I’m making a big fabric tote and wondered what’s the best way to add support to the bottom to keep it from collapsing?
There are various schools of thought about bag supports depending on the amount of stability needed. One of my favorite methods is to cover a piece of plastic needlework canvas cut to the exact size of the bag bottom. I like to round the corners to avoid poking the bag fabric when the support is in place. It’s an easy insert to do–simply fold a piece of matching or contrasting lining fabric over the plastic and hand or machine sew it in place along the side and ends. You can sew through the plastic canvas by machine without a problem.
Another method utilizes one or more pieces of stiff craft interfacing as a base. If it’s fusible, you can cover it simply by pressing the fabric in place around it.
Yet another option is to use a piece of acrylic cut to the bag bottom dimensions. The plastic can be covered with fabric or simply set into the bag. If you’ve got multiple bags the same size, you can just transfer a single support to the bag you’re using at the time.
Several companies make acrylic pre-cut bag bottoms for this purpose and you just purchase the size you need for your bag pattern.
If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, Masonite or lightweight board can also be cut to shape to fit the bag bottom, but be sure to remove this one before washing. The plastic and interfacing supports are washable.
Some designers recommend anchoring the bottom piece in the bag. You can do this temporarily with Velcro, or permanently with glue. Others like to add short fabric strips at the ends to include the piece in the cornering seamlines to keep it from shifting.