When making your cotton bag, use only organic cotton if you want to be 100% eco-friendly, but it isn’t always easy to come by and a good, strong cotton fabric is just as good.
You can pick up plain white cotton, natural burlap or hemp fabric at most fabric stores, and at affordable prices too.
Create your own range of funky tote bags with felt flowers, ribbon offcuts and buttons.
Here’s a quick and easy step-by-step project for making a tote bag.
If you make them out of fairly thin cotton, you can easily fold them up and carry a few with you in your handbag, and quickly pull them out when you go shopping – no plastic bags necessary thank you very much.
For the outer bag, pin the outer fabric pieces, right sides, together along the two long sides and bottom short side.
Sew the pieces together with a 12mm seam allowance.
Open up the bag and press one of the bottom corners so that the side is directly on top of the bottom seam and the corner forms a sharp point.
Make sure that the seam allowances of the side and bottom are facing the same direction and lying flat.
Mark a line perpendicular to the side seam at the point where the corner is 130mm wide.
Sew along this marked line and snip off the outside triangle of the corner.
Repeat this step for the second bottom corner, making sure to keep the seam allowances going in the same direction.
Turn the outer bag right side out and press out the creases that were created when you made the boxed bottom.
Press the top raw edge 12mm towards the wrong side of the bag.
Repeat the previous steps on the lining pieces.
Sew the linen pieces, the right sides, together with a 12mm seam allowance.
Create a 130mm wide boxed bottom by pressing the corners out, sewing the marked sides, and cutting off the corners.
Then, keeping the wrong sides facing out, press out the creases. Press the top raw edge 12mm towards the wrong side.
Slide the lining inside the bag, matching up their side seams.
Push the lining just a hair lower than the outer section.
Pin the lining and the outer sections together along their top folds.
Mark the ends of the webbing pieces 25mm from their ends.
Slip the ends of the webbing in between the lining and the outer fabric 100mm from the left and right side seams.
Line up the 25mm markings with the folded edge of the bag so that the ends of the handles are 25mm deep.
Make sure not to twist the handles and then pin the handles in place.
Put the contrasting thread in the top of the machine, and the lining-matching thread in the bobbin.
With the outer fabric facing up, start at a side seam and stitch the lining and outer sections together, 3mm from the fold, back stitching at the beginning and end of the seam.
Make sure that this seam catches both the lining and the outer sections all the way around, thereby sewing the handles into place as well.