How to Sew an Easy Tote Bag

Sew a Simple Tote Bag


For me, tote bags are a handy staple in my everyday life.  I  can never have too many tote bags.  Tote bags can be used as shopping bags,  book bags, craft travel or storage bags,  laptop carriers, beach bags, pool bag, gym bags, gift bags.  If you're a mom, they can be filled with diapers, wipes and toys for little ones.

This free tote bag pattern is my go-to pattern when I want to sew a quick carry-all bag for myself.  Even someone learning to sew can make this useful tote bag which makes it an ideal project for teaching kids to sew.

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

Why do I like this tote bag?  One thing I love about this tote bag is the raw edges of the seams are finished with French seams.  This means as time does on and you wash the tote bag the seams will not fray. Does that sound complicated?  It is not.  French seams are really, really easy to sew.

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.

Watch our video tutorial below or click the link if you prefer to watch How to Sew an Easy 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.

easy tote bag tutorial and pattern

To make the 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.


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

INSTRUCTIONS for a simple tote bag


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 is ideal for using up leftover fabric.

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.


Using 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 a different 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.  Open the fabric and fold each raw edge of the fabric so the raw edges to 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.

Pin in place and with 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.

Repeat with the 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. Edgestitch 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.


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.

At 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 flat.

Again 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.


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 the other side.


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

Sew a Simple Tote Bag
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! You can never have too many tote bags.

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

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


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 a few of our favorite tote bag and pouch tutorials

Grocery Shopping BagGrocery Shopping Bag - With this tutorial learn how to make a study market bag ideal to use when shopping at grocery stores or farmer's markets.

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.

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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

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

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

Sewing Stylish Handbags & Totes

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

Shopping Bag

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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