Make your own summer tote

This pretty tote bag is perfect for your summer shopping or a day at the beach. Choose your fabric to suit the bag’s use and decorate the pocket with appliqué or a decoration of your choice.

You will need

1m main fabric
Contrasting fabric or webbing
Tacking/basting and matching thread
Fabric scraps Ribbon scraps


Cut out two rectangles 41cm × 47cm from the main fabric for the front and back.
Cut a 13cm × 135cm strip from the main fabric for the gusset.
Cut two strips of contrasting fabric, each 10cm × 1.2m, for the straps.
Cut a pocket measuring 20cm × 25cm. You will also need two 20cm lengths of ribbon.

To make up

1 Stitch one piece of ribbon about 5cm up from the bottom edge of the pocket.

2 Turn under a double 1.5cm hem on the top short edges of the front and back pieces. Press and pin. Machine stitch in place. Place the pocket centrally on the front of the front fabric piece with the bottom edges lined up. Pin and tack/baste in place

3 Take the straps and fold each in half lengthwise, right sides together. Stitch, taking a 1cm allowance, trim the seam and corners. Turn right side out and press, with the seam in the centre on one side

4 Place one strap on the front of the bag, covering the raw edges of the pocket and with the outer edges 8cm from the side edges of the front. The ends of the straps should line up with the bottom edge of the bag. Pin and tack/baste.

5 Topstitch in place beginning at the bottom. When you get to the top, topstitch across the strap until you reach the opposite edge, then continue down the other side to the bottom. Attach the other strap to the back in the same way, positioning it the same distance from the side edges

6 Turn under a double 1.5cm hem on short edges of the gusset; press and stitch. Pin one long edge of the gusset around the raw edges of the bag front, right sides together. You will need to snip into the lower corners of the gusset to fit. Stitch taking a 1.5cm allowance. Stitch the gusset to the back piece. Finish the raw edges with zigzag stitch. Turn the bag right side.

From Sewing for the Absolute Beginner by Caroline Smith

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