One afternoon, I was searching the Internet for some easy sewing projects I would be interested in and found a few, but I thought this particular one for a market tote bag would be the perfect place to re-learn how to sew. Here commences my “tutorial” on how to make this bag, keeping in mind that I am an amateur simply wanting to help other amateurs with what I thought are clearer instructions and some changes of my own.

Tote bag 
*adapted from Momtastic

You will need:

  • 2 fabrics 14x 17 each: one for the outside and one for the lining (I used a heavier suiting fabric for the outside as I thought it would be sturdier. If you make your tote large, I would for sure pick out a heavier fabric or a heavy cotton for the outside)
  • Fabric scissors, sewing machine, thread, pins, seam ripper if you can’t sew straight like me
  • Handles or fabric for braiding handles

Cut your fabric approximately 14 inches…

By 17 inches (or however large you want your tote to be)

You will need to cut out 2 (14 x 17) pieces of the outside fabric and 2 (14x 17) pieces of the lining

Sew the two coordinating pieces together on 3 sides only with right sides facing each other. You sew together two long sides and one short side.

Here’s the sneaky part: Leave about a 2 inch hole in your seam on the short side of the lining which will be the bottom of the bag when we are done.

To give the bag some shape, here’s what you need to do. While the fabric is still inside out, square off the edge and sew a seam about 2 inches in from the corner. With scissors, snip off the excess fabric. Do this for both sides of the lining and outside fabric.

Have a grown man around. He will instinctively play with the fabric, making elf ears out of them. Take a picture.

Turn the lining right side out. Only the lining. (Thanks Elf Man!)

Place the lining inside the still turned inside out “outside fabric.” Line up the top edge, pin, and sew them together.

The next two steps I do not have photographic evidence of, but I think you can get it just fine. Remember that hole at the bottom of the lining? You’re going to pull all of the fabric through that hole. Start by grabbing the outside fabric until you’ve pulled everything including the lining. This hides all of your seams. Magical! Now, sew up that hole in the bottom of the lining. It doesn’t have to look nice since no one will see it.

Next up, iron around the top edge of the opening of the bag. This will create a flat edge which is nice.

I also recommend sewing a tiny stitch at the bottom of the bag to attach the lining to the outside fabric, using a color thread matching the outside of the bag. It’s annoying if you try to pull something out of the bag and the lining comes out too :/ My fiancé actually came up with that solution!

Attach whatever handles you would like. Mine were about 28 inches each. I chose these ones because they seemed sturdy, matched the lining, and were cheap. It’s sold in the ribbon section of the fabric store. The guide I followed said to braid fabric together. Do what your heart tells you.

Have fun!

PS- I sewed on bows made from this tutorial.