how to

how to: make a simple tote bag

ever had some spare fabric, a bit of time and didn’t know what to do with it? well, how about learning how to make a super simple tote? if a sewing machine novice like me can do it, anyone can! i even had to do a bit of sewing machine repair halfway through, but you won’t have that problem (..hopefully).

learn how to make a simple tote bag
you may say i’m not a craft blogger, but i do love making – and learning to make – so i thought it would be nice to help you out! this is also my entry to the hillary blinds country crafts competition. if you enter now you still have time, you need to request your fabric by the 17th and your entry needs to be submitted by the 31st march.

things you need to make a simple tote bag

close up of abstract floral fabric
(a close up because i think this fabric is super pretty)

you will need:
– your fabric of choice – mine is calluna from hillarys, which was provided for this post.
– webbing, ribbon or whatever you want to use for handles
– tape measure
– sewing machine, thread (and patience if yours breaks midway like mine did)
– iron

fabric and ribbons for tote
firstly you will need to cut out your fabric and webbing/ribbon. i cut two pieces of fabric about 15 inches wide, and 16 inches tall. the handles are 23cm long each, but you can do your own measurements if you want something bigger or smaller.

ribbon handles pinned to bag
pin the handle to the ‘right’ side of the fabric (the side with the pattern or strong colour if you’re using plain fabric). they need to be right on the edge, about 3 inches in on each side. repeat this with the other piece of fabric and handle.

ribbon handles sewn to bag
using a zig zag stitch, sew on the top edge, sewing the handle on in the process. if you’re better/more confident with a sewing machine, sew right along the very edge and continue to the end. repeat with the other side of the bag and handles.

fabric folded, pinned and sewn
turn your fabric so that the ‘wrong’ side is showing (the reverse side). fold over about an inch of the top and with a iron, press down and pin into place.

sew this fold down at the top and bottom – so just above the zig sag stitch, and along what is now the top of the bag. i only now realise i forgot to take a photo of this stage, whoops! but you can see it’s been done in the below image.

tote bag inside out, waiting to be sewn
nearly done now! all you need to do is put both of the ‘right’ sides of the fabric together, pin them along the sides and bottom. with a straight stitch just sew the seams together from top to bottom, along the sides and bottom leaving about half an inch from the edge.

then turn the bag right sides out and you’re done! now you have a cool new tote. i’d love to see if you make one! if you do, take a photo and show me on twitter or instagram. i’ve been using mine a fair bit already, the fabric is nice and thick, so it’s very sturdy.

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  • Reply Belinda Walker 25/03/2017 at 18:49

    I just found your post about the tote bags and think they are great!!! I am always looking for things I can do to make presents, etc. and for something useful for me!! My daughter, daughter in-law and step daughter would all love one (in purple HA!). I hope I can get the energy to try – I know that sounds silly! I have cancer and UCTD and have a IV once a month that makes me nauseated and hurt all month. which makes me mad!! But I want so bad to try making these!! I used to make turbans for cancer patients who lost their hair. I made over 2700 and gave them away (through dr. offices, people calling for their relatives, etc.). It was great!! I gave my material to another lady who I hope is carrying on. I hope to get this posted in some way so that maybe people would be interested in making them to give away. I have the pattern, info, etc. but do not have a blog. Any ideas? Anyway, I love the tote bag, and hopefully will try it soon!!! Thank you for posting it!!! I am not on the computer a lot, but am going to try to see what you come up with up – you are so talented!!! Enjoy every day!!!! (I just thought – something to tell you – years ago we made mice in English walnut shells Christmas ornaments that were adorable. We went to craft shows – sold them for $1. Of course, you never get paid for your time, but I had 2 children to raise, and no child support – had a full time job and part time, but hard to make it.
    We finally stopped – it got too hard, and when we raised to price, no one bought them. But they were cute as could be and we had fun – I tried to make whatever we had to do fun for my children – my parents helped – and we bought the a big present of something they needed after a big craft show, but anyway thought I would tell you about that – don’t know why – I am crazy – HA! I have to laugh or I would cry. A long time ago my great aunt who I loved very much would tell me “You have to look at your cup as half full and not half empty”. She helped me through a lot of hard times! I have taken a lot of your time – have a wonderful day!

    • Reply laura redburn 29/03/2017 at 21:31

      what a comment! thank you for taking time to read my blog and write this. they’re quite easy and definitely not the sort of thing you need to rush with if it’s too much to all do in one go. are you on social media at all? if not, there’s various craft sites where you can write posts (like diy’s, how-to’s) and they host the content, so if you don’t have or want to start a blog that would be ideal.

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