Sew a Basic Tote Bag

beginning sewing project easy project quick sewing tote bag

Let's sew a bag!


The following supplies will be needed:

1/2 yard of cotton fabric for outside of bag

1/2 yard of cotton fabric for inside lining of bag

1/2 yard of Pellon Fusible Fleece

Coordinating all-purpose thread



Tube turner


"Clip n Glide Bodkin"



Outside fabric:

Cut 2 pieces, 12 inches tall and 14 inches wide (bag)

Cut 2 pieces, 3 inches wide and 18 inches long (handles)


Cut 2 pieces, 12 inches tall and 14 inches wide (bag)

Pellon Fleece

Cut 2 pieces, 12 inches tall and 14 inches wide (bag)

Cut 2 pieces, 1 inch wide and 17 inches long (handles)

After cutting the 12 by 14 inch rectangles, cut a two inch square out of the bottom corners as shown (outside fabric, lining fabric, and fleece).





  • Fold each strip in half, right sides together. Sew one long side using a 1/4 inch seam allowance
  • Press the seam open, turn right sides out with seam running down the center

  • *The fleece will be 1” shorter than the length of the fabric for the handle
  • Insert the fleece strip into the handle tube. The fusible side of the fleece will be on the side of the seam.  There will be a ½ inch at each end of handle tube that does not have fleece.

  • Fuse the fleece in place
  • Topstitch on both sides of handle 1/8 inch from the edge, using a 3mm stitch length.

Lay both pieces of outside bag right sides up.  Place handles as shown.  Measure equally from side edges to get handles even, stitch in place



Outer Bag

  • Place pieces right sides together, sew sides and bottom together using a ½ inch seam allowance. Do not sew inverted corners

Boxing the bottom corners

  • Pinch the fabric at the corners, bring the two seams together (side seam and bottom seam) to form a straight line. Sew across backstitching at beginning and end.  Repeat for remaining corner.



  • Repeat the steps used to assemble the outer bag, but leave an opening at the bottom of the lining in the center of the seam.
  • Box the corners.

Joining the lining with the outside bag

  • The outside bag remains inside out.
  • Turn the lining right sides out.
  • Place lining inside the outer bag.
  • Match the side seams and make sure the handles are inside between the lining and outer bag.
  • Sew the lining and outer bag together using a ½ inch seam allowance.



  • Pull bag right side out through the opening in the lining.
  • Sew lining shut.
  • Push lining into bag, press all around the top and topstitch.

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