The everyday bag you’ve been looking for is just a quick make away. With our free pattern and a yard of Lightweight Cotton Twill or other medium weight fabric like Belgian Linen™, you can tote groceries, kids’ snacks and books in style. Need a little help choosing a design for your everyday tote? We’ve rounded up some floral designs to get you started.

How to Make the Everyday Tote Bag

Everyday Tote Bag Materials

  • 1 yard of Lightweight Cotton Twill
  • 1” wide x 27” long straps
    • You can make these from fabric or purchase a strap kit. For leather options, look here and here, or try this for a polyester option
  • Rotary blade or fabric scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pins or Wonder Clips
  • Sewing machine

All seam allowances are ½” (1cm) unless otherwise noted. The finished bag will be about 14in tall x 12in wide x 5.5in deep (35 X 30 X 14cm)

Cut Out Your Everyday Tote Bag Pieces

Fold your fabric in half lengthwise (bottom to top) and cut out the following pieces on the fold:

  • Outer Fabric: (1) 19″ (48cm) wide x 18″ (46cm) long piece 
  • Interior Lining: (1) 19″ wide (48cm) x 18″ (46cm) piece
  • Bag Pocket: (1) 10.5″ (27cm) wide x 8″ (20cm) long piece

Cut your interior lining piece in half so you have two 19″ wide (48cm) x 18″ long (46cm) pieces.

Fabric Key

The white illustrations are the wrong side of the fabric and the filled illustrations are the printed side of the fabric.

Sew the Bag Interior Together

Place the two interior lining pieces right sides together. Pin and sew along the sides and bottom leaving a 3” (8cm) opening along the bottom edge (one of the 19” edges). Set aside.

Sew the Pocket

Fold the pocket in half lengthwise, right-sides together. Pin in place and sew along the sides and top leaving a 2” (5cm) opening along the top edge. Turn right-side out and hand stitch or topstitch* the opening closed.

Optional: Topstitch along all four sides of the pocket to create a nice clean finish.

Attach the Pocket to the Outer Bag

Align the pocket to the outer fabric piece. We centered the pocket and pinned it 5” (13cm) from the top edge but the pocket placement is up to you! Sew the pocket in place along the sides and bottom with a ¼” (½cm) seam allowance. 

Optional: For a pocket with two compartments divide the width of the pocket in half and stitch a straight line from the bottom to the top of the pocket.

Sew the Outer Bag Piece Together

With the pocket piece secured in place, take the outer fabric piece and fold it in half with right-sides together. Pin and sew along the sides, making sure to leave the top open.

Square the Bottom of the Bag

With your outer fabric piece still inside out, pinch and pull apart one of the bottom corners. Flatten the bag so that the side seam and bottom seam are aligned. On the corner, measure in 5″ (13cm) and draw a line. Repeat on the other corner.

Align your side seam to the crease from where we folded the fabric in half earlier. Take your straight edge ruler and align it to where the sides measure 5” (13cm) wide. Draw a horizontal line at this point and pin the fabric above that. Repeat for the other corner. Stitch along the lines in the corner of each bag, backstitch at each end, and trim the excess.

Repeat this process for the interior lining of the bag taking care to align the two seams when pining.

Pro tip: See another example of this step in the DIY Eco Canvas Beach Tote tutorial.

Attach the Bag Lining to the Outer Bag

Take the outer fabric piece and turn it right-side out. Place it inside the interior lining piece, right sides together. Carefully match the side seams, pin and stitch along the top edge.

Turn the Bag Right-Side Out

Flip the bag right side out through the gap we left in the bottom of the interior lining. Hand stitch the 3” gap closed and stitch around the top of the bag.

Determine Your Bag Strap Length

If you’re using pre-made straps, follow the manufactures instructions for attaching. We used a kit that we bought and attached them with grommets, but you could make fabric straps instead from the remaining fabric!

Whether you make straps or use a kit, you’ll need to determine how long your straps should be. Hold up the bag to your side and raise/lower it until you’ve found a location for the bag that feels best to you. Measure from the top of your shoulder to the top of the bag. 

Strap Length Equation
(Shoulder to bag location measurement + 3) x 2 = Length of strap

We liked our bag at a distance of 10.5″ (27cm) from the top of the shoulder so our strap length equation was: (10.5″ + 3) x 2 = 27” (69cm)

Once you have your straps sewn and ready to go, pin them in place at a distance apart that works best for what you want to do with your bag and sew them in place. For reference, our straps were placed 5” (13m) in from each side seam.

Want to take your next market trip to the next level? Fill your everyday tote with reusable produce bags for the ultimate eco-friendly shopping trip!

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  • Thank you for sharing such a great sewing tutorial to make this tote bag! Flawless. Your pictures and explanations are so easy to follow. Am going to try it out with jean material.
    I just wanted to say keep up the great work!

  • I didn’t know you have a blog with sewing tutorials, I love it!
    I looks like a good size tote bag to make and the fabric is so pretty! Thanks for sharing a great sewing tutorial to make this tote bag!

  • Are you supposed to close up the interior lining hole at some point? I\\\’m not seeing that in the instructions, but perhaps I missed it.

    • Hi Amelia,

      Sorry for the confusion, but we’ve updated the step under “Turn Bag Right-side Out” to include closing up the lining. Thank you for letting us know!

      Take care,
      Amy
      Spoonflower

    • Dee,

      That’s a great question! The finished bag will be about 14in tall x 12in wide x 5.5in deep. We’ve updated the post with this information.

      Thank you!
      Amy
      Spoonflower

  • I don\’t have enough fabric!
    Per your instructions, I ordered 1 yard of Girls, Girls, Girls and 1 yard of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, for 2 bags.
    Not enough for the pocket or for straps.

    Help please.

    • Hi Mindy,

      Thank you for using Spoonflower and we’re sorry to hear your bag didn’t turn out as expected! When I reviewed your order history it appears you ordered our Petal Signature Cotton which is 42″ wide but this project is intended for a fabric that is 58″ wide. If you’d like, you could omit the pocket, create a smaller pocket or use existing fabric you may have in a fabric stash to make the pocket. I hope that helps, but if you have any more questions don’t hesitate to ask!

      • Thank you!
        I ordered more fabric but next time I will pay closer attention to the instructions 🙂

  • Any chance you have a pattern to make a bag with quilted sides and insides with the rest out of canvas? I would love one to take to dog shows with all the extras. I can quilt, but sewing is a different problem for me.

    • Hi Linda,

      We’re sorry to hear there wasn’t enough fabric for the fabric! If you can provide more details about the fabric you used and the width along with how you folded the fabric, we’d be happy to investigate for you!

  • Any other options for the straps? Those ones are no longer available on Amazon.

    • Hi Jessica,

      Apologies for the late reply. We’ve updated the post with a few more options for the straps. It really is up to you which you use for this project!

      We hope to see a photo if you make the tote. 🙂

      Laurie S.
      Spoonflower

  • Linda Melendez

    Good morning! While searching Pinterest for tutorials of totes, I came upon a rucksack that I’d love to make. It was listed under your blog. The only problem was that the full instructions were in German (I think). It is listed as DIY Rucksack, https://pin.it/4zfKtHi.

    Would you have these instructions in English?

    Thank you.

    LInda Melendez

    • If you open the pinterest pin in your phone not on your computer, then click on the open browser option. Once it’s open in the browser there should be an option at the bottom to view in German or English. Click on English translation and you should be good to go. It worked on my Android phone. Hope it works for you. Karen

    • Hi Linda,

      Thanks for your message! We are working on a translated version of this post to offer on our English speaking blog and hope to have it available soon.