Remnant Rehab: Trick-or-treat tote


Kids can collect Halloween candy in a cute tote bag.

When I went trick-or-treating as a kid, my mom would give me a tote bag or one of those pumpkin buckets. I always wanted to use a pillowcase — I thought the kids who had them were getting more candy because they had bigger bags. One year I went ahead and used a pillowcase. As it turned out, I got the same amount of candy, but it looked like less because the pillowcase was so big. Should have stuck with the tote bag.

In light of that childhood experience, I made a Halloween candy bag ideal for trick-or-treating — it’s festive, and not too big so it doesn’t dwarf the amount of candy.

I used — you guessed it — fabric remnants for my bag, so I based the dimensions on what I had. You can do the same, but you’ll need at least 1/3 yard for the bag and some contrasting fabric for the design.


  • Fabric
  • Marking tool
  • Scissors
  • Paper
  • Fusible interfacing
  • Iron
  • Ruler
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Satin stitch foot (If you have one, the project will be less frustrating.)
  • Nylon webbing or ribbon


  1. Decide the size of your bag and cut out main fabric. Based on what I had, I cut two pieces 12 inches by 18 inches.
  2. Sketch your applique design on a piece of paper. I can’t draw at all, so I went with a pumpkin shape. It’s an easy one, but it still took me four tries to make one I liked. Whatever you choose, make sure it will fit on your bag.
  3. Fuse the interfacing to the contrasting fabric. Then trace the paper shape onto it and cut it out.
  4. Pin the contrasting fabric shape — the applique — to the front of the bag. You’ll sew around the edges with a satin stitch. A satin stitch is a close, wide zigzag stitch. It covers the raw edge of the applique and attaches it to the fabric. After sewing about an inch, I realized I needed to switch from my normal presser foot to a satin stitch foot, which has a channel in the back that runs over the thick stitching more easily. On my machine, I set the stitch length to near zero and the width to four. Experiment on a scrap of fabric before you start on the bag to find what works on your machine.
  5. Once your applique is attached, press the front piece of the bag.
  6. Lay the front and back pieces of the tote wrong sides together and sew a 1/2-inch seam around three sides, leaving the top open. We’re doing a French seam, so wrong sides together is correct.
  7. Trim the seam allowances nearly down to the stitching, but don’t cut the stitching. Flip the bag inside out and press.
  8. Sew a 3/8-inch seam around three sides, leaving the top open. Press.
  9. While the bag is still inside out, turn down the top of the bag 1/2 inch and press. Turn it down another inch and press.
  10. Sew the top seam about 3/4 inch from the top of the bag. Flip it right-side out.
  11. Cut two 20-inch pieces of the webbing or ribbon. Fold each end up 1 inch; the raw edge will face the fabric. Pin the first strap to the front of the bag. For the size of my bag, I pinned the straps on about 2 inches in from the side seams. Repeat for the strap on the back of the bag.
  12. Sew the straps onto the bag. You can use whatever type of stitch pattern you think will be strong — I went with two zigzags per strap, one along the bottom of the strap and another 1 inch up.

There’s only one thing left to do — trick or treat!


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