Free Lined Tote Bag Sewing Tutorial

We make this bag at our popular Lined Tote Sewing Class, held here in Witney in Oxfordshire.

The secret to a great finish to use lots of interfacing to give your bag shape.  Its a great make for beginners as it is all straight lines and these bags make great gifts.

If you can make it to Witney we would love to see you at one of our lessons – click here to find out more.

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Finished size: approx 42cm at the widest point x 36cm long plus handles!

Requirements:

45cm wide x 47cm long x2 pieces for the lining.

45cm wide x 31.5cm long x 2 pieces for the top section of the bag.

45cm wide x 16.7cm long x 2 pieces for the bottom section of the bag.

13cm wide x 78cm long x2 pieces for the straps.

25cm x 26cm long piece of fabric for the pocket (optional – if your strap fabric is 110cm wide, cut this first, and you will have enough left for the straps too).

45cm x 47cm x 2 pieces of low loft fusible fleece and the same of woven fusible interfacing.

13cm x 78cm x2 pieces of woven fusible interfacing for straps.

25cm x 26cm x1 piece of woven fusible interfacing for the pocket (optional).

14cm x 26cm x1 piece of low loft fusible fleece + the same of flexi-firm (S520) for the base (optional).

You can purchase all the interfacing you need for one bag in a kit at Prints to Polka Dots – Click here.

Step 1 – Make Your Straps

Iron your fusible woven interfacing onto the back of each of your straps.

Fold each of your strap pieces in half lengthways and iron the crease into place.  Open out your straps and fold the raw edges along the long sides, into the crease you have just made in the middle of each strap, and iron once more.  Finally fold your straps in half long ways, using your first crease line, and iron.

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Top stitch the long sides of each strap.  We used the edge of our sewing machine foot as a guide for the seam allowance, but switched our needle position to place it closer to the edge of the fabric – START with the open side.

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Step 2 – Making Up Your External Fabric Pieces

Sew your lower bag pieces to your upper bag pieces using a 6mm/1/4” seam allowance.  Iron the seam allowance out flat.

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Each piece should measure 45cm wide x 47cm long.  If your pieces are too big, trim back, if your pieces are too small, trim your internal fabric pieces to be the same size as your external pieces – the important thing is to get all four pieces measuring the same size.

Iron your fusible fleece onto the back of each of the external pieces.  This is also a good time to fuse your woven interfacing onto the back of your lining pieces.

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You now need to cut 7.5cm squares out of each of the bottom corners of your external pieces.

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Step 3 – Attaching the Handles

Place one of your main exterior bag fabric pieces in front of you and pin one of the straps to the top edge.  Pin each end 13cm in from the nearest side, with the raw edges of the strap lined up with the top raw edges of the main bag fabric piece and the bulk of the strap resting on the fabric piece.  Sew into place using a 6mm/1/4” seam allowance.

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Repeat with the second exterior bag fabric piece and strap.

Step 4 – Making the Bag Part 1

Place your exterior pieces on top of each other, right sides facing each other, taking care to line up on all sides.

Sew the two pieces together along the bottom of the bag using a 1.2cm (½”) seam allowance and then press the seam allowance over in one direction.

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Turn your fabric over and top stitch a row of stitches 6mm (1/4”) in from the existing seam, on the side you have ironed the seam allowance on to.

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Fold your bag up, right sides facing each other, pin together and sew down the left and right edges, using a 12mm (1/2”) seam allowance – DO NOT SEW ROUND THE CUT OUT CORNERS.

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Now you need to sew the corners.  Open the left corner out so that you can see inside the bag.  Bring the two sides of the opening with seams on together, lining up the seam lines (from the bottom and left sides) the raw edges should form a straight line.  Pin and sew a 12mm (1/2”) seam allowance across the opening.  Repeat on the right hand side and then turn your bag out the right way.

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Step 5 – Optional Pocket

Iron on your fusible interfacing onto the back of your fabric and then fold your pocket fabric in half, right sides facing each other, from the top down to the bottom.

Iron and pin the layers together, then sew around all the open sides using a 6mm/1/4” seam allowance LEAVING a turning gap of 5cm along the bottom edge.  Turn the pocket out the right way and press, folding the raw edges into the turning gap as appropriate.

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Now top stitch along the top edge of the pocket using a 6mm (1/4”) seam allowance or less (we use the edge of the sewing machine foot as our guide but move the needle position to get the stitches closer to the edge).

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Fold your pocket in half (left to right) and finger press the fold to create a light crease.  Repeat this with one of your lining pieces (which should already have interfacing ironed onto the back).  Pin your pocket into place, approx. 10cm (4”) down from the top of the lining fabric pieces, lining up the creases to get the pocket in the centre.

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Sew the pocket into place around the left, right and bottom edges, as close to the edge of the fabric as you dare! (we used the edge of the sewing machine foot as our guide and moved the needle position to get the stitches closer to the edge).

If you would like to divide the pocket to make space for your phone, or pens etc.. add vertical lines to your pocket at this stage.

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Step 6 – Making Your Lining Bag

You are now ready to make a second bag out of your lining pieces.

Start by cutting 7.5cm squares out the bottom corners of your two lining pieces.  Then pin the two pieces together, right sides facing each other, making sure the pieces are lined up on all sides.  Sew down the left and right sides and along the bottom using a 12mm (1/2”) seam allowance – DO NOT sew the cut out corner sections.

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Make up the box corners in the same manner as you did with the exterior bag, pulling open the cut out section on one side and lining up the seams from the bottom and side, pinning the two layers together and then sewing a 12mm (1/2”) seam across the opening – repeat on the other side.

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Step 7 – Putting the Bag Together

Turn the exterior fabric bag out, so you are looking at the right side of the fabric.  Insert the exterior bag inside the lining, with the right side of the lining bag facing the right side of the external bag.  You will see all the seam on the bag, inside and outside – make sure the straps are poked down between the two layers.

Take a minute to make sure the two bags are properly lined up at the seams, at the raw edges and at the bottom of the bag.  Pin the two bags together and then sew together around the top, leaving a gap of approx. 8-10cm between one of the straps and side seam, on each side (you will be pinning 2 pieces of fabric together at a time, not 4!).  Use a 12mm (1/2”) seam allowance.

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Step 8 – Finishing Your Bag

Pull the bag out through the gap you left earlier and then push the lining inside the main bag, all your seams should now be hidden inside the bag.

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If You Are Using a Base

Iron your fusible fleece on top of your flexi-firm, fuse it onto the side of the flexi-firm without adhesive.

Then insert your base into your bag by pushing it through the gap you pulled the bag through and line the base up in the bottom of your bag.  Iron through the base to fuse the base to the bottom of the bag or tack the three layers together with a few hand stitches.

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With or Without a Base

Iron around the opening of the bag, taking care to get the seam line on the crease, folding the fabric at the turning gap inside the bag.  Top stitch around the top of the bag using a 6mm (¼”) seam allowance.

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Ta dah!

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Fabrics used:

Main bag – Riley Blake’s Fresh Market for the top and straps, Flutterberry for the bottom section and Kona Pink for inside.

Sail boats bag – Riley Blake’s Offshore collection for external pieces and Kona seafoam for the lining.

Printer-Friendly Instructions

Click here to download a printer-friendly copy of this tutorial.

We love seeing what you make with our fabrics or using our tutorials – please share pics with us on Facebook or Instagram (#printsotpolkadots).


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