Free tote bag pattern

Use our free tote bag pattern to make your own grocery shopper!

how to make a tote bag

Wanna learn how to make your own tote bag? Then we’ve got the tutorial for you. The Purl Bee’s free tote bag pattern is here to keep all your bits and bobs safe. We love tote bags so much. They’re cute, great for the planet and always handy to have which is why we were so pleased that The Purl Bee girls gave us this free tote bag pattern. Get stuck into your fabric stash and choose your favourite print to create this beauty! If you want to go the extra upcycling mile then why not use old curtain fabric or foraged fabrics from a charity shop? Plus you can go wild with your new tote bag and add embellishment or embroidery (check out our bunny embroidery pattern) to truly make it your own.

Share this free tote bag pattern with all your friends (you could even have a sewing party) and check out our other sewing patterns for beginners for more fun projects. Looking for more bag patterns? Learn how to make a bento bag or try our messenger bag pattern.

This project was created by The Purl Bee for Mollie Makes magazine – for more easy-make craft projects and creative inspiration, subscribe to Mollie or click here to find out more.

how to make a tote bag

This free tote bag pattern has long been a favourite over at The Purl Bee.

We have remade these awesome, simple bags for fall! This time around, I used a gorgeous new collection of upholstery weight cotton called Outside Oslo. These bold, stylish prints are sophisticated without being serious and come in a rich palette of colours perfect for fall. I added some sturdy contrasting cotton webbing handles for a pop of colour, and I love the way they came out! If you’d like to make the ones in the pictures, details are below. Alternatively, the simple design would show off any fabric beautifully.
Molly Schnick

You will need

  • 1/2 yard of your chosen fabric (to make your tote bag’s structure)
  • 2 yards of 1-inch cotton webbing (to complement your fabric)
  • Cotton thread (to match your fabric)
  • Cotton thread (to contrast with the inside of the bag)

If you’re new to the world of sewing then head over to our sewing for beginners guide which will teach you all the basics. We’ve also got a round up of the best sewing machines for beginners if you’re in the market for a new machine.

Free tote bag pattern


You Will Need

  • Fabric
  • Webbing
  • Thread

Total time:

Step 1

Tote bag pattern

Cutting out the tote bag

how to make a tote bag step 1

Cut two 16-inch tall by 14-inch wide panels from the fabric. Make sure the pattern is going the correct direction on both panels.

Cut two 22 1/2-inch long pieces from the webbing.

Step 2

Attaching handles and hemming the top of the tote bag

Pin the handle pieces to the top raw edge of the right side of each panel 3 inches from the sides. The raw edges of the handles should match up with the raw edge of the top of the panel so the handles will be facing down as shown in the picture above. Make sure the handles aren’t twisted.

how to make a tote bag step 2

Using the contrasting thread, sew a zig zag stitch across the top edge, sewing the handle to the top edge in the process.

how to make a tote bag step 3

This zig zag stitch should be right at the edge of the fabric as shown above.

how to make a tote bag step 4

Turn the panels so their wrong sides are facing up. Press and pin their top edges with the handles down 1 1/2-inches.

how to make a tote bag step 5

Make sure to pin the handle so it’s perpendicular to the horizontal sides.

how to make a tote bag step 6

Sew this fold down with the matching thread a 1/4 inch from to top edge and then with a second seam 1/4-inch from the bottom zig zag stitch.

how to make a tote bag step 7

The handle will now be attached and the top hem sewn down on both panels. You’re now ready to sew the bag together. We teach you how to use a sewing machine here on Gathered if you need a little bit of help! 

Step 3

Sewing the tote bag together

how to make a tote bag step 8

Pin the panels right sides together and sew along the sides and bottom 1/2-inch from the raw edges using the matching thread. Back stitch at the beginning and end of each seam. Snip off the bottom corners.

how to make a tote bag step 9

Using the contrasting thread zig sag stitch along the raw edges of the sides and bottom of the bag.

how to make a tote bag step 10

Make sure to stitch right along the edge to contain the threads from the raw edges.

how to make a tote bag step 11

Turn the bag right sides out press the corners and you’re all done!


You’ve turned The Purl Bee’s free tote bag pattern into a fab bag you can take to the grocery store. Now you’ve caught the sewing bug why not try our free rabbit sewing pattern or our pinafore dress sewing pattern? They’re super cute projects that will match your new tote bag perfectly. Oh and don’t forget to share your pictures of your new bag using #molliemakers on InstagramTwitter and Facebook.

Big thanks to The Purl Bee for this free tote bag tutorial. Pop on over to The Purl Bee for the complete menu of tempting tutorials. For more sewing patterns check out our collection here.