DIY Tote Bag with Flat Bottom

You can't have too many tote bags!  At least I can't!

Tote bags are a handy essential in everyday life.  Tote bags can be used as shopping bags,  book bags, craft travel or storage bags,  laptop carriers, beach bags, pool bags, gym bags, gift bags.  If you're a mom, they can be filled with diapers, wipes, snacks and toys for little ones.

DIY Tote Bag with Flat Bottom - fb


This free simple tote bag pattern is my go-to pattern when I want to sew a quick carry-all bag for myself.  This straightforward home sewing project is perfect for tweens, teens or anyone new to sewing. 

What are the advantages and features of this free tote bag pattern?

  • Pattern Simplicity - It is fun, simple and easy to sew.
  • Seams won't fray - French seams are used to finish the inside of the bag.  Does that sound complicated?  It's not.  French seams are really, really easy to sew.
  • Flat Bottom - The bag has boxed corners.  What is a box bottom?  box bottom means the bag has a flat bottom so it can easily stand up without tipping over and can hold wider items than a two-dimensional bag.
  • Quick Project - It only takes about an hour to make this tote bag.

Be sure to check out our pattern on how to make a matching zipper pouch.

Do you need other sewing ideas for shopping bags and tote bags?  Our totes, bags and purses page has over 60 free projects waiting for you to try. 

Today, I would like to teach you how to make a simple tote bag.  Just watch my video and continue reading this post for a photo tutorial with step-by-step instructions on sewing a DIY tote bag.

COMPLETE VIDEO TUTORIAL AVAILABLE! The video below is a preview with no audio, to watch the whole video tutorial, click the link DIY Tote Bag with Flat Bottom to watch 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.

easy tote bag tutorial and pattern

To sew this simple tote bag start by watching the video.  The video provides everything you need to know to sew your own tote bag.  Then if you need more help, there are step-by-step instructions.

Simple Tote Bag Supplies


  • 2/3 yard of fabric
  • Fabric Scissor
  • Rotary Cutter & Mat (Optional)
  • Clear Ruler
  • Sewing Machine
  • Matching Thread
  • Iron and Ironing Board

INSTRUCTIONS for a simple tote bag

Tote Bag tutorial - filled with Yarn


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 through your fabric stash because this project doesn't need much fabric so it's ideal for using up leftover fabric from other projects.

How to make Simple Tote Bag Fabric

You can use fun fabric in the colors and patterns you love.  If you are making a tote bag for a child, allow them to choose the fabric.


Simple Tote Bag StripsUsing a rotary cutter, clear ruler and cutting mat, cut a piece of fabric 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 of fabric 4 inches x 24 inches.  The handles can be made with the same fabric or coordinating fabric.


With one of the 4-inch x 24-inch pieces of fabric, fold the fabric lengthwise in half and press with iron along the fold. 

Simple Tote Bag Open the fabric and fold each raw edge of the fabric to the center crease and press with an iron.  Simple Tote Bag Iron HandlesThen, fold the handle fabric in half again lengthwise so the folded edges align and press with an iron. The handle should be 1 inch wide with four layers of fabric.

Simple Tote Bag Pin Top EdgePin in place.

Simple Tote Bag Sew HandlesAt the sewing machine using a straight stitch,  sew a row of stitches along both sides of the handle close to the fold.  This is edge stitching.  If you are not sure how to edgestitch, watch our Edge Stitch Tutorial.

Simple Tote Bag Edgestitch HandlesRepeat with the other handle.


Simple Tote Bag Fold Down Top EdgeOn the fabric 17" side, turn the fabric under 1 inch and press flat.  Turn it under again 1 inch and press.

Simple Tote Bag Measure Handle PositionTake one of the handles and insert the handle under the folded fabric 4 inches from the side and pin it 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.

Simple Tote Bag Sew Handle in PlaceEdgestitch along the inside fold.  

Simple Tote Bag Fold Handle UpFold the handle upward over the folded fabric. Pin.

Simple Tote Bag Secure HandlesSecure the handles in place by stitching around the handles with an X in the middle.

Simple Tote Bag French Seam Finished

Attach the second handle to the other 17" 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.


Sewing the seams with a french seam completely encases the raw edges of the seam allowance giving the tote bag a professional appearance inside.  The tote bag will last longer and look neater because french seams prevent the seams from unraveling and fraying. 

To make the french seam, begin by placing the fabric with the wrong sides together.  Pin the sides.

Simple Tote Bag Sew Bag SideAt the sewing machine with a straight stitch, sew both sides of the tote bag with a 1/4" seam starting at the top, backstitch at the beginning and the end of the seam.

Turn the tote bag inside out, with pretty sides together, and push out the corners.  With an iron, press the seam you previously sewed flat.

Simple Tote Bag Sew French SeamAgain sew the side seams with a straight stitch but this time use a 3/8" seam.  The side seams raw edges are now completely enclosed.


Simple Tote Bag Fold Bottom Corner

To box the bottom, fold the bottom corner flat matching up the center bottom crease line (or center bottom seam) with the side seam forming a triangle. Pin in place.

Simple Tote Bag Measure For Boxed PleatWith a ruler measure 2” from the tip of the triangle using a 45-degree angle on your ruler as a guide

Simple Tote Bag Mark Box Pleat Lineand draw a line with a pencil along the ruler's edge.

Simple Tote Bag Sew Box PleatSew on that line.  Since we do not want any raw edges in the tote bag, it is not necessary to trim the excess triangular fabric.  It will be inside the bag and add stability to the bottom.

Repeat the process on the other bottom corner of the bag.


All the sewing is complete.  Just turn the tote bag right side out.
Viola! It's finished and ready to use.

DIY Tote Bag with Flat Bottom filled with Groceries
Now through some stuff in the bag and off to town, to the grocery store, to the farmer's market, or to the beach!

Give as gifts!  Want a quick and environmentally conscious approach to wrapping a gift?  Skip the gift wrap, make a tote bag for the gift instead. Throw in a little tissue paper and you’re done.

I hope you enjoyed this tote bag tutorial and decide to make some.


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.

here are several of our favorite tote bag and pouch tutorials

DIY Grocery Bag Tutorial DIY Grocery Bag Tutorial - make durable, reusable shopping bags with this free shopping bag pattern.

Snack Wrapper Zipper Bag - Complete

Snack Wrapper Zipper Bag Pouch - Collect up some cookie, candy, or snack wrappers and make them into a fun zipper bag.  This is a simple beginner sewing project.

Recycled T-Shirt Tote Bag - Convert an old t-shirt into a tote bag with our quick and easy tutorial.  There is only one seam to sew!

Lined Tote Bag - Although this free tote bag pattern was made as a Halloween bag, it can be used as an everyday tote by just changing the fabric.

No-Sew Flower Applique Tote Bag Tutorial No-Sew Flower Applique Tote Bag Tutorial

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.

A Beginner's Guide to Bag Making

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This easy-to-use beginner's sewing book contains 20 stylish and contemporary bag designs, from tote bags and box bags, to a courier bag, a sports bag and a bowling bag. by Estelle Zanatta, Marion Grandamme - Paperback - Published 2019

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DIY Tote Bag with Flat Bottom - pin

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