How to Make a Tote Bag (in 15 Minutes)
This is the latest installment in the 15 minute sewing series. I strive to teach you to sew easy projects that take 15 minutes (give or take a few depending on your speed and the distractions in your life!) This is a super quick project that only requires you to make a few straight stitches. This tote bag pattern has a lining which also makes it reversible. These are the perfect totes to throw your sunscreen and a book into and then head to the beach or the pool. Or make some for the kids to take to the library this summer. Here is how to make a tote bag.
How to Make a Tote Bag (in 15 Minutes)
This is one of my Easy Beginner Sewing Tutorials. To see a full list of easy sewing projects head HERE.
Once you have mastered this easy tote you can head over and try out this tote/backpack project!
Two pieces of lining fabric
Two pieces of main fabric
Two faux leather handles – See the tutorial to make them HERE.
Wonderclips (pictured instead of pins.)
How to make tote handles
I like to use faux leather handles for my totes and purses. They are pretty easy to make and they are super durable and easy to install as well. Check out this post for a full tutorial.
You will want your straps to measure 30″ long finished. I like to use a contrasting color when I am finishing my handles. For this tote I used a pretty pink to really make the handles look like they were made just for the tote (which they were!)
You can also buy pre-made purse handles. You could also use webbing to create a more relaxed less fancy look for your tote handles. Webbing is super durable and great for bags you might be making for the kiddos.
What is the size of a tote bag?
The great thing about this tote bag pattern is that you can make it just about any size that you want! You could make a super small one that just holds a wallet. Or make a really big one that can hold tons of stuff (although you probably want to add some stabilizer if you make it big!)
For the tote pictured in this tutorial I cut two pieces from the main fabric and two pieces of lining fabric all measuring 15″x18″. If you are using a stripe like I did make sure and cut them so that the stripe will line up. You can accomplish this by folding the fabric and cutting them together so they look exactly the same.
No matter what size you decide to make your tote the most important thing is that you cut all four pieces exactly the same size.
How to make a tote bag
Now fold the top edge of all four pieces under 1/4″ and press in place (check out THESE tips for pressing.) Don’t skip the pressing, it will save you tons of time at the end.
Now take the two outside pieces and line them up right sides together. Pin on the sides first making sure that the stripes line up. Then you can adjust the other edges once the piece is sewn.
Sew around the three edges (leaving the pressed edge un-sewn.)
Turn the main piece out and push the corners out using a tool (I like my purple thang for the job!)
How to add a lining
This tote is reversible so you will want to trim the corners and turn the corners out on the lining piece as well. Then put the lining back right side in and stuff it into the main piece.
You can see in the picture above that you will want to start with the side seam. Offset the seams, press one to the left and one to the right, and then clip the two seams in place. Then repeat this step on the other side seam.
Don’t pin the entire top edge quite yet. You will want to insert the handles first.
How long should tote straps be?
The straps can be various sizes. You must first decide how you plan to carry the tote. To carry the tote just in your hand you want the straps to be much shorter, about 12″ each. But if you plan to put the straps up over your shoulder then they need to be longer, around 22″.
Place the end of the handle between the main layer and the lining layer. Clip in place. You can use a ruler to make sure that the handle is the same distance from each side.
Then clip the second handle in place on the other side using the first handle as a guide for placement.
How to finish the tote
Now go around the entire top of the tote using a coordinating thread and a straight stitch. Then to give it a more finished and professional look go around again 1/2″ below the original seam.
This tote is reversible since we placed the handles between the layers. So you can simply turn the inside out and you will have a completely different tote.
There are so many great options for adding unique details to your tote. You could add a patch pocket inside or even on the front.
Try piecing together different fabrics to create a patchwork look.
How to Make a Tote Bag Video Tutorial
The possibilities are endless. What will you do to customize your tote? Share with me in the comments below.
Now you know how to make a tote bag with this tote bag pattern! You have to see the adorable mermaid iron on I put on this bag. See it HERE.
Want more 15 minute sewing? Head over HERE for more!