How to Sew a Chunky Tote Bag With a Zipper

Ae PooiM
by Ae PooiM
11 Materials
3 Hours

If you’ve ever wanted to know how to sew a tote bag with a flat bottom, you’re going to love today’s project.

I wanted a wide opening tote bag with a zipper and I came up with this flat-bottomed design. It’s easy to make even for beginners.

Tools and materials:

  • Baby canvas fabric
  • Cotton lining fabric
  • Fusible interfacing
  • 28.5 inch (72 cm) double zipper
  • 1.25 inch (3 cm) wide webbing strap
  • Pen
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Fabric clips
  • Iron
  • Sewing machine
Cutting out fabric pieces

1. Cut out the fabric pieces

The main bag piece is 28.5 inches by 13.75 inches (72 by 35 cm) and you need to cut one from each of the canvas, the lining and the fusible interfacing. 

You will also need two strips of lining, each 15.75 inches (40 cm) long by 1.5 inches (4.5 cm) wide.

Cut the webbing straps into two lengths of 32.25 inches (82 cm).

Drafting bag pattern

2. Draft the bag pattern

Fold the interfacing in half along the longer edge and then in half on the shorter side.

Place it in front of you with the main fold facing away from you and the open edges to your left.

Draw a line across the width of the folded interfacing, 3 inches (8 cm) from the lower edge.

Drafting bag pattern

Divide the lower portion into three equal sections of 4.75 inches (12 cm).

Drafting bag pattern

Draw a diagonal line from the top left to the bottom right of each of the left and right hand sections, and from the bottom left to the top right of the middle section.

Drafting bag pattern

Cut along the diagonal lines.

Drafting bag pattern

Open out the interfacing and iron it to the wrong side of the canvas piece.

Cut around the outline of the interfacing to create the bag shape.

Drafting bag pattern

Use this as a template to cut the same shape from the lining.

Attaching straps

3. Attach the straps

Draw a line 7.5 inches (19 cm) from each end of both straps.

Attaching straps

Pin one strap to the top diagonal edges of the bag on the right side, 2 inches (5 cm) from the edge.

Sew along each long edge of the strap, from the line to the end, and across the width.

Attaching straps

Repeat for the second strap at the other end of the bag.

Inserting zipper

4. Insert the zipper

Remove the tabs and separate the two sides of the zipper completely.

Inserting zipper

Place one of the zipper tapes on the top diagonal edge of the lining and notch the tape where it meets the top corner.

Inserting zipper

Clip the tape to the lining along the diagonal and straight edges, notching it at the other corner.

Inserting zipper

Attach the second tape to the other end of the bag in the same way and sew the zipper in place.

Inserting zipper

Place the outer bag, right side down, on top of the lining with the straps sandwiched between them.

Fold the zipper to the inside and line up the edges of the outer and lining.

Sew the outer bag to the zipper and lining, 0.25 inches (0.7 cm) from the edge at both ends.

Turn the bag right side out.

Inserting zipper

Bring the zipper teeth together and trim the ends to match.

Replace the tabs at each end of the teeth and close the zipper so the tabs meet in the middle.

Assembling bag

5. Assemble the bag

Turn the bag and lining inside out.

Assembling bag

Bring the sides of the raw edges together on each side of the bag, aligning the point with the center of the zipper teeth and matching the edges.

Sew half an inch (1 cm) from the raw edges.

Complete the other side to match.

Binding seams

6. Bind the seams

Trim off any excess tape or webbing.

Binding seams

Clip and sew a lining strip to one side of each seam with a 0.25 inch (0.7 cm) seam allowance, matching the raw edges.

Cut the strips to length.

Binding seams

Turn the strip over the seam, folding in the short edges.

Turn in the long edge of the strip, then fold it over the raw edge and sew it in place.

Turn your DIY zipper back right side out and push out the corners.

Tote bag with zipper

Tote bag with zipper

Tote bag with zipper

Cutting the bag from one piece of fabric makes it very easy to put together. 

It’s a roomy bag with easy access to the inside and you could add an inner or outer pocket - or both!

I really enjoyed making this and I hope you do too. I’d love to know how you get on with it and I’m interested to read your comments.

Next, check out this Cute and Easy DIY Backpack Tutorial.

Suggested materials:
  • Baby canvas fabric
  • Cotton lining fabric
  • Fusible interfacing
See all materials

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