How to Create a Stylish, Versatile Tote Bag 

How to Create a Stylish, Versatile Tote Bag ?This DIY tote bag is not only fashionable but also practical for everyday use. 

A study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology found that people place a higher value on products they’ve made themselves, a phenomenon known as the “IKEA effect.” This extends to handmade fashion accessories like tote bags.

Whether you’re heading to the beach, running errands, or need a roomy bag for work, this tote has got you covered. The best part? You can customize it to match your personal style. 

How to Create a Stylish, Versatile Tote Bag 

While this bag is designed to be sturdy, remember not to overload it with excessively heavy items. Consider making a few in different fabrics to suit various occasions!

Create your perfect tote

What You’ll Need Equipment / Tools 

Fabric scissors or rotary cutter, Measuring tape or ruler, Straight pins ,Sewing machine Iron and ironing board


1 yard of 44″-wide main fabric (cotton canvas or heavy-duty fabric) ,1 yard of 44″-wide lining fabric (quilting cotton or lightweight fabric), 2 yards of 1″-wide cotton webbing for handles ,Coordinating thread


Gather Your Supplies 

For a durable and stylish tote, opt for sturdy fabrics like cotton canvas, denim, or even repurposed upholstery fabric for the exterior. The lining can be a lighter weight cotton, allowing you to add a pop of color or fun print to the interior. Don’t be afraid to mix and match patterns and solids for a unique look!

Pro Tip: Always pre-wash your fabrics to prevent shrinkage after you’ve sewn your bag.

While traditional scissors work fine, a rotary cutter with a self-healing mat can make cutting straight lines much easier and quicker.

Tote Bag Sewing Supplies

Cut Your Fabric From your main fabric and lining fabric, cut the following pieces:

2 rectangles measuring 16″ x 14″ for the bag body (both main and lining) ,1 rectangle measuring 5″ x 14″ for the bottom (both main and lining) ,2 strips of cotton webbing, each 22″ long for the handles.

To ensure your bag has a crisp shape, consider cutting a piece of heavy-duty interfacing or plastic canvas to fit the bottom piece (5″ x 14″).

Here you like How to Sew A Invisible Slip Stitch 

Tote Bag Cutting Layout

Assemble the Exterior Begin by pinning the bottom piece to one of the body pieces, right sides together. Sew along the long edge using a 1/2″ seam allowance. Repeat this process to attach the other body piece to the opposite side of the bottom piece. You should now have a U-shaped piece that forms the exterior of your tote.

Press the seams open and topstitch 1/8″ from each seam on the right side of the fabric. This adds durability and a professional finish.

Sewing the Tote Bag Exterior

Create the Lining Repeat the same process with your lining fabric, but this time, leave a 4″ opening in one of the bottom seams. This will allow you to turn the bag right side out later.

If you’re using interfacing for the bottom, baste it to the wrong side of the lining bottom piece before assembling.

Adding the Lining to the Tote

Attach the Handles Measure 4″ in from each side seam along the top edge of the bag exterior. Pin one end of a handle strip at each mark, ensuring the handle isn’t twisted. The handle should form a loop with both ends attached to the same side of the bag. Repeat on the other side with the second handle.

Secure each handle end by sewing a rectangle, then an X inside the rectangle. This reinforced stitching ensures your handles can withstand the weight of your belongings.

Attaching Handles to the Tote Bag

Join Exterior and Lining With the exterior bag right side out and the lining inside out, slip the lining over the exterior so that right sides are together. Align the top edges and side seams, pinning in place. Make sure the handles are tucked between the layers.

Sew around the entire top edge using a 1/2″ seam allowance. Be careful not to catch the handles in this stitching.

Joining the Exterior and Lining

Turn and Finish Pull the exterior of the bag through the opening you left in the lining. Once the bag is right side out, hand-stitch the lining opening closed using a slip stitch or ladder stitch.

Push the lining into the bag, making sure to poke out the corners for a crisp look. Press the top edge of the bag, rolling the seam slightly to the inside so the exterior fabric shows a bit above the stitching line.

Topstitch around the entire top edge of the bag, 1/8″ from the edge. This gives a polished look and helps the bag hold its shape. For extra stability, add another row of topstitching 1/4″ below the first.

Finishing Touches on the Tote Bag

Optional Enhancements Consider adding these extra features to customize your tote:

Interior pockets: Before joining the lining to the exterior, sew patch pockets or zippered pockets to the lining pieces. 

Closure: Add a magnetic snap or zippered top for added security. 

Embellishments: Attach decorative patches, embroidery, or fabric paint designs to the exterior for a personalized touch. 

Reinforced bottom: For extra durability, create a removable bottom insert using cardboard covered in coordinating fabric.

Your stylish, handmade tote is now ready for action.


You’ve just created a stylish, versatile tote bag that’s uniquely yours. This project not only saves you money but also allows you to express your creativity and reduce waste by using eco-friendly, reusable bags.

Practice makes perfect. If your first attempt isn’t flawless, don’t worry – each bag you make will be better than the last. Soon, you’ll be whipping up totes as gifts for friends and family, or even selling them at local craft fairs.

Why stop at one? Experiment with different fabric combinations, sizes, and added features to create a variety of totes for every occasion. From beach bags to book totes, grocery carriers to gym sacks, the possibilities are endless.

So grab your favorite fabrics, fire up that sewing machine, and start creating! Your perfect tote bag awaits, ready to accompany you on all your adventures. 

Leave a Comment