Learn how to make a useful market tote bag. Perfect for those warm summer days at the farmer’s market, this tote is perfect for the beginner sewer.
MATERIALS AND TOOLS YOU WILL NEED
- sewing shears
- tailor’s chalk
- all-purpose thread
- 1 yard of exterior fabric
- 1 yard of fabric for the lining
First, you’ll need to pick out which fabric you are going to use. I’m making this bag for my sister’s birthday which is coming up in May. I want the bag to be versatile so I’m going with denim because it will give the bag a bit more structure. You can use linen, corduroy, or any other light to medium weight fabric. You’ll also want a piece of fabric for the lining. My rule of thumb is to use a heavier fabric for the exterior of the bag and something a bit lighter like cotton to use for the interior
HOW TO SEW A MARKET TOTE BAG
I want an oversized tote so I’m going with 20 inches by 18 inches so I’m cutting out 21×19 inch squares. Cut two squares out of the fabric you are going to use for the lining using the same dimensions as you did for the exterior fabric.
CUT OUT YOUR POCKETS AND STRAPS FOR YOUR MARKET TOTE BAG
I am making a 1 1/2 inch strap so I am going to cut a six-inch wide strip. If you want wider straps just multiple the size you want by 4. Determine how long you want the straps to be and add an inch. Mine are going to be 30 inches so I’m going to cut out two 31×6 inch rectangles. Next, determine the size of your pocket and add an inch in each direction. I want my finished pocket size to be 6×7 inches so I’m going to cut a 7×8 inch piece out of my exterior fabric.
SEW THE EXTERIOR OF THE BAG
Pin your pieces to each other, right sides together. Sew the pieces together leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance and taking care to now sew the opening closed (Oooops!).
PIN FOR LATER!
SEW ON YOUR POCKET AND ASSEMBLE YOUR LINER
First, you want to create the top edge of your pocket. Turn the edge under half an inch and press. Turn it under half an inch one more time and press. This makes for a clean hem. Sew the seam by sewing right along the edge. Next, fold the remaining 3 sides under by half an inch and press. Pin the edges down onto your lining. I like to put my pocket towards the top so I can easily access my phone and keys. Make sure to sew right on the edge of the pocket. Sew your liner together the same way you sewed the exterior of your bag.
PREPARE YOUR STRAPS
Fold your straps in half length wise and press. Open it up and fold the outer edges into the center and fold back in half. This will create a sturdy, four layer strap. Sew along all four edges of the straps sewing right along the edge. Using tailor’s chalk mark where you want to add straps.
BOX YOUR EDGES
Make sure your exterior piece is wrong side out. Line your seams up and make a mark 2 inches up. Sew along the line and turn right side out. Repeat this same procedure with the liner. This will give your bag a 3 dimensional shape.
PUTTING YOUR PIECES TOGETHER AND FINISHING YOUR TOTE BAG
I’m a bit unconventional when it comes to putting my pieces together. First I like to fold down the edge by half an inch and press well on the exterior and lining of the bag (The exterior piece needs to be right side out. The lining needs to be wrong side out). Next place the lining into the bag. Line up the seams and pin. Next, place and pin your straps ensuring that they are least half an inch down and between the exterior fabric and lining. Pin around the hem making sure that both layers of fabric line up.
Secure the pieces together by sewing around the perimeter, keeping your stitch close to the edge. Finally, go around once more leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance. It is important to take your time with this step. Keeping your lines straight will result in a more polished final product.
TIPS AND TRICKS FOR MAKING YOUR TOTE BAG
- If you are a beginner, take your time with your stitching. Sewing straight lines is the key to a polished product.