How to Make a Market Tote Bag With an Adorable Embroidered Design

Nima Fatima
by Nima Fatima
7 Materials
3 Hours

If you’re into DIY sewing projects and saving the planet, then this is a must-see! I’ll show you how to make a market tote bag, so you don't have to keep on purchasing plastic bags when going shopping.

If you’re wondering how to make a simple canvas tote bag that is easy and beginner-friendly, then I’ve got you covered! Let’s do our part in being sustainable by making a few simple changes to how we shop. Let’s get started!

Tools and materials:

  • Natural cotton canvas
  • Heavyweight cotton webbing
  • Scissors
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Embroidery materials and kit
  • Pins
Measuring the fabric with a cat

1. Measure and cut

Go ahead and lay out your fabric on a flat surface. If your cat decides to take over, that’s okay; just use the other side of the fabric. Next, measure 17 x 18 inches; you should have a long rectangle. 

Cutting the fabric

Then, cut out the shape, and yes, be careful of your cat’s paws. 

Sewing the raw edges of the fabric

2. Sew the raw edge

Go ahead and fold the top raw edges down (on the inside of the bag) and sew. Remember, the fold of the bag is the bottom part. 

Sewing straps for the bag

3. Sew on the straps

You may be wondering how to make straps for a tote bag, but I went the easy route and bought heavy-weight cotton webbing as straps. It works better than DIY straps and will definitely be able to carry bulkier items with ease.

Measure out a length that works well for you, then lay it on the tote bag, as pictured above. 

Pinning the short ends of the straps

Then, pin the short ends. Make sure you pin through the top layer and not both layers. Also, ensure the straps are centered and even. 

Sewing the straps to the tote bag

Open the tote bag to ensure that you only sew on one layer of the fabric. Then, go ahead and sew the straps on both sides of the straps. 

How to make straps for a tote bag

Then, repeat for the other side. Make sure the straps on both sides mirror each other. 

Sewing the side seams of the bag

4. Sew the side seams

Now, fold your bag so that the fabric is right sides touching, and then sew along the side seams. 

Snipping the corners of the bag

Snip the corners afterward. 

How do you make a simple canvas tote bag?

And, here’s your cute tote bag! 

Placing the embroidery hoop

5. Add embroidery

You can stop here if you want a simple tote bag, or you can add some lovely embroidery to make it fun and unique. This step is totally optional, but I do have to say, it’s the fun part! Decide on a fun design that you want and then, place your hoop accordingly. 

Free-handing the embroidery without a hoop

I couldn't get my hoop on since the straps were way too thick, so I decided to free-hand it. If you run into the same problem, then just do what I do! 

Creating a template for the embroidery

Print the design you like and poke little holes in it with an embroidery needle so you can give yourself a template to follow when you draw it on the fabric. 

Marking the design with dots

Use a pen to mark the dots of the design. 

Pulling apart the embroidery thread

Pull the embroidery thread apart, so you have three strings and not 6. Then, simply feed it through your needle and tie a knot at the end. 

Sewing embroidery on the tote bag

Now, start from the inside out and follow the dots. 

How to do a split stitch

For this design, I did a split stitch. You can see how to do it above. 

Filling in the the embroidery design

Fill the gaps where needed. Here, I’m filling the body of the spider. 

How to make a market tote bag

How to make a market tote bag tutorial

Yes! We’re done. I am super chuffed with this sustainable tote bag. So, it’s pretty simple to make a canvas shopping bag. The best part is, you get to customize it with your own embroidered design.

Thanks for joining me for this tutorial on how to make a simple tote bag. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I have. 

Suggested materials:
  • Natural cotton canvas
  • Heavyweight cotton webbing
  • Scissors
See all materials

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Join the conversation
2 of 4 comments
  • Mabel Jacobs Mabel Jacobs on Nov 09, 2021

    you can keep the strap one continuous piece. it can lay on the bag like the picture.

    maybe add a patch pocket between the straps.

  • Mabel Jacobs Mabel Jacobs on Nov 09, 2021

    Yes...a cat is a good fabric weight. sometimes they don't want to move off when your finish cutting. :-)