How to Make Your Own Tote

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Things You’ll Need:

  • 1 yd Canvas or Denim material
  • Spool of thread
  • Scissors
  • Iron & Ironing Board
  • Basic Sewing Machine
  • Sewing Pins
  • Measuring Tape

Step 1

Take 1 yard of any color canvas material (inside out) & fold in half on a sturdy table. Pin both layers together so they don’t move apart, and cut along left & right sides to make canvas 22 inches in length. The width should be abt. 18 inches. Do not throw away the two pieces you cut – these will be used to make the handles.

12 x 14 inches for a very small tote
14 x 16 inches for a medium tote
18 x 22 inches for a large tote
24 x 20 inches for a beach tote

 Step 2

Sew inside out along the left & right sides at abt ½ inch in-seam and then go back over the outer edges with a neat zig-zag stitch to hem & keep it from fraying.

Note: always use a backstitch when you come to the end so the threading won’t come undone.

Step 3

Use the left over material to measure out two identical strips of 4 inch wide by abt. 18 inches long. Sew along edges inside out. Turn tubes right side out and press with hot iron to flatten.

Fold the ends of the handles abt. ¼ inch under and pin into place on the inside opening of tote. Make sure you measure an equal distance & center the handles before you sew them on.

Note: For this tote the distance between will be abt. 9 inches apart.

Step 4

Finalize your handle stitches by sewing an extra square or zig-zag stitch (which ever you like) to make handles more durable.

Iron your bag and you are ready to go shopping.

Decorating Ideas:


  • stencil
  • acrylic paint
  • buttons
  • patches
  • beads
  • sequins



Totes can be made with any material but will not be durable enough to use for grocery shopping. Canvas & denim are extremely durable and if you feel you need extra support, you can add a piece of cardboard in the bottom of tote. Be sure to double stitch (and zig-zag) the area where the handles attach to the tote!



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