Boro Mending Style Boxed Corner Tote

August 22, 2016By Amy RehBeinSewing 6 Comments Opinion by Paid Consultant

I’ve been so inspired by Japanese Boro Mending lately and wondered… could I use The Dream Fabric Frame to create the look of the Boro Mending on a tote bag? Essentially we’d be creating the fabric panels on The Dream Fabric Frame and I was right, we could! I opted to use a heavy duck cloth for this project but I would also try this with a denim, canvas or home dec weight fabrics. I really wanted to be able to see the beautiful stitches, so I used a few different heavier weight threads in the machine for the stitching. While stitching, I also varied the stitch length by moving faster and slower resulting in a hand stitched feel. I’ve broken it down into ten simple steps.

Let’s get started!
Boro Tote DFF close up

Supply List

Your The Dream Fabric Frame
VQ2400 Sewing Machine with the Echo Quilting Foot (XE0766-001) loaded (you can also use Foot O – the Free Motion Open Toe Foot SA187)
½ yard of white duck cloth
½ yard of blue duck cloth
¼ yard of grey duck cloth
1 yard of cotton for lining
Fabric glue stick
Various weights of heavy thread in a few colors (outdoor thread, denim thread, button craft thread)
Boro Tote Supplies

What Fabric to Cut

Cut 2 pieces of your white duck cloth 13 ½” x 22” inches
Cut 2 pieces of your blue duck cloth 8” x 22” inches
Cut 2 pieces of your grey duck cloth 2” x 22” inches

Cut your lining: 2 pieces at 18” x 19 ½”
Cut your straps: 2 pieces of the blue duck cloth 4” x 25”

Putting things Together

Step 1
Pin white and blue duck cloth pieces together along the 22″ wide side and sew using a ½” seam allowance. Press seam open.
Boro Tote Sew_two_Pieces
Step 2
Adhere grey piece with fabric glue to cover the seam.
Boro Tote Add grey

Embellishing with your Dream Fabric Frame

Step 3
Load the fabric panel onto The Dream Fabric Frame.
Boro Tote Load onto DFF
Stitch across the grey panel several times to attach the grey piece to the panel.

Boro Tote Embellishment
Step 3 – Stitching embellishment shown up close. The use of different weights and colors of threads adds such great texture, achieving the Boro Mending Style we are going for.

Repeat for other exterior front panel.
Boro Tote Top view Embellishment
Step 4
Now that you’ve finished embellishing the exterior panels, trim them to the finished size of 18” x 19 ½”.

Bag Construction

Step 5
Pin exterior panels RST (Right Sides Together) around 3 sides leaving top open.
Repeat for lining, pinning RST leaving top open.

Boro Tote Pin RST
Step 5 – Pin RST

Stitch both exterior panels and lining with ½” seam allowances around the 3 pinned sides, leaving the top open.

Box Corners

Step 6
On both corners of duck cloth, pinch bottom corner together, lining up the side and bottom seams so they lay flat. Measure and mark a line 4” from corner as shown. Stitch across on this line. Repeat for lining.
Boro Bag marking corner
Cut extra fabric off corners from both exterior and lining leaving a ½” seam allowance.
Boro Tote cutting corners

Handle Time

Step 7
a. Press fabric in half lengthwise
b. Open Fabric up and press each side down to meet the middle crease.
handles ab
c. Press this piece in half
d. And top stitch down each side close to edge.
handles cd
Repeat with other handle.

Step 8
Press side seam allowances on both exterior and lining fabric to the side.

Iron Side Seams
Press side seams firmly.

Step 9
Attach handles to exterior of bag.
Make a crease with your iron in the center of the bag.
Measure 5” from that crease on both sides and attach handles with pins.
boro tote handle placement
Sew across the top of the handles using a ⅜” seam allowances.

Lining the Bag

Step 10
Place the lining fabric inside the Exterior fabric. Make sure that Right Sides are together (facing each other.) Pin at the top where the side seems line up first, then continue pinning all around the top of the bag, leaving an opening unpinned about 3 inches wide for turning. (I usually do this on the side of bag.)

Boro Bag Sewing in the Lining
Step 10 – Sewing in the lining.

Step 11

Turn Bag right side out.
Push the lining back into the bag.
Press top edge with your iron.
Top stitch around the top edge of bag making sure lining is pushed into bag. (This will close the opening.)

Enjoy your new Boro Mending Style Boxed Tote. Please tag us at #BrotherSews and #StitchingSewcial to show us photos of your new Boro Mending Stye inspired bags on social media on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Happy Sewing!!
Final Boro Bag

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6 Comments

    • Click on the PRINT button at the bottom of the above passage. At the top of the new page opening there is a selection of buttons, chose PDF. Make sure that you chose the size paper applicable to where you are – either Letter or A4 for it to print nicely when you eventually print it.

    • Hi Pam,
      Thank you for the comment. I first reached out to Amy for her answer to your question. She replied, “Boro mending is the art of Japanese mending. The Japanese would take rags or scraps and stitch with straight lines to patch a hole in a worn textile. I took my inspiration from this form of textile art. The straight lines in different weights of threads mimic the traditional Boro mending. I used various threads and stitch lengths to achieve this look.”

      The tradition behind Boro Mending comes from the the idea of ‘mottainai’ or ‘too good to waste’. In a time when cotton was very costly and one couldn’t afford to simply replace something that had a hole, it would be mended over and over, often throughout ones life if not longer. Garments would be passed down from one family member to the next and you could trace a families history through the garment. How beautiful is that!? There’s a great article with more information found here. I hope you enjoy it!

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