I LOVE this roomy tote bag!
This one hangs in my studio to hold packages ready to ship, but I also have a few that I take grocery shopping and to the farmer’s market.
I’m a big fan of reusable bags for grocery shopping, but a lot of them are on the small side. I need something that will hold more than one bag of chips! Or one of those big bags of grapefruit! This one fits the bill exactly.
- two fat quarters of the main fabric
- two fat quarters of the lining fabric
- 1/3 yard fabric for straps
- scraps of fabric for pocket and pocket binding
Cut Out All the Pieces
These straight edges are great to cut with a rotary cutter. If you’ve never used these tools before, here’s a video showing how.
- Main bag – cut two pieces, each 21 inches wide x 18 inches tall
- Lining - cut two pieces, each 21 inches wide x 18 inches tall
- Straps - cut two strips 6 inches wide x 28 inches long
- Pocket - cut one piece 11 inches wide x 6 1/2 inches tall
- Pocket binding - cut one piece 1 1/2 inches wide x 40 inches long
Ready? Let’s sew!
We’ll start by prepping the straps. These are essentially doublefold strips - you can watch a video showing how to make them here.
Fold one of the fabric strips in half the long way, right sides facing out. Press. Open the strip back up and fold each long edge in toward the center fold. Press. Fold in half again along the center fold so that you have one long strip, four layers of fabric thick. This makes a nice, sturdy strap. Press.
Topstitch along both long edges, about 1/8 inch from the edge.
Repeat for the second strap. Set them aside for now.
Now to prep the pocket. Fold and press your pocket binding fabric into doublefold tape – just like the straps, but don’t topstitch the edges. Here’s that video again.
Now we’re going to fold the bias tape around the raw edge of the pocket. Start in the bottom corner of the pocket.
Open up the binding and fold it into a neat miter, wrapping it right around the corner of the fabric. Slide it back under the presser foot, backstitch a bit, then stitch down to the next corner.
Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you’re back where you started.
Wrap the folded end back around the edge of the pocket piece and stitch it in place.
The pocket should be bound on all four sides and ready to attach to the bag.
The binding is especially nice to have at the top edge of the pocket to help reinforce it and keep it from stretching over time.
You’re almost done!
Fold the top edge of one bag piece in half and mark the halfway point with a pin. Do the same thing with the pocket.
Use a clear ruler to position the pocket 5 1/2 inches from the top raw edge of the bag. Line the 5 1/2 inch mark along the top of the bag, and make one of the vertical marks line up with the center pin on the bag. Line the center mark on the pocket up on the same line and your pocket will be perfectly centered - with no measuring or math. :-)
Let’s start with the outside of the bag. Pin the two main fabric squares right sides together. Using 1/4 inch seam allowance, stitch around both sides and the bottom of the bag. Repeat with the two lining pieces.
Now we’re going to box the corners of the main and lining bags so that your bag will have depth. Watch a video demonstrating how to box corners here.
Open out one bottom corner of the bag so that the side seam and center bottom seam line up, and the corner of the bag makes a point.
Measure down 2 1/2 inches from the tip of the stitching (NOT the tip of the fabric triangle - ignore that flap of seam allowance) and draw a line perpendicular to the side seam.
Stitch right on the line you drew. Trim away the excess fabric.
Repeat for the other corner, and for both corners of the lining.
Put the main bag inside the lining, with the straps sandwiched between the two layers. Since the lining is inside out and the main bag is right side out, you should end up with the right sides together. Line up the side seams and pin the layers together around the top edge of the bag.
Using 1/4 inch seam allowance, stitch almost all the way around the top edge of the bag. Leave the space between the two ends of one handle unstitched, so you can pull the bag through the opening. Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of your stitching. There will be some pressure on the edges as you pull the bag through.
Reach into the opening and pull the main bag through. Pull through the handles, then pull the lining right side out and tuck it down into the bag. Press around the top edge, being especially careful to press the open edges evenly.
Topstitch around the bag, about 1/8 inch from the top edge. Be sure that the folded edges of the opening you used for turning are lined up and that you catch both layers in the topstitching to hold them together. No hand stitching!
I wanted the topstitching thread to match the fabric of the main bag AND the lining, so I used green thread as my main thread and blue thread as my bobbin thread. The stitching is green on top and blue on the bottom. Neato!
The handles are the perfect length for throwing over your shoulder and the bag is roomy enough to hold three big bags of chips, or a bunch of veggies from the farmers market – including lots of healthy but bulky green leafies!
Want to make a different size tote bag? I’ve got two more free patterns!
The Trick or Treat Tote Bag is great for trick or treating – but also for carrying library books, lunch, and more.
The Mini Tote Bag is quite a bit smaller. It’s great for small toys and snacks. When my daughter was very little we kept a few of these packed with “special” toys that we only played with on outings – like at a restaurant. One had a few trucks and cars, another had crayons and a cute notepad, another had a handful of action figures. They were great grab and go bags. 🙂