Thursday, October 17, 2013

the super easy to sew tote bag

I think I have said this before but while I usually like to add a zipper or pockets or other details to my bags, sometimes I just like a simple tote - especially when I am sewing bags for kids.  This "super easy to sew" tote is also super quick to sew and would be perfect for carrying around books or, since it is October, trick or treating.  As with most of the bags I write about here, you can easily adjust the size to fit your preferences but I've included the measurements I used below as a starting point.  Oh, and this bag is totally reversible - bonus!!!

1.  Begin by determining what size you want the bag.  Mine measures approximately 14" across and 16 1/2" high.  I say approximately because I didn't measure it until after I finished and washed it.  That is one of the easy things about this tutorial - you don't need to do a lot of measuring.  To put together the outside of the bag as shown in the above photo, you'll need two pieces of print fabric 15"x 12 1/2" and one piece of linen 15"x 10".   These measurements are based on using a 1/2" seam.  Of course, to make it even easier - omit the linen and just use one piece of fabric 15"x 33".

2.  Put one of the print fabrics right side facing with the piece of linen on the 15" side of both.  If you are using a directional print, make sure the linen is sewn to the bottom of design.  Repeat with the other print and press the seams.

3.  Prepare your straps.  The easiest would probably be to use cotton webbing for the straps.  I don't currently have any cotton webbing so I just made simple straps using fabric.  My straps are 32" and I started with a strip about 4 1/2" wide  - depending on your preferences, you could cut a strip between 4 - 5" wide and 29" - 32" in length.  Press the strip in half - wrong long sides together. Unfold and press each edge in toward the middle.  Fold in half again and then sew 3 or 4 lines of stitches along the entire strip.  (Sorry about the fabric change - I didn't take pics when I made the matching straps)

4.  Baste the straps to your bag.  You could skip this step but it takes less than a minute and makes it easier later.  

5.  Lay the outside fabric right side up with the bulk of the straps towards the center of the bag - measure the length and width and cut a piece of lining fabric the same size.  Lay the lining fabric right side down on the outer fabric.

6.  Sew one short edge together - making sure to sew over the straps.  On the other short edge, sew starting from the inside of one of the straps to the edge of the fabric and then repeat on the other side as shown in the illustration below.  Basically you are leaving the space between the straps open for turning the bag right side out later in step 9.  

7.  Readjust the fabrics so that all of outside fabric is on one side and all of the lining fabric is on the other.  Sew down each long edge as shown in the illustration below.

8.  Box all four corners by making a gusset.  To do this, just pinch each of the corners so that the side and bottom of the fabrics meet to form a triangle.  

9.  Turn the bag right side out through the opening you left between one of the straps.

10.  Press the opening closed and top stitch around the perimeter of the bag one or two times.

Enjoy your bag!  Let me know if you have any questions.


  1. That does seem easy! and really cute too.

    :) Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation

  2. Love how simple this tutorial is...I might have to make trick or treat bag now! Great pics too :)

  3. I can never have enough tote bags! Thanks for the great tutorial!

  4. Thanks for this - this is just what I was looking for :-)

  5. Oh the possibilities! Thanks so much for the tut. Seems simple enough.

  6. Would make a great quilt gift bag too Beth.

  7. Simple but looks complex. Easy enough to use as a gift bag for holiday presents.

  8. Such a sweet bag with those fabrics! I love the green lining!!

  9. Love your pattern. The fold on the bottom makes it easy.

  10. Thank you for the tutorial. The bag looks really good!

  11. This would make a great library tote for a kid, or even a Halloween candy bag in the right fabrics. Thanks for the tute!

  12. Great tutorial Beth. I love the colors you chose that blue fabric is so sweet.


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