The Greatest Bag Tutorial EVER?

March 22, 2006

Update: Wow! A lot of people are coming here for this tutorial from 6 years ago. It is so old and the photos are terrible! Eeek. I’m glad some of you are still finding it useful! Thanks for stopping in. Please excuse the horrible old photos. :)


Alrighty, I’m gonna try this. I apoligize if this screws any other fellow newbie bag seamstresses up more than they already were. I don’t think I should be telling anyone how to make a bag, but you asked for it, so here goes. Photo 1:(the left one, blogger moved them weirdly) I cut my material. I based the size on my ugly corduroy bag seen in a previous post. I cut it so each side is 13 1/2 wide by 12″ long. I folded the material so I wouldn’t have to sew the bottom and just cut the two layers at once. You can do it this way or cut out 4 pieces to the size you want them to be. You’ll either end up with 2 folded pieces or 4 individual pieces. Yes? Then I cut two pieces of material for the straps. Each one 19 inches long by 4 inches wide. The first photo shows one raw strap and one that is already folded up ready for sewing. Photo 2: I went ahead and made my straps after cutting up all the pieces. Take each piece of 19×4 material and fold it in half. Iron it. Then open it and fold in each side to meet in the middle. Iron it. Now fold that in half so no raw edges are showing. Iron it again just for kicks. Now, sew a seam up each side of the strap to make it look oh- so- professional. You can just sew up the “open” side if you want. slacker. O.k you have two beautiful straps. Now, grab your bags outer material.Mine is the flowery patterned one. My lining is solid blue. Put the right sides facing each other before you sew up the seams. If you just cut one piece and folded it up in half then sew a seam up the right and left sides. If you cut two pieces for the bags outer then you need to also sew a bottom seam. So, go and sew some seams (1/4 inch seam allowance) on your outer bag and then on the lining. You should now have two bags and two straps. Yes? Just like photo 3.

Now you need to box out the bottom.  Lay your bag flat. Pick up the bottom corner. Pull a little bit from the front piece out and then pull a little bit from the back out. Now turn the bag so that the side seam is in the middle and facing you.

If that picture doesn’t make sense- try this one:

Are you getting this? Try using a piece of material just for practicing this step before you even begin to make the bag if you are still not following this.

Now. After you have magically “gotten” this tricky step. You need to measure up from each corner. I measured up 1 1/2 inches from each corner. Draw a straight line across and pin it in place. Repeat on the other corner and on the two corners of you other “bag”.


After all four corners are pinned , your bag should look like this; I think this is the photo I needed to see when I was trying to figure this out.

Get it? Now, you need to sew those corner seams. All four of them. Go do it. O.k now you have two little baggies wrong sides facing out and all four corners are stitched/boxed. yes? Now you need to take your lining and turn it inside out and stuff it into your outer bag. So the rights sides should be facing each other inside the “complete” bag. Line up the side seams. Pin the sides and the centers of the front and back. Insert your handles on each side between the lining and the outside. Make sure all your handles are equal distance from the sides and they match up on both sides. Now pin them into place too. In the photo below, my straps are not pinned, but yours better be.;-)

Everything is pinned, so now you need to sew 1/4″ from the edge. Make sure you leave a few inches opened (for pulling the bag right side out). I left the space between one of the handles opened. After you are done stitching the top, you can pull the bag right side out. You will see that it will look like a bag. At this point you may fall out of your chair from the shock of it all, as I did. Admire your almost finished creation. You are almost done. Make sure your lining is not sticking out over your outer bag. That’s just ugly. If it is, stuff it back in and iron that sucker where you want it to stay. My lining on this bag was a bit longer than the outer and it was sticking out all ugly like. I think not. Fixed him. Make sure you fold in the part that you left open between the straps so that the raw edge isn’t sneaking out. Iron it all in place.

Pin that little open part in place just to be safe. Now go and do a beautiful final top stitch and you are all done. Now do a happy dance. You made a bag. At least I hope you did. If you did not and you are just sitting there with a raised eyebrow, scratching your head in wonder. I apologize. I tried. I really did. I am finished. This took 1 1/2 to type and post all these photos in. Are you kidding me? That was way too much work. Blogger is killing me. Let me know how this went. No, scratch that…you might say that I am an idiot and did a horrible job explaining this and that this was the worst tutorial ever! Only tell me if it went well. k? And that you love me. A lot. Thanks and good luck.

Filed under: a tote bag tutorial,random chatter

22 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. capello  |  March 22, 2006 at 4:23 pm

    I love you. A lot.


  • 2. alicia  |  March 22, 2006 at 9:45 pm

    That tutorial business is tough! Yikes.

    Made sense to me… I’m making a bag soon.

  • 3. Katurah  |  March 23, 2006 at 1:12 am


    a lot.

    Now I have to try this! When will I have the time? I foresee a two am run-in in my near future (this doesn’t qualify as a 15 minute deal; at least not for me!). Thank you thank you thank you. And did I mention I love you? A lot?

