Why should you want to make your own tote bags? Well, first of all, making a tote bag is an easy sewing project, that requires little in the way of supplies. You probably already have most of what you need, and the rest you can get by making a quick trip to the nearest fabric or craft store. And if you have enough extra fabric lying around, even the shopping trip isn’t necessary.
Tote bags are also useful. You can use them as shopping bags, diaper bags, book bags or purses. And, since you are making these bags yourself, you can use fabrics in the colors and patterns you love.
Here is an easy way to make a simple tote bag.
What You’ll Need
• 4 matching squares of fabric, each 18 inches long and 18 inches wide.
• Matching thread.
o If your fabric is a solid color, choose thread that is as close to that color as possible.
o If your fabric is a pattern, but one color stands out as the background, choose a thread that matches the background as closely as possible.
o If your fabric is a pattern where no one color really dominates, choose thread that matches the darkest or most neutral color in the pattern.
• Straight pins.
• A sewing machine.
• A ruler.
• Fabric scissors.
• An iron.
How to Make the Straps for Your Handbag
1. First, take one of your squares of fabric and cut a two inch strip off of one side of it. Do the same with the other three squares of fabric. When you’re done, you should have four strips of fabric, each 2 inches wide and 18 inches long.
2. Take one strip of fabric and lay it out so that the right side (the side you want people to see) is facing up.
3. Take another strip of fabric and lay it, face down, on top of the first strip.
4. Use straight pins to hold the two strips together on the two long sides.
5. Sew the strips together on the two long sides.
6. Turn the strap inside out. This step can take a bit of time and effort. Just go slow and steady, and you’ll get it done.
7. Use an iron to press the strap flat. You really want the seams on the two sides to be sharp.
8. Repeat steps 2 through 7 on the other two strips of fabric.
Making the Outside and Inner Lining of Your Tote Bag
The four squares of fabric that you started with should now be 18 inches wide (from side to side) and 16 inches long (from top to bottom).
1. Lay out one piece of fabric so that the right side (the side you want people to see) is facing up.
2. Lay a second piece of fabric face down on top of the first.
3. Use straight pins on the bottom and the two sides to hold the fabric together. Leave the top open.
4. Sew the pieces of fabric together on the three sides that you pinned.
5. Fold the top of this bag down about half an inch, and use the iron to give the creases a good pressing.
6. Turn the bag inside out.
7. Use an iron to press to press the bag, paying close attention to the seams. This is the outside of your tote bag.
8. Repeat steps 2 through 5 on the other two pieces of fabric. Do not turn this second bag inside out. This second bag is going to be the lining for your tote bag.
9. Use an iron to press the second bag, focusing on the seams.
Putting Your Tote Bag Together
1. Take the bag that has the wrong-side facing out and stuff it inside of the other bag. By doing things this way, you’ll end up with a tote bag that’s as nice on the inside as it is on the outside.
2. Take the end of one strap and slide it between the outer bag and lining one side of the tote bag. Pin the strap in place.
3. Take the other end of the strap and slide it between the outer bag and lining on the same side of the tote bag. Pin the strap in place.
4. Take the other strap and repeat steps 2 and 3 on the other side of the tote bag.
5. Give your tote bag a test run. Slide your arm through the straps, and walk around a little bit. How does the tote feel? Do you like the way it hangs off of your shoulder? If so, it’s time to move on to the next step.
6. Sew a seam around the top of the tote bag, sewing the outer bag and inner lining together. Remove the pins that were holding the straps in place, and your tote bag is complete.