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DIY Tote Bag

how to make a DIY tote bag by Megan Nielsen Patterns

If you’ve ever wondered how to make a nice simple tote bag to carry all your junk around in (or am I the only one with junk?? hehe) – here’s a little tutorial to help you out!

This is for a basic, oversized, carry-all tote. Nothing fancy, just super simple and useful! You can use canvas, cotton, linen, or whatever fabric you prefer, as long as it has enough weight and structure to hold all your goodies.

Happy sewing!!

how to make a DIY tote bag by Megan Nielsen PatternsLets make our pattern first. Start with a 21″ by 21″ square.

Again, this will make a slightly oversized tote, so if you want something smaller, perhaps start with a 19″x19″ square or whatever you prefer.

how to make a DIY tote bag by Megan Nielsen PatternsAt the bottom 2 corners, cut out 2″x2″ squares.how to make a DIY tote bag by Megan Nielsen PatternsThis is what the pattern will look like now, with the final measurements.

how to make a DIY tote bag by Megan Nielsen PatternsYou’ll also need two straps, each 30″ long by 3″ wide. If you would like wider straps, try 4.5″ wide for each.

how to make a DIY tote bag by Megan Nielsen PatternsOnce you’ve cut out your bag pieces-  place the two main pieces together with right sides together, and sew along each side, as well as the bottom. Leave the top edge and the corner cut outs open.

Finish your raw edges with your preferred method.

how to make a DIY tote bag by Megan Nielsen Patterns how to make a DIY tote bag by Megan Nielsen PatternsOpen up one of the corners, and fold together so that the side seam and bottom seam match up.

how to make a DIY tote bag by Megan Nielsen Patterns how to make a DIY tote bag by Megan Nielsen PatternsSew together, and finish your raw edge with your preferred method. If using a serger/overlock, make sure to tuck in the loose tails using a large embroidery needle so that they don’t unravel.

Repeat for the other corner.

how to make a DIY tote bag by Megan Nielsen PatternsSet the bag aside and place your straps in front of you, wrong side up.

Fold in each of the long ends by 1/2″ and press. Repeat for the other strap.

how to make a DIY tote bag by Megan Nielsen PatternsNow fold the strap in half, so that the two folded-in edges line up and the raw edges are enclosed. Press well.

Repeat for the other strap.

how to make a DIY tote bag by Megan Nielsen PatternsSew close to the open edge of each strap to enclose.

how to make a DIY tote bag by Megan Nielsen PatternsPlace your bag in front of you, right side out. One strap will be placed on one side of the bag, so that it makes a loop from left to right. For placement – I placed the outer edge of my strap 3 1/2″ in from the side seam. Personally, I wish I would’ve placed it in a little farther – the outer edge about 4 1/2″ from the side seam. Play with placement and see what you like best.

Make sure the other side of the strap is even and the same distance from the other side seam. Pin in place.

how to make a DIY tote bag by Megan Nielsen PatternsRepeat for the second strap on the other side.

how to make a DIY tote bag by Megan Nielsen PatternsStitch the straps in place at the four spots, 1/2″ from the raw edge.

Again, this is begin done on the right side of the fabric.

how to make a DIY tote bag by Megan Nielsen Patterns how to make a DIY tote bag by Megan Nielsen PatternsNow flip your bag inside out with the straps up.

Fold down the upper edge by 1/2″ and press.

how to make a DIY tote bag by Megan Nielsen PatternsFold in again towards the wrong side, this time by 2″. This will flip the straps facing downwards towards the inside of the bag.

Pin in place.

how to make a DIY tote bag by Megan Nielsen PatternsStitch along the entire upper edge, all the way around the bag, close to the folded under edge.

how to make a DIY tote bag by Megan Nielsen Patterns how to make a DIY tote bag by Megan Nielsen PatternsStill working from the wrong side/inside -now flip each strap back up, making sure they are aligned straight, and pin in place.

how to make a DIY tote bag by Megan Nielsen Patterns

Stitch each strap in place by sewing a rectangle, with the stitching close to each edge, and then sewing an X through the rectangle.

how to make a DIY tote bag by Megan Nielsen PatternsI know its hard to see because I used matching thread, but this is what it no looks like from the outside.

