5” x 11 1/2” piece heavy cardboard or thin plywood (base)
Ruler and marker
Straight pins or tape
Cut from fabric:
(1) Rectangle 18” X 36” (body of bag)
(1) Rectangle 13” X 11 1/2” (sleeve/cover for base) Note:If your fabric frays, serge or zigzag finish all cut edges of these pieces before sewing. Do NOT precut the webbing/belting/ribbon you have chosen for the straps.
(1/2” seam allowance)
Press and sew 1” hem on each short end of larger rectangle (bag).
On right side of same piece, draw a line parallel to and 7” in from each long edge for placement of straps. On one of these lines, measure and mark a “dot” at center. This is the center of the bottom of the bag and the beginning point for the strap placement.
Pin or tape the continuous strap beginning at the “dot” and centering the width of the webbing on the marked line. At the hem edge, allow 10” for the loop of the handle, then continue pinning the strap on the other marked line, creating a 10” handle at the opposite end also. Note:If you are using 1” ribbon for the strap, you will probably want to double the thickness in the handle area so it doesn’t cut into your hands when the bag is full. We allowed for this in the extra yardage of ribbon. From the other end of the ribbon piece, cut (2) 12” pieces. Pin a second layer to each handle section on the bag, tucking about 1” under the stitched hem of the bag. Edgestitch all edges of the doubled ribbon handle.
Complete the pinning of the strap loop, turning under 1/2” and overlapping at the “dot”. (See Diagram A, below)
Edgestitch both edges of the strap, pivoting at stitched hem. Stitch across webbing at the overlap on the bottom. Optional: Second row of stitching to reinforce the entire bag.
Fold bag in half, right sides together, matching hem edges. Sew side seams. Press open and topstitch both edges to flatten the seam. Turn bag wrong side out.
To make the boxed bottom of the bag, flatten one end 5” with the seam centered. The bottom will form a triangle shape. From the bottom point, measure and mark 3 3/4” up on each side of the fold. Connect the marks, and stitch on this line through all layers. (See Diagram B, right) Repeat this for the other side of the bag. Turn the bag right side out, and push the triangles toward the center of the bottom.
To make the cover/sleeve for the cardboard base, fold the other rectangle of fabric in half, right sides together, matching the 13” edges. Stitch along the long edge and across the bottom. Trim seam allowance to 1/4” and clip corners. Turn right side out, pushing out corners. Slide cardboard inside, and slipstitch the open end. Place the base flat in the bottom of the bag.
Enjoy your new Tote bag!
Note:These directions can be adapted to other finished sizes from lunch bags and gift totes to large utility bags. Yardages of fabric and belting will vary. The removeable base allows for the bag to be folded and stored flat.