Sew a Roomy Tote Bag

Catch the eye of all your friends with this easy-to-sew bag perfect for all purposes.


  • 4 -- 18x42" assorted aqua-and-brown prints (bag, lining, handle)
  • 1 yard stiff interfacing (such as Timtex or Peltex)
  • 1 yard lightweight fusible web
  • 2-1/2 yards 1/2"-diameter cording
  • Magnetic snap closure
  • Dressmaker's pencil

Finished Bag: 14x18x6"

Quantities are for 44/45"-wide fabrics. Measurements include 1/4" seam allowances. Sew with right sides together unless otherwise stated.

Cut Your Fabrics

To make the best use of your fabrics, cut pieces in the following order.

From assorted aqua-and-brown prints, cut:
  • 1 -- 8x42" C rectangle
  • 4 -- 1-1/4x21" B rectangles
  • 2 -- 8x15" A rectangles
From stiff interfacing, cut:
  • 1 -- 21x28" rectangle
  • From fusible web, cut 1 -- 21x28" rectangle
Assemble Pocket

Sew together A rectangles, leaving a 2" opening along one long edge (Diagram 1). Turn pocket to right side through opening; press and slip-stitch opening close.

Assemble Bag Lining

1. Join two B rectangles along one long edge, leaving an 8" opening at center, to make 21x28" bag lining rectangle.

2. Center pocket on one half of lining rectangle, 3" from upper edge (Diagram 2). Topstitch pocket to lining. Stitch down center of pocket to make divided pocket.

3. Following manufacturer's instructions, attach magnetic closure at center of lining rectangle, placing center of closure 2" from top and bottom edges.

4. Use a dressmaker's pencil to mark lines 3" from centerline seam in both directions (Diagram 3).

5. Fold rectangle in half, wrong sides together, at centerline seam (Diagram 4); press.

6. Fold rectangle, right sides together, at 3" marks on both sides of centerline seam (Diagram 5); press. Pin side edges; sew both side edges from top to bottom.

7. Clip seams at folds. Press side seams open. Turn to right side to make bag lining.

Assemble Bag Body

1. Join two B rectangles along one long edge to make 21x28" bag rectangle.

2. Following manufacturer's instructions, press fusible-web 21x28" rectangle to wrong side of bag rectangle. Allow to cool; peel off paper backing.

3. Press fused bag rectangle to interfacing 21x28" rectangle.

4. Referring to Assemble Bag Lining, steps 4 through 7, stitch both side edges from top to bottom. Do not turn bag to right side.

Assemble Handle

1. Press C rectangle in half lengthwise with wrong side to inside. Open and press raw edges to center with wrong sides together. Refold in half and press to make 2x42" handle.

2. Topstitch handle 1/8" from outer edges. Then topstitch centerline of handle (Diagram 6).

3. Cut 2-1/2-yard piece of cord in half. Attach a safety pin to one end of one 45"-long piece and thread through one topstitched channel, leaving 1" at both ends of channel free of cording. Repeat with remaining cord piece and channel.

Finish Bag

1. Pin one end of handle to each end of top right side edge of bag, matching handle centerline with bag side seams (Diagram 7).

2. Slip lining inside bag and pin edges together, matching seams and raw edges. Using 1¿2" seam, sew bag and lining together.

3. Turn bag to right side through opening in lining; press and slip-stitch opening closed.

4. Topstitch upper edge of bag.

Make the Matching Wallet


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