Summer Sewing ~ Classic Tote Tutorial

on July 1 | in Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 172 Comments

Today we kick off a full month of Summer Sewing with Irene‘s classic tote tutorial. You’ll be thrilled to enjoy one of these roomy, well-designed totes on your way to the market, pool or park this summer. We’ll share fun projects to complement (and pop in) your tote all month long!

Classic Tote Tutorial by Irene
Everyone needs at least two of these. I have ten myself, but I must say that at times, I cannot find a single one because they are in use all around my house. There are 5 dedicated to grocery shopping alone, but these are often taken for a quick trip to the park, or filled with items to be returned and delivered, or even filled with toys that need to be put away.


I sewed all of my totes and at least 30 others, which I have given to friends and family. An aunt who makes cloth bags kindly shared her pattern with me several months ago and I haven’t stopped making them since. I’ve found that the dimensions of this tote are just about perfect. You can stuff it full of groceries and it’s not too heavy to carry. It’s large enough to carry on your shoulder or you can hold the handles in your palm and it doesn’t drag on the ground.

The totes are sewn from home décor cotton fabric which makes them strong enough to carry groceries, but still able to be thrown in the wash with everything else. There isn’t a lining to mess with and the simple addition of gussets creates a flat bottom without any added panels.

Now with all this, I know you’d like to whip up your own and be a littler greener for your next trip to the store. Since this is my aunt’s pattern, which she worked hard to perfect and who is very kind to allow me share it with all of you, please do not sell any totes made from this tutorial. Feel free though to sew them for yourself or as gifts.

Let’s get started!


  • 1 yard of home décor cotton fabric (1½ yards for fabric with nap or if you’d like to add more pockets)
  • Rotary cutter, ruler and mat
  • Iron
  • Scissors
  • Straight pins- for this thick fabric, I recommend quilting pins, size 28
  • Sewing machine fitted with a needle for thicker fabrics. I use a Schmetz 90/14 needle. (Some may recommend a topstitching needle and thread, but this is what I’ve always used with hardly any trouble.)

1. Cut two pieces of each size from your fabric:

a) 20” x 21” (Pay attention to the nap here because the top and bottom of the tote will be the shorter 20” sides. For my fabric in the photo, I wanted the direction of the design to be vertical on the finished tote so I cut my fabric accordingly.)
b) 5” x 26” for the handles
c) 10” x 10” for the pocket

2. Make the pocket:
a) With right sides together sew around all sides using ½” seam allowance, but leave a small, (2-3 inch), opening for turning. (If your fabric has a certain nap like mine, be sure to match your design before sewing. You don’t want to turn your pocket and find the design running one way for the outside and another for the inside!)

b) Clip corners, turn and push corners out. (I use a chopstick.)
c) Press making sure seams pushed out and opening is turned in.
d) Topstitch about 1 inch down across the side opposite of your opening. (The topstitched side will be the opening of the pocket.)

3. Attach Pocket:
a) Using one of your 20” x 21” pieces, place your 9” x 9” pocket on your panel with the right sides up making sure the top of your pocket is parallel to the 20” sides of your tote. (You don’t want your pocket to open along the side of your bag!)

b) Measure in 5 ½” from each 21” side and 6” from the top and bottom.
c) Pin pocket in place.
d) Sew the three sides of your pocket in place using 1/8” seam allowance. Be sure to secure the opening you used to turn your pocket closed with your stitches. (I also use the triple stitch selection on my sewing machine to be sure the pocket doesn’t come loose.)

4. Sew main panels
a) Since I don’t have a serger, I use a simple French seam to hide all the frayed ends of the home décor fabric.

b) First, sew around all three sides with wrong sides together using ¼” seam allowance.

c) I’ve found that in order to have a neat, crisp edge for your French seam, it’s best to iron your seams open with the seam pressed to one side. (I put it over the end of my ironing board.)

d) Then turn your tote inside out, lay it out with right sides together and all the seams at the sides. (You may want to use a chopstick or something to push out your corners. Since these will be in a gusset, it’s not important to get them pushed out perfectly.) Then press the seams flat so you have a neat edge to sew your next seam.

e) Sew around all three sides with a 3/8” seam allowance.
f) Now marvel at your beautiful French seam!

5. Make the gussets

a) With your tote inside out, take one corner and open it up.

b) I do this next step by feel because this is how I taught myself and it’s fast. Basically, you feel for your seams: the side seam of your tote, which should be on top (between my thumbs in the photo), and the bottom seam of the tote, which should be between your index fingers.

