Easy Summer Tote Bag Tutorial

Easy Summer Tote Bag Tutorial

Heading to sunnier climes to lie by the pool brings up that old dilemma – how to carry all that necessary stuff from room to poolside? Well, how about making a roomy carry everything bag for less than a fiver?

Easy Summer Tote Bag Tutorial


    1m (or yard) of double sided strong fabric. Mine came from Ikea and was only £5 a metre. You won’t need all of this by the way, unless you really go to town with pockets. Double sided is essential as this bag is unlined, which is why we do a lot of folding and ironing of edges…
    Co-ordinating thread

Cutting Out There is no pattern as such, so no need to make paper pieces to trace.

    Take your fabric and fold in half, cut edge to cut edge. Measure in from one selvedge a good width for your bag. I chose 24″, because this worked well with the stripes on the fabric. Cut through the folded fabric to make one large piece – this will be the body of the bag.
    Cut two strips 4″ wide x 24″ long for handles
    Cut one rectangular piece (size is up to you) for a pocket.


Neaten the edges of the pocket: Take the pocket piece and fold the short edges over twice 1/2″ and sew in place. Repeat with the long edges but use a 1″ fold for the top edge. Sew in place. (I used a decorative stitch for the top edge.)

Place the pocket onto the main bag piece: you can choose to have it inside or out, it’s entirely up to you. To make sure you leave enough fabric below the pocket, fold the main piece in half and measure at least four inches up from this crease. Place the bottom edge of your pocket at this mark. Sew onto the bag along the two short edges and the bottom, using the stitched seams of the pocket as a guide.

Sew the main seams: fold the bag together right sides together, and sew the side seams. If you have an overlocker (serger) I suggest using that. Otherwise, simply sew the seam as usual, and neaten the edges using an overedge stitch if your machine has one, or a zig-zag (see step 4 for a picture.)

Create the bag bottom: Iron a crease at the corners of the bag’s bottom edge to help you find the right spot.

Easy Summer Tote Bag Tutorial

Pull the fabric out from the corners to form a triangle – the seam should lie along the crease you just ironed. Pin.

Easy Summer Tote Bag Tutorial

Measure two inches away from the point and mark a line. Sew along this line and cut away the excess corner.

Neaten this seam using overlocker, overedge or zigzag.

Prepare the handles: fold the 4″ strips in half lengthways and iron. Open out and fold the long edges towards the centre crease and iron again. 

To neaten the edges fold the raw edge of the short side in 1/2″, before folding the long edges together.

Sew together along both long sides.

Finish the top edge: Fold down 1″ and the fold over again. Iron and pin in place, before sewing the lower edge all the way around.

Attach the handles: handle width placement is something I’ll leave up to you – you might prefer a wide set handle, or you might want to match the handle to your fabric, as I ended up doing. Pin the handles on, matching the bottom edge of the handle to the bottom edge of the folded top edge. Sew along the stitching line on the handles.

Final topstitch: Sew all around the bag along the very top edge, catching the handles in your stitching.

Easy Summer Tote Bag Tutorial

Easy Summer Tote Bag Tutorial

One lovely, cheap and roomy bag, with plenty of space for all those essentials. You can embellish it however you like too – more pockets, add an eyelet to attach a coin purse (ice cream money!), longer or shorter handles… It’s lightweight and folds small too, so doesn’t take up too much room in your suitcase, and there’s no reason why you can’t use it when you come home for grocery shopping.

Easy Summer Tote Bag Tutorial

Easy Summer Tote Bag Tutorial

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