Friday, February 27, 2015

Simple Unlined Totebag Tutorial

This is a simple bag that is perfect made out of a cotton linen blend. The fabric is just heavy enough for the bag to be light, yet sturdy enough to use for books.  If you made it in a quilting cotton, it would be good to use as a reuseable shopping bag.

 This is a picture of the bag turned inside out:

To make the bag, you will need the following amounts: the fabrics can all be different, or they can be all the same fabric

.5m      Outer bag: cut one rectangle 18" x 34"
.1m      Facing for upper edge of bag, : cut one rectangle 3" x 34"
.15m    Handles, 1 rectangle, 5" x 42"

Step One: prepare the handles— both handles are made from one long strip, which is cut in half after it is stitched.Press the long 5" x 42" rectangle in half lengthwise, with right sides facing out.  Then press each raw edge toward the center pressed line.  You will end up with a long piece that is 4 thicknesses, and has the right side of the fabrics facing out. Stitch close to each side of  the folded edges and then again 1/4" from the first line of stitching.  Cut the long piece into two equal lengths,

 Step Two: Make the body of the bag.  Fold the large rectangle in half, right sides together and stitch around two of the raw edge sides, backstitching at the top edge:
 Zig-zag the raw edges to prevent future fraying while using the bag.               
 Mark a 2-1/2" square on each lower corner of the bag, measuring from the seam line, as shown on the diagram:    Cut away the squares on the marked lines.  
this show the corner that has a side seam:
this shows the corner where the side is folded fabric, which you would measure the 2-1/2" from, since the fold takes the place of the seam, 

Sew the “boxed bottom” corners of the bag— turn the cut edges so that the bottom seam meets up with the side seam of the bag, and then sew along the raw edges.  Zig zag this edge.
Turn the unit right sides out,

 Step Three: Prepare the upper facing
Press under 1/4" or ½" on one long edge of the 3" x 34" rectangle.  Fold in half and sew the short side seam.  Press open the seam,  

 Pin the facing to the top edge of the body of the tote, right sides together, and lining up the side seam.  
Place the unit flat and insert the  straps in between right sides of fabric on each side about two to  three  inches from the side edge.  Make sure that each end is pulled through the same distance so that the straps will match in length.  I like to pull about an inch through, this will help make the handles sturdier. 

Sew around the top edge of the tote, using a ½" seam.
Turn the facing to the inside of the bag and press, Now the handles will be right sides up.

Top-stitch close to the top edge, and then again about ½" away from the first line of topstitching.  This will help anchor the handles.  Stitch around the pressed edge at the bottom of the facing as well. 

Press the whole bag, making creases on each edge that you want to emphasize.
 I like to add a line of stitching along the bottom side edges close to the fold to give the bag a bit more shaping. 

.... Three bags were sewn in the course of writing this tutorial....

Once you have sewn a bag or two. it isn't hard to see how you can sew many variations on it.  You could experiment by
varying the size, just keep the width of the facing and the bag equal,  (34" in the bag above)
-- making the handle longer
-- sew the body of the bag from a combination of fabrics, 
-- make a little pocket to insert in between the lower edge of the facing and the body of the bag.  It will be sewn in when you topstitch the lower edge of the facing,



  1. very much the way i make totes! but i reallyreally need some of those sheep!

  2. what a great tut on totes. I'll give it a try soon . Thanks Michelle
    in stitches


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