Simply move the fabric around feeling with your fingers until the seams are lined up on top each other and there’s a nice point. (To reduce bulk, be sure that your French seams are laying the in the opposite direction of each other. In the photo, the top seam between my thumbs is laying to the left so I made sure the bottom seam is laying to the right.)

c) Now, measure 2 ½” down from the top point and draw a line. Sew a strong triple stitch along your line.

d) Repeat the above steps for the other corner, but before sewing your gusset line, be sure that the bottom French seam is laying flat in the same direction.
NOT like this:


But, nice and neat like this:


6. Make the handles
a) Press both 5” x 26” pieces in half lengthwise.

b) Open and press both sides in toward the center crease.

c) Press center crease closed again.

d) Stitch 1/8” or as close as you can along each long side. I use a triple stitch again here, but it’s mainly for aesthetic reasons.

7. Attach the handles
a) With your tote inside out, create a 1½” hem along the top of your tote by folding down the top raw edge ½” and press with an iron. Fold down another 1½” and press again.
b) Working with one side at a time, place your tote on a flat surface and lay out one handle making sure it isn’t twisted.

c) Place your handle by measuring in 5” from each side of the tote. This should leave a 6” space in the middle, between the two handle ends.

d) Tuck each handle end under the hem pushing it all the way up to the top crease and pin.
e) Repeat handle placement and pin on the other side of the tote.

f) Sew a strong triple stitch along the bottom of the hem with the handles laying flat. I use the ¼” guide on my machine and try to keep it as straight as possible. Sew around the entire tote stitching both handles in place. (As you come to a pin, carefully hold your handle in place and remove your pins before continuing. Don’t sew over pins!)

g) Now move to the top of the tote. Again sew around the entire tote, but this time fold your handles up and sew in place. (I don’t use pins here and I follow the ¼” seam guide again.)

h) Check your work to be sure everything matches up.

Yay, you are done! Now you can fill your tote and enjoy!


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172 Responses to Summer Sewing ~ Classic Tote Tutorial

  1. Kristin says:

    I have now made about half a dozen of these totes and I love them (as do the people who get them as gifts)! I have also made them smaller (by accident) and it is super nice that way too. Thanks for the pattern.

  2. Caroline says:

    Cheers – just made the 1st of what I think will be many. Easy to follow instructions and photos. Thanks.

  3. kathy says:

    thanks. i dont know much about sewing, but thought i’d try a project with my granddaughters. we’re almost done with our first one and they’re very happy with it. they want to make more for xmas gifts. got some iron on decorative patches for the pockets. very cute.

  4. Angalee Blatter says:

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I have been wanting to make my son a library book bag for a couple of weeks but couldn’t find a tutorial that I really liked. . . until this one! I just made the dimensions a little smaller, since he is only 2, but still big enough for the large books. We love it! Thanks for sharing!

  5. JennK2 says:

    Thanks for this pattern! I just made a bag using some leftover fabric and I can already tell that it’s going to get A LOT of use. It’s such a great size and so simple to make!

  6. Jazmin says:

    Love this tutorial! simple and fun!

  7. Autoglass says:

    Cool blog.

  8. Kaylee says:

    Thank you! I now have two of six re-usable shopping bags made from upholstery samples I got free off of Great Christmas presents and I love the pattern!

  9. karen says:

    Thanks for this great tutorial. I had forgotten all about French seams–they really make the bag look so much neater and more professional. I made a larger version of your bag and combined instructions from a bag on the PurlSoho website. I used purchased webbing for handles and followed the instructions for the PurlSoho handles–next time I’ll use your handle instructions with the webbing–they hide the ravelled edges of the webbing much better. I love my bag–and plan to make several more as gifts. I’m sure the recipients will love this bag! Thanks again for sharing!

  10. Su says:

    I love this tote bag. It is the perfect size and really handy. I think I may have to make them for everyone I know because who couldn’t need another tote bag! I put up a photo of mine at Thanks for the tutorial!

  11. Frieda says:

    Just a note to say thank you for this great tutorial. I never thought I could actually sew a bag but with your help I have already made four! Thanks again and many greetings, Frieda
    ps I also blogged about it:

  12. Marcelle says:

    I made this tote last weekend, it was so easy to follow the tutorial and learned to make French seams now! I’m very happy with the result, I made the pocket on the inside though. Thanks a lot for this helpful tutorial Irene :))

  13. Dazzle says:

    thank you, I love it and it is so simple to do, I’m going to try making it in different sizes, thank you, thank you and I cannot say it enough thank you.

  14. janimal says:

    I made more bags and linked to this tute at
    LOVE this tutorial and am thrilled with the results. THANKS AGAIN!

  15. janimal says:

    I am going to blog about this (and the bag I made following it) tomorrow! This is an awesome tutorial. If you can sew a straight line, you can make this tote. I LOVE LOVE LOVE it! Thanks for the great tute!

