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Tote Bag DIY Tutorial: How to Make a Tote Bag?

What is a Tote Bag?

A tote bag is a wide and often spacious bag, usually without a zip. For a long time, it was associated with packing groceries, but over time evolved.

People now use tote bags for a wide range of purposes apart from being shopping bags. Other uses include handbags, gym bags, storage, take-on holiday bags, laptop bags, weekend and picnic bags, lunch bags, book bags, and school bags.

What is a Tote bag

The purposes they serve are limitless because they come in different kinds of colors, patterns, and fabrics such as cotton, canvas, leather, and some eco-friendly materials. There are also custom tote bags which allows you to design your tote bags to your taste, making them more practical, stylish, and versatile.

You may be wondering the difference between tote bags and most of your designer bags. Well, the straps are the major difference that directly affect and distinguish their functionalities.

While a tote bag can be used as a hand or fashion bag, a handbag may not have the capability to function as a tote bag. Tote bags are more rugged and durable than most fancy handbags.

How to Sew a Tote Bag?

Think of how skillful you would feel to be able to create such a versatile and fashionable accessory like the tote bag.

How to Sew a Tote Bag

Your learning process of how to stitch a tote bag begins with the following simple steps:

STEP 1: You need to pick a fabric and in doing this, consider the purpose you intend your tote bag to serve. For instance, a lightweight fabric will not be able to carry heavy items. Cotton and canvas materials are not bad for a moderate tote bag.

How to Sew a Tote Bag-Step1

STEP 2: The next thing is to cut out your tote bag fabric. This is done by cutting out two rectangles of the same size from your fabric. You can first draw out the shapes with pencils or fabric markers so that you don’t miss out on your desired width and length of the bag.

How to Sew a Tote Bag-Step2

STEP 3: Note that your tote bag will turn out an inch shorter than your actual rectangle after the stitching, so do not hesitate to add extra inches to your desired sizes. So, if you are cutting a 24 by 26-inch rectangle, you might want to make it 25 by 27.

STEP 4: After cutting out your rectangles, you will have to spot where your bag handles will be attached. Doing this requires that you fold your rectangular fabric into thirds along its length and draw a symbol with a fabric marker an inch or two inches away from the edge of the two folded sides of each rectangle.

Ensure that the sides you are marking are the right side of the fabric. Therefore, the wrong side faces up before you start folding.

STEP 5: The next thing is to stitch both rectangles together by first, turning the two right sides at each other. Then, adjust both fabrics for the edges to align properly and sew ½ or 1 inch away from the edge. You will be sewing two sides and one bottom, the bottom being the unmarked side lengthwise. You can stitch with your hand if a sewing machine is not within your reach.

How to Sew a Tote Bag-Step5

You just concluded the body of your tote bag. The next thing we are discussing is how to make and stitch the handles.

How to Make Tote Bag Handles?

The simple steps below will guide you to make your tote bag handles:

STEP 1: Cut four pieces of fabric, two for each side of the bag. Make each piece 25 inches long and 1-2 inches wide.

How to Make Tote Bag Handles-Step1

STEP 2: Pick the first two pieces and make the two right sides face each other. Join the two straps together by stitching along the two long edges from top to bottom.

How to Make Tote Bag Handles-Step2

STEP 3: Turn the right sides out and iron out to make it smooth. Do the same for the second two straps and your tote bag handles are ready.

How to Make Tote Bag Handles-Step3

Sewing Handles to Tote Bags

To attach the handles to your tote bags, fold the ends of the handles by half an inch and iron to create a line.

Then you will carefully place the ironed ends over the places you marked on your tote bag bodies and hold them in place with pins.

Lastly, stitch handles together in a square format and your tote bag is fully ready.

Sewing Handles to Tote Bags

Tote Bags with Lining

Some people prefer to line the inner part of their tote bags with additional softer material. You can also try out this pattern as it enhances the durability and appearance of your bag. The process of lining is quite simple:

STEP 1: Unlike the two rectangles you will be cutting for a simple tote bag, a tote bag with lining will have four pieces of rectangles. Two are the main fabric, and the other two are the lining fabric which is often softer.

Tote Bags with Lining-Step1

STEP 2: The second step is to pick two rectangles (one main fabric and one lining) and stitch all sides together to create one whole rectangle.

Tote Bags with Lining-Step2

Repeat for the second two pieces and you will have two lined rectangles.

STEP 3: Follow the process of stitching the simple tote bag rectangles to join your two lined rectangles together.

STEP 4: With the same processes of sewing and attaching tote bag handles as previously highlighted, apply to your lined tote bag to complete it.

