Saturday, May 30, 2015

Tutorial : World's Easiest Tote Bag

I made these two tote bags from the fabric left over (I still have a lot more of the fabric) from the Sassy Modern Quilt you can see in the background.

They were so quick and easy to make that I just had to write a tutorial for them for you all.

The tutorial is also available as a PDF download on the Bernina Blog that I am an author on.

So here's a tutorial for the World's Easiest Tote Bag!!!

The tutorial also includes making a zipper pocket and some wonderful bag handles!

Finished Size : 12” x 4” x 18”

Material required
Outer Main Fabric -  ½ Yard
Outer Cuff Fabric - Fat Quarter
Lining Fabric - 1 Yard
Batting - 18” x 42”
Lightweight Interfacing - 18” x 42”
1 ½ “ Webbing - 72” long
Zipper - 7-8”
Magnetic Snap - 1 No
For your sewing machine
Foot No 1D (For the 7 series) or Bernina Walking Foot
Zipper Foot
Stretch Needles – I prefer using Stretch Needles when I have to stitch multiple layers. I find it gives me a better finish then using the ‘Universal’ Needles.
Thread – I suggest using a strong cotton thread. I use 40 wt Aurifil Thread to stitch bags. I find it has better strength to hold together the multiple layers as compared to regular 50 wt thread.

Cutting Instructions
From your Outer Main Fabric (F)
Cut     F1    14” x 17.5”    2 Nos
From Outer Cuff Fabric (C)
Cut     C1    6” x 17.5”    2 Nos
From Lining Fabric (L)
Cut     L1    1.5” x 17.5”    2 Nos
    L2    3.5” x WOF    2 Nos
    L3    9” x 7”        2 Nos
    L4    11” x 7”        2 Nos
    L5    20.5” x 17.5”    2 Nos
From the webbing, Cut 2 pieces 36” long
From the Batting
Cut    B1     21” x 18”    2 Nos
From the Interfacing
Cut     I1    21” x 18”    2 Nos

Step 1 : Making the Bag Straps
Take your lining pieces – L2  (3.5” x WOF) – and the two Webbing pieces.
Fold the lining pieces in half and then again to make double fold tape.
Cut it to 36” length.
Attach the Foot No 1D (and lower the Dual Feed System) or attach the walking foot to your machine.
Align the tape to the webbing along the center and start top-stitching the open edge.

Continue stitching along the entire edge.
Repeat on the other side.
Repeat for the other strap.
Your straps are ready.

Step 2 : Preparing the outer shell
Lay one of your Outer Main Fabric piece – F1, Right Side Up, on one of your Batting piece – B1, aligning one of the 17.5” side to the 18” side of the batting.
Pin in place.
Take your Lining Fabric piece – L1, Right Side Down, and align it to the other 17.5” size of F1.
Pin in place.

Stitch along the edge.
Open and press.
Now, mark 4” from both the ends, as shown.

Align the strap prepared in Step 1, Right Side Down, with its outer edge adjacent to the mark.
Take care that the strap is straight.

Pin or baste in place.
Now lay your Outer Cuff Fabric piece – C1, Right Side Down, and pin along the 17.5” edge.

Stitch along the pinned side. Backstitch over the straps for added strength.
Open and press.

Carefully, top-stitch 1/8” near the seam.
Be extremely careful when you reach the strap. It has multiple layers and can break your needle.

Baste stitch on all four sides using the longest stitch on your machine. DO NOT STITCH DOWN THE STRAPS.
Your Outer Panel is ready.
Repeat the steps for  the other Outer Panel.
Lay both the outer panels Right Sides Together.
Pin along both sides and bottom.
Stitch along the pinned edges.
To box the corners align the seams by folding the corners at 45” as shown and marking a line 2” from the corner.

Stitch along this line. Cut off the extra corner.
Repeat for the other side.
Turn the bag Right Side Out.
If you want you can iron on some Stiff Interfacing to the bottom of the bag.

