How to Make a Tote Bag

Sew a Simple Tote Bag

For me, tote bags are an essential item.  Tote bags are always needed for one thing or another.  Tote bags can be used as shopping bags,  book bags, toy travel bags,  laptop carrier, gift bag, craft storage bags and lots more.  You can use fun fabric in the colors and patterns you love. Or you can use leftover stash fabric.   If you are making a tote bag for a child, allow them to choose the fabric.

A tote bag is a great project  for a new sewer and an excellent project for teaching a kid how to sew. .

On thing I love about this tote bag is the seams will not fray because the inside of the bag is finished with French seams.  Does that sound complicated?  It is not.  French seams are really, really easy to sew.

Learn how to make a simple tote bag by watching our video or if you need more help continue reading this post for a photo tutorial with step-by-step instructions.


Watch our Video Below or Click the link to watch How to Make a Tote Bag in Youtube.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. We make a small commission on sales through the affiliate links, at no extra cost to you. Thank you in advance for your purchase and your support! Please see our full Affiliate Statement for more information.



  • 2/3 yard of fabric
  • Scissor
  • Rotary Cutter & Mat (Optional)
  • Ruler
  • Sewing Machine
  • Thread



What type of fabric can you use?  To make the tote bag, you can use almost any type of fabric - cotton, broadcloth, duck cloth, home decor fabric, almost anything.  However, if you use knit fabric the tote bag will stretch with use. Before purchasing fabric, look though your fabric stash because this project is ideal for using up leftover fabric.

From the fabric, cut a piece 17 inches wide from salvage to salvage OR cut 2 pieces of fabric 17 inches x 22 inches.

For the tote bag handles, cut two pieces 4 inches x 24 inches.  The handles can be made with the same fabric or a different fabric.


With one of the 4 inch x 24 inch pieces of fabric, fold the fabric lengthwise in half and press with an iron to make a center crease.  Open the fabric and fold each raw edge of the fabric so the raw edges meet the center crease and press with an iron.  

Fold the handle in half again lengthwise so the folded edges align and press.  .The handle should be 1 inch wide with four layers of fabric.

Sew a row of stitches on both sides of the handle close to the fold.  This is edgestitching.  If you are not sure how to edgestitch, watch our Edge Stitch Tutorial.

Repeat with other handle.


At the top edge of the bag fabric, turn under the top edge 1 inch and press flat.  Turn it under again 1 inch and press.

Take one of the handles and insert the handle under the folded fabric 4 inches from the side and pin in place. Without twisting the handle, insert the other end of the handle under the folded fabric 4 inches from the other side of the fabric and pin. Stitch along the inside fold.  

Fold the handle upward over the folded fabric. Secure the handles in place by stitching around the handles with an X in the middle.

Attach the other handle to the other end of the bag fabric or other piece of bag fabric by repeating the above process.

The handles are now attached to the bag and the top of the bag is finished..


1. Place fabric wrong sides together. Pin in place.
2. Sew both sides seams of bag with a ¼” seam starting at top.
3. Turn bag inside out (right-sides together) and push out corners.
4. Iron seam; pressing it flat.
5. Sew side seams using a 3/8” seam.
6. The side seams are complete.



If you have any questions about this project, contact us through the YouTube Video comments or our Contact Us page. We respond to questions in e-mails and YouTube comments regularly.


1. Line up the bottom seam crease with the side seam forming a triangle. Pin in place.
2. With ruler measure 2” from the tip of triangle and draw a line.
3. Stitch along this line.
4. Repeat on other side.


1. Turn the tote bag right side out.
2. It is complete and ready to use.

Sew a Simple Tote Bag

Make tote bags to carry everywhere! To town, to the grocery store, to the farmer's market or to the beach!

Give as gifts!

You can never have too many tote bags.

To see a tutorial on how to make a shopping bag or to purchase books on how to make totes, see the links below:



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Supporting Products and links: Some of the links below may be affiliate links. We make a small commission on sales through the affiliate links, at no extra cost to you. Thank you in advance for your purchase and your support! Please see our full Affiliate Statement for more information.


Sew Brilliant Bags

Choose from 12 beautiful projects, then design your own by Debbie Shore - Paperback - Published 2016 Affiliate Link to Amazon


Sew4Home Bags and Totes

10 Easy, Fashionable Projects Anyone Can Sew by Liz Johnson, Anne Adams - Paperback - Published 2016 Affiliate Link to Amazon


Sewing Stylish Handbags & Totes

Chic to Unique Bags & Purses That You Can Make by Choly Knight - Kindle Book - Published 2017


Shopping Bag

How to make a simple shopping bag. Even a beginner sewer can make this project.

Sew a Simple Tote Bag

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