The Love Central - How to Sew a Simple Tote Bag
Tote Bag

How to Sew a Simple Tote Bag

Just like mine, you can add embellishments such as pockets, appliques, or embroidery to your tote bag.
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I got my first laptop during my service year and needed a cost-effective fashion bag dearly because I wasn’t a fan of typical laptop bags or backpacks.

I shared my concern with Grace, a friend and fellow Corps member who uses a tote bag for her gadgets. At that time, I didn’t even know the name, but I liked it, and she introduced me to a lady who makes them.

A few days later, this lady brought my tote bag. It was beautiful, with my name creatively written on it. It had an inner pocket and designs of butterflies and hearts that made the bag really awesome. 

I vividly recall how happy I was the first day I used it. People complimented the bag, and I felt fly. And guess what? It didn’t cost me a fortune, and the material is durable!

Though I’m not quite crafty at sewing, my love for the bag led me to research how to make it. Now, I’m excited to share the steps with you in this article.

But before then, what is a tote bag?

A tote bag is a large, typically unfastened bag with parallel handles that emerge from the sides of its pouch. 

Tote bags are the perfect blend of practicality and style. They’re functional and spacious, and they come in a range of designs to suit any taste.

A simple guide on how to sew a tote bag

Materials needed

  • Thread

  • Scissors

  • Sewing machine

  • Pins

  • Iron


Video credit: DIYTodaysSewingEmbroidery

1. Cut the fabric

Cut two rectangles of fabric, each measuring 15 inches wide by 20 inches long. These will be the main body of the tote bag.

2. (Optional) Add interfacing

If you want your tote bag to be more sturdy, you can add interfacing to the fabric. Cut two rectangles of interfacing the same size as the fabric rectangles, and iron them onto the wrong sides of the fabric.

3. Make the straps

Cut two strips of fabric 3 inches wide by 27 inches long. Fold each strip in half lengthwise and press the fold. Then, fold the raw edges in 1/4 inch and press again. Topstitch the straps closed along the long edges.

4. Assemble the bag

Place the two fabric rectangles right sides together. Pin the sides and bottom edges together, leaving a 3-inch gap at the bottom of one side for turning. Sew the sides and bottom seams with a 1/2-inch seam allowance.

5. Box the corners

Trim the corners at the bottom of the bag diagonally, about 1/2 inch from the seam. Turn the bag right side out and push out the corners. Press the corners to create a nice shape.

6. Close the gap

Fold the raw edges of the gap at the bottom of the bag inward 1/2 inch and press. Topstitch the gap closed.

7. Attach the straps

Pin the straps to the top of the bag, evenly spaced. Sew the straps in place securely.

8. (Optional) Add a lining

If you want your tote bag to have a lining, you can follow the same steps to make a lining bag and then sew the two bags together, leaving a gap for turning. Turn the bag right side out and close the gap.

Video credit: DamideTV

Additional tips to note

  • Use a sharp rotary cutter and a cutting mat for accurate cutting.

  • Backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam for extra strength.

  • If you’re not comfortable using a sewing machine, you can hand-sew the tote bag.

  • Just like mine, you can add embellishments such as pockets, appliques, or embroidery to your tote bag.

Final thoughts on how to sew a tote bag

If you’re looking for a reusable shopping bag, a stylish everyday accessory, or a thoughtful gift, a tote bag is always a great option.

Follow the steps discussed above and with a little time and effort, you can sew a simple tote bag that you’ll be proud to use or give as a gift.

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