Repeat 3 more times for the other ends of the straps.

how to make a DIY tote bag by Megan Nielsen PatternsThat’s it! The end! You now have a handy dandy tote bag!

how to make a DIY tote bag by Megan Nielsen PatternsOnce you’re done, you can add some flair – pins, patches, charms, embroidery, etc! Or you can learn how to dip dye your tote to look really cute and unique with this tutorial.

how to make a DIY tote bag by Megan Nielsen PatternsI hope this was useful and helpful! And if you make one yourself using this tutorial, don’t forget to tag  @megannielsenpatterns when sharing on social media so we can see your awesome creations!

About Author

Meg is the Founder and Creative Director of Megan Nielsen Patterns, and is constantly dreaming up ideas for new sewing patterns and ways to make your sewing journey more enjoyable! She gets really excited about design details and is always trying to add way too many variations to our patterns.

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Kristin
10 years ago

So awesome! I’m dying to get some fabric and do this. Thanks!
XO

Marydon
Marydon
10 years ago

Visiting you via Julia’s Sew. You make it look so easy. Wish I could sew, but alas … not so good.

Would you be so kind to leave a comment on my BLOG ONLY (no emails count) thru the 18th, for the Miracle Makeover fund drive. Charlie, 8 yr. old, & his story are fabulous. Every comment brings us a $1 for the next person that will be sponsored. Help me spread the word.

Have a beautiful weekend.
Hugs,
TTFN ~
Marydon

Amy
Amy
10 years ago

I made one similar to this last year for Mother’s Day; my Mum loved it but I still haven’t got round to making myself one…maybe I will now :D

Cheryl
10 years ago

Wow! Nice DIY…you make it so easy, maybe I can try this seing thing!
Cheryl

Andrew
10 years ago

I once made a tote bag for carrying lunch to work, but it came out weird. Now I know why – the 2″ square cut outs at the bottom make a big difference! Thanks, I’ll definitely make a better bag next time!

sparkling74
10 years ago

It’s those corners that get me every time. This seems like a brilliant way to do and it I want to run right to my machine and give it a whirl! I have no trouble with the rest, it’s just those bottom corners!

kim
kim
10 years ago

sweet tutorial. thanks. I just made one, so I can teach it to a beginners sowing class on the weekend. You saved me working it all out myself.
Cheers.
kim

monica
10 years ago

My employer just recently required us to carry only clear bags so they can see what we are bringing into and out of work. Thanks to your tutorial, I’m whipping up a vinyl version tonight. Not the prettiest thing in the world, but at least it is clear!

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Elsa
9 years ago

j’adore ;)

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[…] used this tutorial as my base, but modified it quite a bit. French seamed all the way except for the corners (I need a […]

Lauren
Lauren
9 years ago

hai, this looks great for going to the supermarket with no more silly plastic bags, hah um is the measurements in centimetres?? (sorry if that’s a stupid question)

Danae
Danae
9 years ago

Thank you so much for this DIY! I used it to make a Birthday present and it turned out great.

Danae
Danae
9 years ago
Reply to  Danae

God bless you!

Maleikie
9 years ago

Hi,

Love the tutorial, i wrote a blogpost, linked it back 2 you. Keep going, have a nice day!