  16. I can’t wait to get a sewing machine! I’ve been wanting to make my own totes/shoulder bags.

  17. Brenda says:

    I just read the Classic Tote pattern and was wondering if I could use interfacing or stabilizer,(new at sewing, they may be the same thing, dah), to make it stand. My daughter works for a doctor and wants a tote for work. She specifically asked for a vertical bag. The pattern is easy enough said and I think I could even do this. Thanks a bunch. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

    Brenda Kirkus, Lexington, NC

  18. Jessica says:

    This tutorial looks great! I can’t wait for a home decor fabric sale. 😉 Quick question though, what is a triple stitch? Sorry, I’m sure that is totally basic.

  19. bronny says:

    Thank you – I needed to make a tote in an evening – and your tutorial gave me the right information and set me in the right direction!

  20. Sara says:

    This is perfect! I was looking for a way to creatively package some Christmas gifts. Can’t wait to get started, I might even skip my nap. Thanks for a great tutorial.

  21. Victoria says:

    I know this is an older post, but I just wanted to tell you how wonderful this tutorial is! I just made a few for Christmas and now want to make some for myself. I’ve made plenty of tedious, lined, pocketted and segmented totes. This one is BRILLIANT! Great handles, easy construction and so useful. Thanks to you (and you Auntie)! And Merry Christmas!

  22. it seem many variatons of flat sandal..have nice weekend..

  23. Lynn says:

    I made this and quilted it because I only had a cute cotton and it looked great. Thanks.

  24. Terri says:

    Thank you so much! I’m just beginning to learn how to sew, and this is one of the projects on my list. I can’t wait to get started!

  25. k8ylynne says:

    Irene, This ‘tote tute’ is so COOL. Thank you so much for putting this up. I just stumbled upon your website and I am SO Inspired! I’m a middle-aged woman who’s been sewing since I was in Bluebirds. (FYI for the younger set: that’s the group you’d be in before you ‘flew up’ to become a Campfire Girl–which is like Girl Scouts. And yes, I dragged a TON of candy mints door-to-door when I was 7 or 8–not like they do now, setting up tables at the supermarket entryways!) Anyway, I really appreciate you taking the time to create such a thorough tutorial–even as an aging hippie, I like being shown a new thing or two. I LOVE THAT FABRIC. I know its supposed to be a ‘utility’ tote, but it just screams for a little embellishment on the top half. Like yo-yos or beads or ruffle or appliqued ribbon or stuffing some of the brown ‘berries’. I have a new mission now because of you–and that’s just Groovy. :o) K8ylynne, Astoria, Oregon ^..^

  26. Cheryl says:

    Sew, Mama, Sew,… are the best. Can’t wait to get my hands on some Home Dec. Fabric and start sewing. This will help me get a head start on a few Christmas gifts. All the best to you.

  27. Lynne says:

    This tutorial is so easy to follow and the tote turns out great. Thank you so much, I made two today and am keen to do some more tomorrow.

  28. Christine says:

    Thank you so much – I find this tote the perfect size for groceries and have made several for myself, friends and family.

  29. Megan says:

    Wow! I just finished this in less than 2 hours. It was the most easy & successful tutorial I have ever used! Thank you SO much! I am making these as party favors (around 60 of them!) for a bday party this summer. Wow! I’m just blown away! Thank you SO much!!

  30. Nat says:

    Your tote and your instructions are fantastic. I am wondering if you have ever heard of You should offer them up for sale.

  31. Menal says:

    Thank You for such a great Tutorial. It is very Useful.

  32. Vanessa says:

    I love this tutorial! I just made one last night and have 3 more cut out from my fabric stash. Thank you! I posted my completed tote on my blog. 🙂

  33. Angela says:

    Thanks for such a great tutorial!

  34. Lyn G says:

    Great motivating tutorial! First one that called me to immediate action..Last night I made my first one and had to stay up late to make “just one more”. Very addicting. I plan to make them for Christmas gifts & will use it to hold other gift items (think book, cloth napkins, tea and an edible treat) Hope this motivates a few of the recipients to forgo plastic and paper.

  35. Jocelyn says:

    Thank you for this awesome tutorial! As soon as I saw it I went to cut it out and made it in 2 hours! This was so easy to follow and my first attempt at french seams. I have made many bags but all with lining. This one is definitely on the top of my list for a fast fun project! This is one of the most professional looking projects I have made and I am amazed that I made it! Thank you for the time putting this on for beginners like me! I also had a problem at the beginning with the thickness like Jessica but I changed my needle to a NEW 90/14 and lifted my dog to high because it did not want to move through. After that it worked like a charm! Thank your aunt for her generosity in sharing this with us! Happy Thanksgiving

  36. Lo says:

    Thank you so much for this easy-to-follow guide to making a tote! I’ve never used a pattern or made anything other than pillow cases, and I was able to follow your instructions and make a perfect tote on my first attempt! I appreciate your time and energy that you put into creating an accurate and useful pattern.

