Simple Tote Bag: a tutorial

One thing I feel like I can never have too many of is a simple tote bag. Use it for groceries, library trips, whatever. And the great thing about a tote bag is that it’s so super easy – and quick – to make your own! I’ve made a few of these over the last year, including as part of a Christmas gift.

simple tote tutorial

Materials:

  • Sturdy fabric – outdoor decor or canvas work well [a less sturdy fabric will work fine, it will just make a bag that isn't as structured and won't hold as much weight]
  • Coordinating thread
  • Scissors or rotary cutting tool
  • Iron
  • Sewing machine/serger

DSCF72711. Cut one long rectangle of fabric for the body of the bag and fold in half. The size depends on how big you want your bag to be. When folded in half, this fabric measures 14in x 16in. If you don’t have fabric long enough, you could also use two fabric pieces instead of one long piece.

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2. Cut four rectangles for the straps. I made mine 22in x 2.5in – you can make yours longer if you prefer a slightly longer strap.

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3. Serge or zig-zag stitch along the two longer sides of the bag body. [if you used two different pieces of fabric instead of one long piece, make sure you also sew along the bottom edge]

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4. Finish the top [open] edge of your bag to prevent fraying. You can serge along the edge, zig-zag stitch, or use pinking shears and cut along the top edge.

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5. Pinch the bottom corners.

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6. Sew across the pinched fabric and cut off the triangle of fabric you created. This will help give the tote a boxy bottom so that it can stand and have a little more structure.

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7. Fold the top edge over twice and press. Pin to hold in place.

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8. Sew a straight stitch along the top edge.

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9. Put two pieces of the long strap fabric right sides together. Sew/serge along the two long sides.

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10. Turn right side out. Fold both ends under and press the whole strap.

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11.Straight stitch around the perimeter of the strap.

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12. Pin the strap onto one side of the bag and sew on each end.

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close up of how I sewed on the strap

The X in the center isn’t totally necessary, but I think it just adds some extra stability to the strap.

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13. Repeat with the other strap, and you now have a tote bag to use for whatever your heart desires!

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