How to make a tote bag

How to make a Tote Bag. Free Pattern + Tutorial
 Tutorial For Beautiful Bag With Shoulder Straps

This beautiful bag has handy shoulder straps, internal pockets and a rigid bottom with feet.  It also has an optional zippered top closure and zippered internal pocket.  The outside pocket is closed with Velcro.  Gorgeous, but well within the reach of a basic sewer.  This tutorial gives step by step instructions with pictures and loads of tips to make the job easy but also to give a professional finish. 
How to make a tote bag

How to make a tote bag

Finished size:  29cms wide and 16cms deep at the bottom; 25cms high, 31cms drop from handles to the top of bag; 35cms wide at top. 

0.5 metre of main fabric, 0.5 metre of lining fabric, 0.5 metre of handle fabric, 
0.5 metre of interfacing (Thermolam Vilene Fleece)
0.5 metre of iron on Interfacing (H250 Vilene), Zip 22cms(can be longer but no shorter), 27cms open end zip, 23 x 14cms base plastic grid, 4 bag feet. Medium size d-i-y button kit (or 3 medium sized buttons).  Small piece of Velcro.

Cutting instructions:
Bag body:  41cms by 34cms by 37cm across the top – cut 2 in main fabric, cut 2 in interfacing and two in lining. 

External pocket: 17cms wide by 14.5cms high – cut 2 in main fabric and cut one in iron on vilene. Internal slip pocket:  26cms by 14cms – cut 2 in handle fabric

Internal zip pocket: 22cms by 13cms – cut 2 in handle fabric Zip top closure pieces: 5cms by 26cms – cut 4 in main fabric and cut 2 in iron on vilene. 

Bag top:  74cms by 10cms in handle fabric cut on the bias. Bag straps (handles): 131cms by 10cms – cut 2 in handle fabric cut on the bias and cut 2 in iron on vilene (cut straight) 

Cut the bias strips first and join where necessary.  Then cut to the required lengths.  Use spray baste (temporary spray glue like 505 by Odif) to attach interfacing to main bag pieces. 
1cm seam allowance throughout unless otherwise stated. Fabric:  Main fabric:  Pineapple Brocade - Pop Garden by Heather Bailey for Free Spirit.  Lining fabric: Paris Apartment by Bari J for Lecien.  Handles: Ta Dot by Michael Miller.  

Step 1.  Bias Strips.

Cut the edges of the fabric so they are straight.   Fold the corner over so that the fold is on the bias.  Lightly press the fold.  Draw a line on the fold.  Measure 10cm from the line and draw a parallel line.  Continue for a total of 5 strips and join the strips together.    

Without stretching, measure the strips needed for the bag top and the handles.  If your don’t have enough length cut more strips as required and join as before.  For the bag top leave one end with an angled cut. 

Step 2.  Handles
Iron the vilene to the wrong side of the handles.  Fold in half long ways.  Press.  Open out and fold both sides to the centre. Press.   Fold over again. Press.   Stitch down both sides.  

Step 3.  External Pocket Iron the vilene to the back of one piece of the pocket.  Place the pocket pieces right sides  together and stitch around the edges leaving a gap in the bottom for turning.  Clip the corners.  Turn out to the right side.  Push the raw edges into the gap and press.  Op sitich across the top of pocket.  Place a piece of Velcro in the centre at the top of the pocket and stitch into place. 

Step 4.  Covered buttons (optional) If you don’t want to make the covered buttons you can use three co-ordinating buttons from your stash  (or buy them)  Following the manufacturers instructions cover the buttons with the handle fabric.

Step 5.  Bag body.
Apply the interfacing to the main fabric using the spray baste.  Measure 12cms from each end of the main body pieces at the bottom and mark.  Place the ends of the handles at these marks.  Measure 12 cms from each end at the top and mark.  Draw a straight line from the bottom marks to the top marks.  Pin the straps to these lines. 

Measure 8.5cms from the top of the bag front in the centre and mark.  Place the external pocket top on the mark and pin the pocket so the sides are under the straps.   Stitch across the bottom of the pocket from strap to strap.  Stitch along both sides of the straps up to the top of the pocket and to the same height on the back, stitching through all thicknesses including the pocket sides.   

