Filed under: a tote bag tutorial

The Greatest Bag Tutorial EVER?

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.

22 Comments March 22, 2006

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