Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Tote Bag Tutorial

I've been making a number of these bags recently. They all have different applique designs and I can't seem to get enough of them. So, here is a tutorial on how to make them. Firstly, choose your main fabric and the lining fabric. You will need to cut out two pieces, 18 x 20 inches, from each fabric. Next, cut out the material for the handles. Two strips from each fabric, 33 x 3 inches. I always start with handles as these are the least satisfying to sew. Taking a strip of the main material and the lining material, place them right side together and sew them down each side. Then, turn them right side out and iron them flat.

Next, decide on your applique pattern, drawing it onto paper and then cutting out.

Use this to cut out the pattern on a contrasting material of your choice. I've chosen two different patterns - a beach hut and LOVE.

Here they are after they've been sewn on the main fabric. I used a zigzag stitch on my sewing machine.

If you want to add any embellishments, this is the time to do it as it becomes harder once the bag is sewn together. I've added buttons for the door handles, there will be ribbon added below and above the beach huts and the finished LOVE bag has a large button in the middle of the heart.

Next, place the right sides of the outer fabric together and sew around three sides, leaving the top open. Do the same for the inner fabric.

At this point, I made a box bottom. With the right sides together, fold the material so that the side hem is on top of the bottom hem. I promise you that this sounds more complicated than it actually is. I made a 2 inch box bottom, so I measured 2 inches from the top of the seam and then drew a line with tailor's chalk.

Sew along this line, twice, to make sure that this line is reinforced. You then need to be really brave (it took me a couple of tries to believe that I could do it) and cut of the excess, about 1cm above the line you have just sewn.

Now repeat this for the three other corners (on the lining and the outside of the bag). Turn the lining right way out but keep the outside of the bag with the right sides together. Now comes the tricky part as it's time to assemble the bag. Place the handles of the bag inside the outside of the bag and pin in place. I use my trusty ruler at this point to make sure that they are evenly placed. For this bag, I pinned them three inches from each end. Make sure that you pin the same material together - the bag will look quite silly if the lining is pinned to the outer. Once you are happy the handles are in place, put the lining inside and pin into place. This is what it should look like.

Now, it's time to sew the bag together. Start just by one of the handles and sew over it three times to reinforce it, then carry on round, repeating this every time you get to a handle. Finish just pass the last handle so there is enough room to turn the bag right side out. Once you've turned the bag the right way, iron all the creases out and sew the gap together. I do this by sewing round the whole of the opening with a contrasting thread. And here is the finished bag.

I'm off to the theatre tonight as I've managed to bag some more free tickets and I might take my new creation with me for an outing. A perfect size for bottles of water and boxes of chocolate. I hope you all have a lovely day.


  1. Awesome tote bag! Love all details!Thanks so much for sharing the great tutorial! Would love to have you visit me sometime.
    Have a fabulous week!
    Hugs from Portugal,

    Ana Love Craft

  2. What a cute tote bag. Thank You so much for sharing on last weeks party. Hope to see more from you on my next party.

  3. I like making a tote bags into something very fashionable for daily use. I like the tutorial.