How to sew handbags and totes Nancy Zieman

I like to create bags and totes, just like you. The roomy Hobo Tote style is my go-to bag pattern of late. This tote is a versatile pattern and is an ideal palette to showcase a casual, coordinated fabric collection. Give the tote a classic look by adding tailored touches and using a sophisticated color combo.

My Sewing With Nancy program, Hobo Totes—Casual to Classic, is the online video feature this week. I began with the Trace ‘n Create Template—Hobo Tote Collection. It’s a template set with just two pieces, but what great options those two templates give you! You’ll see eight options shown in the blog. Vote for your favorite; see details below.

how to sew handbags and totes Nancy Zieman

When I originally designed the Hobo Tote, I simply used the template as is. A few other options include using the four sections of the template (great for fat quarters), two-fabrics, or one feature fabric to change up the look.

Four-Section Design—Option #1

Creative sewing tips for handbags and totes

Two-Fabric Design—Option #2

Creative sewing tips for handbags and totes

One-Fabric Design—Option #3

Creative sewing tips for handbags and totes


A pattern with so many variables!

First, the Quick-Change Hobo Tote—Option #4

Now, learn how to accessorize this template or your favorite tote or bag pattern. Classic colors and the addition of belt loops make this version of the Hobo Tote very adaptable. A modified belt takes center stage in this version.

Creative Sewing Tips for Handbags and Totes Nancy Zieman

Scarves Are Not Only for Necklines—Option #5

The look can easily change in seconds by replacing the belt with a scarf. In the video or in the book you’ll learn this quick-change idea. With this neutral classic-toned bag, a scarf for every season and mood will add to its fashion range.

How to sew handbags and totes Nancy Zieman


Next, Stitch a Quilted Cotton Hobo Tote—Option #6

This tote is equally laid back and casual. Using a reversible, quilted cotton fabric, create a tote that is on trend with the popular ready-made brands. Using reversible fabric, the lining of your tote is omitted, making this a speedy tote to stitch. The inside details are fun to create. I’ll show you how online or read about it, too!

How to sew Handbags and Totes Nancy ZiemanHUGG Tote—Option #7

If you’re sporting a pair of the ever so popular sheepskin boots, complete the look with a HUGG Tote! The fabric looks like sheepskin, but it’s faux sheepskin and soft like a hug. Hence the name HUGG Tote. Using many of the same sewing techniques from the Cotton Quilted Hobo Tote, make your own faux sheepskin tote, in two evenings of time.

How to sew Handbags and Totes Nancy Zieman

Shirt Off My Back Tote—Option #8

When you get tired of wearing a shirt, carry it instead—Hobo Tote style. Since most Hobo patterns make large totes, a size medium or larger shirt is the perfect up-cycled fabric choice. Incorporate shirt details in the tote for the look of a well-seasoned drifter.

How to sew Handbags and Totes Nancy Zieman

Book and Template Combo

If you’d like to receive all the instructions and the template, Nancy’s Notions has paired them together. Or, you can buy a starter pack, or just the book! There are lots of choices.

Trace 'n Create Template Hobo Tote and book Nancy Zieman

Watch Sewing With Nancy online.

Sew a Versatile Hobo Tote with Nancy Zieman/Sewing With Nancy

To watch Sewing With Nancy on your iPad, iPod Touch, or iPhone, download the app.

Sewing With Nancy app

Nancy Zieman's Giveaway

Which is your favorite Hobo Toto option? Leave a comment below. A random winner will receive a Trace ‘n Create Template–Hobo Tote Collection and will be announced next week Thursday.

Trace 'n Create Template Hobo Tote Collection nancy Zieman

Nancy Zieman's Giveaway Winner

The random winner of Fearless Quilting Finishes is Kathy who said, I love a double border. I have seen Prairie Points on a border and would like to try this sometime.

Fearless Quilting Techniques Nancy Zieman

Bye for now,

Nancy Zieman The Blog

Nancy Zieman—author, pattern designer, businesswoman, producer, and national sewing authority—is the host of the popular show Sewing With Nancy®, which appears exclusively on public television stations across the United States and Canada. Follow Nancy’s blog at and sign up to receive Nancy’s E-News for the latest news in sewing, quilting, and creating.
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