X Maleikie

Vanesa
Vanesa
9 years ago

It´s perfectly explained! I´ll try to do it whith leather instead of fabric…thanks!!! =^^=

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LeDena
LeDena
9 years ago

Can you tell me how to change the measurements to make the bag much wider on the bottom. Would it be simply cutting in further than 2″. Our town inposed a law against plasic bags at every store. I need my bag to be wide enough to carry multiple large, heavy items for use at the grocery store. Thank you :)

Maryrita Tilley
Maryrita Tilley
2 years ago
Reply to  LeDena

i cut a square 2- 2 1\2″ or you can do 3″ squarefor a wider bottom. works for me

Maryrita Tilley
Maryrita Tilley
2 years ago

Sorry I meant 2 – 2 1/2 “

Issy4031
Issy4031
9 years ago

Just made a tote using your instructions & I even added a liner & it worked out great! Thank you!

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[…] used this canvas fabric from Mood Fabrics, and then Megan Nielsen’s tote bag tutorial. (The one on the right is the ‘thicker straps’ version and the one on the left is the […]

Designer Totebags
8 years ago

Love the design, thanks for sharing! and for the clear instructions :) I think even I might manage that!

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Gabbie
Gabbie
8 years ago

I am so making this for school! maybe I will add ruffles and a few flowers….

MalcolmByron
8 years ago

Its very easy to make, thanx for sharing.

Mery
Mery
8 years ago

Gracias!

Domenic
8 years ago

Keep on writing, great job!

Feel free to visit my site – Canvas Tote Bags (Domenic)

Madeline
Madeline
8 years ago

What size of seam allowance are you using?

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????? ?? ??
8 years ago

You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but
I find this topic to be really something which I think
I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for me.
I am looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

?? ?????
8 years ago

Everyone loves what you guys are up too. This sort of clever
work and reporting! Keep up the fantastic works guys
I’ve included you guys to blogroll.

Review my site :: ?? ?????

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[…] DIY Tote Bag […]

bella
bella
7 years ago

hello, if u don’t mind can u tell me what fabric did u use?

Pam in Amsterdam
Pam in Amsterdam
7 years ago

what a great tutorial! I have made a tote bag from an old linen coat. Thanks for this awesome instructions. A picture tells more than 100 words.

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[…] créatifs. (Je mettrais si j’ai le temps un tuto du mien en attendant vous trouverez des tuto ici, là et […]

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[…] tote tutorial with full step-by-step pictures you’ll want to check out Megan Nielsons “Design Diary” blog. She’s amazing and I love how detailed she is! Stop by and you’ll be […]

TAMMIE
TAMMIE
3 years ago

THANKS 4 the information I needed the note on the corners great info with pic steps thank u, thank u, thank u! ;- )

Mieke Depuydt
Mieke Depuydt
2 years ago

Toffe draagtas en gemakkelijk patroon maar de maten zijn die in inches of centimeters?

Char
Char
2 years ago

I just wanted to say that this tutorial is awesome. So simple and easy to understand. I learn best by seeing. Thank you so much!!

Sekina
Sekina
2 years ago

Thank you soo much, this was really helpful ?

judith liehr
judith liehr
2 years ago

I would just like to thank you for this bag pattern and the fact you were willing to share it. I have just finished one for my daughter to use to carry materials she uses on her job. I use mine to carry my Bible school materials. It is the perfect size for all sorts of uses. Thank you for your easy to follow directions.

Stephanie
Stephanie
2 years ago

How much fabric is needed for the 21” square bag?

Julie
Julie
2 years ago

This is exactly how I wanted to make mine thanks for this!!

Rita Nene
Rita Nene
2 years ago

Thanks for sharing, it’s lovely

Janann Anderson
Janann Anderson
2 years ago

Thanks so much for providing this pattern for a tote.

Jain Shweta
1 year ago

Thanks for sharing such a article with many design for totes.Keep updating us.

Rona
Rona
11 months ago

I made 2 of these today. They are really nice & big. I am planning to use the same method for some smaller ones as well. Thank you for an easy to follow tutorial!

Susan
Susan
6 months ago

You made this look easy thank you

Sydney Stafferton
Sydney Stafferton
5 months ago

I don’t really sew but I made this for my friend’s bday. Thank you :)