  37. Tissuepapers says:

    Love it!!! great fabric choice too – Keep up the awesome sewing howtos


  38. Irene says:

    You may want to check your needle. Be sure it’s one that can handle the thicker fabrics- I would use at least a 90 or even 100. If that’s what you have, check your tension. You may want to find a scrap piece of fabric folded to the same thickness and test out a few adjustments on your tension dial. If all else fails, re-thread everything, including the bobin, and try it again. With enough patience, you should be able to get your machine to sew through the layers.

  39. Jessica says:

    This bag is great. I am at the fold the handles up & stitch around the top part & I keep breaking my needle cause it is so thick…what am I doing wrong???

  40. Terri says:

    I have made three of these bags now and they are wonderful. Thank you for sharing this with us! They are so easy to make with your instructions and pictures, and they are the perfect size. Thank you!

  41. keth says:

    this bag is fabulous! I ran this up today in about 3 hours flat (4 hours with interruptions from OH and puppy wanting treats!) which is a miracle, and most of all.. its so NEAT! I don’t mean in the sense of being cool, but the inside.. i made a bag once before (a handbag type bag) but didn’t line it, and the seams are fraying *so* badly. but this one, that’s all been addressed.. i keep turning it inside out, i can’t believe i made this, cos its so professional. And so easy! Irene, if you ever get the chance to go work for the pattern companies, writing pattern instructions – grab it, because man, they need sorting out, badly, and you could show them how its done! thankyou!!

  42. Denise says:

    very, very, VERY cool. Someone just sent this link to me and now I have a new blog. Can’t wait to make this. I love totes!

  43. lisa in Colorado says:

    Thank you SO much for posting this!

    After fussing around with instructions that required me to try to take apart a very well-glued grocery bag to use as a pattern, I appreciate this tutorial very much. I just knew there’d be something better out there if I went back and searched a little more! Life is good. Thanks again!

  44. Jules says:

    Thank you so much for this tutorial. Sewing directions are usually difficult for me but, these were so well written. Plus, the pictures helped a lot too.

    I have pictures of mine on my blog. I think the bag looks droopy because it’s out of linen. Or maybe it’s because of me and I should own up to it. ……Nope I’m going with the linen excuse.

  45. Tricia says:

    HI, I made the bag today using your tutorial. This is the fist time I have ever made something like this. I am new at sewing.

    Thank you for the very clear tutorial. If I can do it ANYONE can! :o)

    If you go here you can see where I posted a photo of it on my blog.

  46. becca says:

    I am a bagaholic- love them and am always seeking out just the right one.I made this one this afternoon and it is “practically perfect” in everyway- just a great all round, multi purpose bag. Thanks so much to both of you for sharing and for the very easy to follow tutorial!!! 🙂

  47. rachel says:

    I love this fabric choice first of all. And what a cute, simple tote! There’s so many totes out there, but this one looks pretty much perfect-in size, design, and fabric choice 🙂

  48. Kennedy :) says:

    Welp. Thanks. It seems like a really great pattern. I can’t wait to try it. I just went to Old Navy and bought a few like it, who would’ve known I could sew them? I am some what retarded when it comes to sewing so I will keep you updated. Thanks!

  49. Oh thank you for showing the french seams!!! I always line my bags to hide the seams but this will be so much easier!! Great tutorial! Thank you!!


  50. Lori says:

    This bag is great. I finished it in a morning. I had never made a french seam before. I love them. I may use them on other projects. Thanks for the tutorial!

  51. Anne says:

    These are so great. You are right – is it a perfect size. I made one a bit smaller to use the last piece of fabric and it is not very good.

  52. Angela says:

    Awesome! Thank you so much!

  53. Kristi says:

    Thanks so much for these directions! They were super easy to follow- even for this very amateur seamstress! And now I have a fantastic tote for the kids to take to the library.

  54. karen says:

    Love your bag!!! Thanks for sharing. Have been green for a while, but wanted to make my own bags. Good way to use up scraps I have . And they will make great gifts. I would rather make my gifts than buy. Once again. Thanks

  55. Barbara O says:

    I’ve just discovered your site and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! I’m currently working on a bag…well, I should say, I got frustrated and stopped working on my first bag. Your tutorial has inspired me to get it back out and finish it! Thanks!

  56. Lisa says:

    Thank you for sharing this pattern for a must-have Summer tote. It seems like the perfect dimensions and I have just the perfect home dec fabric for a couple of them. I love it!

