My 3 Monsters: "Totes" Adorbs! A Tied-Handle Tote Bag

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"Totes" Adorbs! A Tied-Handle Tote Bag

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DIY Tied-Handle Tote Bag at
Hey there!  I made a sweet little blanket the other day to give to lady at church who is having a baby.  {Watch for that tutorial next week!}  Since I had a little of both this pink quilted fabric and the gorgeous floral cotton fabric from Wholeport leftover, I whipped up a matching tote/diaper bag to go with it.  I've had this tote bag design kicking around in my head for a while now.  I've even mentally worked through the construction of it several times when I couldn't sleep at night.  I figured it was about time I finally gave it a go.

Creating patterns from scratch is a new thing for me.  Unless you count the Barbie and Cabbage Patch clothes I used to sew when I was a kid.  My mom was awesome.  She taught me how to use a sewing machine when I was 8 or 9 and then just let me go and make stuff.  Now that I'm a mom, I can imagine how stressful that must have been.  Oh, the messes and wasted fabric!  I almost can't breathe, it gives me so much anxiety.  But it's all because of her patience and support that I have the confidence {and "skills"} to try out my crazy ideas today.  Sometimes I love the results, like this bag, and other times . . . the projects don't end up on the blog.  Just sayin'.

Just like my iPhone wallet, this is a fairly easy project if you have sewn before.  I would say it's an intermediate level project -- not too tough, but you need to have sewn at least a little before.  I am trying a new site to host the pattern since there continue to be so many issues with the iPhone wallet on Google docs.  This pattern will be available on Craftsy for $1.00.  If you have questions, please feel free to contact me.  I'll do my best to clarify.

You will need:

  • approximately 1¾ yards of fabric to complete this project.  I split that between three different coordinating designs:  approx. ¼ yard of the pale pink quilted fabric, 1 yard of the floral print, and approx. ½ yard of polka dot cotton for the interior lining.
  • printable pattern 

Begin by cutting out all of your pattern pieces, following the directions in the pattern.  

Step 1: Attach the TIE TABS to the BAG TOP pieces.

DIY Tied-Handle Tote Bag at
Place the pieces right sides together and stitch in place.  Repeat for the other three tabs of the BAG TOP EXTERIOR and then for all four of the BAG TOP LINING pieces.  Press the seam allowances downward.

DIY Tied-Handle Tote Bag at
Step 2:  Attach the exterior pieces to the lining pieces for both the front and back of the BAG TOP.

DIY Tied-Handle Tote Bag at
Place the BAG TOP EXTERIOR and BAG TOP LINING pieces right sides together, and stitch the top edge, around all the curves and tie tabs.  

DIY Tied-Handle Tote Bag at
Clip the curves and trim the seams before turning right side out and pressing flat.  Do this for both the front and back of the BAG TOP.

Step 3:  Attach the BAG TOP FRONT and BACK pieces at side seams.

DIY Tied-Handle Tote Bag at
Open the sides of your BAG TOP pieces out flat as shown above.   Match up the front piece to the back piece right sides together, lining up the seams in the middle.  Pin in place and then stitch.  Press the seams open, then turn the lining back down to the inside of the BAG TOP as shown below.

DIY Tied-Handle Tote Bag at
Repeat on the other side.  Your BAG TOP is now finished and ready to go!

Step 4:  Sew BAG BODY EXTERIOR pieces together at side seams {along short edges} with right sides together.  You will be creating one large loop of fabric.  Gather the fabric along the bottom edge, by stitching along the edge with a long basting stitch and pulling the bobbin thread to "scrunch" it up. 

Gather the fabric evenly so that it fits around the BAG BOTTOM piece.  Pin it right sides together, and sew in place.

Step 5:  Repeat Step 4 for the BAG BODY LINING pieces.

Step 6:   Insert lining inside exterior.

DIY Tied-Handle Tote Bag at
The BAG BODY EXTERIOR and BAG BODY LINING pieces will be wrong sides together.  Pin together around the top edge.  Gather both layers together at the top edge in the same way you gathered the bottom edges in Step 4.

Step 7:  Attach BAG BODY to BAG TOP.

Gather the fabric of the BAG BODY pieces to fit the bottom edge of the BAG TOP.  Pin both layers of the BAG BODY to the the BAG TOP EXTERIOR layer only with right sides together.  Match up side seams.  {DO NOT pin or sew the BAG TOP LINING at this point.  Just push it down out of the way so that it remains loose while you work with the BAG TOP EXTERIOR only.}  Stitch in place and turn bag right side out.  Press seam allowances up toward top of bag.

It's actually starting to look like a bag now!

Step 8:  Sew the bag top lining in place.

DIY Tied-Handle Tote Bag at
Fold the bottom edge of the BAG TOP LINING under about ½"  and pin in place over the seam allowance, hiding all the raw edges.  Sew through all layers, close to the folded edge of the lining fabric.  Sew another line of stitching ¼" above the first stitching if desired.  This is purely decorative, but I like the way it looks.

DIY Tied-Handle Tote Bag at
You now have a nice, pretty lined bag without any exposed seams!  All that's left to do is . . . 

Step 9:  Sew the handles.

DIY Tied-Handle Tote Bag at
Place two of your BAG HANDLE pieces right sides together and stitch all the way around, leaving a couple inches open along one curved edge as shown.   Clip all the curves and trim the seams.  Use the opening you left to turn the handle right side out and press everything nice and neat.  {Because we left the opening in that curved spot, it will be hidden in the knot and we don't have to stitch it closed.  We're geniuses!}

Repeat for the other handle.  You can top-stitch the edges of your handles if you want at this point, but it is not necessary.

Step 10:  Tie handles onto tote bag.

DIY Tied-Handle Tote Bag at
Line up the skinny parts of the tabs on the bag with the skinny parts of the tabs on the handles and tie a knot.  Repeat for all 4 tabs on the bag.

That's it, friends!  You are now the owner of a most adorable new tote bag.

DIY Tied-Handle Tote Bag at
I am totally in love with this new bag!  Selfishly, I might have had second {and third} thoughts about giving it away, but I know it will be put to good use in its new home.  I can always make another one!

Thanks for stopping by today!


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  1. I love this bag - lovely relaxed style and gorgeous floral fabric I just need to get out my mum's old sewing machine and work out how to use it.

  2. the pdf i downloaded doesn't have the BAG BODY EXTERIOR pattern piece. but i'm no expert sewer so i could be misunderstanding things.

    1. Because the piece is just a rectangle, I didn't draw a pattern piece for it. Under the cutting instructions it says to cut out the pattern pieces provided, then it says "You will also need to cut:" and gives instructions to cut several rectangle pieces of different dimensions for the other bag parts. I was trying to not waste paper printing pattern pieces. Hope that helps!! Good luck -- You don't need to be an expert sewer!

    2. Hey Amy,
      i read and reread the instructions over and over again... i just don't get it, how big the rectangle is suppose to be?

  3. Just finished making this very cute! I saw the pattern on Pinterest. Your personal instructions made this so easy.This was my first sewing project in thirty years. I will definitely check out more of your patterns. Thank you !!

    1. Thank you so much for the lovely comment -- you made my day! I'm so glad you like it and that it turned out well.


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