I commented in my first post how I’ve always enjoyed sewing. I enjoy it most when I can get a lot of use out of something I have created, but don’t always get round to making such things. As I was rummaging around in the kitchen for a bag to take my lunch to work last week (which I do most days!), I decided I’d had enough and set about making a tote bag. Here’s ‘how to’.

Tote bags are usually a pretty standard size but I just cut mine freely (the result measures 13″x13″) so  you could either use my rough measurements below or make yours to suit its purpose.

  • 1 piece of fabric measuring 14″(W) x30″(H)
  • 2 pieces of fabric measuring 28″x4″
  • matching or contrasting thread (I used green to contrast with the blue)

First, fold the largest piece of fabric along its length so the surface of the fabric is face to face (inside out). With the fold at the bottom, sew up the side seams and over lock (use about 1/4 inch).

Here you can see the bottom of the bag and the seams overlocked.

Next make the handles. Take one of the handle pieces, with the pattern on the outside, and fold both sides down their length to meet in the middle (more or less). Fold the handle in half lengthways again and stitch along the open edge. Repeat to make the other handle. (The raw edges will be sewn out of sight in the next step).

This step requires the handles to be sewn equally on both sides. You could either measure and mark with chalk or tack in place, depending on your skill level.

Now sew the handles in place. With the bag inside out, fold the top seam down roughly an inch. Fold down again. (Now decide whether you want to hand stitch the handles in place or just make a mark roughly 3.5inches from the side seams on both sides.)

With one of the handles pushed up as far as it will go into the fold and 3.4 inches from the seam, start stitching the line of stitching furthest from the top of the bag first. (REMEMBER you should have measured where the handles should be so they are the same on both sides, or have them handstitched in place. Make sure the handles are straight and not twisted before you sew them in place!).

Starting at the side seam again, fold the handle back up on itself and start the second row of stitching (nearest the top of the bag). This will sew all the handles in their correct position.

Turn the bag so it’s the right way. Sew a cross to make the handle secure, and also go over the top and bottom rows of stitching for the width of the handle-see image below. (You could do this in one by creating an angular figure of eight).

If you start top left and make an angular figure of eight, you can do the strengthening stitching all in one.

Here you can see how the handles appear from inside the bag. The raw edges have been sewn under the top fold and the cross secures the handles so you can buy more without worrying about the handles breaking 🙂

Repeat to all other handles…………

………And voila! Hopefully you will have a new tote!

Final product!

It would be nice to know if you have any success making your own tote! Please leave a comment if you can’t follow my instructions (unfortunately I didn’t take any pics whilst making the bag but could help out further if you’re not sure on any of the steps).

Happy shopping 🙂