  • 4. jojo*  |  March 23, 2006 at 1:56 am

    Thanks so much for the tutorial. I’m sure it was a lot of work to put it together. I’m going to try it out one of these days…and I’ll let you know how it works (perfectly, I’m sure). Just wanted to let you know that I mentioned your quick craft flickr group on my blog today. :)

  • 5. colorfool  |  March 23, 2006 at 3:43 pm

    That’s a lot of love. I like it. Thanks. I really want to see your results. k?
    JOJO: Thank you. I’ve been trying to leave comments on your blog but it won’t let me?

  • 6. Amy  |  March 23, 2006 at 4:45 pm

    Looks like a great tutorial. Am dying to try some fun projects. I’ve been doing some long promised paded lens bags for my Dad’s birthday and it has taken FOR friggin EVER. Anyway, I’ll let you know how it turns out when I have a chance to make it.

  • 7. Dee  |  March 24, 2006 at 12:27 pm

    Awesome, thanks so much. I don’t just love you, I lurve you. That’s extra love, lol. I may attempt to make it this weekend. Don’t hold me to that, I’m a slacker, ya know.

  • 8. colorfool  |  March 26, 2006 at 11:35 am

    Amy: great! I look forward to it!
    Dee: Lurve. ha ha! 8-)

  • 9. Ana  |  January 14, 2007 at 1:56 pm

    I found this post a bit late…just happened upon your blog recently. I gave your tote bag tutorial a try last night and am thrilled! I am not an experienced seamstress, and even I could do it! Now I have this super cute ladybug bag that I fully intended to give to my son’s playmate for her birthday, but I can’t…I have to keep it for myself!

  • 10. elsa  |  June 3, 2007 at 1:25 pm

    Thank you so much for this. I haven’t tried this tote yet but I did make a rag quilted tote bag last night. My first tote ever. I never tried before because of my irrational fear of making tote/purse straps. LOL But this tutorial helped me conquer my fear of straps! Thank you! I’m going to try this tote next. I’m scared but if I got past straps I’m sure I can make this tote.

  • 11. elsa  |  June 7, 2007 at 7:47 pm

    I did it. *I* did it. I *did* it!!!!!!!!!!!! I am in love with my bag! I am in love with it! I feel victorious! I’m in love with you for teaching me how to make one. That might have crossed the line but right now I love the WHOLE WORLD!!!!!

  • 12. Sonnja  |  July 10, 2007 at 1:55 am

    Thank you so much for teaching me how to make one.

  • 13. aparna  |  June 25, 2008 at 11:30 pm

    gosh, this is the best tutorial ever. i’m a newbie sew-er and i *did* fall out of my chair when i saw my first bag. thats right, ive already made 2! (the second with .. ahem.. pockets).
    thank you thank you thank you!!

  • 14. Tracee  |  August 10, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    This worked SO WELL!!!!! Thank you!!!!!!!!

  • 15. Suzanne  |  November 3, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    I want to thank you for a wonderful tutorial! SO much fun! I made my first one small, but since I am really on a grocery-tote pattern search (for holiday gift-giving), I am now using your wonderful ideas to create one a bit larger, with an inside pocket, some embellishment and a key fob.
    Thank you!

  • 16. Lavinia  |  December 18, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    Thank you so much for this tutorial!! It is just what I´ve been looking for. ^_^

  • 17. Allison  |  February 2, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    Made a bag out of heavy duty upholstery fabric. Darn thing stands up by itself; it’s awesome. Thanks for your directions–your sense of humor kept them from being a chore.

  • 18. Denise Roberts  |  June 23, 2009 at 12:51 am

    Well here it is June 2009 and I just made a great tote bag. So easy – so pleased. Thanky ou, thank you, thank you.


  • 19. Amy  |  January 18, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    Thank you so much for the tutorial. I found you from Crafting Chicks. I made a bunch of totes for Christmas and finally blogged about it here I used your tutorial to make the bags with a little addition. Your directions were great. Thanks for the help.

  • 20. Cathy  |  March 16, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    This IS the greatest bag tutorial ever. No exaggeration there. I got the bottom corner things right away. I’m working on my third bag. The first was practice, and for the second I added interfacing, inside pockets and a little button/loop closure. Thanks for letting me get my craftiness on again.

  • 21. Annabellelot  |  February 12, 2012 at 10:35 am

    I know it has been six years since you originally posted this tutorial but I only found it this morning, and guess what, I am now the proud owner of a mini tote that matches my new outfit. Only took me 2 hours from start to finish :-) So thank you very much!

  • 22. Lurdes  |  May 2, 2012 at 10:19 am

    Thank you!!!.. I’ve made a bag!!!…
    Then I’ve made another one and I put a Zipper in it! Its a little bit tricky but I managed to finish it!!!!….
    Do you have any suggestions about “how to put a zipper in a bag”??
    Thank you for your precious help!

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