Tote Bag Tutorial

Tools & Materials

  • Drafting Paper (You can use kraft paper, recycled paper, newspaper, etc)
  • Ruler (Grid rulers work best for pattern making)
  • Tailors Chalk
  • Fabric
  • Thread

1. Start off by drafting the body and straps of the tote bag.

2. Tote Body: Use your ruler to draw a 50 cm x  40 cm rectangle. Make sure your vertical and horizontal lines form a 90 degree angle. Add two sets of notches f0r strap placement 8.5 cm from the side edge, 3 cm apart. This patterns includes 3 cm hem, 1.5 cm seam allowance at the bottom of the bag, and 1 cm seam allowance for the sides and top.

3. Straps: Use your ruler to draw a 69 cm x 6 cm rectangle. Add a 5mm seam allowance around bringing the finished pattern measurements to 70 cm x 7 cm.

4. Once you have your pieces cut out and notched, start with folding the straps in half, long edges matching long edges, press with iron.

5. Sew along the long edges, 5 mm seam allowance. Make sure your edges match up exactly to avoid a small hole.

6. Two options for flipping the straps right side out:

6a. Using a loop turner tool: You will need to baste close one short side of the strap to use the tool. Once you have the strap right side out, unpick the basting stitch, centre the seam, and then press.

6b. The old school way, using a safety pin. Click here for tutorial.

8.  Match up the bottom (short) edge of the bag, pin in place. Sew a 1.5 cm seam allowance, press the seams flat.


9. Match up the sides of the bag, pin in place.


10. Sew a 1 cm seam allowance starting at the right side of the bag. When you reach the bottom stitching, pivot and stitch over your existing stitch at the bottom of the bag. Pivot 1 cm before you reach the edge and continue to sew a 1 cm seam allowance on the left side of the bag.


11. Option to press the side seams flat and then zig-zag the sides and bottom of the bag.

12. To create a flat bottom for the bag, pinch the two pieces of the bag at the bottom corners to create a triangle.


13. Using a square ruler, measure from the stitching 5 cm up and 10 cm across. Make sure the measurement on both side of the stitch to the edge of the fold are equal (5 cm + 5 cm). Draw a line across, pin in place, and stitch.


14. Tack the corners to the side seams.

15. Fold 1 cm around the entire top of the bag and press. Then fold another 3 cm from the 1 cm fold around the entire top of the bag and press.


16. Place each strap ends between the two notches and fold unto itself, pin in place.


17. Sew an edge stitch around the entire hem of the bag, make sure to sew the straps down.


18. For added reinforcement, do a tight zig-zag stitch the width of the straps on the right side of the bag.


19. Admire your wonderful handy work and enjoy!