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Jack-o-Lantern Tote Bag

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Add a touch of whimsy to your fall look. Make a colorful bag of autumn plaid and give it an applique with a unique personality.

With Pumpkin Face designs from Embroidery Library, you can embroider the applique pumpkin with any combination of jack-o'-lantern face elements. You are the artist -- make it cute, crazy, scary, or funny. Choose from 10 eyes, noses, and mouths to make each face one of a kind! 

You'll love the special handle design on this tote. When the strap is on your shoulder, the top of the bag is held together, so when you are on the go, there are no worries about your belongings falling out of the bag. The short side of the handle serves as a decorative loop for the long shoulder strap to feed through, and the weight of the bag's contents pulls the straps taut together.


Supplies needed:

  • 5/8 yard of bag fabric

  • Scraps of fabric for applique base and pumpkin applique

  • 1-1/3 yard of nylon or cotton webbing (strapping)

Embroidery Designs from Embroidery Library:

  • Pumpkin Applique - large, and your choice of the pumpkin face designs, large

  • Pumpkin Border, large


If you have embroidery software, print out the pumpkin die line and each face element.

If you don't have software, make note of the height and width of each face design.   Decide how far apart you want the face designs to be on the pumpkin.  Sew out the die line of the pumpkin on a hooped piece of paper.

Cut out the printed or sewn pumpkin die line. 

Layer the pumpkin fabric on a piece of lightweight cutaway stabilizer. It works well to use adhesive to lightly glue the layers together. Cut out the pumpkin from both of the layers.

Hoop the applique base fabric.  If you are using a plaid or stripe, make sure that the fabric is very straight in the hoop. In this photo you can see that I drew a line along one line of the plaid in each direction, so that I could line up the markings with the center markings on the hoop.  This ensures that the fabric is straight in the hoop.

Place the hoop into your machine and begin to embroider the applique pumpkin design. After the die line has stitched, place the pumpkin applique piece in the hoop. Match the edges of the piece with the sewn die line.

Continue to embroider the pumpkin according to the pumpkin's color chart.

When you have finished embroidering the pumpkin, remove the hoop from your machine, but do not unhoop the fabric.

Use the templates or measurements to help you place the face designs where you want them within the pumpkin applique.

Punch a small hole in the center of each template (where the axis lines intersect) to facilitate marking the center of each design.

To line up the pieces, I marked a vertical line down the center of the pumpkin, and then marked a horizontal line where the center of each design should be. Where the horizontal and vertical lines intersect is the center of each face element. 

Now place the hoop back in your machine, and line up the needle over the first center mark. Embroider each face element at its corresponding mark on the vertical line.

Here you can see the finished face elements.

Hoop a 10-inch piece of the strapping with a piece of cut-away stabilizer. The strapping should be perfectly straight in the hoop. Use a bit of adhesive to keep the strapping from shifting around during embroidery.

Embroider the Pumpkin Border in the center of the strapping.

Now you are ready to start assembling the tote. Measure and mark out 2" from the edge of the embroidery. If you are using a plaid, follow a line to make sure that the cut will follow the plaid. I wanted to make a rustic edge on this fabric, so I tore the fabric along the grain and cross-grain. You could also cut or pink the fabric if you prefer.

Here is the applique piece all ready to apply to the front of the tote.

From the tote fabric, cut a rectangle that is 20 inches wide by 30 inches tall.

Apply the applique piece to the center of the top half of the rectangle. I used a bit of spray adhesive to hold the applique in place while I satin stitched it To the bag fabric. The stitching is 1/2 inch from the rustic edge of the applique.

Fold the tote fabric in half, with the right sides together, and use a 1/2-inch seam allowance to stitch the side seams.  Finish the seams with a serger or zigzag stitch.

Hem the top of the bag, and turn it right side out.

At the top hem, Bring the side seams together, and lay the bag down so that one of the bottom corners faces you.  Fold the corner so that the point is toward you and the corner is laying flat and the seams are meeting. Use a ruler to find where the width is at 3 inches in width. At that line, fold the corner up and pin in place, matching the point with the side seam.  Repeat these steps on the other corner of the tote.

Stitch the folded triangles to each side of the tote through the side fabric to create a  bottom for the tote.

Take the 10-inch piece of  strapping, and on each side of the embroidery, fold the strapping down at a 45-degree angle to the back of the embroidery. The pumpkins should be right side up.  Sew the short ends of the strapping to the wrong side of the plain back of the tote. 

Stitch the ends of the remaining strapping to the wrong side of the embroidered front of the tote. The ends should be slightly closer together than those of the embroidered loop, so that it will slip easily through the loop.

Stuff the bag with all your goodies, and slide the long strap through the short loop.  The bag closes as you bring the strap all the way through the loop!

It's a fun bag for toting all manner of things, including Halloween candy!

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