How to Sew a Tote Bag: A Step-by-Step Guide

When you are determined to be independent, you are bound to have moods that will want you to make your stuff. Making a tote bag might go too high on the list. Here we are to tell you how to sew a tote bag easily. Let’s get started.

To make a basic tote bag, all you need is the following material:

  1. Two fabrics of your choice
  2. Ruler
  3. Thread
  4. Cutting mat
  5. Fabric marker
  6. Rotary cutter
  7. Iron
  8. Pins

How To Sew A Tote Bag


Few tips to choose your fabric

The choice of your fabric will be based on where you are going to use it. If you want to use it for groceries, you must use an oilcloth which can be wiped off easily without leaving any stains. Even if it is wet, the oilcloth will take it back to normal. If you want your tote bag to be firm, you must look for sturdy fabric and add a fusible stabilizer to it.

Cut the fabric 1 in a rectangle of size 16 by 10 inches. Cut two straps of fabrics 2 of size 26 by 4 inches and 3 by 16 inches and 8 by 16 inches.

  1. Cut the fabric
  2. Shape the straps.
  3. sew the straps.
  4. Sew the bottom and middle panels
  5. Pin the top
  6. Stitch
  7. Topstitch
  8. Sew the sides
  9. Mark the corners
  10. Stitch the corners
  11. Finish the top panel
  12. Finish the straps.

How To Sew A Tote Bag

Once you are done with all four straps, you are good to remove all the markings. You can iron your bag and gift it to your loved one.

How To Sew A Tote Bag With Lining

Follow all the steps that are mentioned above till step 4 and now sew liner sides and corners. Pin the inner side of the fabric rectangles. Piece them together and pin. Flip the right side of the liner outside and tuck the straps between the inner and out fabric. Pin the end of every strap from the side seam to put them together. Now continue the steps from step 5.

How To Sew A Tote Bag With Side Panels

A bag with side panels can be made with a sewing machine as well as my hands. After step 1, sew the faces on the sides by leaving space for seam allowance. Attach faces on one side. Use backstitch after you start till you end the stitch. This will save your bag from your falling apart. Do not backstitch at every part since it doesn’t seem professional and may give a bad impression.  Sew the other sides of the bag following similar instructions. Now follow all the remaining steps to get done with your tote bag with side panels.

How To Sew A Tote Bag With Flat Bottom

If you want to make a bag with a flat bottom, you need to stitch the bottom corner after marking it with a pen for 1.5 inches or more. Do the same with another end. This will give you a flat-bottomed bag in no time.  Add stabilizer at the bottom which will keep it sturdy.


 1. How To Sew A Tote Bag With Zipper?

Open the zipper and sew it back and forth with the help of your sewing machine. Place it on lower lining pieces on the top edge. Align its upper end with side and upper lining pieces that can be placed facing down. Make sure your zipper is aligned by placing it on the top of the edges. You can adjust the zipper with pins or while sewing. Move the pull by lifting the foot whenever you get the zipper pull. Now continue sewing until you get the next one.

Once you open the lining, you can topstitch it by folding it back. The piece at the bottom should be placed perfectly while you sew. Now face up the zipper on the lower lining piece and place the upper one on the top. Keep the upper lining piece facing down. Once you see all the edges aligned, you can topstitch again by opening the lining.

  1. How To Sew A Tote Bag With Inside Pockets?

When you are sewing a pocket for your bag, you need to choose the size of the pocket. Since you are sewed the bag, you need to choose the pocket size accordingly. The right side of pocket pieces should be lined up in any direction and sew them from all four sides. Make sure you leave a small opening at the bottom.

Trim the corners and reduce the bulk according to the need and now place the pocket at the appropriate place that you have decided. Now sew the attachment points and now your bag has pockets.

  1. How To Sew A Tote Bag With French Seams?

Few people prefer having an unlined bag which gives them a sense of neatness and finished edges. To make a tote bag with french seams, you have to have a heavy fabric on which you can sew it from inside leaving no marks on the outside.

Also check out the best fabric cutting machine.