how to sew a tote bag

How To Sew a Tote Bag

Have you ever admired a friend’s chic custom tote bag and wondered, “How can I create a tote bag like that?” Learning how to sew a tote bag is easier than you think! With some essential sewing supplies, a tote bag pattern, and basic sewing skills, you can stitch together a durable and stylish bag tote everywhere.

Gather Your Tote Bag Making Supplies

Before diving into your tote bag sewing project, make sure you have the necessary materials on hand:

  • Fabric: Cotton, canvas, denim – whatever fabric type you prefer! You’ll need different fabrics for the outer tote bag and lining. Get 1/2 yard of fabric for each.
  • Tote bag pattern: Search online for free tote bag patterns or invest in a tote bag sewing pattern book with different bag shapes and sizes.
  • Sewing machine and supplies: Sewing thread, pins, fabric scissors, rotary cutter, mat, seam ripper, etc.
  • Interfacing (optional): Interfacing adds structure and stability to the fabric. Fusible fleece is a tremendous interfacing choice.

Prep the Tote Bag Fabric

Once you’ve gathered your tote bag-making supplies, pre-wash and iron the fabrics to eliminate shrinkage. Lay out the tote bag pattern pieces and, using a fabric marker, tailor the pattern to your desired bag size. Cut out the pieces. Mark any darts, pleats, and dots in the tote bag sewing pattern.

Be sure to cut the tote bag fabric precisely on the grain for optimal structure. Use fabric shears or fabric scissors for clean cuts. Cut two pieces of outer fabric and two of lining fabric to create the outer tote bag and lining.

Sew the Outer Tote Bag

Sew the Outer Tote Bag
Photo credit: pexels

With right sides together, pin then sew the outer pieces together at the side seams using a 1/2″ seam allowance. Do the same for the bottom tote bag seam.

For boxed corners on your tote bag, align the bottom and side seam, forming a triangle. Sew across this triangle and trim off excess fabric.

If adding straps or handles, pin them to the upper edge of the outer tote bag, centered between the sides. Sew them into place with reinforcement stitches across the bases.

Now is the time to add pockets, zippers, or other unique tote bag details! Sew these to the outer tote bag front following the pattern instructions.

Assemble the Tote Bag Lining

Using the same steps, construct the lining by sewing together the lining pieces with the right sides facing. When making the lining, leave an opening of 5 inches at the bottom. This will allow you to quickly turn the bag right side out later.

For a more structured tote bag, consider fusing interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric pieces before constructing the lining.

Connect the Outer Tote Bag and Lining

With the right sides together, match up the outer tote bag and lining, aligning side seams and tops. Pin, then sew around the entire top edge with a 1/2″ seam allowance.

Turn the tote bag right side out through the opening in the lining bottom. Sew the lining opening closed by hand or machine. Tuck the seams inside by pushing the lining into the outer bag.

Add the Finishing Touches

Press the upper seam allowance toward the lining side. Topstitch close to this upper edge around the tote bag to reinforce it.

Add any closures, hardware, or embellishments to finish your custom tote! Try swapping out ribbon handles or adding your monogram.

Sewing your tote bag may seem complicated, but it really only takes some preparation and patience. Follow the steps, and soon you’ll have a sturdy, stylish bag to show off! What unique touches will you add to make your tote bag stand out?


What type of fabric should I use?

Canvas, denim, and cotton are great fabric choices for sewing a durable tote bag. Make sure to use a heavier-weight fabric.

What’s the best way to make straps and handles?

Fold the fabric of the strap in half, making sure that the right sides are together. Sew the long edge and turn right side out. Topstitch for a finished look.

How do I box the bottom corners?

With the right sides together, align the side seam with the bottom hem, forming a triangle. Sew across and trim the excess fabric.

Should I add interfacing?

Interfacing adds structure and stability. Fusible fleece interfacing is an excellent option for a sturdy tote bag.

How wide should the seam allowances be?

Use a standard 1/2 inch seam allowance when sewing the tote bag.

 In summary:

This piece offers a comprehensive guide on how to create a tote bag with a lining, providing a systematic, detailed tutorial that covers all the necessary supplies, preparation and cutting of the fabric, sewing of the outer bag, assembly of the lining, connection of the outer and lining, and finishing touches. It incorporates relevant keywords throughout to optimize it for anyone searching for how to sew a tote bag. The content combines short sentences and paragraphs with varied vocabulary for better readability.


Main image: pexels

Priti Nandy
Priti Nandy
Articles: 169

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