How to Decorate a Tote Bag?

Consider decorating your newly sewn tote bag to give it some personal touch and elevate its appearance. There are several ways to decorate and they are stated below:

1. Paintings and Drawing: If you made your tote bag with a plain-colored material, you can express your artistic flair by painting or drawing any image or concept of your choice to give it a pseudo-custom tote bag. For instance, you can replicate custom logo tote bags by drawing or painting your favorite logo on the bags.

How to Decorate a Tote Bag-Paintings

2. Appliques: You can also creat appliques to display your photos or initials. It will then be patched firmly on your tote bag, giving it the look of a customized tote bag.

How to Decorate a Tote Bag-Appliques

3. Rhinestones and Sequins:For a more sophisticated and sparkling appearance, glue some rhinestones and sequins to your tote bags.

How to Decorate a Tote Bag-Sequins

4. Embroidery:If you want a cool and classy look, embroidery designs will give just that. With a bit of sketching and stitching, you are done.

How to Decorate a Tote Bag-Embroidery

5. Tie and dye: Just like the custom bucket hats, you can get a tie and dye design by either sewing your bag with a tie and dye material or tie-dying your already sewn bag.

How to Decorate a Tote Bag-Tie and dye

How to Wash a Tote Bag?

You may need to wash your tote bag more often than other bags because of its versatility which most times results in people using them the most.

Since tote bags are made of different fabrics, the washing techniques for them are fabric-dependent. In other words, you cannot apply one cleaning method for all tote bag fabrics.

How to Wash Cotton Tote Bags?

If your cotton tote bag requires a not-too-rigorous wash, you can gently scrub as you hand wash with some detergent and lukewarm water.

To wash it in a machine, set it to wash on a low cycle to prevent it from shrinking and damaging your custom cotton tote bags. Some people also steam for thorough cleaning and to remove tough stains.

How to Wash Canvas Tote Bags?

For your canvas fabric tote bag, you can choose to either hand wash or use a machine depending on your bag’s size and designs.

Hand washing canvas tote bags is the safest especially when there are special features on it like a customized canvas tote bag would have.

To hand wash:

  • Soak for 10-15 minutes in lukewarm water and mild detergent.
  • Scrub the fabric gently with a soft brush and rinse with enough plain water. Also, ensure to air-dry thoroughly.

You can use a machine if yours is a custom small tote bag made with canvas. Firstly, tie the bag in a laundry bag and toss it in the washing machine.

How to Wash Tote Bags with Decorations?

For tote bags decorated with heavy appliques, sequins, metals and rhinestones, hand washing is the best method to clean them.

How to Wash Customized Tote Bags

If you have invested in a customized tote bag or you own a well-cherished tote bag that you can’t stand losing, practice these customized tote bag washing tips:

  • You can always turn them inside out before washing them.
  • Keep them away from harsh chemicals and excessive heat.
  • Do not wash your personalized tote bags with brushes.

Gently hand wash them as often as you can to keep your prints new.

Where to Buy Tote Bags?

What makes a good tote bag is quality material and vibrant and colorful designs which is what FastPrintStar offers.

FastPrintStar manufactures high-quality custom tote bags that represent you and display your designs creatively. You cannot run out of options with FastPrintStar since they have various design formats such as embroidery, custom ink tote bags, pictures, custom printed tote bags, and many more.

You can also order custom promotional tote bags as a business owner to leave a lasting impression on your customers. No matter the occasion or intention, FastPrintStar has a tote bag for everyone and anything. For instance, you can order custom beach tote bags alongside beach towels for a perfect beach hangout. It could also be custom bridesmaid tote bags which can also be paired with custom wristbands for a splash of uniqueness at the wedding party.

All that is required of you is to complete a three-step ordering process and you will receive your custom tote bag design within 24 hours of a successful order.

At FastPrintStar, you can order as low as one custom tote bag. Moreover, the higher the number of products you order from FastPrintStar, the lower you pay. They offer bulk custom tote bags, and wholesale custom tote bags regardless of your design choice. Location is also not a barrier as they deliver to their customers globally.

Order custom tote bags at FastPrintStar today to enjoy unimaginable benefits!


Are you tired of holding extras even when carrying a designer bag? Tote bags will serve you better. They’re the ideal versatile option for your everyday essentials alongside a flaunt of personal style.

With this easy-to-follow guide, do not hesitate to unleash your creativity. From selecting an ideal fabric to sewing and decorating, master how to stitch a tote bag with a little effort.

With techniques that are suitable for both beginners and sewing experts, be ready to start rocking a unique tote bag that will be peculiar to just you!

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