How to Make a Tote Bag

Tote Bag Tutorial

I know I say this every week, but Tote Bags really are super fun and handy to make. With plastic shopping bags slowly being banned around the world I can see them being even more popular to make than they already are. So why not start now? Take your Tote Bag with you shopping and every time you get asked if you need a bag, you can say “no thank you” and pop your shopping straight in your Tote! Happy Days!

There are so many different ways to make Tote Bags, but this tutorial is with the beginner sewist in mind, so I have kept it as simple as possible.

This Tote Bag is lined, so we don’t have any raw edges showing which is one of the reasons I love it so much, because the end result is so professional and tidy.

Like most things with sewing you can make this bag bigger or smaller, and the straps shorter or longer, exactly to your liking. You can also personalize your Tote Bag however you’d like with Appliqué, check out my tutorial here.

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I recommend using 100% quilting cotton for this project because it is a structured fabric that is easy to cut and sew, and won’t misbehave like other fabrics can – making it the perfect beginner-friendly fabric. Another good option would be cotton canvas.


You can find out more about which tools I recommend over here.

Please watch my video for full instructions on how to Make a Tote Bag.


Press your fabric.

Cut from the Outer and Lining fabric:

  • On the fold 18½” x 17″
  • 2 x 2¼” x 30″

To make the straps, take on outer and one lining rights sides facing each other, pin, and sew down each edge. Repeat creating both straps.

Attach a safety pin to one side of the top edge. Push it down inside the scrunchie, all the way to the end, then turn scrunchie right-side-out.

Press, rolling out the seams so they sit flat.

Take the outer fabric and fold with the right sides facing each other, pin, and sew down both sides. Trim loose threads and the bottom corners.

Repeat for the lining fabric.

Press the outer piece so the seams sit flat.

Layout your outer piece so it is sitting flat, and place your strap so the two outer fabrics are facing each other, check that your strap is not twisted.

Measure 3½” inches from the edge of your bag and pin your strap so it is straight. Repeat for the other side of the straps.

Repeat for the other side of the bag.

Tote Bag

Take your lining with the wrong side out and place it over the top of your bag and straps.

Line up the seams of the lining and outer and pin on both sides.

Repin the straps, so you now have the lining pinned too.

Pin in the middle of one of the straps.

Tote Bag

Sew along the pinned edge with a ⅜” seam allowance, backstitch at the beginning and end. Leaving an opening in between the straps where you didn’t pin.

Turn it right sides out.

Press, so the seams sit flat.

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Press, ensuring your seams are sitting correctly.

Pin your opening closed.

Sew along the entire edge, backstitching at the beginning and end.

Trim your loose threads.


Our next project is a Sewing Machine Cover click here for the tutorial.

Thanks so much for joining me! Please leave a comment and let me know how you go, or if you have any questions.

Stacey x

Shop Fabric at Fat Quarter Shop
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