  57. Jessica says:

    I’m a sewing newbie and this looks easy enough for me to give it a shot! And with a new baby on the way I need all the handy tote bags I can make! 🙂

  58. Ruthie says:

    You can never have enough totes! Thank you for the tutorial!

  59. teresa says:

    I love this bag, I’ll definitely be having a go at making it! I should perhaps get to grips with my sewing machine first!

  60. shelle says:

    Perfect tote, I need to make myself just one more bag, right 🙂

  61. Linda F. says:

    Oh I love totes! Thanks for this great tutorial!

  62. Candace says:

    This is a wonderful tutorial and very well written. Thank you very much for taking the time to do this – I know I appreciate it and will be making one of these bags very soon!

  63. Joyce says:

    I love this bag! This would be great to keep in the car for trips to the library & store. Thank you so much for the tutorial.

  64. Liz says:

    hooray! i’ve been wanting to make several bags for work and this is the perfect bag for my job!

  65. jenniferL says:

    thanks for the tutorial… i can’t wait to make the bag! i need to re-read the french seam part, don’t think i’ve ever done that.

  66. Jen says:

    Very cute! I’ve made these from old curtains — great for the grocery! If you use recycled sheer curtains, you can wash your produce in the same bag you carry it home.

  67. Heather says:

    Oooh! I love this bag. I’m still a beginner, but it looks like something I can handle. Thanks for sharing the great tutorial!

  68. Tina says:

    I have a ton of fun fabric to make bags like this. Now I know what I’ll be doing this weekend!

  69. Melanie says:

    What a lovely bag! I need to make one for myself, it’s too cute. I love the fabric!

  70. Thanks for the great tote “tute!”

  71. Esther says:

    These are so useful- thanks!

  72. Fabulous tutorial! Anyone interesting in the environmental side of creating and giving out re-usable shopping bags might be interesting in an individually driven, grass roots initiative that is spreadking like wildfire from the UK all over the world. It was started by a young teacher in Devon UK, who was devastated by the deaths of wildlife from the ingestion of plastic shopping bags, taught herself to sew and started sewing ‘pods’ to make and handout bags. They’ve got celebrities and members of Parliament now only sewing them, but handing them out! (‘morsbags’ as they are called was started by Claire Mors in Devon) You do need a ‘morsbags’ label to be part of the movement but you can print off your own onto fabric and its a small effort to add to be part of a wonderful initiative! (And the bags are beginning to be recognized and even coveted 😉 Michele in Salem, OR, USA

  73. Beth says:

    Oops! I’m sorry, CEIREN and Leslie… We had a temporary glitch with the images (my fault!). Everything’s back and will stay back for good so you can rely on Irene’s wonderful tutorial for all of your tote making needs! Thanks, Beth

  74. Leslie says:

    oh no, i just bought fabric yesterday to make this tote for my sister and the pictures are gone! Is there any possibility that you can put the right ones back in??? Help!

  75. Rita says:

    Really like the Bag(tote) going to make smaller version for my 4 granddaughters. Thanks for sharing !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  76. CEIREN says:

    Yikes! What’s happened to the pictures? I saved this tutorial to make this week and it seems like some of the highly instructional photos have been replaced by another tutorial…! Any chance of getting them back again? I’m new to all this tote making, and the pics looked really helpful!

  77. Rosy says:

    I am dashing to my stash as soon as I post this!!!!
    THANKYOUSOMUCH!!!! I’ll post the finished tote on my blog!

  78. Rosy says:

    I am dashing to my stash as soon as I post this!!!! THANKYOUSOMUCH!!!!

  79. Kristy says:

    Thank you! What a fun easy pattern! I can’t believe how well the bag turned out– and in about 45 minutes! 🙂

  80. Colleen says:

    Nice French seams! I like how that was integrated into the tutorial – they make everything look so much neater!

  81. EmersonLouWho says:

    This project was so gratifying! Thanks for a great tutorial. The bag is both attractive and sturdy. We’ll be using it for trips to and from the library! Had fun incorporating the appliqué tutorial for pocket decoration. Just posted pic of final project on flickr.

  82. Nikki Wolf says:

    I just made my first one and want to make 50 more. Love it! Thank you!

  83. Heather says:

    I’m loving the bag. I can see me making one with some Amy Butler fabric. Can’t wait!

  84. Anna Socrates says:

    Thank you for the tote bag tutorial. I’d love to use some of the stash and make a few of these for going to the grocery store, and commuting with a craft project and lunch.

  85. Sandy says:

    So far I have made four!! And will be making more ….. I am going to make sets of three or four in the same fabric to give as gifts, one set for my mil for her shopping trips 🙂 Thanks so much!! Sandy

  86. Sarah says:

    the instructions are great! I now have a new tote!

