Tote bags are an amazing accessory and a must have. They can be used for many things, from beach bags to shopping bags, and can be folded away when not being used. A tote bag is an ideal sewing project for beginners and is cheap to make. It is a perfect way to use old clothes or bedding with fun patterns. These instructions will tell you how to make a tote bag which has different fabric for the top and bottom half and then another one for the lining, making an even more interesting bag.
What you need
3 different bits of material, one for the inside of the bag and two for the outsides parts. To make a standard tote bag, the material for the inside fabric needs to be about 50cm and however wide you want your bag to be and the bottom material needs to be about 30cm.
It you wish to make the handles a bit more durable, it is recommended that you also use fusible fleece measuring around 25cm.
Scissors (the sharper the better)
Sewing machine with thread colour of your choice.
Pins or clips to hold the fabric in place
How to make
First of all, you need to cut the bits of fabric to the exact measures for your bag. For the bottom piece of fabric you need to cut two pieces, measuring 40cm wide by 20cm long. For the top pieces of material for the bag these need to be slightly longer; 40cm wide by 30cm long. For the straps you will need to cut two pieces measuring 80cm by 10cm. If you wish to use fusible fleece for the handles you will need to cut this exactly the same size as your handles. Make sure you cut a piece for each handle.
Now to put your bag together. Take one piece of the top fabric and one piece of the bottom fabric with the top slightly overlapping the bottom part. On the wrong side, pin together and sew. Do the same for the other top and bottom pieces so that you have both sides of your bag. When you have done both sides, iron the seams down. This just makes the joins in the fabric look neater.
For the lining of the bag, place one of the top and bottom pieces of material on the fabric you wish to use for the lining and pin in place so that you can cut around the fabric to make the lining. Do the same for the lining on the other side so that you have two pieces of lining that measure the same as a top and bottom piece.
Take the two pieces of lining material and pin in place. Sew them together along three edges: the two sides and the bottom part, leaving the top type part unsewn. Now take the two top and bottom outer pieces of material, pin and sew together in the same way as the lining piece, leaving the top part unsewn.
Next we are going to create boxed corners to give the bag depth. For this, take the lining and turn it inside out. On the bottoms corner, sew a small seam diagonally between the other stitches, just a few cm (around 5cm) away from the point of the corner, creating a triangle at the corner. Then, snip this triangle off. Do the same for the other corner of the lining. Once you have done the corners of the lining, do the same for the outer piece of material. Put these two pieces aside for a moment while we make the straps.
Take the two pieces of material for your strap and the pieces of fusible fleece. Iron on the fusible fleece as per the instructions to each of the inner sides of the strap material. Take each piece one at a time and fold it in half the long way, right sides together, pin and sew. You should now have your two handles.
Next take the inner and outer pieces of the bag. Turn the inner lining fabric so the right side is out but leave the outer fabric inside out. Place the inner lining inside the outer part of the bag. At the top end of the material, place the straps in-between the two parts so that it is sandwiched in, ensuring the steam of the straps are facing the inside of the bag. Pin the straps in place. The majority of the handle should be inside the bag with a little bit sticking out at the top. Now sew all around the top of the bag, leaving a gap of around 10cm as an opening to turn the bag the right way. Make sure you only sew the inner and outer material together! Ensure you securely sew the straps in place, you may want to go over this part a few times with your sewing machine.
Before turning the bag the right way, snip the excess bits of the straps. Turn the bag the right way and sew the part left. Press it and now your bag is ready to use!