How many bags do you own?
Probably a lot.
Maybe a better question is….how many bags have you made?
Um, probably a lot.
But isn’t there’s always room for one more?Similar to the KID PANTS series, I thought it would be fun to share a series of Tote bag tutorials. Start with the basic tote, then show how to make it reversible, boxed out, etc, etc, etc (gotta keep some of it a surprise). When it comes to sewing it’s easier for me for understand the basics and then start adding the twists.
They’re your standard tote bag, made from one piece of fabric, cotton or twill straps, with a simple pocket inside because I can’t stand losing my keys in there. You gotta have a place for the essentials.
Ready to sew?
Let’s get started.Fabrics to Use:
• Heavy Cottons such as Canvas, Duck, Upholstery fabrics, Corduroy, Twill
• Standard Cottons such as quilting cotton, broadcloth
Or basically, you can make it from whatever you like….a painting dropcloth, a dishtowel? Think outside of the box and have fun!
(NOTE: orange fabric shown here is from Joanns upholstery section and black/white fabric is from IKEA)
You can also make a tote bag whatever size you like but I prefer:
- either two 17.5 x 14 inch rectangles OR
- one long 35 x 14 inch rectangle
(note, depending on your fabric print, you may want to cut the fabric as one continuous 17.5 by 28 inch horizontal piece, rather than a long 35 x 14 vertical piece –see striped fabric below).
First, prep your pocket. Cut a piece of fabric 9 x 7 inches (or whatever size you like…larger, smaller, multiple pockets, etc.) If you have a serger, serge the edges off. If you don’t have a serger you can leave the edges raw or cut them with pinking shears (zigzag scissors). Then iron three of the edges under 1/2 inch and iron the top of the pocket under 1 inch and sew a hem on the pocket.If you have a personalized label, you may want to sew one on top or into the side (more about my labels here). Then pin your pocket in place, either inside your bag or on the outside. The choice is yours! I placed mine 4 inches down from the top of the fabric on the inside of the bag.Then decide if you want any compartments in your pocket. I used my phone to measure and divide my pocket in two.
Then sew down the dividing line (mark it with pins, or a fabric marker, or iron it lightly to create a visible line). Then finally, sew the outside edges of the pocket in place.Now sew the bag together.
With right sides of your fabric together, sew down both sides of the bag (or if you’ve cut two separate rectangles, sew down one side, around the bottom, and back up the other side).Then hem the top of the tote. Iron the top edge under 1/2 inch, then iron it under another 1 inch, and sew the hem in place.Now we’re ready to add straps. You can create your own straps from fabric. But I love to use cotton webbing or twill tape because it’s easy and looks cute. You can typically buy this by the yard at most fabric shops.Cut two straps, each of them 27 inches long (or 1.5 yards total for both).The ends will fray, so iron them under 1/2 inch and pin them to the hem of the bag (about 2 inches over from the side of the bag). Make sure both handles are equal length and sew them in place. Sew a square around the strap end and then sew an “X” in the middle of that to secure it well.And….
Now the only question left is what to put in your bag? Sewing books, magazines, a knitting project or two?Happy Sewing!