Hooked on Needles

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tote Bag Tutorial - Lesson 1: Fabric

Way back in October, which now seems very far away, a package came in the mail from Denver Fabrics with some fabric for a tote bag I planned to use for a gift...some basic black, some gingham and some pretty paisley, all durable duck cloth.

Since I have talked so much about this tote bag pattern I love to make, I thought I would share a little multi-part tutorial on making it. While constructing this gift, I kept my camera handy, and finally here is Lesson 1 of my Tote Bag Tutorial.


Tote Bag FabricI started out with a 21 x 36 inch cut of Black for the outside shell, a 21 x 36 inch cut of Paisley for the inside lining, and a 21 x 26 inch cut of Gingham for the inside pockets.

Tote Bag FabricThen I cut 2 pieces each of Black and Paisley 21 x 7 inches for the zippered extension. The Black will be seen from the outside and the Paisley will be the lining, to match the outside and lining of the bag itself.

Tote Bag FabricThen I cut 2 pieces of Paisley 20 x 14 inches for the outside pockets, which will be very generous in size. If you want smaller outside pockets, simply adjust the measurements. You can also leave the outside pockets off altogether if you like. The finished size of each pocket is 10 x 14 since the length of the fabric is folded in half, making it unnecessary to hem the top edge and also making it more sturdy. You can use a single thickness of fabric here if you would like.

Tote Bag FabricNext, I cut 2 strips of the Gingham 3 inches wide by the width of the fabric for the trim around the outside pockets. I also cut 2 pieces of Gingham 4 1/2 x 28 inches and 2 pieces of Black 5 x 28 inches for the handles.

Tote Bag zipperThe only other supplies I needed were a zipper and black thread. I purchased a heavy duty sport zipper which was 22 inches long. A regular zipper will work just fine too, but I prefer the heavy duty zippers for their bigger teeth and larger zipper pull.

In the next installment, I will show you how to put together the inside of the bag with the lining and pockets. But stay tuned tomorrow for my Whirl Into Winter Giveaway post which you won't want to miss!

Have a safe and happy New Year's Eve!

Happy Stitching!

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  • Ooooooooo..... I look forward to this! Love bags, but rarely make them...
    I have a bag pattern all cut out, but haven't brought myself to sewing it together as of yet. I need a bit of instruction for one of my Wednesday night buddies...

    By Blogger Myra, At January 1, 2009 at 10:55 AM  

  • Mary Grace,
    I'm fast becoming a fan of your blog, and I am going to make the tote bag from your tutorial as a gift for my mother. I'll let you know how it comes out.

    By Blogger Cynthia Gilbreth, At May 9, 2010 at 9:09 PM  

  • thank you for this lovely tutorial. hugs from italy

    By Blogger Unknown, At July 4, 2010 at 10:11 AM  

  • I'm just dizzy from such a great site, I'm going to follow your blog, this is such a lucky day for me.
    Jill Beach

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At January 3, 2014 at 2:17 PM  

  • Thank you for this blog. My favorite by far and I looked at quite a few. I am a newbie to sewing , at the retirement age , and wanted something to keep me busy. So far I have made two and am pretty happy with results. For me that is.
    I know you were going to school at the time and by now maybe on to other things. Enjoy your blogs . Good luck in future endeavors.

    By Blogger Unknown, At December 24, 2015 at 12:06 PM  

  • Thanks so much for your nice comment, Deborah! I'm so glad you found my blog helpful too! I am still in school with one more semester left before I graduate as a registered nurse! Woo hoo!

    Enjoy your retirement and your sewing!


    By Blogger Mary Grace McNamara, At December 24, 2015 at 6:17 PM  

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