  87. Helen Gillis says:

    Thanks for the great directions! I can’t wait to try this bag – I have the perfect fabric that’s been waiting patiently to be something 🙂

    Helen in Malden, Massachusetts

  88. Teresa says:

    Thanks for the great tutorial, I love that you don’t have to line it.

  89. Stephanie says:

    Thanks for the great tutorial, this is perfect for summer excursions, grocery runs and gifts for relatives!! I’m so excited to get started…


  90. Jennifer says:

    I think this is the most perfectly perfect tote bag I have seen. Thank you for the clear instructions and photos.

  91. Bronwyn says:

    Yes, great tute! Easy explanations re french seams (always a mystery to me!) and pulling out the corners at the bottom. Do you cut the corners off though or leave? Looks great in the Amy Butler fabric.

  92. I just whipped one up. So easy. So fulfilling. So much fun. Thanks for the tutorial.

  93. stacey says:

    Great tutorial! I make my grocery bags almost exactly the same way. I’ve also made them using vintage sheets and they work really well for groceries. You can also use cotton webbing for the handles to save a few minutes.

  94. Nancy says:

    What a wonderful way to use up those pieces of home dec fabric I’ve been saving in my stash! I can’t wait to get started on them! Thanks for the inspiration!

  95. Melanie says:

    Thanks so much for this wonderful tutorial! It was so easy to make but it looks great and was fun to sew. My mom who hasn’t sewn in years is tempted to go out and get materials to make one for herself. Thanks so much.

  96. erna says:

    loveeeeeeeeeeee this pattern! started immediately with some nice red and white childrens’ fabric. I’ll show it on my blog when it’s finished! very nice and clear tutorial!!

  97. Julie says:

    Wow! It worked. I previously made another tote but without the gussets and with longer handles — that one ripped on the “Diet Coke challenge.” I, too, don’t have the triple stitch feature on my machine, so I stitched a few more times on the handle attachments and gussets. Thank you so much for this tote tute. I love that it folds compactly, to keep nearby in case I make a purchase.

  98. Diane says:

    Great and it looks simple enough. Everything does untill you get into it like last year when we remodeled the bathroom. After that I feel like I can do anything!

  99. Diane says:

    I thought the pillowcase tote would be good for what I’m planning but I think this one will be better cause it’s more like a purse. I saw a circle purse. Just a littl cloth purse with circles sewed on the entire purse. It was so cute. The asking price for it and this was a guy selling wholesale on the side of the road, $39.99! Just has color cordinating circles all over the purse. So cute!
    I can’t wait. Maybe I can put the directions online too.

  100. Beth says:

    This tutorial was great! I just completed this bag – made totally from my fabric stash. Now that I have a ‘test’ bag complete I can justify going out and purchasing new fabric! Thanks for your work, creativity and clear directions. I will post a pic at my blog tomorrow when there is better light for a photo.

  101. Wroth says:

    I’m a total novice, and I gave this a go at half-scale with some cotton I had from a dress I outgrew, as a “practice” piece. I was nervous about the french seams and gussets, but once I had the stuff in front of me, it all made sense, and my bag, which is a little purse rather than a tote, is very cute. My seams aren’t perfectly straight, but I’m thrilled with the results–it’s been a real confidence booster for me. Thanks so much for the great instructions! I’m going to put pics up at my blog, if you want to peek.

  102. Heather K says:

    What a great little bag. Thank you for sharing.

  103. sara says:

    This is a great tote, I’ve been making one like it myself for a year now, but the addition of the pocket also allows you to tuck the rest of the bag into the pocket for easy storage. Great Idea!

  104. jackie says:

    i made one of these today and it turned out so cute…planning to make several more so that i have enough to hold a trip to the grocery! thank you Irene {and to your aunt for sharing!} for such clear and easy instructions.

  105. Kara Marie says:

    Wow, looks simple and oh so cute! Thanks to you and your aunt for sharing!

  106. Myam says:

    note to self: do a french seam if making a lining is too tedious.


  107. Sara McClure says:

    Wow! Can’t wait to try it! Tell your aunt thank you from all of us!

  108. lori lober says:

    Just finished my tote – so much fun and I finished it like everyone else in less than 3 hours. I’m sure a more experienced sewer would knock it out even faster. I love it – it’s the perfect size and no interfacing or lining! The gussett is genius.

    I used the new Joel Dewberry Ginseng woodgrain fabric. Hmm…what should I make the next one out of ? 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful pattern!

  109. Cheryl says:

    Just got some fabric today and I am going to sew this up just ASAP! I have a busy weekend planned but maybe I can get it in some late night sewing. Thanks!

