How to sew a zippered tote bag
Step 1 Cut out main fabric pieces
To sew this tote bag, first, take an 18 inch wide and 24-inch long rectangular fabric of your choice. You will need to adhere the interfacing to the back of the fabric so that it looks solid. You also need to cut a lining fabric in the same dimension as the outer. You can attach interfacing to this as well.
Related post : Best fabrics for making bags
From the middle of the fabric, you need to cut out a rectangular piece of fabric in the dimension given below. This is for making a flat bottom for the otherwise flat bag.
Cut it out.
Cut the same from the lining as well
Step 2 Sew pocket for the inside of the bag
Cut out a rectangular piece of fabric for sewing a patch pocket inside.
Sew this to your lining fabric. You can fold all the side edges 1/4 inch to the inside, press in place. Fold the top edge twice to the inside – this is the opening.
First sew the top edge in place. Then top stitch the pocket to the lining.
Step 3 Sew the outer bag
Fold the outer bag piece, rightside to the inside. Align the sides. Sew the sides with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
Press the side seam seam allowance open.
Pinch the corner so that the side seam comes in the middle. Refer picture below.
Sew the corner across.
Do this for the other side as well. You will get the outer bag with a flat bottom.
Step 4 Sew the lining bag.
Sew the lining bag the same way as you did the outer bag.
Turn the lining bag rightside in ie the wrong side is brought outside for the next step.
Step 5 Join the bags – outer and lining
Keep the wrong side out lining bag inside the rightside out outer bag (just as it looks finally). Insert nicely, tucking everything. Baste stitch the top edges to keep everything together.
Step 6 Sew handles
Cut out 2 interfacing pieces in this dimension – 25 inches long and 1 inch wide
Cut out 2 handle fabrics in the dimension – 3 inches wide and 25 inches long. Attach the interfacing piece to the fabric for the handle such that on one side there is 1/2 inch and on the other side 1 1/2 inch.
Fold the extras on the sides to the top of the interfacing as in the picture below.
Fold as in the picture below.
Top stitch everything in place. You have two nice handles this way.
Pin the handles to each side of your bag, such that from the side seams there is a distance of 3 inches.
Step 7 Make the zippered opening.
For this, cut out 4 pieces of fabric of the dimension 1 1/2 inches wide and 7 inches long.
You also need a sturdy and long ordinary zipper. I have taken a small zipper (because I wanted color coordination and I didn’t have any other in the same color) but you really need a long zipper here
Keep the zipper Face up on one of the fabric pieces.
Keep another piece on top of this and stitch in place along the zipper edge.
Do fold the short edges to the inside.
When you open it up, it will look like this.
Now take the other fabric pieces and sandwich the other side of the zipper edge the same way as you did the first edge. Sew in place. As you sew, remember to fold the short edge to the inside.
Please forgive my version of the zipper pull edges – it looks awful and is a travesty in the name of zipper pull edges. You can do it better.
To make them cut out 4 small pieces of fabric . Make 2 pouches with them and insert the zipper ends inside and sew in place
Step 8 Sew the zippered opening
Keep your zippered opening on the bag and baste stitch in place. You can hand stitch or machine stitch the zippered opening on the bag as in the picture below.
Step 9 Bind the top edges
Cut out a 2 inch wide fabric which is 35 inch wide (measure your bag top edge for this; add overlap) Cut out one of the edge by the diagonal. Fold the edge to the inside and press.
Pin the binding fabric to the top edge over everything. Sew the binding in place. Remember to make multiple stitches over the handle. You want real strength there.
Press the binding to the inside.
Fold the edge to the inside and then you can stitch in the ditch from the top ; or alternatively if you are not confident of stitch in the ditch stitching just top stitch over the binding. Or hand stitch the binding on the inside.
Related posts : How to sew a tote bag (not lined). ; How to make and sell bags; Different types of bags; How to sew bag handles; Hand bag sewing techniques; Bag making supplies; Bag making fabrics
Updated on July 23, 2022 by Sarina Tariq
Thank you so much for your email. I love the bag and instructions on how to make it, and the chiffon shrug ( I have had chiffon fabric in my stash for a long time, not knowing what to do with it – now I have an answer! ) Thank you! I very much like the other posts too, and will definitely make the bag. I have made a number of other tote bags which I have sold and am looking at selling more. Please keep sending me these posts, they are really great and very useful.
I recommended interfacing for making the fabric look nice and not floppy. If yours is already that, no need.
my fabric is canvas do I need to cut interface it?
what if the fabric is already stiff do i need to put interfacing on it?