Mark where the Velcro on the pocket touches the bag body.  Stitch the other piece of Velcro to the bag body.  

Place the bag body pieces right sides together and stitch around both sides and across
the bottom.  Clip the corners.  Turn to the right side.  Push the corners flat.  Measure 7cms from the corner along the seam line.  

Draw a line across the corner. 

Stitch across the line.  Fold the corner along the stitch line and pin to the side of the bag.  Ditch stitch (i.e. stitch in the “ditch” made by the side seam) along the seam.  Hand stitch the button to the corner. 

Step 6.  Slip pocket.
Place the pocket pieces right sides together and stitch around the edges leaving a gap in the bottom for turning.  Clip the corners and turn to the right side.  Push the raw edges into the gap and press.  Topstitch across the top of the pocket.   Measure 10cms from the top of one piece of bag body lining and mark.  Pin the pocket at the mark centrally on the lining.  Stitch around the sides and the bottom of the pocket reinforcing at the top.  You can stitch down the centre of the pocket to make two pockets, or to fit your mobile phone.  

Step 7.  Zipped pocket
(Having made the slip pocket, if you want to skip this then feel free!  However, once you make a zipped internal pocket you’ll wonder why didn’t make them sooner!) Iron some vilene onto the wrong side of the top half of the pocket.  Measure down 5cm from the top of one piece of the pocket and mark.  Draw two parallel lines .75cm apart and close the ends to make a rectangle. (see picture below.)  

Place the pocket piece on the lining right sides together, 6.5cm from the top of the lining.   
Stitch around the sewing lines ( the BLACK dotted line in the picture). Now carefully cut along the BLUE dotted cutting lines. Take care to cut the corners as close to the stitching as possible without actually cutting the stitches. Push the fabric from the front through the hole and smooth out on the back (wrong sides should now be together). Press.   

Take the zip and lay it under the hole with the start under the start of the hole.  This will mean that the end of the zip overhangs the pocket. Line up the teeth and the zip start so they are in the right place and pin (or tack) into place.  Stitch the zip close to the hole edges and over the teeth at the end of zip.  Trim the zip to fit.  Lay the other piece of pocket lining over the piece with the zip.  Trim the end.  

Match top and bottom corners, right sides together.  Pin and then stitch right around the square but do not stitch any of the lining fabric. 

Step 8.  Lining.
Place the lining pieces right sides together and stitch down both sides and across the bottom.  Press the seams flat.  Take one corner and push together so that the bottom seam and the side seam match up. 
 Draw a line 7cm from the corner.  Draw a line across the corner and stitch along the line.  Repeat with the other corner.   

Step 9.  Bag base.
Mark the 4 places where you want your bag feet.  Make two very small cuts at the markings that correspond with the ends of the bag feet. Use a seam ripper or embroidery scissors for this. Push the prongs into the right side of your fabric.  Push the prongs down flat (away from each other) with your thumb.  Mark the plastic grid base and make a cut where each of the feet will sit.  Place the plastic grid on the bottom of the bag body.  Push the feet prongs through the holes in the grid and bend the prongs away from each other.  

Step 10. Body and lining.
Place the lining into the bag body and match up the side seams.  Pin the tops together and stitch around the top.   Take the top binding and fold it as for the straps. Press.  Put the binding around the top and pin into place.   

Fold the end of the angled cut under by 1cm.  Pin into place.  Rather than stitch the angled cut I used a bit of fabric glue to keep the fold in place.  

Making sure to keep the handles out of way, stitch around the bottom of the bag top binding.  Then stitch three more parallel lines around the bag top.  

Step 11.  Zippered top closure.
You can, of course, stop here and not put the zippered closure on.  You would have a lovely bag but it would not be not secure.  Iron the vilene onto two pieces of the zip top pieces.  Fold all the edges on all four zip top pieces under by 1cm and press well.  Place two of the zip top pieces wrong sides together and pin into place.  Pin the zip long one side and match up the other side and pin.  

Pin the zip top into the top of bag, lining up the zip top with the bottom of the top bias and stitch into place.  

Press the bag and admire! 

How to make a Tote Bag. Free Pattern + Tutorial

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1 comment:

  1. Bellissimo questo tutorial !
    Spiegato in maniera dettagliata!
    Grazie mille, al più presto proverò a farlo...