Handmade Fabric Shopper Bag

Fabric Tote

This fabric tote bag is one of my favourite things to make as is so quick and easy – it’s great as a beginner project too so it’s easy to copy. The bag folds right down so you can keep it in your bag or car in case of emergencies. I love making them as presents for my friends and family; this particular bag was a gift for my mum and she uses it every week. She’s had lots of compliments from people about the bag, which is really lovely…and it’s inspired my mum to make these herself (although now we’re both making them, we’re running out of people to make them for!)

To make your own, you’ll need:

  • One metre of fabric – as always, mine is patterned. If you’re not confident, a polka dot or flowery fabric is perfect but you might to avoid something like stripes, which would more unforgiving if you haven’t got it completely square.
  • Matching or contrasting thread (again, if you’re less confident, go with a similar colour thread)
  • Tape measure
  • Tailors chalk (or pencil)
  • Set square, T square, or Perspex patchwork ruler to get the perfect right angle
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Sewing machine

Preparation

  • Measure out the bag pattern onto the fabric, using a set square, tape measure and chalk. You’ll need a rectangle measuring 73cm x 49cm for the body of the bag and two rectangles measuring 12cm x 68cm for the handles
  • Carefully cut our the three rectangles
  • Fold the bag rectangle in half (with the right side of the fabric facing outwards) so that it measures 36.5cm x 49cm and press the fold with a hot iron
  • For each of your handle rectangles, fold them in half lengthways (with the right side facing outwards) and press the fold. Open this back up and fold both edges into the centre fold and press (if you were to open it back out, it should look like you have three folds, splitting your rectangle into quarters lengthways). Fold the handle in half lengthways on your original fold so the raw edges are contained within the folds and press again to keep your folds in place

Assembling your bag

  • Using a straight stitch and a quarter inch (or 0.5cm) seam allowance, sew the bottom and side seam of your bag rectangle…don’t panic, you’re supposed to do this with the right side of the fabric facing outwards
  • Turn your bag inside out and press along the bottom and side seams to make the next step easy
  • Leaving your bag turned inside out, sew the bottom and side seams, this time leaving a half inch (or 1cm) seam allowance – this is called a French seam and is really neat – it’s one of my favourites
  • Turn your bag so the right side of the fabric is facing outwards again and press again
  • Put your bag to one side as we’ll need to sew the handles next
  • Using a quarter inch (or 0.5cm) seam allowance, sew a straight line of stitches on both long edges of each handle – this will keep the folds in place and give you a professional finish (I would recommend sewing the side with two folds first, and the side with one fold second)
  • Press under 3.5cm and then another 3.5cm around the top of the bag
  • Slip the ends of the handles into the fold and position your handles and pin in place (Top Tip: measure in from the side of the bag on both sides to make sure your handles are identically placed and balanced – I would suggest a 13cm gap in the middle of the handle so you should have about 8cm from the edge of the bag to the handle on each side) – you’ll find your handle is 7cm shorter at each end where it follows where you have turned your bag top under
  • Using a quarter inch (or 0.5cm) seam allowance, sew a straight line of stitches around the top and bottom of the bag top (this will secure your handles and hold the folded under section in place – again, this gives a really professional finish

Enjoy using your bag!

8 thoughts on “Handmade Fabric Shopper Bag

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