The tote bags took me about an hour each to make, but I think I could sew them more efficiently now that I've got the pattern fingered out. I created the pattern by researching a few online and combining a few different ideas to come up with the look that I had in mind. I have included a detailed tutorial at the end of this post if you are interested in making one yourself!
Rather than wrapping the bags up for each teacher, I simply folded the tote and bound it with some pretty ribbon. We also attached a simple card that Andrew added a little message to.
Simple Tote Bag Tutorial
1. Using approximately 1/2 a yard of two coordinating pieces of fabric, cut out the following sections.
2. Assemble the "exterior" of the tote by placing one the "fabric A" (6"x14") pieces on top of the "fabric B" (24"x14") piece with right sides together. Sew along the 14" edge. Repeat this step with the second "fabric A" (6"14") piece so that the finished product looks like the diagram above.
3. To make the tote straps, fold and iron the fabric strip in half lengthwise (wrong side together). Open the strip back up and fold each raw edge into the crease created by the iron. Iron again and then fold in half. Sew along the perimeter of the entire strip. Do not worry that the ends are raw, as they will be tucked into the bag, between the interior and exterior sections.
*for photos of this folding process see this tutorial*
4. Once the "exterior" and each strap have been assembled, place the "exterior" on top of the "interior" with right sides together. Pin along the edge. Then, tuck and pin the straps so that they are in between the two sections of fabric. The ends of the straps should stick out at least one inch. Be sure that the straps are not twisted on themselves and that they are placed in the same location on each end of the tote. Sew along the entire perimeter of the pinned sections, leaving an opening of about 3", along one of the long edges, so that you can turn the entire bag right side out.
5. Turn the tote right side out and iron flat.
6. You should now have a long, double sided strip of fabric with handles on each end. Fold the entire strip in half so that the "interior" is on the outside. Pin and sew along the long sides.
7. To create a boxed bottom for your tote bag, follow these instructions.
8. Turn your new tote bag right side out and you're ready to go!!