XX-Large Sturdy Tote Bag

XX-Large Sturdy Tote Bag


Welcome is SewVeryEasy, my name is Laura. Today let’s make a nice, strong, durable tote bag with a big, strong zipper. The zipper is going to be a 22″ purse zipper. A purse zipper has two ends so it opens from the center, but both of the ends are closed. Some strong nylon webbing for the handles, a lightweight canvas print and some very strong, heavy canvas. Canvas comes in different weights. We can compare this to a heavy denim. The canvas is 60″ wide and we need 1¼ yards. The lightweight canvas, we’re going to need about 1½” yards. To build this zipper. We’re going to put ends on the ends of the zipper. I started with 3″ widths of fabric. I’m going to need those a little bit longer than the zipper, because I’m adding some extra length onto that zipper. To make these ends longer we’re going to need two pieces of fabric 3″, or even longer because you can trim those off. You need it the thickness of the zipper. You won’t have to worry about those raw edges because they’re going to be stitched into a seam allowance. