Star Trek Grocery Tote

StarTrek grocery tote

On my last trip to The Fabric Shack, I spotted some fabric that instantly reminded me of my college roommate, Sheila. Sheila was a nerd girl before nerd girls even existed. She was into all kinds of pop culture-y things, but one of the things she and I shared an interest in was the Star Trek television series. I just couldn’t pass up Star Trek fabric on the clearance shelf, so I bought some to make something for Sheila.

StarTrek fabric

The fabric has nearly all the original cast on it (a major plus), but the fabric design was a bit over the top for my taste. I wanted to make something Sheila might actually use, so I had to figure out a way to use the best parts of the fabric (the images of the cast) and downplay the rest of the wacky design.

I pulled all the primary-colored fabrics from my stash to see if I could find something to go with the main fabric. But the primary colors only played up the wackiness. I finally decided that maybe downplaying the wacky parts wasn’t good enough—maybe I needed to cut them out completely.

StarTrek cutouts

After a good bit of studying, I figured out how the pattern of the fabric repeated. Then I cut a piece of fusible interfacing to that size and ironed it to the back of the fabric. This stabilized the fabric so I could easily cut out the characters. Next I found a gray fabric in my stash that I thought would lend an air of sophistication to the project.

The question then became “What do I make?” I toyed around with the idea of a zippered pouch, but the characters were large enough that I wasn’t sure how many I would be able to fit on it. Finally, I decided on a grocery tote—a functional item with plenty of room to inject a little fun. The pattern I used is from the book Stitch by Stitch by Deborah Moebes. The tote pattern in the book is one I made before—it’s cute and it comes together easily.

I cut the gray fabric to the size needed for the outside of the tote. Then I lined up my characters and found that five characters fit along the width perfectly! With the order set, I put a dab of glue stick behind the characters and glued them in place just long enough to get them stitched down. I set my sewing machine to a zigzag stitch and sewed around each character.

StarTrek cutouts sewn

I didn’t want to deprive Sheila of the fun of the whole fabric, so I used it for the interior of the bag. And of course, I had to add a zipper to the interior because that’s just what I do.

StarTrek lining

StarTrek pocket

I used some of those primary colored fabrics for the handles, which made the tote look a bit more patriotic than I intended. But I guess that’s what happens when you sew over Memorial Day weekend.

StarTrek handles

It wouldn’t be one of my projects, though, if I didn’t run into some problems—all of which were caused by me trying to go too fast. The main goof came when I cut the corners to make the flat bottom of the bag. Rather than align the corner seams to make a triangle and cut that off (as the instructions clearly showed), I cut off the corners of the flat bag pieces.

StarTrek wrong corner

This doesn’t seem like a big deal until you try to align the seams and you realize you’ve taken a misshapen gouge out of each corner. The only way I could think to make it work was to make my new corner seam as close to the gouge as a I could. Unfortunately that resulted in the bottom of the bag being 5 inches shorter in width than the top of the bag. Ugh.

One solution was to take in the seams of the bag to make it narrower so it would be closer to the width of the bottom. But that would mean cutting off some of the characters. Which just didn’t seem right. I also thought about cutting off the bottom of the bag and sewing on a new one, but that would have put me dangerously close to the bottom of the characters.

StarTrek tote hanging

So, I decided to leave it as it. Hopefully Sheila will be so swept up in the images of Bones and Captain Kirk that she won’t even notice.

Leave a comment


  1. What fun, I love this!

  2. Carrie

     /  May 29, 2015

    Sheila is a lucky girl. I can just see that cool bag filled with Tribbles. Way cool.


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