Learn how to sew your own simple tote bags. They're a great sewing project for kids and work well for charity sewing projects! Younger kids may not be able to sew a tote bag using a sewing machine on their own, but they can sew the basics. It's also a great way to teach kids to sew. This would also be a fun project for a kids' crafting party. Sew up a tote for each child and then let them decorate the bags with scraps of felt, ribbon, buttons, and more! Search through your craft supplies, and use your imagination.
Equipment / Tools
- Sewing machine
- Rotary cutter
- Straight pins
- 12 yards wool blend felt
- Embellishments, such as extra felt, buttons, embroidery floss, or ribbon
- Craft glue (optional)
Cut the Felt
You will need three pieces of felt: one piece that is 12 inches by 30 inches and two pieces that each measure 4 inches by 18 inches. All of these sizes are approximate. In fact, once you get the hang of making these easy tote bags, you may want to adjust the size to suit your needs!
To cut the pieces, fold your 18- by 36-inch piece of fabric or felt in half, so it is 18 inches by 18 inches. Lay it on your cutting mat and cut a 12-inch by 36-inch piece. Trim it down to 12 inches by 30 inches. Next, cut a 4-inch strip and cut it in half to make two 4-inch by 18-inch pieces.
Sew Decorations on the Felt
The sample bag features a line of felt circles, held in place with a single line of stitching. However, you can add any kind of sewn decorations that you like. Stitch buttons on the felt, embroider a name or fun design (use tissue paper to mark the pattern), or add some felt or fabric applique.
There are many ways to decorate a tote bag like this. If you want to attach elements with glue, do it at the end of the project. However, if you want to sew decorations on or embellish your bag with embroidery, it's easier to do that before you sew it all together.
Sew the Sides
Fold the 12- by 30-inch piece of felt in half with the right sides together. Pin and sew each side, using a 1/4-inch seam allowance.
Mark the Bottom
Fold one bottom corner so the side seam lines up with the bottom folded edge. Lay it flat on your work surface. Use a ruler (a clear ruler is helpful!) and measure up 1 1/2 inches from the point of the fabric. Draw a line perpendicular to the seam. The line should measure 3 inches long with 1 1/2 inches of fabric on either side of the seam. Repeat on the other side of the tote bag.
Sew and Trim the Bottom
Sew along each marked corner line. Lock stitch at the beginning and end of the sewing. Trim the threads and then cut off the points, leaving about 1/4 inch of fabric. Turn the tote bag right side out.
Make the Handles
To make the tote bag handles, fold each 4- by 18-inch piece of felt in half and pin the long edge. Sew each piece with a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Turn the handles right side out. One way to do this is by attaching a safety pin to one open end and feeding it through the tube until it comes out the other end. Once your tote bag handles are right side out, topstitch up each long side, about 1/8 inch from each edge.
Attach the Handles
At the top edge of the tote bag, measure in 2 inches from each seam and make a small mark. Line up the outside edge of one end of the first handle with a marking.
Hold the end of the handle so it lines up with the top edge of the tote bag and pin in place. Pin the other end of the handle in place next to the other marking using this same method. Make sure that the handle isn't twisted. Repeat this on the other side of the tote bag for the other handle. Sew around the top edge of the bag with a 1/2-inch seam allowance to secure the handles in place.
Fold and Pin the Top
To finish your tote bag, fold about 1 1/4 inch of the top edge of the bag into the tote bag. The handles should now be up and away from the bag. Pin around the top of the bag.
Sew the Top
Sew around the top edge of the tote bag to hold the fold and the handle ends in place. First, sew about 1/4 inch from the inside edge of the felt, and then sew about 1/4 inch down from the folded top edge. Trim the threads, and your easy tote bag is ready to go.