Tuesday, February 26, 2013

How to make a simple tote bag in 5 steps and 15 minutes

This last weekend my youngest daughter had another birthday party to go to, so I made the birthday girl one of my 
 (like these:)

I decided to make a bag to give the gift in rather than using wrapping paper.

Here's how to make your own super simple tote bag - in just 5 steps and 15 mins!

You will need:
2 pieces of fabric - one for the inside of the bag and one for the outside, plus a little for the straps.

Step 1: cut your fabric

Fold your outer fabric to the size you want for your bag and cut to size.
 I chose my size by folding the fabric around the notebook folder I wanted to put in the bag, and allowing a little space around it.

Then lay this piece on top of your inner fabric and cut another piece the same size:

And for the straps cut 2 strips 10 cm (4") wide and the length you want the straps to be. You can either measure another bag's straps - or drape a tape measure over your shoulder and measure how long you'd like each strap to be. Mine were 45 cm (17.5") long

Step 2: Stitch the main bag pieces

Fold each main bag piece in half - right sides together and stitch down the sides to form 2 pockets:

Step 3: stitch the straps

Take each strap in turn and iron in half lengthways:

Then open out and fold each half in towards the fold. Iron again:

Finally fold in half again so the raw edges are hidden and iron:

Then top-stitch (stitch close to the edge) down both sides of both straps:

Step 4: Attach the straps to the main bag:

Turn your outer fabric 'pocket' piece right sides out, then pin each strap to one side matching raw edges to raw edge and placing the straps one on either side of the bag like this:

Stitch into place:

Step 5: Stitch inner and outer fabric together

Slide the inner fabric pocket into the outer pocket like this:

Then turn the top edges in towards each other to hide the raw edges and pin the two fabrics together around the top.

Then top-stitch all the way around the top of the bag:

All done!

For the downloadable PDF version of this tutorial, click here.

You can make this bag whatever size you like and use any kind of fabric.
More eco-friendly than wrapping paper - and it's like giving an extra gift!

For more super simple tutorials that anyone can sew in just 5 steps and 15 minutes go here!

Or for over 100 more sewing tutorials for all levels of sewing ability take a look at my tutorials page.

Happy sewing!


  1. Ooh, love the rose fabric! Eeeexcellent tute, as always.

  2. I love it! It so easy to do and very economical.

  3. So adorable!!!Love the delicate rose fabric! Thanks so much for sharing the great tutorial!
    Have a fabulous week!
    Hugs from Portugal,

    Ana Love Craft

    1. Thanks Ana! Yes that rose lace is gorgeous isn't it!

  4. This is great! I'd love for you to consider joining our first ever Pattern Party! Those with free patterns to share are invited to link up. Check it out!

    1. Thanks for the invite Chelsea! I'll pop on over and link up!

  5. Just beautiful, delicate, feminine and pink, the perfect gift. I love the fabric you used and I really liked the Pencil and Notebook folders, is an excellent idea!
    Adorable, as all you do!
    Thanks for sharing, it was a great tutorial, well explained, what more can we ask?
    Marisa from

  6. You have a great artist in yourself. You have made a really designer tote bag. Thank you for sharing a very valuable information to us. I am damm sure people will love your creativity. I'll make sure to calculate this kind of stuff in my collection soon so you can even earn money for your creativity.


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