Thursday, July 19, 2012

Quick Tote Bag

When I was little, we went on vacation and my mom surprised my brother and me with handmade tote bags with activities inside. They were really cute, with our name on the outside in iron on letters. I loved it so much that I decided I would do the same thing when I had kids.

This year, for our annual beach trip, I finally got around to making them. With three little kids, I don't have a lot of spare time, so I needed this project to be pretty quick and easy. I searched the internet and was inspired by this tote. I dug into my fabric stash and luckily had fabric to suit all three of my kids. Yay! Free project!

In this tutorial, I will show how to make the dinosaur bag. The other two bags were made the same way.

1/2 yard fabric for outside
1/2 yard fabric for lining
1/4 yard fabric for handles

Cut 2 pieces 14" wide and 16" tall for the outside of the bag..... making sure that your pattern is going the correct direction. The dinosaur fabric in these pictures. (If your pattern is random, like all of mine, you can cut one piece 14" wide and 32" tall and just fold it so you won't have a seam at the bottom).

Cut 2 pieces 14" wide and 16" tall for the lining. The fabric with words.

Cut 2 pieces 4" wide and 22 1/2" long for the handles. The fabric with words.

This picture has an extra small piece of word fabric that I didn't end up using. I thought about putting a pocket on the outside, but I decided that I just wanted a plain tote bag. You could add pockets to the inside or outside if you wanted to.

Step 1: Make main bag portion.

Layer your fabric for the main bag. Starting at the bottom you should have a lining piece WRONG side up, an outside piece RIGHT side up, an outside piece WRONG side up, and lastly a lining piece RIGHT side up. (If you are folding your fabric to avoid a bottom seam, put the outside fabric and lining fabrics wrong sides together and then fold them so that the outside fabric is on the inside).

Pin and sew the side seams (and bottom seam if needed) with a 1/2 inch seam. Then zigzag stitch along each seam and trim any excess fabric.

Turn the bag right side out and press. Along the top edge, press under 1 1/2 inches. Set aside.

Step 2:  Make handles. 

Press the fabric in half lengthwise. Then open and press each long edge into the center fold. 

Fold the fabric in half again so that you now have 4 layers of fabric with no raw edge showing.

Sew close to the edge all the way around. Zigzag the ends.

Step 3: Attach handles to bag.

On the bag portion, open up the top edge that you pressed. (you can see my ironing crease in the photo below). Lay the bag flat on the table. Being careful that your handle is not twisted, pin the handle to the bag matching raw edges. The side edge of the handle should be about 2 1/2 inches from the side edge of the bag. When pinning, be careful to ONLY go through two layers of the bag. Otherwise you will sew your bag closed. (you will be sewing through the handle, the outer layer, and the lining).

Sew with a zigzag stitch all the way around the top edge of the bag.

Keeping the handle pinned, fold in the top edge of the bag along your crease. Pin.

Sew around the entire top edge of the bag, close to the edge. Then sew around again, close to the zigzag edge. Then, if you want, sew an "X" on each handle to give it extra strength.

Here is the bag on my cute little 2 year old model.... just so you can get an idea about the actual size of the bag. It fits coloring books, crayons, and snacks perfectly without being too heavy or bulky for my kids to carry it themselves.


  1. so pity, I just see this beautiful work exactly after a year! Good job!

  2. Thank you! And thanks for reminding me that it's been so long since I've posted a craft. Time to get blogging!! :-)


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