  110. Mary says:

    Thank you so much for this tutorial! I just joined a CSA and was debating on making a bag so I don’t have to use and return their boxes each week. This totally sealed the debate. I even have the fabric all picked out already. Thank you!!!

  111. Sue says:

    Irene, I love this tutorial, the directions were excellent. I made one today and can’t wait to make more. I posted a picture on the sew mama sew group on flickr labelled marmeefitz. Thanks so much!!

  112. Jodie in KY says:

    I loved this and went out and bought fabric the next day. I started and finished it this morning (super easy!!) and took it to the library to fill with children’s books. FANTASTIC! Thanks so much…I can’t wait to make more!

  113. Valerie says:

    Love this! I am going to make one today! I love that a poster above said she was going to attempt ALL the summer sewing projects- I may do that too! Thanks for the gret tutorial!

  114. Just Susan says:

    I made one of these totes last night. What a great pattern and great directions. Cheers to you and Aunt Irene!

  115. Jeana says:

    Thanks for the tutorial – maybe if I make a few of these I will remember to bring them next time I do the shopping!

  116. min says:

    I would like to add..I’ve been making these like crazy as well and mine are basically exactly the same EXECPT I like to put an inch wide strip of thin batting down each strap before I sew it shut. It just gives them a heavier hold and they feel better when the bag is being carried.

  117. lori says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this pattern. Clean and simple with no lining! A machine washable solution for everything. I’m going to make some to use in lieu of wrapping paper for holiday gifts…the gift that keeps on giving.
    Brilliant tutorial. Thanks again!

  118. Terri says:

    I haven’t sewed in years and have been wanting to start again. When I saw this tutorial yesterday, I couldn’t wait to make it! I found fabric this morning and had it together in under 3 hours. So much fun! Thank you so much for sharing and posting this wonderful project. The instructions were perfect. The ‘flip it over’ handle is so nice for added strength. Thanks again!

  119. Heather says:

    Perfect! I have some home dec fabric burning a hole in my stash!! Been wondering what to do with it…think I finally found it’s purpose. Thanks for sharing!

  120. Kelli says:

    I love this tote! I think I’m going to start now to make some for Christmas gifts! It is such an easy pattern, I can easily whip out a grocery bag set for everyone and make us all a little greener! Plus, I need a new tote for the gym and I haven’t mastered zippers, so this will be perfect! Thanks!

  121. irene says:

    Andrea and Mary,
    Sorry I wasn’t more clear on the triple stitch. Some sewing machines have this as one of your stitch selections so you may want to check your manual to see if yours has it. If it doesn’t, you can simply double sew your seams. You won’t have to do it for the French seams since it’s already doubled, but I recommend it for all other seams.
    BTW- If there’s any other questions, please post it in the Forum and I’ll be sure to answer promptly!

  122. Shelley says:

    Wonderful tutorial…thanks so much. And, it is true…one can never have too many totes.

  123. Heather B says:

    Wow! I’ve been searching all over for such a tutorial – so glad to see one here! Thank you – this will be pushed up on my to-sew list.

  124. Miss Snips says:

    I like this method, I usually do a lining for my totes but using the french seam saves using all that extra fabric. I will head into my sewing room to make one, or two totes as soon as I get my dear hubby off to work and out of the way!

  125. Kelli says:

    I love how big this bag is…perfect for groceries or books for the kids…I see a lot of uses for this bag in my future. Now I’ve just got to find the time to get it made! 🙂

  126. Christine says:

    What a great tutorial. Thanks.

  127. Stephanie says:

    Thank for the tute! I’m going on a cruise in August and I have been looking for a nice tote bag to carry around. This one is perfect. Thanks again!

  128. Wannabecrafty says:

    Always trying to be “greener”, looking forward to a special grocery bag – thanks!

  129. Lyssa says:

    Fantastic! Thanks!

  130. Andrea says:

    I love it! I have a couple of questions though. What is a triple stitch?
    and also. after sewing the triangle in the bottom corners ( the gusset?) do I just leave the excess fabric that is there? I lined bags I cut the exess off.

  131. Michele says:

    Thanks for the great tutorial!

  132. This bag rocks! I can’t wait to stitch one up! Thanks for putting together such an awesome tutorial! =)

  133. ayumills says:

    Wow! Simple but very cute and absolutely useful bag!
    Thanks for this fantastic tutorial!

  134. Mellissa says:

    I can’t wait to make this tote! Thanks for sharing such a great and useful pattern. Tell your aunt we love her!

  135. Lisa says:

    I just discovered your wonderful blog and can’t wait to make the tote bag. I LOVE TOTE BAGS!!!! I may actually get a head start on Christmas this year.

