Easy Tote Bag Tutorial

Hi everyone!  A couple of years ago I gave a talk to a ladies group about my business, and I made a small tote bag for each of them to take home.  These cute bags are very easy to make.  Today, I’m sharing my tote bag tutorial, so that you can make one for yourself or to give as a gift!

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Easy Tote Bag

I made this pattern based on a bag that my mom has.  It’s a nice smaller size, and would make a great gift or a bag to hold a gift.  My mom likes hers because it’s just big enough to hold a book, or lunch and a water bottle.

Here are the finished dimensions –


Tote Bag Tutorial –

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Materials needed:  

3/4 yard of fabric – I used sturdy outdoor fabrics
Thread to match the fabric
That Purple Thang
Omnigrid Ruler


1.  Cut out one rectangular piece of fabric that will be the front, bottom and back of the bag.  Marking the middle on each side.


2.  Cut out 2 side pieces.  Marking the middle of the bottom edge on each piece.


3.  Cut out 1 facing piece.


4.  Cut out 2 strap pieces.


5.  Fold and iron a double 1/2″ hem on one side (bottom edge) of the facing piece.  Serge the other side (top edge).


6.  With the right sides together, sew a 1/2″ seam along side edge.


7.  Top-stitch the hem of the bottom edge.


8.  To make the straps – fold each piece in half, lengthwise, and iron.


9.  Fold each side in half again and iron.  Repeat for other strap.


10.  Top-stitch each strap, and serge ends.


11.  To make the body of the bag – pin the side pieces to the front, bottom and back piece.  Matching up marks made on each piece when they were cut out.


12.  At the bottom corners, cut a small notch to allow the fabric to go around the corner.  Tip – after these corners were sewn I applied fray check on the notch to give added strength.


13.  Sew the front, bottom and back piece to the side pieces.


14.  Serge the edges of the side pieces, and also the top edge of the bag.


15.  Pin and sew both straps to the top edge of the bag.


16.  With right sides together, pin and sew the facing piece to the top edge of the bag.


17.  Fold the facing into the bag, and top-stitch the top edge.


I used 4 different fabrics to make the 24 bags that I made.


Tote bags in different fabrics

Additional step – the bags that were made out of the solid fabrics, I did add a pocket to the front side.  The dimensions of the finished pocket were 3 1/2″ by 5″.  I serged all four sides.  Turn and top-stitch the top edge of pocket 1″, and turn under 1/2″ on the other 3 sides.  Top stitch the side and bottom edges to the front of the bag before sewing on the side pieces.

Tote Bag Tutorial

If you loved this tote bag tutorial, you’ll love these sewing tutorials too:

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  1. Jan, That was such a thoughtful think to do for those ladies. I am sure they will always remember you. The bags are so cheerful and useful. I always love your posts, so positive, makes me want to try everything you do. Thanks so much for sharing.


  2. Thank you so much for the tutorial. I love the bags and I’m going to make them for gifts. Your instructions are very clear. I have some lovely fabric that I bought three years ago with New York and places on it. I was wondering what I could make. The bag will be a hit, especially for my friend who loves and visits New York.
    Thank you again, I’m so glad I found this place.
    Warm regards

  3. So kind of you to share your lovely designs and expertise Jann.

    I am keen to make the small tote bags from your very clear instructions. They will be great gifts that my friends will love.

    Thank you so much…

    Robyn – from Queensland, Australia

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