5 Basics of Making a Handmade Handbag At Home

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Make an Easy-to-Sew Lined Tote Bag

Custom tote bags can add to a fun personal fashion statement. Learn how to make a lined fabric tote bag that’s perfect for work and play in this straightforward home sewing project for tweens, teens or anyone new to sewing.

Materials Needed:

  • 1/2 yard cotton fabric
  • 1/2 yard of complementary cotton fabric for inner lining
  • 1/2 yard of heavy fusible interfacing
  • 42″ of canvas strap
  • fabric scissors or rotary cutter
  • sewing machine
  • thread
  • iron

Cut Fabrics

For the first part of this DIY tote bag project, cut two 18″x14″ rectangles of both outer and inner fabric choices then cut two 18″x14″ rectangles of interfacing. Cut canvas straps into two 21″ lengths.

Snip Corners

On the long side of all rectangles, snip a 2″x2″ square from only the bottom corners. Repeat for interfacing. This will form the base of the tote.

Add Interfacing and Sew Sides

Press interfacing to wrong side of outer fabric rectangle. Tip: Follow the manufacturer’s directions for heating and adhering your interfacing. Pin outer fabric’s right sides together and sew straight 1/2″ seams along the sides and bottom of piece. Note: Leave the top and two snipped corners unsewn. Press seams open.

Create Corners

Pinch together gaps in snipped corners, lining up the side and bottom seams in the center. Pin straight across and sew a 1/2″ seam. This step adds depth to the bag and creates a flat bottom.

Sew Liner Sides and Corners

Pin right sides of inner (liner) fabric rectangles together and repeat the above steps.

Piece Together and Pin

Flip liner right-side out and place inside outer fabrics so that right sides are together. Tuck canvas straps between inner and outer fabrics so that two edges of one face the front and two edges of the other face the back of bag. Pin the end of each canvas strap approximately four inches from side seam then pin fabric edges together around perimeter of bag opening.

Sew Bag Opening

Beginning at a side seam, stitch a 1/2″ seam almost all the way around the tote, stopping 4″ before the starting point — this should catch all four ends of the canvas straps while leaving ample room for turning.

Turn and Press

Pull both fabrics and straps through the 4″ gap, turning the tote bag right-side out. Lightly press with a warm iron to remove wrinkles.

Top-Stitch and Finish

Top-stitch around the tote bag’s entire opening to finish edges. This will also help reinforce canvas straps and shut the gap left in the previous step for turning.

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