Sharing Tote Bag Tutorial

Here’s a tutorial for a no-lining, gusseted tote bag with a vinyl+velcro pocket that can fit a laminated, landscape-oriented sheet of class instructions.

My son’s preschool does sharing bag, which is pretty much show and tell. Each day, a different child takes home the sharing bag and brings back something the next morning to show to the class.

 I really like it because it’s a foolproof way of reminding forgetful parents (me) when we’re supposed to send kiddie treasures to school. The poor teachers were using reusable grocery bags with laminated instructions tied on as the sharing bags, though, so I sewing-mom-meddled and gave them a bunch of matching sharing bags for all of the classes.

I get antsy when I have to make things more than once, so these are easy and quick to make (other than the time needed to let the fabric paint dry);



(2) 13″ w x 15″ h
(1) 4.75″ w x 41″ h
Other Fabric

(1) 13″ w x 11″ h vinyl
(1) 14″ twill tape
(1) 36″ of 1″ webbing in your school’s color
(2) 5/8″ w x 2″ l velcro
Other Supplies

sharing bag template
freezer paper, ~ 4.5″ w x 12″ l
fabric paint (I use Simply Screen)
wax paper
spouncer or clean, dry dish sponge
xacto knife
fray check (optional)



Seam allowances are 1/2″.

Apply the stencil
Trace the stencil on non-waxy side of the freezer paper.

Cut it out with a small xacto knife (make sure that it is a properly SharpenedKnife). Be sure to save the letter innards for a, B, and g!

Iron your stencil on to one of the 13″ w x 15″ h pieces of canvas so that the “Sharing Bag” baseline is 9.25″ from the bottom. Put wax paper beneath the canvas (just in case the paint bleeds through) and get ready to paint.

Now paint! Use a dabbing motion to apply the fabric paint.

Let the paint dry for a day or so. Peel off the freezer paper and use tweezers to get the little pieces off. Save everything — you can reuse your stencil many more times. If your fabric paint calls for it, iron to heat set the paint.

Make vinyl pocket

Sew the twill tape along the 13″ edge of the vinyl piece so that more than half of the width of the tape extends past the edge of the vinyl. Since the vinyl will stick to your machine, you can use a teflon foot (layer the twill tape on the bottom and the vinyl on top), tissue paper (layer tissue paper on the bottom, then vinyl, then twill tape), or scotch tape (layer in the same order as with the teflon foot).

Fold the twill tape over the edge of the vinyl to the front; it should go past the twill sewn to the back. Topstitch it down. Flip the vinyl over, fold it in half to find the center, and sew the poky velcro to the back of the vinyl, just under the twill tape.

Lay the vinyl on the remaining blank piece of 13″ w x 15″ h canvas and mark where the soft side of the velcro should go. Sew the soft velcro to the canvas. Stick the vinyl pocket to the canvas and baste around the edge using 1/4″ seam allowance.

Assemble bag

Mark both sides of the gusset (4.75″ w x 41″ h canvas) at 14.5″ and 26.5″ inches from one end; these are the corner points. (Sorry, ignore the extra higher marks in the picture — I made two mistakes when marking mine.)
Layer the stenciled canvas face up and the gusset face down, sew from the top edge until your 14.5″ mark, backtack, and cut the threads. Pinch the gusset and align it with the bottom edge of the front of the bag.

Fold down the pinched gusset along the bottom edge and place a mark on the bottom edge in line with your stitching on the side seam. This is where you will start your stitching on the bottom edge. Reposition the fold out of the way, and sew along the bottom edge, backtacking at the beginning and end. Repeat to sew up the remaining side, and then repeat everything to sew the gusset+front to the pocket piece.

Finish the raw edges by serging, zigzagging, or pinking. If serging, trim the edges ahead of time, slightly round the corners, and serge with the knife down. Go slowly to follow the curve around the corners.

Finish the top edge. If you serged, you’ll have only one tail to deal with. Thread the tail through a yarn needle.

Pass the needle through the serged loops.

Pull through, clip remaining serged tail, and dab a little fray check on the end.

You’re nearly done!

Attach handles

Iron the top edge down 1 1/8″. Mark the front and back pieces 3″ in from each side. Cut the webbing in half so you have two 18″ pieces and pin them at the 3″ marks so that the raw ends are inside the fold.

Fold the handles up and repin.

Topstitch around the top of the bag, 3/4″ down from the top. Topstitch 1/8″ down from the top, and when you get to the handles, stitch a box plus an X for reinforcement.

All done! Now go find some kiddie treasures! :)

Sharing Tote Bag Sewing Tutorial

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1 comment:

  1. I’m a pre-school teacher and this is a great idea!!!! Just like you have trouble remembering to send in requested items, I have trouble remembering to remind the parents that it is that time again…This would be a great activity for some of my parents to volunteer their time. Thank you for the great idea!!!!