Sew a zippered Tote bag: DIY tutorial


tote bag sewing tutorial

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.

How to sew a zippered tote bag

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.

How to sew a zippered tote bag

Cut it out.

How to sew a zippered tote bag

Cut the same from the lining as well

How to sew a zippered tote bag

Step 2 Sew pocket for the inside of the bag

Cut out a rectangular piece of fabric for sewing a patch pocket inside.

How to sew a zippered tote bag

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.

How to sew a zippered tote bag

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.

How to sew a zippered tote bag

Press the side seam seam allowance open.

Pinch the corner so that the side seam comes in the middle. Refer picture below.

How to sew a zippered tote bag

Sew the corner across.

How to sew a zippered tote bag

Do this for the other side as well. You will get the outer bag with a flat bottom.

How to sew a zippered tote bag

Step 4 Sew the lining bag.

Sew the lining bag the same way as you did the outer bag.

DIY tote 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.

sewing tutorial for zippered tote bag

Step 6 Sew handles

Cut out 2 interfacing pieces in this dimension – 25 inches long and 1 inch wide

How to sew a zippered tote bag

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.

sewing tutorial for tote bag

Fold the extras on the sides to the top of the interfacing as in the picture below.

tote bag sewing tutorial

Fold as in the picture below.

tote bag sewing

Top stitch everything in place. You have two nice handles this way.

how to sew a tote bag with zipper opening

Pin the handles to each side of your bag, such that from the side seams there is a distance of 3 inches.

tote bag sewing pattern

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

how to sew tote bag

Keep the zipper Face up on one of the fabric pieces. 

DIY tote bag sewing

Keep another piece on top of this and stitch in place along the zipper edge.

DIY tote bag sewing

Do fold the short edges to the inside.

tote bag

When you open it up, it will look like this.

how to sew a tote bag

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.  

make a zippered tote bag

tote bag sewing tutorial

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.

tote bag sewing tutorial

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. 

tote bag sewing

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. 

totebag sewing tutorial

Press the binding to the inside.

tote bag sewing tutorial

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. 

totebag sew

Related posts : How to make a tote bag. ; 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

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Author: Sarina Tariq

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.

4 thoughts on “Sew a zippered Tote bag: DIY tutorial”

  1. Hello Sarina,

    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.

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