This sturdy tote is great for carrying to the beach or out for a day of shopping. The traditional Cathedral Window pattern with a modern twist showcases a contrasting fabric in the "window."
Sunny Beach Tote
Download this Project

Designer: Erin Gilday from


  • 2 yards yellow dot (tote)
  • 1 yard rust floral (inset, lining, handles)
  • 1-5⁄8 yards iron-on fusible interfacing

Finished tote (excluding handle): 16" square

Quantities are for 100% cotton fabrics.

Measurements include 1/4" seam allowances. Sew with right sides together unless otherwise stated.

Cut Fabrics

Cut pieces in the following order.

From yellow dot, cut:

  • 2--33-3⁄4" squares

From rust floral, cut:

  • 2--4x23-1⁄2" strips
  • 2--16-1⁄2" squares
  • 1--11-3⁄4" square (If you are using a directional print, or if you want to fussy-cut a motif for the inset square, cut the square on point.)

From fusible interfacing, cut:

  • 1--16x31" rectangle
  • 2--4x23-1⁄2" rectangles

Assemble Tote Body

1. Fold one yellow dot 33-3⁄4" square in half vertically and horizontally. Finger-press folds to mark center of square; unfold. Press under 1⁄4" on all edges of square.

2. With wrong side of square up, fold points to center; press outer folded edges. The folded unit should be about 23-1⁄2" square. Hand-stitch center points together in an X (Diagram 1).


3. Fold points of Step 2 unit to center and pin (Diagram 2); press outer edges. The folded square should be about 16-1⁄2".


4. Repeat steps 1 through 3 with remaining yellow dot 33-3⁄4" square.

5. Place squares side by side, folded sides up. Open out adjacent side triangles and place squares wrong (unfolded) sides together; carefully match pressed folds and pin. Sew together along folds of open triangles to make center front seam (Diagram 3). Press squares open, refold triangles, and pin.


6. Center and pin rust floral 11-3⁄4" square over center front seam (Diagram 4).


7. Turn a center yellow block open edge over rust fabric square; curve edge so it is about 1" wide at center and tapers to nothing at corners; pin. Repeat for remaining three edges (Diagram 5). Using a slip stitch, sew both curved window edges in place.


8. Turn back adjacent open edges, again forming curves about 1" wide at center and tapering to nothing at corners (Diagram 6). Slip-stitch along both edges of curves on top half. On bottom half, slip-stitch outer curves only, sewing just through curve and one layer below it, to complete window in tote body.


9. Center and fuse 16x31" interfacing rectangle to wrong side of tote body.

10. Open up end triangles and fold tote body in half crosswise, matching pressed creases; pin. Stitch along creases to make center back seam of tote body (Diagram 7). Refold triangles and pin in place.


11. Referring to Diagram 8, refold tote body and open up lower triangles; match creases and stitch across pressed line. Refold triangles and pin in place. Slip-stitch inner folded turnbacked edge (Diagram 9).


12. Zigzag-stitch tote back triangles in place, butting folded edges, to complete tote body (Diagram 10).


Assemble Tote

1. Fuse a 4x23-1⁄2" interfacing strip to wrong side of rust floral 4x23-1⁄2" strip. Press under 1⁄4" on each rectangle long edge, then press in half with wrong side inside to make a strap. Topstitch long edges. Add three more rows of evenly spaced topstitching. Repeat to make a second strap.

2. Layer two rust floral 16-1⁄2" squares; sew together side and bottom edges, leaving a 6" opening along bottom edge for turning tote right side out. Using tip of iron, carefully press seams open to make tote lining. Leave lining wrong side out.

3. Referring to Diagram 11, pin strap raw ends to front edge of tote body with strap centered and 5" between the ends. Baste strap ends to tote body a scant 1⁄4" from tote edge. Repeat with second strap and tote back.


4. Insert tote body inside tote lining with right sides together; straps should be between tote and lining. Align raw edges and seams. Stitch together upper edges of tote body and lining, backstitching over each strap for reinforcement.

5. Turn tote and lining right side out through opening in lining; pull lining out of tote. Machine-stitch opening of lining closed.

6. Insert lining back into tote and press upper edge. Topstitch 1⁄8" from upper edge to complete tote.