Tote-Bag with Pocket for Beginners

This may be an easy bag but it is a handy tote-bag for anyone to own.Tote-Bag #1_1

Finished size is 13 1/2″ wide by 15″ long and about 3″ deep.  It also has a large inner pocket which provides a safe place for a magazine or two.  I have made this one to match the weekender bag (sorry for being late with the weekender bag, we are experiencing difficulty in the pattern creation stage).


2/3 yard of 54″ wide fabric.  (I used Windham decorator fabric 54″)

1/2 yard lining (I used cotton broadcloth 42″ wide)


Cut 2 pieces each for bag:  14″ x 15 1/2″

Cut 1 piece each for pocket:  10 1/2″ x 14″

Cut 2 pieces outer fabric for straps:   4″ x 27″


Straps:  Fold each short end 1/4″ and press;  then fold in half lengthwise and press; fold again lengthwise bringing each long edge to the center fold and press; strap should now be 1″ wide with 4 layers, and the short ends tucked inside.

Sew close to the edges along all four sides of each strap.

Pocket:  Lay both pieces together, right sides facing and pin along one long edge.  This will be the top hem of the pocket.  Sew in place.  Press to

Top-stitch close to the seam.

Top-stitch close to the seam.

set the seam, then open and press the seam toward the lining.

Fold in half along the seam allowing a tiny amount of the main fabric to fold inward toward the lining. Press, then top-stitch close to the fold.

Press one more time, trimming any uneven edges. (The lining may have shifted downward equal to the amount of the fold over at the top of the pocket.)

Outer Shell: Fold the main fabric sections in half to locate the center top.

Fold the fabric again bringing the outer edge to the center mark, and 4Tote-Bag #1_0281finger-crease the center of each side area.  This is the placement for the straps.

5Tote-Bag #1_0283

Measure each strap 4 1/2″ from each end and mark with a pin.

Line up each end of the strap, taking Tote-Bag #1_0284-1 6Tote-Bag #1_0284care not to twist the strap, setting the strap edge which will be closest to the bag’s center.  Don’t worry about being perfect.  Just as long as both strap ends are evenly spaced.   Match the pin on the strap to the top edge of the bag.  This will ensure all the straps are set at the same distance from the top hem of the bag.

Pin the strap in place and sew in place by stitching over the straps stitching, on the lower 1 1/2″ of strap.  Sew a square with an X inside.

To Sew the Square X:  Sew on top of the existing stitches, down one side, Tote-Bag #1_008across, up the other side, across to the starting point.

Pivot to sew diagonally down to the lower, opposite corner of stitching; Pivot to sew across existing stitching to the opposite corner;

Pivot again to sew diagonally up and across to the upper, opposite corner.

BAG: Taking care not to twist or catch the straps in the seams, pin both main bag segments together, right sides facing each other.

Press seams.

Using a 1/4″ seam allowance, sew along the two sides and bottom of the bag.

LINING:   Sandwich the pocket between the two lining segments, matching the sides and bottom edges.  Pin.  Sew, 1/4″ from the edge, along these edges, take care to back-tack when you get to the top edges of the pocket.  Since this is an area of stress it is best to give it a few extra stitches.

Press seams.

Please see the video for this part:

At each bottom corner of both the bag and the lining, fold and match the side seam with the bottom seam, forming a pointed corner, press.  Measure a line across, 3 1/2″ and mark it.  Sew along this line twice, then trim off the point.  Repeat for each corner.  This will form the boxy bottom of the bag.

Finishing the Tote-Bag:

Turn both lining and outer bags inside-out.

Set the lining into the outer bag, matching the seams at the top edge.

Pin around the top bag opening.  Leave an area open between one set of straps.  This is for turning the bag right-side out.

Sew around the top of the bag, back-tack at start and end.  Start at the inner edge of one of the straps, sew all around, ending at the inner edge of the last strap.

Press to set stitching.

Reach inside the opening left at the top hem and carefully bring through to turn the bag and lining right sides out.

Press the top edge, folding under 1/4″ along the opening.  Top stitch around the top edge of the bag.  This will close the opening that was left for turning the bag.Tote-Bag #1_005

One last press and you’re bag is ready to use and enjoy!


%d bloggers like this: