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Say no to Plastic - Make this Tote Bag

Bag Free Patterns

Say no to plastic. Create this stylish but easy to make shopping bag.

In summary the requirements are:

  • 60 cm fabric for outside of bag and handles
  • 50 cm fabric for bag lining
  • 25 cm fabric for handle - if you want a contrasting fabric
  • 50 cm wadding and backing if you want to quilt the bag

Other tools you will need

Cutting mat. Rotary cutter. Long ruler for use with a rotary cutter.  Neutral coloured thread for sewing with - I like the Aurifil ne50 (this is a lovely fine 100% cotton thread, and I usually use a grey). General sewing supplies (thread snips, unpicker, pins, iron).

Before starting please note  all seams are joined with a  ½” seam (unless otherwise indicated)
Also it is a good idea to read through all the instructions before starting.

Take the outside bag fabric - cut 2 rectangles 20" x 17"
Take the bag lining fabric - cut 2 rectangles 20" x 17"

You should be able to get 2 rectangles out of the width of the fabric - if not just make the rectangle slightly smaller (e.g. 19" x 17")

Mark a 2½” square in each of the bottom corners.

Mark it on the wrong side of the fabric and mark both the lining and the outside bag pieces. 

Using scissors cut the square out of the bottom corners.

All the pieces - 2 x outside of bag and 2 x lining - will look like this

Outside bag - sew the bottom and side seams.

Sew across the bottom using a ½” seam.

Open the seam out and topstitch along both sides of the seam to hold the seam open and give some reinforcement.

Sew down each side using a ½” seam.

Press the seam open. If you wish you can topstitch along both sides of the seam to hold the seam open, I don't always do this as it is a bit awkward to do and the bags work fine without it.

Bag Lining - sew the bottom and side seams.

Sew pockets onto the lining if you wish - use your favourite method.

Join side and bottom seams using ½” seam. But leave a gap for turning along the bottom seam

Sew the corner

Close the hole at the bottom by matching the side seam to the bottom seam.
Sew this closed using a ½” seam. I often sew it twice to give reinforcement for the corner of the bag.

Topstitch along the bottom edge of the bag. 

Crease the fold formed from corner to corner along the base of the bag.

Finger press. (the photo shows a braided bag but the idea is the same)

Stitch along this crease 1⁄8” from the edge.


Cut 2 pieces 4”x 14”.
Fold in half lengthwise (it looks 2”x 14”) and iron to form a crease.
Open out and fold the raw edges in to meet the crease line.

Fold along the central crease line. The strip is now about 1” thick.

Top stitch down each long side to both hold it together and give reinforcement. I often do parallel topstitching ¼” apart down each long side.

Position the handles & sew the lining and the outer bag together.

Pin the handles in place. I measure 5" from the side seams 5”.
If you use pins make sure the pin heads are at the top of the bag (most important!)               

Place the bag inside the lining with right sides together. The bag will be the right way and the lining will be inside out.

Stitch around the top using a ½” seam.

Turn through the right way using the hole in the lining.
Stitch the hole in the lining closed.

Finishing touches.

Topstitch around the top of the bag.

Sometimes I stitch down the side seam, through all layers, for about 2” just to keep the lining in place.

Ready to use!!



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