How to Make Shopping Bags That Fold Easily Into a Pouch

Sewing Times
by Sewing Times
8 Materials
1 Hour

Everyone loves an adorable tote bag, and this one has the added bonus of being quick and convenient to store, as well. Follow along with this step-by-step tutorial to learn how to make shopping bags that fold into a pouch.

This is a project that is perfect for beginners and advanced sewers, alike. Let’s get started!

Tools and materials:

  • 1 Yard of main fabric
  • Contrasting fabric
  • Elastic band
  • Pins
  • Iron
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Sewing machine
Measuring and cutting out the fabric

1. Cut the fabric pieces

Cut out all the pieces you will need for construction. For this project, you will need:

  • Main fabric 60 cm x 90 cm (23¾ inches x 35½ inches)
  • Two rectangles measuring 8 cm x 29 cm (3¼ inches x 11½ inches)
  • Two rectangles measuring 11 cm x 5 cm (4⅜ inches x 2 inches)
  • 25 cm (10 in) narrow elastic band
Folding the short edges of the fabric

2. Fold and iron

Fold the short edges of the main fabric inward by 1 cm (⅜ inch), and iron the fold in place. Make a second fold 3.5 cm (1⅜ inches) from the edge, and iron that in place as well. 

Sewing the folds in place

3. Sew the folds in place

Once you’ve folded and ironed both ends, sew the fabric in place. Try to sew as close to the open edge as possible. 

Ironing the straps

4. Make straps

To prepare the straps, follow the steps in the video from 1:42-2:22.

Marking where to sew the straps

5. Pin and sew the straps

Find the centers of the folded edges of the main fabric, and align them with the center of each strap. Pin the straps in place.

Measure 1 inch inwards at the top of the strap and 2 inches inwards at the bottom, then connect the two marks with a diagonal line, as shown.

Where to sew the straps

Sew down this shape.

Ironing accordion folds in the fabric

6. Iron accordion folds

Fold one short edge towards the wrong side of the fabric by 5 cm (2 inches), and iron the fold in place. Flip the fabric over, and fold the edge towards the right side of the fabric by 5.5 cm (2⅛ inches).

Make three more accordion folds, each one 6 cm (2⅜ inches) wide, ironing each fold in place before folding the next. Then, repeat the process for the second short edge. 

Attaching the elastic band to the bag

7. Attach the elastic

Once both sides are folded, make a loop with the elastic band, and pin it to a short edge, at about the same height as the strap. Then sew it down.

Pinning the short edges ready to sew

8. Fold, pin, and sew the bag

Fold the tote bag in half lengthwise, so the straps and elastic are on the inside. Pin and sew the short edges, leaving a 1 cm (⅜ inch) seam allowance. 

Pressing the side tabs with an iron

9. Fold, pin, and sew the side tabs

See the video from 5:50-6:30 for instructions on how to prepare the side tabs - similar to the straps.

Sewing the side tabs to the bag

10. Attach side tabs

Insert the side edges of the tote bag into the open edges of the side tabs. Pin them in place, and sew them down. 

How to make a fold up shopping bag

Your foldable tote bag is done! Pull the handles to open it up, and pull the side tabs to fold it back down. 

Make a tote bag that folds into a pocket

Fold it into a small square and wrap it with the elastic band for storage. 

How to make shopping bags that fold up

How to make shopping bags that fold into a pouch

Let us know if you found this roll-up tote bag tutorial helpful. If you use this tutorial to make a tote bag of your own, please post your results!

Suggested materials:
  • 1 Yard of main fabric
  • Contrasting fabric
  • Elastic band
See all materials

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Join the conversation
2 of 6 comments
  • Robin Shane Robin Shane on Feb 07, 2022

    Light denim would be great for a bunch of veggies. I keep mine separate at the market. Great for breads…. A trip to the CVS or……

  • Maria Maria on Sep 20, 2022

    Perfect bag. Thank you for sharing.