Adorable DIY Tote Bag Tutorial

Rubyvale Road
by Rubyvale Road
7 Materials
90 Minutes

I love this project because it’s fairly simple, but the result is impressive. These tote bags are great for shopping bags, for taking to the beach, or just for everyday use. They also make wonderful gifts for friends. So let’s get started.

Tools and materials:

  • Fabric for outer layer
  • Fabric for lining
  • Matching thread
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Safety pin
  • Measuring tape
  • Sewing machine
How to make a DIY tote bag

Fold and cut the outer fabric

I folded the fabric for the outer layer of the bag in half and cut a 19 inch by 19 inch square through both layers of fabric.

Cut out the handles

Cut the handles

Next, I cut two 23.5 inch by 4.5 inch rectangles for the handles.

Make a DIY tote bag

Cut the fabric for the lining

For the lining fabric, I cut two 19.5 inch by 19 inch pieces. The extra half-inch is for seam allowance.

Now I had all the pieces I needed to begin construction: One long rectangle of outer fabric, two square pieces of lining fabric, and two strips for the handles. 

Pin the handles

Fold, pin, and sew the handles

To begin construction, I folded the fabric for the handles in half lengthwise, right sides facing each other, and pinned along the long edge. Then I sewed a seam on the long edge, leaving the short edges open, to create a tube.

Use a safety pin

Turn the handles right side out

To turn the handle right side out, I attached a safety pin to one end of the handle, and inserted it into the tube. Then I worked the pin through the tube, bunching the fabric over it and pulling it down until the pin came through the other side. Then I pulled the rest of the fabric down until the right side of the fabric was on the outside, and the seam was hidden inside. 

Iron and top-stitch

Iron and stitch the handles

I ironed the handles flat and top-stiched down each long edge so everything would lay nicely.

Pin and sew the outer layer

Fold, pin, and sew the outer fabric

Next, I folded the fabric for the outer part of the bag, pinned down the side seams, and sewed them closed. 

Leave a gap on the bottom edge

Pin and sew the lining

I laid the two pieces for the lining on top of each other, right sides facing, and pinned along the side edges and bottom edge. I left a two-inch gap unpinned along the bottom edge that will be used later to turn the bag right side out. 

Measure the corners

Measure and mark 

From the bottom corner of the outer layer, I measured 5 centimeters (2 inches) along the side seam and marked it with a pin. 

Pin the corners

These seams will help create some depth and shape to the bottom of the bag.

Basic tote bag

I measured and marked the fabric for the lining in the same way.

Sew the corner seams

Sew it down

Then I sewed a seam along the pinned lines on both the outer fabric and the lining.

Basic DIY tote bag

Turn the outer layer right side out

Once the corner seams were sewn, I turned my outer layer right side out.

Mark the center and quarter points

Fold and mark the top edge of the bag

To determine where to place the handles, I folded the top edge of the bag in half twice and marked the center and quarter points with pins.

How to make a tote bag

Pin and sew the handles in place

I pinned the handles in place by aligning the center of the handles’ raw edges with the marks I had made along the top edge of the bag. Before sewing, I made sure the handles are not twisted, and the handles on either side of the bag were aligned with each other. 

Put everything together

Pull the lining over the outer fabric

With the lining still inside out and the outer layer right side out, I placed the outer layer inside the lining, using the side seams as a guide to ensure everything was straight and aligned properly.

Easy tote bag

Pin and sew along the top edge

I pinned the top edges of the lining and the outer layer together, making sure the handles were underneath the lining, and lying somewhat flat. Then I sewed a seam along the top edge.

Pull the outer layer through the gap

Turn the bag right side out

Once the outer layer and the lining were sewn together, I used the gap I had left in the bottom edge of the lining to pull the outer fabric through and turn the bag right side out. 

Top-stitch around the opening

Top-stitch along the top edge

To ensure everything would lay flat, I top-stitched all the way around the opening of the bag.

Close up the gap

Close up the gap

For the final step, I folded the raw edges of the gap in the lining inward and stitched it closed, keeping my stitches as close to the edge as possible.


Simple tote bag

And now you have an adorable, multi-purpose tote bag made with love and your own two hands. Let me know if you enjoyed this tutorial.

Suggested materials:
  • Fabric
  • Thread
  • Scissors
See all materials

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