  136. margaret m. says:

    very nice tutorial…and I really love that fabric!

  137. irene says:

    Thanks everyone. I haven’t stopped using my pretty tote since I made it. I’m glad to hear that my tutorial will be used!

  138. Mary says:


    I have a question. I’m a fairly new sewer and was wondering about the triple stitch. Is that a setting on a machine? Anyone know where I can find more info on this? Did a search, but found more on crochet treble stitch than machine sewing.

  139. Emily says:

    I have been searching and searching for the perfect tote. You may (or may not) be surprised at the sheer volume of tote patterns out there – none of which I found “quite right”. This looks great! Can’t wait to whip some up 🙂 THANK YOU!

  140. ~ Karen ~ says:

    What a perfect bag. Thanks so much!

  141. Heather V says:

    I love this tutorial! Thanks for sharing it!

  142. Margie says:

    I can’t wait to make one. I’m a sucker for purses & totes. I can see my 6 sisters all wanting their own tote!! Thanks for the wonderful tutorial.

  143. McHats says:

    great job – lovely fabric

  144. Miss 376 says:

    This looks fantastic. Think I’m going to have a go and make one in the next couple of weeks. Thank you for the clear and simple instructions

  145. Bec says:

    Such a well written and photographed tutorial – thanks so much. The tote looks terrific!!!

  146. Shelley says:

    Love this! I need a new summer tote made with my new Anna Maria Horner fabric!

  147. Mary says:

    What a great tutorial! I can’t wait to give this a try.

  148. Ancsa says:

    Thank You for this great tutorial!
    I’m going to sew a bag like this sooon! (I’m making now the cross stitch things on it…)

  149. Carrie says:

    I have been wanting to make myself a beach bag this summer, and this looks like it will be just perfect!!! Now to find just the right fabric…

  150. Alejandra says:

    niiiiice, muchas muchas gracias.

  151. katie says:

    Yes, thank you! The best handle description… seriously. I love the ‘flip it back over’ for added strength. Nice.

  152. TheGreenCat says:

    Thanks for this tutorial. I love knowing how to get those nice square corners in the bottom!

  153. Sarah says:

    What a great bag!

  154. Lesley says:

    I love totes!!! Looks like this one is just the size for a beach towel and some cheetos. With an ipod in the pocket. Thanks!

  155. Ali says:

    Hooray! A non-lined tote with no fraying seams. You are a genius and I am going to trot one out quick. Thank you for a very clear tutorial..

  156. Concha says:

    Great tutorial! A nice tote is absolutely indispensable for Summer 🙂

  157. Tina says:

    Thanks for the tutorial! I can’t wait for all the projects this month!

  158. Trina says:

    What a lovely tutorial – and a great bag! I already have 8 grocery totes myself, but your pattern makes me want to add another to the fleet! 🙂

  159. Lauren says:

    I’m going to have to try this for my MIL’s b-day… thanks!

  160. elizabeth says:

    Gee, I have tons of tote bags, but I am in love with the French seams you’ve used! And I do have some home dec fabric that I bought and never used. I’m sold!

  161. Kathy says:

    Sweet! You can never have too many totes!

  162. Just Susan says:

    Thank you so much. I have been buying the reuseable store bags. I like the idea of these so much better and I have just the right material lying around in my stash, waiting for this pattern.

  163. Paula says:

    Nicely done tutorial. The reinforced seams are a real plus. I love totes for all your reasons, and designated bags with different patterns help keep our library books together, sports equipment, etc. Look forward to trying yours. Thanks for sharing.

  164. Teresa says:

    Very cute…I’ll have to try it!

  165. Carla says:

    I make totes and purses all of the time. Thanks for sharing this tutorial. This will be a great summer project I can make with my kids. This is a perfect beach bag too!

  166. Lisa says:

    I’ve been wanting to make a bunch of these bags for grocery shopping (and other stuff too), so I can hardly wait to get started! Thanks!

  167. RobinE says:

    Wow! What a great tote! I suddenly feel the need to go out and get some decor weight fabric…

    Thanks for the tutorial!

  168. eesh says:

    Beautiful! I hope I can make each of the projects this month! This is a great starting point.

  169. Mary says:

    I love that there is no lining to bother with…being that it’s hot, muggy July, instant gratification, USEFUL projects are much appreciated..not to mention the ‘pretty’ factor. Thanks so much.

  170. Danetta says:

    I am so glad to see this tutorial. This bag is on my list of things to make but I had not started tolook for pattersn. Now I don’t have to! Thank you for sharing!!

  171. carolyn says:

    Love this bag pattern! Thanks for sharing, can’t wait to get started.

  172. Amanda says:

    Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.

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