How to Make Your Own Reusable Tote Bag

I noticed something immediately upon arriving in Austin.In this city, there are no plastic bags. At most stores, it’s not even an option – if you do need a bag, you have to purchase one, and it’s usually a brown paper bag or some sort of reusable bag. I’m sure it’s like this in other cities too, but Philly wasn’t there yet, and I love that Austin has taken this environmentally friendly stance. As a result, I find myself bringing tote bags everywhere, in case I stop for groceries or pick anything up on my travels. I had some vintage fabric on hand and decided to make my own tote bag – it’s so cute I may even use it as a purse!

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I used this floral vintage fabric, but this tutorial would work with pretty much any fabric – canvas, an older t-shirt or tapestry, or anything you have on hand that’s about the size of a pillow case.

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Start by cutting a piece of fabric in the shape pictured above.  It helps to fold the fabric in half first when making the curved cut at the top so that it’s symmetrical. Then, lay that piece of fabric on top of another and use it as an outline to cut the second piece.

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Once you’ve cut both pieces of fabric, lay them on top of each other with the print-side facing in, and cut a small square in the bottom corners, as pictured above. Sew along the bottom and sides as pictured with the dotted line above.

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In the corner where you cut the square, pull the fabric in the opposite direction that you sewed the bottom and sides. Stitch along this line, to create a boxed effect at the bottom of the tote when you turn it inside out.

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Fold over the edges of the fabric on the handles to make them a bit more narrow and create a sturdier edge. Use a safety pin to keep them in place as you sew, but make sure not to sew the sides of the handles together! Just do a running stitch along the edges to hold the folded fabric in place. When you reach the top, sew the tops of the handles together.

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You’ll notice that the fold narrows as you reach the inner curve of the top of the tote. I did a whip-stitch along the curve to keep it from fraying. Once you’re finished turn the bag inside out and it’s ready to use!

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I have a feeling this bag will definitely come in handy during the upcoming SXSW festival!

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Comments

  1. This is an AWESOME idea. I might be relocating to Austin too and it excited me beyond belief that they don’t use tons of plastic bags there! I wish everywhere would discontinue them.

  2. This is such a great project! I live in the country and in the summer get almost all my foods from the local farmers, none of which who have plastic bags. I’ll definitely be making some bags of my own with the fabric I have lying around. Thanks!

    Julie // Northern Rustication

  3. I’ve done this using a tshirt my teenaged son out grew. In order to get the right shape/size, I used a plastic grocery bag I had laying around as a pattern. It worked out great!

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