Free Directions to Sew a Simple Tote Bag

  • 01 of 09

    How to Sew a Basic Tote Bag

    Sew a Basic Tote Bag
    Sew a basic Tote Bag. Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to

    Sew your own basic tote bag in the size you want or need. Use these as gift bags and you automatically increase your gift by giving a re-usable bag that is bound to come in handy! I've never meet anyone who has enough bags!

    Continue to 2 of 9 below.
  • 02 of 09

    Gather and Prepare the Materials

    Variations in sizes for sewing a simple tote bag to meet your needs.
    Bag Size Chart. Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to

    Tote bags are always needed for one thing or another. Think green and use them for your shopping rather than adding to the landfill with plastic grocery bags. Keep them in your luggage... you know you always come home with more than you left home with! Keep a couple in the trunk of your car... just in case... you know something will come up!

    You will need:

    • Fabric to the size shown in the chart for the bag size you want to create. Nylon fabric is my favorite as it folds compactly and is resistant to water.


    • 2 - 20" pieces of 1" wide webbing. The length of the straps may be varied to meet your needs or desires. Carefully use a lighter or candle to gently melt and fuse the raw edges of nylon webbing to prevent it from unraveling. If you are using cotton webbing, zigzag or turn under the edges of the webbing when you are attaching it to the bag.


    • Thread to match your fabric. (The samples shown in these directions uses contrasting thread for visibility.) How to Choose Thread Color to Match Your Sewing Fabric

    Note: All measurements can be changed to suit your needs.

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  • 03 of 09

    The Side Seams

    Photo of the sewn side seams and seam finish on a tote bag being sewn.
    Sew the side seams and apply a seam finish. Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to
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  • 04 of 09

    Finish the Upper Raw Edge

    clean finishing the raw edge
    Turn under the raw edge and stitch in place. Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to
    • Turn under the raw edge by 1/8 to 1/4" and stitch in place.
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  • 05 of 09

    Finishing the Top of the Tote Bag

    Photo of the finished top edge of the tote bag.
    Finish the top edge. Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to
    • Turn under one inch of the top edge to the inside of the bag.
    • Pin in place.
    • Stitch the edge in place stitching as close to the edge as possible.
    Continue to 6 of 9 below.
  • 06 of 09

    Optional Squaring on the bottom of the bag

    Square Bottom Detail
    Square Bottom Detail. Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to
    • With the bag wrong sides out, fold the sides of the bag to be over the bottom fold of the bag.


    • Measure 2" from the point and sew a straight line across the bag as shown in the photo.
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  • 07 of 09

    Strap Placement

    Photo showing strap placement.
    Place the straps an even distance from the side seams. Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to
    • Using the measurements on the cutting chart or finding a placement that is comfortable for you, place the straps an even distance from the side seams.
    • Test for even placement by refolding the bag matching the side seams.
    Continue to 8 of 9 below.
  • 08 of 09

    Sew the Straps to the Tote bag

    Photo of a sewn on strap.
    Sewn on strap. Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to
    • Sew a square at the end of the strap to attach it to the bag. A sewn square increases the durability of the straps so they don't rip off at the most inopportune time!
    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Finish the bag.

    Photo of a finished tote bag.
    Finished Tote bag. Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to
    • Turn the bag right side out and press.
    • Add embroidery or appliqués to suit your needs or desires.