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Sunday, May 14, 2006

How To Sew A Shopping Tote Bag

Hi Sewing Friends:

I did some shopping today and used my favorite fabric shopping tote bag to carry some things I was trying to match. While in the store, two ladies asked me where I got my "bag". Of course, I made it.

I promised them I would post the basic sewing instructions on my blog. So, here they are!

You can add your own creative touches.

Hope you enjoy making your own shopping tote bags, too!

It just makes sense!

To Your Sewing Success,

Marian Lewis


How To Sew A Shopping Tote Bag

- by Marian Lewis

©2006 Marian Lewis - All Rights Reserved

1st Step To Sewing Success


Here is a very useful simple sewing project that is fast and easy to do. It is my favorite fabric shopping tote bag.

I love my fabric shopping bags. I use them for all sorts of things besides carrying groceries.

Sew several for yourself to take to the super market and help the environment. Sew more to give as gifts to your friends. The kids can use them for toy bags when they go to Granma's house. They are great for traveling, too.

Use up some of your stash and make a few today! Give them to your favorite charity. They love them!


Use whatever fabric you want to use. Try cottons, upholstery fabrics, fake suede, leather, canvas, denim, etc. I prefer to use something washable.

1-1/4 yards of 45 inch wide fabric will make two (2) bags.

Preshrink and straighten the fabric.

Cutting Instructions:

Cut a panel 19-1/2 inches wide by 41 inches long for each bag.

Cut (preferably on the lengthwise grain) two (2) handles for each bag 4 inches wide by 17 inches long. It is easier to cut and sew one long strip 4 inches by 34 inches and then cut it in half.

Sewing Instructions:

Fold the bag panel in half and press a crease in the bottom.

Press a 1 inch hem in the top of the bag.

Fold the hem down again and press making a double hem.

Repeat for both front and back of the bag.

Let it cool and then open the hems back out.

NOTE: If you are applying pockets, appliques, embroidery, etc, to the bag, do it now before you sew the side seams.

Make sure hems are open and stitch 1/2 inch side seams to make the bag. (serge or sew).

Trim the seam allowance to 1/4 inch and zigzag to finish the edges.

Press seams.

Turn down the double hem and stitch in place.


While pressing the hem, determine the center front and center back of the bag by folding so that side seams are lined up and press a light crease at the top of the bag. This will help you place the handles.

Make The Straps

Press a 4 inch wide strap piece in half to set a crease.

Open back out and bring the cut edges to the center on the pressed crease.


Now fold on the original crease and press again.

The cut edges are enclosed.

Edgestitch on both sides of the long 34 inch long strap.

Cut in half to 17 inches to make two strap handles.

Zigzag raw ends.

Mark and Attach the Strap Handles

At the bag hem, measure out both sides from the center front and center back of the bag about 1-3/4 inches and make a mark. This allows 3-1/2 inches between the handles.

Place the inside edge of the handle at this mark lining up the zigzagged edge of the handle with bottom of the bag hem. Pin in place.

Stitch a 1 inch square to attach the handles to the bag.

Box The Bottom Of The Bag

To box the bottom of the bag, turn it wrong side out.

Center a side seam on top of the crease at the bag bottom forming a triangle.

With the bag bottom crease on top centered over the side seam, measure down from the point 3-1/2 inches and mark.

Fold over the triangle lining up the point to the bag bottom crease and press a triangle.

Open the triangle back up and stitch on the folded press line (base of the triangle).

Repeat for the other side. This will form a 7 inch box in the bottom of the bag.

You can leave these triangles folded down into the bottom of the bag or you may trim them off and finish the edges with serged or zigzag stitches.

Support the Bottom (not really necessary)

Also, you may want to cover a piece of cardboard with your fabric to lay in the bottom of the bag for added support. This can be removed to launder the bag.

Cut the cardboard 7 inches wide x 11-1/2 inches long.

Cut the fabric a little larger.

Fuse/glue fabric to the cardboard.

Tip: Double the bag when the load is extra heavy. Make it double layered or simply place one bag inside the other when needed.

Enjoy Your Fabric Shopping Bag

Use it to tote whatever you want wherever you want.

Make the handles longer if you want to carry the bag over your shoulder.

Add your special trims, appliques, monogram, embroidery, paints, etc. to make the bag uniquely yours.

Add pockets inside and out in different sizes to hold your keys, wallet, etc.

You are the designer. Sew your own designer shopping bags.

It just makes sense!


End Of Article


PS: If you enjoyed this article or have a comment, please do so here on my Sewing Blog.

Actually, you can check out most of my articles here. You might find something that interests you. I welcome your feedback :-)


If you have sewing related questions that you would like to have answered, ask them here or at:

I'll do my best to answer them for you.


Marian Lewis is a sewing instructor, author and creator of an amazing new fitting method for hard-to-fit sewing folks who want great fitting skirts and pants. In her mini-course ebook, she teaches step-by-step common sense techniques how to find out WHAT you really need, WHERE you really need it and HOW to apply that to a commercial sewing pattern.

Marian is also the author of many articles and other mini-course ebooks related to sewing highlighting, "It Doesn't LOOK Homemade"Sewing Techniques.

Copy and paste the link now to check out her website at:


Discover Fitting And Sewing SecretsTo Achieve Sewing Success

For information on the mini-course ebook:

"Common Sense Fitting Method For Hard-To-Fit Sewing Folks Who Want Great Fitting Skirts And Pants"

Copy and paste the link:


For information on the mini-course ebook:

"Sew A Tee Pee And Accessories For Your Tribe Of Kids"

Copy and paste the link:


For information on the mini-course ebook:

"Classy Designer Straight Skirt"

Copy and paste the link:



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