How to Sew a Tote Bag - The Perfect Tote Bag Tutorial


How to Sew a Tote Bag

Always cute and handy, tote bags are a great beginner sewing project to practise straight seams. This tote includes other techniques used throughout the book, like sewing a facing, understitching and topstitching. Make it your own: add an inner or outer patch pocket to organise and separate your things, scrunchify the straps, or patchwork fabric together to use up your scraps. 

Tote bag too small? Increase the dimensions of the pattern pieces by 5 or 10 cm (2 or 4 in) for an extra oversized bag. As well as the fabric suggestions here, this also works in heavier fabrics like denim and canvas. Both the Tote Bag and Scrunchie Strap Bag pictured at the end of this project have been made with second-hand fabric!

Cut Fabrics

Bag: cut 2
40 cm (15¾ in) × 45 cm (17¾ in)
Straps: cut 2
8 cm (3¼ in) × 70 cm (27½ in)
Facing: cut 2
40 cm (15¾ in) × 10 cm (4 in)

Tote Bag Pattern
Tote Bag Pattern

How to Sew a Tote Bag

  1. On the right side of the fabric, mark the strap placement on the top edge of each bag rectangle, 12 cm (4¾ in) in from each side.
  2. Next sew the straps. Fold each strap in half lengthways with the right sides together and pin. Sew a side seam along each strap, then turn out using a safety pin and iron flat. Topstitch along each edge.
  3. Match the straps to the marks on the top edge of each bag rectangle, aligning the raw ends of the straps with the raw edge of the bag. Pin and then stitch in place using a 5 mm (¼ in) seam allowance.
  4. Place the bag rectangles together with right sides facing and sew up the side and bottom seams. If the straps are getting in the way, pin them to the centre of each rectangle. Turn the bag right side out and set aside.
  5. Now place the facing rectangles together with right sides facing and sew up the side seams. Press the seams open. Press a 1 cm (½ in) single fold hem with wrong sides facing along the bottom edge of the facing.
  6. Slide the facing around the top of the bag so that right sides are together and you’re sandwiching the straps between bag and facing. Align the side seams and the top edges, pin and then sew around the top edge with a 1½ cm (½ in) seam allowance.
  7. Turn the bag inside out and tuck the straps into the bag (if they’re not already pinned). Press the seam allowance towards the facing.
  8. Understitch the seam allowance to the facing to stop it from rolling out.
  9. Fold the facing down over the bag, press and topstitch along the bottom edge of the facing to secure it to the bag and enclose all the raw edges. Pull the straps out of the bag before sewing this seam so you don’t sew over them.
  10. Turn the bag right side out, snip loose threads and press.

How to Sew a Tote Bag – Learn to Sew Series

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