Make totes!

Personalize you tote with machine embroidery or appliqué. This appliqué was added on after the tote was completed.

These easy basic totes are inspired by the open totes popular in Greece in the early 70’s. These totes measure 11 by 10 inches and have crossover straps.

Cotton coordinates and home dec fabrics are just a few of the choices that would make a one of a kind bag.

Personalize your bag with trim, machine embroidery, or appliqués. Design your own appliqué using paper backed fusible web.

You will need these ingredients to make your tote:

Basic equipment and tools.

Fabric: 1/3rd yard of fabric for tote and 1/3rd yard of contrast lightweight fabric for lining. If your tote fabric is lightweight you will need 1/3rd yard of backing such as batting, canvas or interfacing.

Trim for a strap: For a crossover length strap, use 45 inches. The strap used on this sample is 5/8th inches wide. Web and cord are some choices to consider for a strap.


Web is a great choice for a strap.


Cord trims

Cord comes in many great styles and colors


This is a treasure trove of glitzy trim collected through the years. Any one of them could inspire a glitzy design theme.

This is a treasure trove of glitzy trim collected through the years. They are too delicate to make a strap on their own, but any one could be a great embellishment on a study strap.



The first step is to create your pattern guide. You can simply use a letter size computer paper for a pattern to create a 7 1/2″ x 10″ tote. Or to make a larger tote, piece together computer paper as shown below. (Add in 1/2″ seams when calculating pattern size.)


Pin pattern guide to fabric. Cut out 2 pieces of fabric and 2 pieces of lining. Cut out 2 pieces of batting or canvas if you want to add body to tote.


A backing is used for the demo tote. Batting is basted to the wrong side of the tote fabric pieces.



With right sides together, stitch sides and bottom of tote. Trim bottom corners.


Fold and pin each bottom corner of tote to form point. Stitch 1/2 inch seam.


Turn the tote to the outside. Press.


Purchase trim for a strap or be inventive. These straps were made with web wrapped with fabric. Strap ideas and inspiration will be added in future posts. Feel welcome to submit your ideas too!

Center ends of straps at seam. Stitch in place.


Stitch the sides and bottom of the lining fabric, leave a 3 inch opening at the bottom for turning.


Slip tote into lining , right sides together. Stitch together along the upper edge.



Turn bag through lining opening.


Slipstich opening. Push lining to inside of tote. Press. You can add trims and details to further enhance your tote.


If you would like a coordinating pouch or secure zipper pocket, click here for tutorial.

Check these patterns out, for some more tote styles:


Totes for your tech