The Tote Bag

When I started sewing a few years ago, I was only sewing accessories (bags, pencil cases etc ...) with beautiful cotton canvas I bought in Latin America while traveling or fabric I found in my grandmother’s secret closet!

I tried different models of tote bags. After several tests, I was not 100% satisfied! So I decided to create the perfect tote bag that I now use every day, mixing tips from several online tutorials! I came up with something satisfying for me and I want to share it with you.

I find this tote bag is perfect to use our scrap fabrics, for everyday shopping and it’s also the perfect gift for anyone you love! 

Material needed for this project:

  • 2 squares of canvas or thick fabric for the outside of the bag measuring 47x47 cm
  • 2 squares of 100% cotton fabric for the inside of the bag of 47x47 cm
  • 70 cm of straps (2 times) for the handles
  • 1 pair of scissors
  • Sewing pins
  • Matching thread

Step 1 - Pattern Making

Create your square pattern with a sheet of paper of 47 cm x 47 cm.
Pin it on your fabric and cut 2 pieces of canvas fabric for the outside and 2 pieces of 100% cotton fabric for the inside.

Step 2

Cut a 5x5 cm square at the bottom of each of the 4 pieces of fabric. Only at the bottom to make depth at the bottom of the bag.

Step 3 (optional)

If you want to apply a label, use the zigzag stitch on your machine and apply it before stitching your fabrics together.

Step 4 

Place your fabrics right sides together. Do the same steps for the canvas fabric (exterior) as well as the 100% cotton fabric (interior). Sew the sides and the bottom of the bag 1 cm from the edge. Then overlock or do a zigzag stitch if you don't have an overlocker.

WARNING : For the inner part of the bag (100% cotton), leave a space of 10 cm on the seam of the bottom of the bag to be able to turn it over later.


Step 5

Flatten the angles, pin and sew them together to close the bottom of the bag. Sew a seam 1 cm from the edge and overlock. (Or do a zigzag stitch) to prevent the fabric from fraying. Repeat for the inside of the 100% cotton bag.


Step 6

Turn the canvas fabric right side up. Pin the handles 12 cm from the edge of the fabric on both sides of the bag and sew. I always prefer to sew an X so that the handles are solid and hold for a long time without tearing the fabric. Repeat the same steps for the 4 ends of the handles.

** Make sure that the handles are not turned over before sewing the X's in the squares to avoid having to unstitch.


Step 7

When finished, leave the canvas side up and leave the 100% cotton lining inside out. 
Slip on the bag through the lining, right sides together.
Slide your handles well to the bottom between the two fabrics.
Check that your two bottoms of the bag are touching.
Pin the side seams facing each other then pin all around.

Sew 2 cm from the edge or lower than the square seam where you made the Xs to secure the straps then finish with a zigzag stitch or with overlock.

Step 8

Slip your hand through the hole in the bag and turn it around.


Step 9

Tuck the fabric of the hole inward then pin together.
Sew straight stitch along the hole 3mm from the edge.

Final step

Push the liner at the bottom of the bag.
If you want you can iron the top of the bag and sew a topstich for a nicer finish!