used some prints from “Indian Summer” by Sarah Watson for Art Gallery fabrics.
- 1/2 yard interior fabric
***This tutorial uses 1/2” seam allowance***
First, cut your pieces:
- TWO 12”w x 8”h pieces faux leather
- TWO 12”w x 8 1/2”h pieces contrast exterior fabric
- TWO 12”w x 15 1/2”h pieces interior lining fabric
- TWO 1”x27” (or longer) from the faux leather
Next, sew your contrast fabric pieces to your leather pieces, right sides together. Open it up, and with the seam allowance on the fabric side, right and top-stitch along the contrast fabric to hold the seam allowance in place.
Then place your pieces right sides together and stitch along the sides and the bottom. Trim your corners to get rid of excess fabric, but don’t cut into your stitching.
To box the corners, fold the bottom of the bag so the side seam and the bottom seam nestle into each other. The corner of the bag will come to a point.
Draw a line 2” from the point, marking your stitching line.
Sew along your marked line, and then trim the excess fabric. Repeat with the other side.
Take your lining pieces and sew them right sides together along the sides and bottom, leaving a 6” opening at the bottom for turning. Box the corners like you did the exterior pieces.
Place the lining and the exterior pieces right sides together, and pin along the top of the bag. Sew them together.
Turn the bag right side out through the opening in the lining.
Top-stitch the opening closed.
For the drawstring casing, sew a line 1 1/2” from the top edge of the bag around the entire bag, and then another line 1” below that stitch line.
At each seam, unpick only the exterior fabric that is within the two stitch lines.
With your long leather strips, fold them wrong sides together along the long side and top-stitch close to the edge to make your leather drawstrings.
Using a safety pin or Bodkin, insert your leather into the casing in one open side of the bag, threading it through all the way out through the same opening it went in.
Tie the strings in a knot to secure them, and then repeat again with the other string, except start on the opposite side.
Cinch up the bag, and you’re done! And it looks awesome with the two different textured textiles.
The faux leather bottoms are pretty sturdy, and hold up the bag really well!
And the bags are big enough (finish at about 8”w x 14 1/2”h x 2”w) to hold all sorts of toys (like these figures I painted for my girls) and things while still looking really spectacular.