It's easy to make this sweet little tote bag. This is a medium sized bag and measures approx. 13" long by 9" tall by 3" deep with a small pocket on the outside of the front and the back. It has a separate fabric for the lining, but you will sew it in as you go. It's an easy way to make a faux lining!
To make the medium sized tote bag you will need:
(2) 14" x 12" pieces yard of main fabric (I used upholstery fabric because it is a bit stiffer and holds its shape for the tote bag better than regular cottons)
(2) 14" x 5" pieces of contrasting fabric for the bottom
(4) 7" x 5" pieces of contrasting fabric for the pockets (I used 2 matching and 2 coordinating fabrics in my bag)
(2) 31" x 4 1/2" pieces of contrasting fabric for the handles
(Note: This bag can be made in different sizes. You will make it the same way, only start with different sized pieces. So you don't get confused, I will post the different sizes at the bottom of the tutorial.)
Sewing machine and matching thread
Scissors and pins
Rotary board and cutter (optional)
Basic sewing machine knowledge
1. For the body of the bag, cut 4 fabric pieces 14" x 12", two of them from your main fabric and two of them from the lining fabric. Two of these will be the outside of the bag, and two of them will be the inside fabrics. (You can use a rotary cutter to cut them out, or you can make paper patterns and use them to cut out your fabrics if you don't have a rotary cutter.)
2. Next, cut 2 contrasting fabric pieces 5" x 14" for the bottom of your bag.
3. Using your iron, press under 1/4" on one of the long sides of the two bottom pieces.
4. Layer your fabric lining right side down, then your main fabric right side up, and place the bottom piece right side up on the top of your bag, lining up the bottom edges. The folded edge of the bottom piece will be tucked under and will be near the middle of your bag. Pin this down through all thicknesses along the sides. Do this for both the front and the back of your back. Set these two pieces aside for now. (They are the front and backs of your tote bag.)
5. For the pockets, cut 4 fabric pieces 5" x 7", two of them will show on your bag and the two lining fabrics will not show. I cut two from the main fabric (they don't contrast on this bag) and two from the lining fabric. You can cut all four from the same contrasting fabric if you'd like.
6. With the right sides of the fabric together, match your pocket pieces and sew a seam about 1/4" in from the long (top) side. Sew both pocket pieces.
7. Press the seams open with your iron.
8. Fold on the top seam and press it.
9. Topstitch along the top seam of your pockets, about 1/8" in from the folded edge.
10. Place your pocket on the front and back of your tote bag. Tuck it 1/2" under the seam for the bottom. Measure each side to make sure that the pocket is centered.
11. Topstitch the bottom of your bag to the front and the back pieces, catching in the bottom of the pockets. You will have raw seams on the sides of your pockets. Don't worry about that. You will stitch over them when you sew on the handles.
12. Using your iron, press under 1/4" at the top of your two bag pieces, being sure to press both the top and the lining of your bag pieces.
13. Now fold and press under 1/4" again, folding under the raw edges of the top of your bag.
14. Pin them down. They should look like this:
15. Sew down the top edge. This finishes off the top of your bag.
16. For the straps, cut two fabric pieces, 4 1/2" x 31". Use a contrasting fabric if you'd like.
17. Fold them in half lengthwise and press a seam down the center.
18. Open up the fold and fold in each side to meet at the center and press again.
19. Now fold the strap in half again, tucking in the raw seams toward the center.
20. They should look like this:
21. Pin and stitch along both sides of your straps, about 1/8" in.
22. Place the handles on the front and back of the tote bag pieces. You will need to rip out a small portion of the seam (about an inch) along the bottom to tuck in the handles. Tuck them in about 1/2" in the bottom piece. Pin the handles along the edges of your pockets, being careful to catch the raw edges of the pockets under the handles.
23. Sew your handles down on both sides, sewing across the handle near the top of the tote bag. You will be sewing along the same seam that you made when you stitched the handles together. Then sew the small seam that you needed to rip out across the bottom piece of your bag.
25. Cut a square from a piece of scrap paper that measures 1 1/2" on all sides. This is your pattern for the gusset (what makes your bag have depth). Pin it to each bottom side of the front and back of your pieces and cut out that square.
26. Your bag should look like this:
27. Pin the front and the back of the bag right sides together.
28. Stitch along both sides and along the bottom, catching in all fabrics. Don't sew in the gusset square area. Sew a 3/8" seam. Be sure to backstitch at the top at the turned under seam to secure the top of your bag well.
29. Trim the edges nice and straight about 1/4" from your seam with a rotary cutter or use scissors.
30. Sew a zig zag stitch over the seams to catch in the raw edges of the sides and bottom. This finishes off your seams on the inside of the bag.
31. Put your hand in the bag and line up the edges of the gusset (where the hole in). Pin together this little seam. You will be sewing this seam perpendicular to the sides and bottom seams.
32. Sew the gusset with about 3/8" seam being sure to catch in all edges. Backstitch at the beginning and ends of the seam to secure it well. Trim the seam with scissors then and sew a zig zag stitch over the raw edges to finish it off nicely.
33. Turn your bag right side out. Congratulations! You have finished your tote bag!
To make a larger tote bag (16" x 13" x 3 1/2 ") use these sizes when you cut out your fabric pieces:
(2) 18" x 14" pieces yard of main fabric (I used upholstery fabric because it is a bit stiffer and holds its shape for the tote bag better than regular cottons)
(2) 18" x 6" pieces of contrasting fabric for the bottom
(4) 8" x 6" pieces of contrasting fabric for the pockets (I used 2 matching and 2 coordinating fabrics in my bag)
(2) 37" x 4 1/2" pieces of contrasting fabric for the handles
To make a smaller tote bag (sizes to be posted soon!)