Tote bags are super easy to make with just a yard of fabric and some purchased web trim for the handles! This size is perfect for groceries – flat bottom and not too big (or too small) to fit just the right amount in the bag that doesn’t make the bag too heavy.
Use a durable fabric like canvas or denim. The bottom is doubled and interfaced to make it study and easy to pack and unpack.
Learn how to sew tote bags with our step-by-step tutorial to make your own pattern pieces. By drafting your own pattern with our detailed instructions, you’ll be able to make your own bag. From a small tote to a medium tote and a large tote this is a great bag to use as a reusable grocery bag.
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Here are a few more images of the finished tote bag. Switch up the fabrics and colors. Great project for some of your bigger scraps of home dec fabric!
Sew tote bags to use as creative gift wrapping! Make one to use as a diaper bag with a cute print. Make it bigger for a great beach bag.
How much fabric do you need to sew a tote bag?
With only one yard of fabric, you can sew your own tote bag. You can use all one fabric as I did, or use up to four different fabrics.
What types of fabrics are best for sewing tote bags?
The best fabrics are denim or canvas. This is a perfect project for left over home dec or upholstery fabrics. Make a cute bag with a drop cloth from painting projects! Pick pretty prints for a new tote bag!
How do I make tote bags in different sizes?
It’s easy to make tote bags any size you’d like.
First measure how tall you want your tote bag. Add 1/2″ for the bottom seam allowance and 2-1/4″ for the top facing. This will be one of the measurements for your tote bag body pieces. Example: For a finished tote bag height of 15″, you would cut 15 + 2-1/4″ + 1/2″ = 17-3/4″
Next, how wide do you want your finished tote bag? Note that number for now.
Next, determine how deep you want your bag. This will help determine the final measurement for the tote body, as well as the first measurement for the tote bottom. If your bag will be 8″ deep, your bottom piece will be 9″ for one dimension – 8″ PLUS 1/2″ seam allowances. With the 8″ finished depth, we now know the other dimension for the tote body. Take the finished measurement you determined above for the width of your bag, add the depth of the bag PLUS 1″ for the two seam allowances.
Example, you want a 15″ finished width bag, with an 8″ gusset. the width of your two (2) tote bag body pieces will be 15 + 8 + 1 = 24″. If you want the finished tote height to be 15″, you will cut your two tote bag body pieces at 17-3/4″ x 24″.
Since the bag body piece will be cut at 24″ wide, you’ll cut your bottom tote pieces at 24″ wide by 9″ tall.
Cut your interfacing about 1/2″ smaller than the cut bottom pieces, so 23″ wide by 8″ tall.
Below is a diagram that should help you visualize the pieces. Use this formula to calculate your custom tote bag:
- Tote Bag Body Height: Total Height + 1/2″ seam allowance for bottom + 2-1/4″ seam allowance for top facing
- Tote Bag Body Width: Finish width + Total Depth + 1/2″ seam allowances for each side
- Tote Bag Bottom Width: Same as the Tote Bag Body Width
- Tote Bag Bottom Depth: Gusset Width + 1/2″ seam allowance for each side
Make your straps as short or long as you’d like! Play around – have fun sewing tote bags!
Can I add pockets to this bag?
Yes! It’s super easy to add both interior pockets or inside pockets to this basic bag pattern.
Decide how big you want the pocket and add 1-inch to both dimensions. For example, you want a cell phone pocket on the inside that measures 4-inches wide by 6-inches tall. You’ll cut a piece of fabric that is 5″ x 7″.
To make the pocket, zigzag finish the top edge. Fold it and press to the inside to finish the top edge. Straight stitch along the zig zag edge.
Next, press the other three (3) sides in 1/2-inch to the inside.
Pin the pocket to the inside of the bag where you want it and topstitch around the three folded edge sides. I like to use a topstitch foot for this step.
Want an exterior pocket? Follow the same instructions but sew it to the outside of your bag.
TIP: Add the pockets before you sew the tote bag together.
No more plastic bags when you can make super cute tote bags any size you’d like!