How to Sew a Large Tote Bag With a Fun Pocket

Romela Occaso
by Romela Occaso
10 Materials
2 Hours

In this tutorial, I will teach you step-by-step how to sew a large tote bag. This DIY tote bag design features some quilt-like qualities.

I will also show you how to sew a pocket on a bag, as the design also features both an outer and inner pocket.

Tools and materials:

  • Fabric for bag
  • Fabric for lining
  • Cotton batting
  • Lightweight interfacing
  • Ruler
  • Pins
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors
  • Iron

1. Measure and cut

You will need two pieces of outer fabric measuring 17.5 by 18 inches and two pieces of lining at the same measurements.

Cut two pieces of cotton batting at 18.5 by 18 inches.

Folding the fabric

2. Sew bag pieces to cotton batting

Lay a piece of the outer fabric on a piece of cotton batting and sew a line diagonally from the bottom left corner to the upper right corner.

Measure 1.5 inches out from the center line and sew another parallel to it.

Do this on both sides of the lines, measuring 1.5 inches between each line until you reach the corners.

Cut off the excess cotton batting from the edges.

Repeat the process on the 2nd piece of outer fabric and cotton batting.

Cut a 2 by 2-inch square from all 4 bottom corners of the bag pieces.

Making the outer pocket

3. Outer pocket

Cut one piece of fabric for the outside pocket measuring 9 by 18 inches.

Fold it in half with right sides facing in, and sew the edges, leaving a 2-3 inch opening at the bottom.

Once sewn, cut off the edges of the corners and turn it right side in via the opening.

Making the outer pocket

Iron it flat and topstitch the edge opposite the opening.

Now pin the pocket to one side of the bag at a slant with the topstitched edge closer to the top of the bag.

Sew it to the bag.

Ironing the handles

4. Handles

Cut two 4-by-24-inch pieces of fabric and lightweight interfacing for the bag handles and iron the interfacing to the inner side of the fabric. 

Ironing the handles

Fold and iron one piece in half lengthwise, and then open and fold each side inward halfway and iron. 


Then fold it in half again, iron, pin, and sew. Do the same with the second handle.

Measuring the fabric

Take the side of the bag with the pocket, fold it in half, and find and mark the center with a pin.

Measure 4 inches from the center in each direction and mark the new points with pins. 

Measuring the fabric

Take one end of one of the straps, and extend it 1 inch over the top of the bag at one of the 4-inch marks.

Take the opposite end of the strap and do the same at the opposite 4-inch mark.

Do the same with the other strap on the other bag piece.

Making the inside pocket

5. Inside pocket

Cut a 7-by-14-inch piece of fabric and fold it upwards in half with the right sides facing in.

Sew it closed around the edges leaving a small 2 – 3 inch opening at the bottom.

Cut the edge of the corners and flip it right side out. Iron it flat and topstitch a line on the side opposite the opening.

Fold it in half to find the center and mark it with a pin.

Making the inside pocket

Lay out the lining pieces on top of each other with the 17.5-inch side at the top and bottom.

Cut out 2-by-2-inch corners at the bottom of the bag. Take one piece of lining and fold it to find the center.

Then line up the center of the pocket with the center of the lining and pin the pocket 4 inches from the top of the lining.

Pin it and sew it in place.

Assembling the bag

6. Sew the lining and bag pieces together

Lay the other piece of lining on top with the right sides facing in.

Measure and mark to leave a 7-inch opening on one side, and sew the pieces together leaving the opening, the top edge, and the bottom cut-out corners open. 

Assembling the bag

Do the same with the bag pieces without leaving a 7-inch opening.

Just sew the sides and the bottom of the bag, leaving the cut-out corners open.

Assembling the bag

7. Bringing it all together

Open the cut-out corners of the lining, press the opposite sides together, pin, and sew. Do the same with the bag. 

Assembling the bag

Turn the bag right side out and place it inside the inside-out lining. 

Assembling the bag

Sew around the top, attaching the lining and bag.

Assembling the bag

Pull the bag out of the 7-inch opening. Sew the opening closed and put the lining in the bag. 

Assembling the bag

Sew around the top of the bag.

How to sew a large tote bag: DIY tote bag
How to sew a large tote bag: DIY tote bag
How to sew a large tote bag: DIY tote bag

How to sew a large tote bag: DIY tote bag

How to sew a large tote bag: DIY tote bag

I hope you enjoyed learning how to make a practical and beautiful bag with this DIY tote bag pattern.

I love sharing DIY tote bag ideas with you and I hope you will get creative and give your bag some personal touches to make it your own.

Leave me a comment to let me know how your bag comes out.

Next, learn How to Sew a Soft Sunglasses Pouch.

Suggested materials:
  • Fabric for bag
  • Fabric for lining
  • Cotton batting
See all materials

The author may collect a small share of sales from the links on this page.

Join the conversation