Free sewing pattern: 20 minute tote bag tutorial

Always wanna know more about sewing tote bags? Learn how to make a quick tote bag using our The Purl Bee’s free tote sewing pattern. Get stuck into your fabric stash and choose your favourite print for some brand new arm candy.  Believe it or not, this no-nonsense bag tutorial from The Purl Bee promises a brand new tote bag in under half an hour. How speedy, and not to mention brilliant, is that? Read on for how to make it…

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tote bags

These classic tote bags have long been a favourite over at The Purl Bee, and here they are in a range of gorgeous autumnal colours. “We have remade these awesome, simple bags for fall! This time around, I used a gorgeous new collection of upholstery weight cotton called Outside Oslo. These bold, stylish prints are sophisticated without being serious and come in a rich palette of colours perfect for fall. I added some sturdy contrasting cotton webbing handles for a pop of colour, and I love the way they came out!” explains Molly Schnick, one of the Purl Bee creative team, and ex Martha Stewart Living stylist. “If you’d like to make the ones in the pictures, details are below. Alternatively, the simple design would show off any fabric beautifully.”

You will need

(makes one tote bag)

  • 1/2 yard of Outside Oslo Fabric to make your tote bag’s structure (Clockwise from top left: Dawn Frond, Dawn Sticks, Dusk Wildflower,  and Dawn Picket)
  • 2 yards of 1-inch cotton webbing to complement your fabric. (Clockwise from top left: Taupe, Turquoise, Turquoise, and Yellow)
  • Cotton thread to match your fabric
  • Cotton thread to contrast with the inside of the bag
  • The fabric in these how-to shots is from Echino and is now out of print, but if you like this, you’ve just got to google Etsuko Furuya.

Tote bag sewing pattern:

Step one: Cutting out the tote bag

tote bag pattern

Cut two 16-inch tall by 14-inch wide panels from the fabric. Make sure the pattern is going the correct direction on both panels.

Cut two 22 1/2-inch long pieces from the webbing.

Step two: Attaching Handles and Hemming the Top of the tote bag 

tote bag pattern

Pin the handle pieces to the top raw edge of the right side of each panel 3 inches from the sides. The raw edges of the handles should match up with the raw edge of the top of the panel so the handles will be facing down as shown in the picture above. Make sure the handles aren’t twisted.

tote bag pattern

Using the contrasting thread, sew a zig zag stitch across the top edge, sewing the handle to the top edge in the process.

tote bag pattern

This zig zag stitch should be right at the edge of the fabric as shown above.

tote bag pattern

Turn the panels so their wrong sides are facing up. Press and pin their top edges with the handles down 1 1/2-inches.

tote bag pattern

Make sure to pin the handle so it’s perpendicular to the horizontal sides.

tote bag pattern

Sew this fold down with the matching thread a 1/4 inch from to top edge and then with a second seam 1/4-inch from the bottom zig zag stitch.

tote bag pattern

The handle will now be attached and the top hem sewn down on both panels. You’re now ready to sew the bag together.

Step three: Sewing the Tote Bag Together

tote bag pattern

Pin the panels right sides together and sew along the sides and bottom 1/2-inch from the raw edges using the matching thread. Back stitch at the beginning and end of each seam. Snip off the bottom corners.

tote bag pattern

Using the contrasting thread zig sag stitch along the raw edges of the sides and bottom of the bag.

Make sure to stitch right along the edge to contain the threads from the raw edges.

tote bag pattern

Turn the bag right sides out press the corners and you’re all done! You’ve turned The Purl Bee’s free tote bag sewing pattern into a fab bag you can take to the grocery store. Make sure you share a pic of your tote bag with us on social media, we’d love to see them.

This 20 minute tote bag tutorial originally featured on The Purl Bee. Pop on over to The Purl Bee for the complete menu of tempting tutorials.

  • Pam in Toledo

    Yes. Try double sided quilt binding. It’s 1″ wide and you can find it with the bias tape in the sewing department. It’s 100% cotton and very strong. Stitch it down the side and it’s ready to go. I tried it and it works great! Also, it comes in all colors.

  • Eva Ancheta

    u may try join the 2 panels and add the straps later