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Tote Bag

Updated: Jul 23, 2019

At the end of 2018 I made a cushion using this gorgeous panel I have in stock. I only used one square from the panel and have had a bag in mind with some of the others for ages. Well, after another post run using my bag for life, I decided I really needed to get round to making it.

It is a simple tote bag but I have lined it and added a zipped pocket too. It is a good size at around 40cm squared when finished so I can get a good amount of parcels in it but it would be a good shopping or beach bag too.


  • Bird panel

  • 1 metre of lining fabric

  • 1 metre of bag strap

  • 13" Zip

  • Sewing machine

  • Scissors or rotary cutter

  • 1.5 metres of medium weight iron on interfacing

  • Iron and ironing board


1. Cut out your fabric - You will need two of your panel pieces leaving a 1/2" seam allowance all the way round. They should measure 16.5" x 17". I have used the two panels on blue backgrounds for this bag.

Cut two border pieces 4" x 17".

In the lining cut:

  • Front Panel 16.5" x 17"

  • Top Back Panel 6.5" x 16.5"

  • Bottom Back Panel 11" x 16.5"

  • Pocket 8.5" x 13.5" (x2)

  • Base Panel 4" x 17" (x2)

  • Side Panels 4" x 16.5"

Cut medium weight interfacing the same size as all of your pieces, excluding the pocket.

2. Apply interfacing - You don't have to use interfacing but it does add a bit more stability and strength and helps the bag stand a little better. Iron the interfacing shiny side down onto the back of all the coordinating pieces.

3. Insert the zip - If you don't want to add a zip you can just make the front and back lining pieces the same size and skip this step. I had a zip that I unpicked from an old item of clothing so I used that. Reuse, reduce recycle! It just so happened to be 13" long but you could adjust the size to fit what ever zip you have available.

Lay the zip face down on the long side of the bottom back panel piece. Place one of the pocket pieces on top so the zip is sandwiched between the two. Pin into place and sew. You will need a zipper foot attachment for this.

Unfold and repeat this on the other side of your zip.

4. Creating the pocket - Press so the pocket is facing down and the top and bottom pieces line up on either side of your zip.

Turn around and pin your two pocket pieces together, back stitch at either end.

5. Sew the lining together - Pin the bottom edge of the front and back to the base panel and sew together.

6. Sew the sides on - This bit is a little fiddly. For the sides I find it easier to match up and pin the corners first and work my way out. Sew along each three sides on both sides of the bag.

You will need to clip the corners.

7 - Sew panels together - Repeat steps 5 and 6 but use the panels.

8 - Sew lining in - You will need your right sides together so turn your panel piece inside out and your lining so the zip is on the outside and place it inside the bag. I have put the zip to the back on the bag (using the bird as the front).

Cut two bag straps. I have used these ones I have in stock to try them out. They are fab! For ease I have just used half a metre on each side. and pinned each end 3" from each edge.

Match the seams first and work your way in pinning all the way around. Sew together all the way around, leaving a gap to turn it out and back stitch at the start and end.

9 - Top stitch - Turn your bag out and then push the lining into the bag. Press it and top stitch around the top edge to close the opening you used to turn it out. Back stitch over the straps to make sure they are extra secure.

You are ready to shop!


This tutorial works for lots of panels or regular fabric so I would love to hear if you give it a go. If you enjoyed this tutorial please share your pictures with me and don't forget to sign up to the mailing list for more free tutorials and fabric arrivals and offers.

EDIT 23/07/19

The third instalment from this panel is complete! My brother's girlfriend recently asked if I could help here make a cushion for her mum. With no real plan in mind apart from wanting to embroider something we had a look at all my fabrics. We only had a few hours so and sewing wasn't too much of an option. We had a few fabrics in mind when I had a brain wave and remembered I had this one square left. The border of flowers was perfect for a message for Mum and so we had a plan.

This was the first time Chan had sewn anything so she did an amazing job with only a little practice.

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