Learn How to Make a Tote Bag Using This Pattern
Follow these directions and learn how to sew your own easy tote bags. They're a great sewing project for kids, and they also work well for charity sewing projects!
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.
Tote Bag Supplies and Cutting Guide
The following is what you will need for this tote bag.
Supplies and Tools
- 1/2 yard of wool blend felt (avoid acrylic craft felt, as it stretches easily)
- Items for decorating, such as extra felt, buttons, embroidery floss, or ribbon
- Craft glue (optional—you'll only need this if you want to glue decorations)
- Sewing machine
- Rotary cutter
- Cutting mat
- Straight pins
Note: If you don't have a rotary cutter and cutting mat, or if you want to make this safer for young children to make with little assistance, you can carefully use a pair of scissors.
Start by cutting the felt for your tote bag. You will need 3 pieces:
- Cut one piece that is 12 inches by 30 inches
- Cut 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!
The easiest way to cut out these pieces is to fold your 18-inch 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 Before Assembling the Bag
There are many ways to decorate a tote bag like this. If you want to attach elements with glue, you should do that 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.
The sample bag features a line of felt circles, held in place with a single line of stitching.
You can add any kinds 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.
Sew the Sides of the Tote Bag
To sew the sides of your tote bag, fold the 12-inch 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 Tote Bag Bottom
To make a "boxed" bottom that will sit flat, start by folding one bottom corner so the side seam lines up with the bottom folded edge. Lay it flat on your work surface as shown.
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 Tote Bag 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 Tote Bag Handles
To make the tote bag handles, fold each 4-inch 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 to the Tote Bag
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 of the Tote Bag
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 of the Tote Bag
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. Now you can add other decorations or start using it right away!