The Window Shopper Tote


This bag pattern was designed by Mrs H for the February Bag of the Month Club 2016. It’s a large tote with plenty of pockets and unique grommet handles. Janelle of Emmaline Bags asked me to write a tutorial for insertion of her screw-in grommet handles, so I thought that I would detail some of the steps of making the Window Shopper Tote while I was making it.

I took some pictures of grommet installation, and turning the bag through the zipper pocket. I also took a few pictures of making the zipper bridge, since zippers can be intimidating.

Some of the cutting that I did differently was the gusset, zipper pocket, and strap tabs. I had directional fabric for my lining gusset, so I wanted it to be right side up on both sides. I added a seam allowance to the bottom of the gusset pattern piece and cut 2 rather than cutting on the fold. Since I’m turning though the zippered pocket, I cut 2 zippered pocket pieces and used a larger zipper. I used a 9″ zipper and cut (2) fabric at 11″ W x 7″ H. The strap tabs I cut at 4 1/2″ W x 3 1/4″ H.

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The lining slip pocket (H) will be cut at the same size as the pattern states (10″W x 14″H).

Zipper Bridge

The lining consists of the Lining Main (E), the Zip Bridge (J), and the Lining Top (I).

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The zipper bridge gets sandwiched between the lining top and the lining bottom. The lining top is deep enough to accommodate the grommet handles. If you were to leave off the grommet handles, you would want to make the lining top shallower so that you didn’t lose depth in your bag. (You’d have to make sure to add the same amount that you subtracted from the lining top to the lining bottom so that the lining’s entire height matched the exterior’s.) But I digress, let’s make the zipper bridge.

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You should have a zipper, 4 rectangular pieces of interfaced fabric, and a zipper end. If you don’t have a metal zipper end, you’ll need to make a zipper tab. I have the glue and the screw driver for my metal zipper tab, so you won’t need those things if you’re making a fabric zipper tabs. You’ll notice that my zipper is too long and that it’s a separating zipper. That’s okay – I am going to cut it down so it doesn’t matter that it’s too long and is separating. I never have the right length zipper, so I usually just cut longer ones shorter.

The first thing that I do to make my zipper bridge is turn the ends of my fabric under. I mark a 1/2″ line in from each of the short ends on the wrong side of all 4 fabric pieces and press to that line (the fabric will be turned under by 1/4″). When I turn my fabric under, I just do this step for all of the pieces in my bag that need finished ends. In this case, I did it for the: zippered pocket (only if you’re turning your bag through the pocket), the adjustable strap, the zipper bridge pieces, and the strap tabs.

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After your zipper bridge ends are turned under, we’re going to prepare our zipper. Sew the zipper to itself at a 45º angle on both sides at the beginning of your zipper tape. This is so that the zipper has a clean line going into the fabric and isn’t just kind of plonked in.

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The zipper will be sandwiched between both pieces of fabric on each side but we’ll baste one piece of fabric first instead of trying to sew through all 3 layers at once. This is so that the layers don’t shift and you get a nice, clean seam.The tip of the angle on your zipper should just touch the corner of the zipper bridge fabric (upper left in picture where the first neon clip is). Make sure you sew with your zipper on the top side. If you sew with the fabric side up, it’s not as thick as the zipper so it won’t feed evenly.

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At an 1/8″ seam allowance (SA), baste the top piece of fabric right side together (RST) with the zipper. Start and stop your sewing 1/8″ in from the short ends. This will start the seam within the turned fabric and won’t take the stitching all the way to the end so that it gives a clean edge on your zipper bridge.

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After you’ve basted the top layer of fabric to your zipper, we’re going to sew all 3 layers together at a 1/4″ SA. Align the bottom fabric RST with the bottom of the zipper tape. Make sure your top and bottom fabric layers are the same length. If they’re not, adjust the length of the bottom fabric by changing the width of the turned under fabric ends so that it’s the same length as the top fabric. Make sure you put on your zipper foot to sew the zipper at 1/4″ SA so that the zipper teeth don’t push on your presser foot and give you a wobbly seam.

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After your 3 layers are sewn together, pull the fabric away from the zipper tape and pin the fabric layers wrong side together. You will have to get a little bossy with the fabric so that all of the edges are aligned properly. I clip the inner corners that meet the zipper because they’re a little thick and need to be just right so that no raw edges show.

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After you’ve pinned your zipper panel, we’ll topstich the layers together. There will be one raw edge that will get sandwiched in between the top and bottom lining layers. Baste stitch the raw edge closed.

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Repeat the above steps for the other side of your zipper bridge. You might find it easier to do the same steps for both sides at the same time. I just did one side at a time so that it would be less confusing in the pictures.

To finish your zipper bridge, we’ll need to finish the end of the zipper. If necessary, cut your zipper to the proper length. I cut mine with a pinking blade and treat it with seam sealant to prevent fraying.

