Buttoned Canvas Tote Bag Tutorial

Buttoned Canvas Tote Bag Tutorial

This tote makes for a perfect gift.  The canvas gives this bag a nice sturdy feel and you can add a fun pop of color or a pattern that suits the recipient.  The decorative buttons give the bag a little something special.


    1 Yard of Canvas
    3/4 Yard Quilting Cotton for Exterior & Handles
    1 Yard Quilting Cotton for Lining
    2 Decorative Buttons
    2 Yard Medium Weight Fusible Interfacing
    Magnetic Snap
    7″ Coordinating Zipper

 STEP 1: Cut and Prepare the Fabric


    Two 15″ x 17″ pieces

Exterior Fabric

     One 9″ x 15″ piece
    Two 4″ x 33″ strips for handles


    Two 15″ x 17″ pieces
    Two 7″ x 10″ pieces for pocket

 Fusible Interfacing

    Four 15″ x 17″ pieces
    One 9×15″ piece
    Two 4″ x 33″ strips for handles
    Two 7″ x 10″ pieces for pocket

Two small squares of scrap fabric or fusible fleece for snap support.

Using the manufacturer’s directions, press the fusible interfacing to the wrong sides of the coordinating pieces of fabric.

Serge or zig zag stitch around the canvas pieces to prevent fraying.

STEP 2:  Construct the Tote Exterior

With the 17″ side of one piece of canvas as the top, place the 9×15″ piece of exterior main fabric wrong side down (canvas is right side up) and aligned to the left edge of the canvas.  Pin in place.

Sew down the right side of the exterior fabric piece using a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Back tack at beginning and end to secure the stitch.

Fold the exterior piece of cotton fabric over so the right side is facing up and press. Top stitch along the seam line using 1/4″ or 1/8″ seam allowance (it’s up to you).

If desired, you can baste the right side of the cotton fabric to the bag to prevent movement.

Place your decorative buttons where you want them.  I placed mine about 2″ down from the top, 1″ apart.  

Secure the buttons to the bag.  I use my machine for this, but you can sew them by hand if you prefer. 

Next, place the other piece of canvas on top of this piece (right sides together).  

Mark the bottom left and right corners with a 2″ square.  

Follow my Perfect Boxed Corner Tutorial to box out the corners. 

If you’ve ever made a tote, you are probably familiar with boxing out corners.  There are a couple of different ways to achieve a boxed corner and trust me, I’ve tried them all!  Today I’m going to share the technique I find to be not only the easiest, but the most accurate.

STEP 1: Prep

Place the front & back of the tote (or bag) right sides together, making sure all edges line up.

STEP 2:  Mark & Cut

At the bottom of the bag, mark a square the desired size on the left corner and the right.
TIP: For small totes I use a 1″ square, for medium-large totes I use a 2″ square and for extra large totes I use a 3″ square.

Cut through both pieces of fabric along the marked lines on both bottom corners.

Step 3: Sew

Next, sew down the sides and across the bottom of the bag.  If this is a bag lining, you will want to keep a couple of unstitched space along the bottom to allow for turning later.

Next, PRESS your seams open.  This will make your life oh so easy in the next step (and when you construct the bag).

Once your seams are pressed open, place your hand inside the bag and bring the corners together lining up the seams.  Having this open, pressed seam will allow you for PERFECT alignment.

Sew the opening closed.  I typically use a 1/2″ seam allowance here.

If you are a stickler for perfection, or using a fabric that frays easily, go ahead and serge or zigzag the seam.

Repeat for the other corner.

When you turn your bag right side out, you will find that your corner is perfectly boxed and the seams are perfectly aligned!  

STEP 3: Construct the Lining

Create a zippered pocket using the two 7″ x 10″ pieces of fabric.  (10″ is the width)

Attach the magnetic snaps 1.5″ down from the center/top

Once your pocket is constructed, and the magnetic snaps are in place the two lining pieces right sides together.

Follow the directions in the Boxed Corner Tutorial to complete the lining.  Make sure to leave a 3-4″ space at the bottom to turn.

STEP 4: Attach the Straps

Grab the exterior of the bag.  Lay it flat and measure 4″ in from either side of the side seam.  Repeat for the back of the bag.

Place the outside edge of the strap on the inside of the mark (raw edges aligned), and curl the strap down and around, to meet the other mark back up top.  Make sure the straps are not twisted!  Pin in place.

Repeat for the backside of the bag and stitch in place using a 1/8″ seam allowance. 

Buttoned Canvas Tote Bag Tutorial

STEP 5:  Assemble the Tote

Place the exterior of the tote inside the lining, right sides together.  

Line up the side seams and raw edges and pin in place.

Using a 3/8″ seam allowance, sew around the perimeter. 

Gently pull the exterior through the bottom of the lining.

Press flat.

Top stitch using a 1/8″ seam allowance.


Close up the hole in the lining by using a ladder stitch.

And there you have it!  

Buttoned Canvas Tote Bag Tutorial


Buttoned Canvas Tote Bag Tutorial

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