The 1-Hour Tote Bag
Beginner sewists take note – you can make this great-looking unlined tote bag in about an hour. If you’ve been wanting to sew, but not sure how to get started, this tote bag is for you, promise! Our sewing tutorial is easy to follow and will build your confidence using some basic sewing tools and techniques that you can apply to other projects as you develop your sewing skills.
- ½ YD of Fabric – Canvas or Duck Cloth
- Dritz 1” Belting – 1 to 3 YD
- Dritz Ezy-Hem® Gauge
- Dritz Mark-B-Gone® Marking Pen
- Dritz Point Turner
- Dritz Sewing Gauge
- Dritz Jean-a-ma-jig™ (optional)
- Dritz Fray Check® (optional)
- Omnigrid 6”x 24” Ruler
- Omnigrid 18” x 24” Cutting Mat
- Omnigrid 45mm Rotary Cutter
- Straight Pins
- Lighter or Candle
- Iron and Pressing Surface
- Sewing Machine and Thread
Step 2: Press the top hem on each piece of fabric. Press ½” to the wrong side first. Fold a second time and press a 1” hem. The Ezy-Hem® Gauge makes this step quick and easy.
Step 3: Prepare the belting. Cut two 18” lengths of belting and seal the ends with a quick pass through a flame. This will prevent the ends from raveling. Don’t melt the belting too much or it will form a thick bead. Fray Check can be used to seal belting if preferred.
Step 4: Attach belting to fabric. On each fabric piece, open top hem. Position belting ends even with hem edge and 3-1/2” in from each side. Use an Omnigrid ruler to help position belting. Make sure the belting is not twisted and pin in place. Baste belting ends at ½” crease.
Step 6: Stitch along sides and bottom with ½” seam allowance. Pivot at corners. Tip: to help pivot at the right spot, mark ½” in from sides and bottom at corners. Pivot stitching where the marks intersect.
Step 7: Trim corners. Zigzag stitch or serge raw edges of seam allowances together. Turn tote right side out and press. Use a point turner to help press out the corners.
Step 8: Eliminate bulk in the top hem. Clip seam allowances at 1” crease. Fold seam allowances in opposite directions when closing hem.
Step 9: Fold top hem along creases with handles down and inside of tote. Stitch hem without catching loose handles. Optional: you can use a Jean-a-ma-jig to help stitch over the seam bumps.
Step 10: Fold handles up and pin in place. Stitch along top edge of tote catching handles in stitching.
Step 11: Reinforce those handles. Stitch an “X” over the handles in the top hem.
Step 12: You’ve made a basic tote bag!
And that’s a wrap! If you enjoyed making this bag, the good news is that you can never have too many. Mix up your fabric and belting choices and create a variety of looks to go with favorite outfits, to celebrate different seasons or to serve a specific need (like a gym or beach bag).
Once you’ve sharpened your basic bag-making skills, take it up a notch by playing with hardware and design details and really challenge your creativity.