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Make Your Own DIY Tote Bag

Tote bags are so handy. They can carry everything across the house or across the country. And they are easy to make at home, with a few simple supplies and your imagination.


You’ll need fabric (for two bag sides, a pocket and a strap), thread, straight pins, an iron and a sewing machine. If your fabric has a pattern on one side, that is the ‘front’ side; the reverse is the ‘back’ side. If there is no pattern on either side, then either side can be the front.

First decide how big you want it to be. Do you have a specific purpose in mind? A book bag? Grocery bag? Maybe a wine tote? I’ll describe a 15”x15” bag with one side pocket, but the actual size can be customized to your needs.

Cut out the sides of the bag to one inch bigger all around than you want the bag to be. My 2 sides are 16” square. Next cut the pocket to the desired dimension, plus an inch (mine is 7” square). Iron the pocket edges over by ½ inch (so my pocket front is 6” square). Sew one side of the pocket piece, putting the seam about ¼” from the edge. Pin the pocket (front side out) to the front of the bag side where you want it to be, keeping the raw edges inside the pocket area. Sew along the 3 sides of the pocket, fixing it to the bag side.

Cut the strap length 2 inches longer than you want it, and 3 times as wide as you want it (mine is 38” by 3”.) Iron each long edge over by ¼ to ½ inch to the back side of the fabric. Fold the strap in half lengthwise (front side out) and iron it flat (mine is now 38” long by 1”wide). Sew along the long edge. It’s now a tube, open at both ends. Fold each end inside the tube by about 1/2 “. Iron them down and sew them closed.

Pin the 2 bag sides together, fronts facing each other (pocket on the inside). Sew a seam ¾” around 3 sides, leaving the 4th side open. On the sewn sides, fold over and iron down ½ the raw edge, then fold and iron it again, so the raw edge is rolled under the fold. Iron and pin it in place, then sew carefully along the edge of the fold. This should keep that raw edge from unraveling.

On the 4th side, fold over and iron down the edge twice, so the raw edge is hidden. Sew around the opening of the bag, to secure the edge seam. Attach the Strap by stitching it 1" down from the opening at the sides of the bag. Turn the bag right-side out. Viola! You made it yourself!

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