Simple Tote Bag, Project photo by Mandy Murray

Simple Tote

Let your imagination run wild with your choice of fabrics, to create your own unique style of tote bag. Mandy Murray from Blessington has put her own personal style on this simple tote bag.

Materials Needed:

  • 1 yard fabric for outside of tote & handles
  • 1 yard fabric for lining
  • 1 yard firm fusible interfacing
  • ⅝ yard of 1⅜” to 1½” wide ribbon
  • All-purpose sewing thread
  • Washable basting tape
  • One 3½” x 14½” piece firm cardboard for base
  • Hand sewing needle
  • Fabric marking tool and ruler

Fabric Preparation:

  • Cut one 20″ x 32″ piece fabric for outside of tote
  • Cut two 3″ x 26″ pieces fabric for handles
  • Cut one 20″ x 32″ piece lining fabric
  • Cut one 4¾” x 30″ piece lining fabric to cover cardboard base
  • Cut one 20″ x 32″ piece firm fusible interfacing
  • Cut one 20″ piece ribbon (Note: Pictured bag features ribbon on only one side. Cut two 20” pieces if ribbon is desired on both sides.)

At the machine

  1. Place fusible interfacing on the wrong side of the tote bag piece and fuse, following manufacturer’s directions.
  2. Apply basting tape to the top and bottom edge on the wrong side of the ribbon. Remove protective paper and place ribbon 2½” from top front edge of tote.
Apply Basting Tape Diagram
  1. Set machine for straight stitch and medium stitch length.
  2. Thread needle and bobbin with all-purpose thread.
  3. Stitch close to the bound edge on each side of the ribbon.
  4. Fold each handle strip in half lengthwise. Stitch long edge of each strip. Press seam open and with seam centered on back side of handle.
  5. Turn each handle right side out.
  6. Edge stitch ⅛” from each folded edge of each strip.
  7. Right sides together and raw edges matching, machine baste ends of handle to top edge of tote front and back, as shown:
Simple tote bag assembly diagram 2
  1. Fold bag in half, right sides together, so it measures 20″ x 16″. Sew each side seams from top edge to fold. Press seams open.
  2. To box corners, fold so side seam matches the crease at the bottom of bag. Mark 2″ from point. Draw a line across fabric from fold to fold.
Tote Bag Assembly diagram 2
  1. Stitch on line. Repeat for other side.
  2. Turn bag right side out.
  3. Fold lining in half, right sides together, so it measures 20″ x 16″. Sew one side seam from top edge to fold. Sew other side seam leaving a 6″ opening in the seam (for turning to the right side after lining is sewn to the bag). Press seams open.
Tote Bag Assembly diagram 3
  1. Box corners (steps 11 thru 13) of lining. Trim excess from corner points lining.
  2. Box the corners of the lining (see steps 11 through 13). Trim excess from corner points of lining.
  3. Slide bag into lining, right sides together, matching side seams and top raw edges. Pin.
  4. Sew the opening in the lining closed.
  5. Push lining down into bag. Press along top edge. Edge stitch ¼” from the top edge of the bag, keeping handles free from the stitching area.
  6. Fold 4¾” x 30″ lining piece in half so it measures 4¾” x 15″. Sew the long edges of each side. Turn right side out. Press.
  7. Slide cardboard into the open end of cover. Tuck in raw ends and hand sew opening closed.
  8. Place covered cardboard base inside bag for added stability. Remove cardboard base when cleaning or laundering the tote bag.