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Eco Friendly Reusable Tote Tutorial

I have not done a tutorial in a little while, and I have been meaning to put this one up since Christmas!   This is the same type of bag you can buy at the grocery store as a reusable grocery bag, but surprisingly you can get the fabric for super cheap at Joann Fabric, $2.99/yard, and probably other places as well.  They actually have some really cute prints too.

I decided to make all of the girls in the family bags to put their Christmas presents in and then they could use it later to carry things in.  Another plus is that when you make your own you can make them any size you want.

Skill Level :I would consider this a beginners sewing project.  It is easy, fast, inexpensive and the end product will look great!
Cost: >$5.00
Materials: A yard of Utility bag fabric, such as this, coordinating thread, basic sewing supplies) scissors, pins, sewing machine
First cut out a rectangular piece of fabric roughly 4-5 inches taller than you would want your bag to stand when open.  I was making a large bag so I did about 25 inches. My piece of fabric was about 22 inches wide when folded in half.   A good length for an average grocery tote would be about 18 inches tall and 16 inches wide (folded).
For the straps I cut two 4 inch wide 25 inch long strips.
**Note:  My sewing techniques can be a little bit like that cook you know who says to just put a little of this, a handful of this, pinch of  this etc.   Please let me know if something isnt clear, and I would be more than happy to clarify 🙂

Next you will want to sew your straps.  Simply fold the 4″ by 25″ piece in half long ways creating a 2″ by 25″ strip.  Then tuck the open edges under both facing inside pin and sew a straight line down the edge of your straps.

If you use the utility fabric it folds and stays in place making it very easy to work with.

Next lay your large piece of fabric (that will be the body of the bag) open making sure your fabric is the right direction if yours has a print on it.   Fold the top edge of the bag down about 1 inch and then fold it down again.

Pin your straps on with the raw edge turned under the fold in your fabric.

You will also want to pin your straps in place before you sew down the top edge.  I placed the outside edge of the first strap 7″ in and the outside edge of the other end of the strap another 7 inches in.  To make sure your straps will line up with one another fold your bag in half long ways and put the opposite strap in the same position on the other side of the fabric.  Then tuck your strap ends under your hem and fold them upright as shown in the picture above.

Then sew a straight line all of the way across.

One your straps are sewn on simply fold your bag in half with the printed side of the fabric facing in.

You will then sew a straight line across the bottom and the open side leaving only the top open.

Once this is complete your bag should look like this.

Getting Closer!

Once we are done we will flip the bag right side out 🙂

The next step is super easy and end up creating a flat base for the bag that lets in stand upright.  All you do is fold both sides in about 2-3 inches. (The further in you fold the sides the more square the base will sit rather than rectangular.) Pin the sides down and sew a second straight line across the bottom of the bag.

fold both sides in.

Your bag should look like this.

Sew the second line across the base.

Believe it or not…You are DONE!  All that is left to do is to turn your bag right side out. 🙂

Here is the finished product next to an apron I made for my brothers girlfriend Rachel for Christmas. It can be fun to try and find fabric to match the gifts you are giving.

Add a cute tag and some tissue and you have yourself a DIY gift bag

I hope you find this helpful and give this tutorial a try.  If you do then please let me know!  I would love to have some feedback on how it turns out.

a smaller version

And another fun fabric.

 

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4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Love it, I use mine to take my lunch and water bottles to work.

Comment by Nina

Thanks Mom 🙂

Comment by tdsteele

Terri, what a great tutorial!! Excellent job and very easy to understand. I am going to try making some totes similar to this out of cool burlap seed sacks. They have some cool logos and designs on them. I’ll try to post a pic when I finish one. I didn’t even know JoAnn’s had that bag fabric. Pretty neat!

Comment by Betsy

Thanks Aunt Betsy! I would love to see your bags when you get done…the fabric sounds really fun.

Comment by tdsteele




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