Your Bag Outer Shell is ready.

Step 3 : Making the Lining Shell
Note : One side of our lining has a zipper pocket and the other has a regular open pocket. Making these pockets is optional. You can directly skip to putting together the Shell if you do not want to make these pockets.
First Iron on the Interfacing pieces –I1, to the Wrong Side of the Lining Fabric pieces – L5.

Zipper Pocket:
Align one of the Lining Fabric Pieces – L3, with the center of the 17.5” size of the Fused Piece L5 at about 4.5 – 5” from the TOP edge.
Pin in place.
On the Lining Piece L3, mark a rectangle 0.5” x 7.5” – at 1” from the top edge (see photo below)

Stitch along the marked rectangle.
Using a sharp pair of scissors cut a line along the center of the rectangle making a Y-cut at both the ends. Be careful not to cut the stitches, but to cut at close to the seam as possible.

Turn the fabrics inside out through the cut so that they lie Wrong Sides Together.

Press the seams firmly. I recommend using steam or starch to hold the shape in place.
Place the panel on a flat surface, the Right Side of Pocket piece L3 facing up.
Align the Zipper – Right Side Down, along the opening. Pin in place.

Now attach the Zipper Foot to your machine and stitch the zipper in place by top-stitching along the edges of the opening.

Now, turn over the panel. Place the other Lining piece – L3 over the pocket piece Right Sides Together. Pin along the edges.
Stitch down the edges to finish the Zipper Pocket.
Regular Pockets
Take the 2 Lining Fabric Pieces – L4, Right Sides Together.
Pin along all four sides and stitch leaving an opening on 1 ½” to turn on one side.
Clip corners and turn the pocket Right Sides Out.

Top Stitch along one of the long edges. This will be the TOP edge.

Align the Pocket piece with the Fused Lining piece – L5, as desired.

I prefer aligning it at level with the zipper of the zipper pocket on the other panel.
Mark a line parallel to the shorter edge of the Pocket piece. This will make a compartment for a phone.
Stitch along the sides, the compartment line and the bottom to attach the pocket piece to the Panel. Make sure you back stitch at the top of the pocket for added strength.

Now trim down the excess Interfacing from the edges of both the Lining Panel.

Lay your Lining Pieces Right Sides Together, making sure that the directions are right. Pin along the edges and stitch along the sides and the bottom, leaving an opening of about 6-8” to turn the bag.

Once again, box the corners, following instructions in Step 1 above.

Your Lining Shell is ready.

Putting together the bag:
Insert your Outer Shell into the Lining Shell – Right Sides Together. Pin along the top edges.
Remove your extension table from the machine and use the Free Arm to stitch along the edge.

Turn your bag Right Side Out through the opening in the lining piece.

Attach the Magnetic Snap at the center of the Lining piece about 1.5-2” from the top edge.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to attach it.
Use clips to hold together the edge while you top-stitch the top edge. I like to use my Wonder Clips. Make sure you include the straps when you stitch.

I like to top stick again, at ¼” from the first stitch to add strength to the bag.
Close the opening in the Lining Shell by hand stitching or top stitching.
Your Tote Bag is ready to flaunt!

If you make a bag with this tutorial, do share pictures with me so I can share them on my Facebook Page

Do you like the Tote? And do you also find it to be the easiest Tote in the world?



  1. Awesome tutorial and great looking tote bag. Thank you.
    I do have a question and a problem.
    First, in the cutting instructions you have the same thing at the end of almost all and I have never seen that so I'm not sure what it means. You've added "2 Nos" after many of them. What does 2 Nos mean please?

    The problem is the link to the Bernina Blolg is not correct. It doesn't go anywhere. Could you please check that and correct it so the pdf can be downloaded for those of us who would like it?

    Thank you for the help.

  2. What a great tutorial! Thanks so much!!! Your totes are awesome!!!

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