How to DIY a Colorful Patchwork Tote Bag

Romela Occaso
by Romela Occaso
12 Materials
4 Hours

This small patchwork tote bag is created from small strips of fabric joined into larger squares.

While it’s good to have an overall color theme when using patchwork, there’s scope for a lot of creativity in how you put the pieces together.

This is one of my more colorful DIY tote bag ideas and I hope you enjoy making it.

Tools and materials:

  • Fabric scraps
  • Lining fabric
  • Cotton batting
  • Fusible interfacing
  • 4.5 inch by 1.5 inch template
  • 1.5 inch by 1.5 inch template
  • Ruler
  • Fabric marker
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • Iron
  • Sewing machine
Patchworking outer bag

1. Patchwork bag outer

You will need 64 strips of fabric, each 4.5 inches by 1.5 inches, for each of the front and back panels and 24 for each handle.

Patchworking outer bag

Join the long edges of four strips together, with the right sides facing, to make 16 4.5 inch squares for each panel and six squares for each handle.

Press the seams open.

Patchworking outer bag

Lay the 64 squares for each panel out in four rows of four.

For more interest, place the squares with the vertical and horizontal seams alternating.

Patchworking outer bag

Join each square to the next in rows of four pressing the seams open as you go.

Top stitch the seams.

Join each row to the row below and top stitch on one side of the horizontal seams.

Repeat for the second patchwork panel.

Patchworking outer bag

Cut two squares of cotton batting larger than the patchwork panels.

Place one piece of batting behind each panel and top stitch together along the other side of the horizontal seams.

Trim the panels to 15.5 inches square and top stitch around the outer edges.

Making handles

2. Make and attach the handles

Join the six squares for each handle together in a single row, alternating the horizontal and vertical seams as before. 

Press the seams open.

Making handles

Cut a piece of interfacing 24 inches by 4.5 inches for each handle and iron it to the back of the patchwork strip.

Fold the strip in half lengthways with the wrong side facing and press.

Open out the strip. Press the upper and lower edges in to the center fold. 

Making handles

Fold the strip in half lengthways and pin the edges together.

Sew along both the long edges.

Repeat for the second handle.

Attaching handles

Mark the center of the top edge of one bag panel with a pin.

With the right side uppermost, pin the ends of one handle 4 inches either side of the center. Extend the ends of the handle 1 inch above the top edge.

Sew the handles in place close to the top stitching.

Attach the second handle to the other panel.

Assembling the outer bag

3. Assemble the outer bag

Cut a 1.5 inch square from both the bottom corners of each panel.

Assembling the outer bag

Place the two panels together, with the right sides facing and the handles sandwiched between them.

Sew the side and bottom seams, excluding the cut outs.

Assembling the outer bag

Pin and sew the sides of the cut outs together diagonally, matching the side seam with the bottom seam.

Turn the bag right side out.

Making lining

4. Make the lining

Cut two pieces of lining fabric, 15.5 inches by 15.5 inches.

Sew them together with the right sides facing along the side and lower edges, leaving a 7 inch opening in one side.

Making lining

Fold each bottom corner into a triangle, aligning the side and lower seams.

Mark a 3 inch line across each corner and sew.

Making lining

Trim the excess.

Attaching lining

5. Attach the lining to the bag

Insert the bag inside the lining, so the right sides are together.

Attaching lining

Pin and sew the top edges together, matching the side seams.

Pull the bag out through the gap in the lining.

Push out the corners from the inside.

Attaching lining

Sew the gap closed.

Tuck the lining back inside the bag.

Attaching lining

Sew two rows of top stitching around the upper edge.

DIY patchwork tote bag

DIY patchwork tote bag

This is a perfect project for beginners to patchwork. More advanced sewists could add inner or outer pockets from a toning plain fabric.

What a great opportunity to use up lots of fabric scraps and explore your own creativity!

I’d love to hear your tote bag DIY ideas. If there’s a particular style you’d like me to make, please let me know in the comments.

Next, check out my Upcycled Shirt Tutorial: How to DIY a Tote Bag From a Shirt.

Suggested materials:
  • Fabric scraps
  • Lining fabric
  • Cotton batting
See all materials

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