TUTORIAL: The Wave Goodbye Tote

Totally Tutorials periodically offers an exchange program where crafters receive free  materials in return for creating and sharing a tutorial.  This was up for exchange.

Abakhan was offering a roll of 25 color-graded 2-1/2″ strips.  My roll is a beautiful purple, but there are other choices.

That looked like fun to me!  I was lucky enough to be selected to create something.  And, almost immediately, there was an idea brewing.

A few test pieces later, we have…


approximately 17-1/2″ x 13-1/2″ x 4″


One mini-wheel OR 15 2-1/2″ strips WOF

mid-weight interfacing at least 16″ x 38″

at least 1/2 yard fabric for lining, or more if you like lots of pockets


NOTE:  1/4″ seam allowance assumed throughout.

1. Lay out your fabric strips and take a good look.  How would you like the colors to work?  I made this one light on the bottom shading to dark on top.  If I did it again I would try it the other way around.  The possibilities are endless.  Have fun with it.  Select 8 strips for the body, 3 strips for the waves and 4 strips for the handles.

2. Cut the 8 strips for the body and the three strips for the waves to 38″ long.  Then cut the 3 wave strips in half so they are 1-1/4″ wide, creating six narrow strips.

3. Iron the 6 narrow strips in half, wrong sides together.

4. Start assembling the body of the tote by sewing two complete strips together. Now, you are going to add the wave strips in between all future strips. You will layer the body, the wave strip and the next body strip, right sides together.  Continue to the top of the tote.  You will use a total of 8 body strips and 6 wave strips.

5. Iron very thoroughly so all the waves face down in the front and the  seam allowances face up on the back.

6. Square up the body section to 36-1/2″ wide.

7. Apply interfacing to wrong side of body section.

8. Now it is time to add the stitching the holds the waves (also known as twisted pintucks) in place.  I find that the easiest way to mark my stitching lines is by ironing a crease in place for each stitch line.  For this first set you will fold the body in half and iron a hard crease.  Then iron additional creases 6-1/4″ and 12-1/4″ from each end.

When you are done, your body section should look something like this.

9. Stitch along the creases, top to bottom, so the wave pieces are held in their down position.

Also add stitch lines 1/4″ from each end.

 When you are done it should look something like this.

10.  Now time to make the waves go the other direction.  Iron creases in the middle of each of the existing stitching lines.  You do this by folding the body so the previous stitching lines match up.  There will be six folds and the body will look something like this.

11. Starting from the bottom of the body of the tote, sew along each crease.  When you get to a wave, turn it the opposite direction, so it is now pointing to the top of the tote.

Do this across all six waves.  Repeat until you have completed all six creases.

The body should now look something like this.

12.  You will now form this into the tote shape.  Sew, right sides together, carefully matching the waves and stitching, all along the bottom and up the side.  Back stitch to reinforce stress points.

12. Form the box at the bottom corners by lining up the seams and pressing out the little triangle shape at the bottom.  Draw a line where the seam across is 4″. Don’t worry about that top line of stitching.  It is from one of the waves up front.

Stitch and trim.

13.  Turn the body right side out and iron down the seam allowance at the top 1/4″ to the inside.

14. Now it is time to build the lining.  Cut a piece of lining fabric 36-1/2″ x 16″.  If you want to add pockets or similar little extras, do it now.  Use your leftover fabric and put in what pleases you.  People’s taste varies a lot on this matter, but generally, use all the fabric you have because it is hard to have too many pockets.

15. Stitch the bottom and side and do the box corners as you did with the tote body.   Leave the lining wrong side out and turn down 1/4″ along the top to the outside. (Sorry no pictures of these steps.)

16. If you wish for the tote to have more structure, you might want to build some sort of liner for the bottom.  You can use cardboard, very heavy weight interfacing, or something similar.  It will need to be 3-3/4″ x 13-1/2″.   I covered mine with extra lining fabric.

17.  Now it is time to create your handles.  Cut each of the 4 2-1/2″ strips to 30″ long.  Pair them up in a pleasing color arrangement.  I used four different colors to match the color variation in the tote body.

18. Stitch them right sides together all along one long edge.  Iron the seam allowance open.  Turn each edge towards the middle, wrong sides together.

 Fold in half to create a handle a little over 1″ wide and four layers of fabric thick.

19.  Stitch 1/4″ from each edge of each handle and again in the middle for three lines of stitching in all.  This helps give the handle structure, as well as adding a nice decorative touch.

Now you have a nice set of two-tone (if you wish) handles.

20. Put the liner inside the tote body.  It is easier to sew if the side seam allowances face opposite directions so the seam allowance of the liner matches with the crease on the body and vice versa.

21. Pin all the way around (Yes, this is a good idea even if you don’t consider yourself the sort of person who pins.)  A pin at each stitch line is about right.  Pin the handles in place half way between the stitch lines that mark the second space from the middle.  There should be about 8-9″ between the handles.  Make sure that about 1″ of the handle is inside the body of the tote.

22.  Stitch very close to the top edge all the way around the tote.  Back stitch across each handle to give extra security.

23.  Trim threads as necessary and congratulate yourself on your  new tote with a twist all its own.

24. Now, I just need somewhere to go and it is time to wave goodbye!

 The Wave Goodbye Gallery

Heather’s Version

she says:  It was fun to make and I did it just as you suggested and everything worked out well.  I haven’t got around to making a firm base to put inside, but I do agree that it would work very well and give the bag a bit more shape.  I did press at each strip addition rather than wait till all the strips were sewn together.

and a second one by Heather

your great project here…

20 thoughts on “TUTORIAL: The Wave Goodbye Tote

  1. I love it! I have 3 rolls of strips that I only have a couple ideas for. Now I can make a bag too! The other idea I had was a pattern that weaved the strips. I can’t seem to find it. Maybe you or some of your readers could help. Thanks so much!

  2. TOTE-ally cute! Sorry, couldn’t help myself. I have a friend who suggested using hunks of worn-out Olfa cutting mats as the bottoms of totes.

    1. Your wavy bag looks fantastic! I would love to make one for myself but can’t do it right now. Is there a way I can DL the directions and save them?
      Norma in Florida

  3. Love it!!!! Thank you for the tutorial. Don´t know if I unerstood every word, but don´t worry……..I have a dictionary 🙂
    Gun, Sweden

  4. what a clever pattern…love the wavy look…i may have to try this for one of those holiday gifts i am going to get to someday…i also have a very pretty roll of 2.5″ strips….for the bottoms i have used part of a plastic sheet that i buy to make templates out of…it is sturdy and you cover it with the lining fabric and it can be thrown in the washer but not the dryer….works good too..

  5. I have had a roll put asie for some time now – just waiting for a special project and this is it! I’m so excited to start this project this afternoon! Thank you for sharing this!!

  6. The waves are a very cool idea!!! Thanks so much for sharing how you made them… a very clear and easy to follow tutorial. A practical and great looking bag.

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