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Simple Tote Bag

Sew a simple tote bag to carry school supplies, sewing notions, or farmer’s market finds. Fabrics are from the Crossroads Denim collection by Amy Barickman for James Thompson.

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Download this Project

Step 1

Click on "Download this Project" above for the pattern pieces. Cut out template on drawn lines (photo 1).


Step 2

Fold a light aqua 15×20" rectangle in half to make a 15×10" rectangle. Place paper template on fold; pin paper template to fabric. Carefully cut around template to make bag front. Repeat with remaining light aqua 15×20" rectangle to make bag back.


Step 3

With right sides together, sew together two dark aqua 2-3⁄4×45" strips along each long edge, leaving short ends open. Repeat with remaining dark aqua 2-3⁄4×45" strips (photo 2).


Step 4

Turn one set of strips right side out through one short end to make a handle. Repeat to make a second handle (photo 3).

TIP: Use a large safety pin attached to one end to turn handle right side out.


Step 5

Pin one handle to bag front, 2-1⁄2" from each side edge (see photo, opposite). Repeat for bag back (photo 4).


Step 6

Using a long stitch, hand- or machine-baste handles to bag front and bag back, stopping 1" from top edge of bag piece on each handle (these basting stitches will be removed later).

TIP: Before sewing, mark top-stitching line with a water-soluble marking pen. Use the drawn line as a stitching guide.


Step 7

With right sides together, pin bag front to bag back, aligning edges at sides and bottom. Using a 1⁄2" seam, sew together pieces along side and bottom edges.


Step 8

With bag still wrong side out, fold down unstitched top edge 1⁄4", and then 1⁄4" again; press and pin. Topstitch pinned edge, being careful not to catch handles in the seam (photo 5).


Step 9

Turn right side out. Thread machine with pink thread. Set machine to the largest width and length for a zigzag stitch. Starting at bottom of bag, topstitch along edges of each handle (photo 6).

TIP: Ask for help setting the sewing machine to a zigzag stitch.


Step 10

Remove basting stitches with a seam ripper to complete bag (photo 7).

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