How to make a tote bag
Here is a simple tote bag pattern to walk you step by step through how to make a super cute tote. The best part is that it’s reversible! Make one for yourself — or make a dozen as gifts!
With a little practice, you can turn out these simple bags on a sewing machine in no time. Lined totes are super easy, and they can be made in so many cute variations. Plus, don’t miss our pattern for a matching zippered pouch!
Tote Bag Pattern
For this reversible tote bag sewing project, you will need the following fabric pieces:
- 2 pieces fabric 13 1/2 inches X 14 inches (outside)
- 2 pieces fabric 13 1/2 inches X 14 inches (lining)
- 1 piece 4” X about 44″ long
How to make a tote bag
First, let’s start by making the straps.
1. Cut a piece of fabric 4″ X 44″ long. Press fabric in half lengthwise.
2. Open fabric up and press each outside edge to the center.
3. Fold fabric in half and press.
4. Top-stitch down each side of strap close to the edge. Cut fabric in half so you have two straps about 22 inches long each.
Now let’s make the tote bag.
1. Cut four pieces fabric 13 1/2 inches X 14 inches.
2. Lay lining fabric right sides together and sew on three sides. Leave one side open for the top! Next, sew your outer fabric pieces right sides together on three sides.
For this project, the bottom of the bag is 13 1/2 inches wide and the sides 14 inches long. But the bag can be made any size.
3. Now we need to “box” the bottom of the bag. Pinch bottom corner together and stitch across 1 1/2 inches from the corner. Do this for the lining and also the outer fabric.
4. Repeat until all four corners have been sewn.
5. Place lining fabric inside the outside fabric right sides together. I slipped the lining fabric up a bit so you can see how it slips in.
6. Place straps in between right sides of fabric on each side about two to three inches from the side edge.
7. Pins straps and the top edge of bag well. Stitch around the top of bag 1/2 inch from the edge. Leave a 2-3 inch opening for turning bag (I usually leave this on the side).
8. Turn bag inside out.
9. Push lining inside the bag and top stitch all the way around to hem the top of the bag. This will close up the opening used for turning.
Top stitching also makes the seams more durable, so they won’t strain and pull apart if you use the tote to carry heavy stuff.
Finished! How exciting! You did it. I hope you make tons of totes with this tote bag pattern! They make great gifts.
Tips for the perfect reversible tote bag
Here are some other optional tips that might help:
- Maybe you need longer or shorter handles than the size in this pattern. To modify, just drape a measuring tape over your shoulder and see what feels right to you.
- You can use a heavy canvas or Duck cloth — in which case you’ll need to adjust your sewing machine needle accordingly.
- If you use a lightweight fabric, you may want to line it with a fusible fleece — just follow directions on the fleece packaging to fuse it to the wrong sides of one set of your fabric pieces.
- Are you feeling ambitious? You might experiment with adding pockets or dividers!
- Tote bags are perfect for taking your lunch to work, transporting groceries, or packing gym clothes. Cut down on plastic bags with washable, handy-dandy, eye-catching totes!
Now that you know how to make a tote bag you might also like to make a matching pleated zippered pouch to go with your new tote! A zippered pouch is really the perfect use for extra fabric left over from making a tote bag. You will be surprised at how easy it is to put in a zipper with this zippered pouch tutorial.
There are so many fabric choices out there, the possibilities are endless. Did you give this pattern a whirl? I’d love to see the tote bags you made!