How to Make a Tote Bag

December 3rd, 2007

Tote Bag

This is a great project for gifts. It uses all straight lines, has little cutting, and is simple to stitch up. To make your very own quilted tote bag, you will need (based on a fabric width of at least 35 inches) a half yard for lining; a quarter yard of backing and quilter”s batting; a quarter yard of coordinating fabric for the front and pocket; and 1 yard strap.

How to Make a Tote Bag
Step 1: Cut the fabric to size:
Pocket: 6.5 x 6
Lining: 33 x 13.75
Each, Back and Batting: 17 x 14
Strap: two pieces 18 inches long
Front: one piece 9 x 17; and from alternate fabric 7 x 17
(If you would like to make the front one piece, or more than two pieces, be sure the final piece measures 15 x 17)

How to Make a Tote Bag
Step 2: Place two front pieces right sides together, so that the 17 inch sides are aligned. Pin in place. (You may want to open up the right sides of the fabric to make sure the face is appearing as you wish before sewing.) Sew from the top of the 17 inch seam to the bottom, back stitching at each end.

How to Make a Tote Bag
Step 3: Place seamed face of the tote on top of the batting. Sew a straight line one inch from the edge of the 17 inch length. Use your quilting foot to continue stitching one inch from each finished line until the face and batting of the tote have been quilted. (note: if you do not have a quilter”s foot for your machine, use a ruler and a disappearing pen to mark lines across the face of the tote spaced one inch from each other, beginning one inch from the length of the tote)

How to Make a Tote Bag

How to Make a Tote Bag

How to Make a Tote Bag
Step 4: Take the pocket piece and fold in the fabric about a quarter inch, then fold again to make a finished edge. Iron it flat. Repeat on each side until all four sides are folded in to make a finished edge.

How to Make a Tote Bag
Step 5: Locate the top edge of the pocket and stitch across it, backstitching at each end. (The other three sides will be stitched later.)

How to Make a Tote Bag
Step 6: Take the lining and place so that the length is running north-south, right side up. Measure six inches from the top and mark. Center the pocket, right side up, with the top of the pocket 6 inches from the top of the lining. Pin in place. Stitch along remaining three sides of the pocket. Be sure not to stitch the top of the pocket closed!

How to Make a Tote Bag
Step 7: Take the backing fabric and the quilted top piece and place them right sides together, making sure that the directions of each piece align. Stitch along the outside edge and bottom in a U-shape (again, be sure not to sew the top closed), backstitching at each end. Reinforce the stitching by zig-zag stitching along outside edge. Turn right side out.

Step 8: Take the lining fabric and fold in half right sides together so that the length now measures 16.5 inches. Be sure that the pocket opening is facing up. Stitch along the outside edge and bottom in a U-shape (again, be sure not to sew the top closed), backstitching at each end. Reinforce the stitching by zig-zag stitching along outside edge. Leave it inside out.

How to Make a Tote Bag
Step 9: With the outside tote piece, cuff the top, so that an inch hangs on the inside, leaving a finished edge. Iron flat. Do the same with the lining, leaving it inside out. Place the lining inside the tote, making sure that the top cuffed edges match up. Pin in place so that the lining is a quarter inche below the outside tote.

How to Make a Tote Bag
Step 10: Measure 3 inches in from where the backing meets the front and place at least one inch of strap in between the lining and the front piece. Pin in place. Repeat with remaining strap unfinished edges. Stitch a quarter inch seam along the circular rim of the top of the tote to secure lining, outside tote, and strap edges. Stitch again one quarter inch in from newly stitched seam to reinforce.

How to Make a Tote Bag
Well done!

*All seams use a half-inch seams unless otherwise noted.

Entry Filed under: Blog,Crafts

14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Michelle  |  December 3rd, 2007 at 8:51 pm

    Wow! Thanks! This is awesome! Can’t wait til I have time to try it out :)

  • 2. asti  |  December 4th, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    Thankyou for this great tutorial. Looks easy to follow. Will try it out for a Christmas gift !

  • 3. Carla  |  December 7th, 2007 at 10:52 pm

    How fun! I’m going to make up some tote bags for Christmas gifts, and I’m going to try your tutorial. I always like to try something new! Thanks so much!

  • 4. Bee  |  December 20th, 2007 at 3:15 am

    Have been looking for months and months for a pattern like this! Thanks for putting it up on your site!

  • 5. Robin  |  February 6th, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    I am curious–what is the best type of batting to use for totes. What do you use?
    I like your bag tutorial–can I post it on my Sewing Studio site?

  • 6. Esther  |  February 21st, 2008 at 4:26 am

    Can u take a photo of the back of the bag? Pls reply. Thx.

  • 7. Market Tote from JoAnn&hellip  |  March 1st, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    [...] Lastly, Dacia Ray has a cute FREE tutorial on her blog on the totes that she makes. Take some time to see that one, too! [...]

  • 8. Jenny  |  March 1st, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    Thanks for the tutorial! I’m including a link to this page from my tote bag bonanza on Great stuff!-Jenny

  • 9. Earl Dean Harris  |  January 5th, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Very good instructions.

  • 10. Deanna  |  January 31st, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    Wow! I’ve looked all over for a tutorial and yours is the clearest to understand!!!

  • 11. Miloula  |  March 1st, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Hi there, i really like the tote bag, the measurements are strange symbols on my page and not numbers! hope you can help

  • 12. trick or treat bags | One&hellip  |  October 25th, 2010 at 4:01 am

    [...] bag made without a pattern and with a faux flower pinned on. But here are some similar patterns: Dacia Ray & Joann’s. And here are the fabrics used: The Ghastlies in Smoke and Witchy Webs in [...]

  • 13. M  |  April 19th, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    I’m definitely going try this one. I just found the sewing machine of my dreams, so I am ready to get going!

  • 14. malathi  |  November 29th, 2011 at 2:37 am

    Amazing creativity

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