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Fold the edges of your zipper tape in towards the back of your zipper. I dab a bit of glue on the ends of mine and shove it into the metal zipper end. And then I dip my screw into the glue that splooged everywhere after I opened the tube and screw it into place.

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Phew! The zipper bridge is finished!

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I went ahead and basted mine at an 1/8″ SA to my lining tops so that I could just set it aside and deal with less pieces.

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After you’ve finished your lining pockets, you can attach the lining top to the lining main.

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Turning Through the Zippered Pocket

To prepare the zippered pocket to turn your bag through, we’ll need finished edges on the bottom of the pocket, so that we can have a clean seam. Make a mark 1″ in, on the wrong side, from the long bottom edge. Press your fabric to the mark. This will turn your fabric under by a 1/2″.

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Tip: You’ll notice in my picture that my interfacing on my zippered pockets is pieced. I leave a basket of SF101 scraps on my cutting table and use them for lining pockets and straps so that I don’t waste interfacing.

For all of my zippered pockets, I like to have an inch on each side of the zipper. So I mark 1″ in from the sides and the top and make a 1/2″ zipper box.

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I placed my zippered pocket piece centered and 3.5″ down from the top of the main lining piece.

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After I’ve sewn and slit open my zipper box, I press the seams open before turning. It’s easier to get a clean edge that way.

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To position my zipper, I take a piece of parchment paper and put a bit of fabric glue along the very edges of the zipper tape.

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Then I lay the lining panel right over top of it.

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Then I press it with a hot, dry iron and make sure not to get the iron over the zipper teeth. I press from the back, over the parchment paper so that I don’t get any glue on my iron.

After you’ve sewn your zipper in, take your other zipper lining piece and pin it RST with the sewn in piece.


We’re only going to sew 3 edges of the zippered pocket pieces together. The bottom edge will be left open for turning the bag. I find it easier to sew from the side of the pocket that touches the bag panel. You just have to push the panel out of the way.

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Begin sewing 1/8″ in from one bottom corner and stop sewing an 1/8″ in from the opposite bottom corner.

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It’s very important to leave your zipper pocket OPEN. You will be turning the bag through this hole.

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Once your bag is finished, you can turn it through the zipper pocket by reaching your hand up through the bottom and pulling the bag through the zippered opening all the way down through the pocket.

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Once your bag is turned, clip the bottom edges of your zippered pocket together and sew right along the bottom edge to fully enclose the zippered pocket.

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After the bottom edge is sewn, push it into the pocket and topstitch your bag. By turning your bag through the zippered pocket, you don’t have any exposed seams in the lining.


Grommet Connector Tabs

I like the idea of grommet connectors for this bag because I think that they go well with the grommet handles. They’re also cheaper than triangle rings (although, I do love triangle rings). To begin, I cut my tabs slightly shorter and a bit wider than the pattern calls for. I cut them at 4 1/2″ W x 3 1/4″ H. The extra width accounts for the diameter of the grommets that I used and the shorter height is because the tabs in the pattern get folded over the triangle rings, and we won’t be folding our tabs.

Finish your strap tabs according to the pattern. (They will just be a slightly different size but they are finished the same way.)

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The first step in installing grommets is to make a hole the same size as the inner diameter of your grommet. Center a grommet on your strap tab 1/4″ down from the finished edge. Trace the inner circle.

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Use scissors to cut the hole. Alternatively, you can use a punch to make the hole. I was lucky and had a proper sized punch that I got in a cheap punch set from China that I ordered for turn lock installation awhile back.

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After you’ve made holes in both of your strap tabs, treat the raw fabric edges with seam sealant.

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Now it’s time to install the grommets. You need a manual grommet setter or grommet press to install them. You can get a manual grommet setter in a kit from the craft store with extra grommets for >$10. With the manual grommet setter, I would definitely practice on scraps the same thickness as your strap tabs before you go to install them in your finished tab. You may find that there isn’t enough thickness for the grommets and they don’t close all of the way. In this case, you can add a layer of fusible fleece when you’re making your strap tabs.

This is what the manual setter looks like. There’s a bottom portion underneath the strap tab and then you hammer the end of the post to set the grommet.

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If you think that you will be using grommets frequently, I would highly recommend getting a press. I got this press, 3 dies*, and 1,500 grommets shipped for $50. If you were to buy that many grommets at the craft store, it would cost you over $50. (Everything I got for that price pictured below. I don’t remember the exact seller but you can search amazon or ebay to compare pricing.)

*The dies are what go into the press and fit different sized grommets.

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The tab on the left has the backside of the grommet facing up and the tab on the right is the front of the grommet.

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After you have your grommets set in your tabs, attach them to your bag per the pattern.

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Finished Window Shopper Tote

Sorry this post kind of jumped around a bit. I just wanted to share areas of the pattern that I tweaked or areas that I thought people might like to see more pictures of. I hope that you found this helpful!

One thought on “The Window Shopper Tote

  1. I love it! Especially the cute mermaid fabric! Can I ask where you found it? I also like the grommet look and will probably do that too for my version. Thanks!


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