How to Make an Eco-Friendly Pocket Fold-Up Tote Bag with Organic Cotton Knit

AUG 24, 2020 updated Jun 8, 2021

Eco-Chic Bags, written by Alicia Steele of Sew What Alicia, offers forty handmade projects with step-by-step instructions and visual aids for popular machine and hand sewing techniques. Appropriate for sewists of all skill levels, projects are budget-friendly and made with a variety of fabric-based materials like canvas and cotton, making Eco-Chic Bags the perfect resource for eco-conscious crafters. To celebrate the book launch, Alicia is stopping by the Spoonflower blog to share how to make a DIY pocket tote bag from Organic Cotton Knit featuring a pattern from her book.


Alicia: Hey! Alicia here from Sew What Alicia. I am so excited to be here with a fun and quick beginner-friendly tutorial. The full pattern for this knit pocket fold-up tote can be found in my new book, Eco-Chic Bags: Simple Sewing Projects to Make Tote Bags, Purses, Gift Bags, and More. The book is filled with eco-friendly projects, many of which are made with the beautiful organic fabrics from right here on Spoonflower. Spoonflower has several great organic and eco-friendly fabrics including Organic Sweet Pea Gauze™, Organic Cotton Sateen, and Organic Cotton Knit.

My strong desire to reduce my carbon footprint with my sewing habit was the inspiration for Eco-Chic Bags and Spoonflower’s commitment to sustainability makes them the perfect partner for the eco-friendly projects I’ve featured within the book. The tutorial I am going to share with you today is for a fold-up knit tote.

Knit Pocket Fold-Up Tote Bag

How to Make an Eco-Friendly Pocket Fold-Up Tote Bag with Organic Cotton Knit | Spoonflower Blog
Featured design: Zebras in Light Pink by littlearrowdesign

This is one of the most useful bags in the book! The pocket makes it super easy to fold up and store in your purse or glove compartment. You will always have this one ready to go when you need a reusable bag! Plus, pink zebras. Do I really need to say more?? This tote is made from Spoonflower’s Organic Cotton Knit and it is so soft.

Materials:

  • Paper pattern for the Knit Pocket Fold-Up Tote (you’ll need to grab the book!)
  • 1 ½ yards of knit fabric
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Walking foot

Hint: You could also use woven cottons for this bag but it will not fold as nicely and it will get a lot wrinklier, so I highly recommend using a fabric with some stretch.

Directions

Copy the pattern out of your book and then assemble with tape. Be sure to pre-wash your fabric according to how you plan to wash it in the future. For example, if you plan to wash the tote on hot and dry on high after use, then do the same before beginning this project.

Step 1: Cut Out Your Fabric Pieces

Press your fabric to smooth out any wrinkles on the backside (not on the printed design), then turn the fabric over and fold it in half lengthwise with the design facing out. Press lightly along the edge being careful not to drag the iron across the fabric surface.

For fabric with directional patterns I recommend you leave the design facing out. This will allow you to see where the design will fall on your finished piece. Place the paper pattern on the fold, where indicated, and cut two pattern pieces. You will also need to cut two pocket pieces.

Step 2: Prep the Pocket Pieces

Set the main body pieces aside and pin your pocket pieces together, right sides facing. Leaving a quarter of an inch seam allowance, sew around ¾ of the pocket, leaving a space un-sewn on the bottom edge of the pocket to turn the piece right side out. Turn the pocket out and press the raw edge under ¼”.

Step 3: Sew the Pocket to the Tote

Pin the pocket to one of the main body pieces; refer to the paper pattern to place the pocket. Sew around the curved edge, leaving the top open to serve as the pocket. This stitch is also meant to close the un-sewn portion of the pocket so be sure to go over that section with your stitching.

Step 4: Clip, Pin and Stitch

Pin or clip the two main body pieces together right sides facing: Clip the top edges of the handles and the sides and bottom. Leave 6½” inches on the handles unclipped and un-sewn as seen below. Use a walking foot when sewing the knit fabric. Sew only where you have clipped or pinned.

Step 5: Snip Notches

Notch the curved corners on the bottom of the bag.

Step 6: Finish Your Edges

If you have a serger you can finish the raw edges inside the bag with your serger. You can also finish the edges of the handles with the serger. Or press the un-sewn edges of the handles under ¼”. Top-stitch these raw edges down using a zig-zag stitch.

However you decide to finish the edges of the handles and bag opening, keep in mind not to sew those pieces together, otherwise, you will close your bag right up!

Turn your bag right-side out and smooth the edges. That’s it, you’re done! To store the tote, fold the bag in thirds, away from the pocket, towards the back of the bag. Then turn the pocket inside out and stuff the bag into the pocket.

Now your tote is finished and ready to use! If you make this project or any others from Eco-Chic Bags, I would love to see it—be sure and find me on Facebook and Instagram to show me your finished product. Plus, you’ll find tons more fun sewing projects and tutorials!

Find Alicia’s book on Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

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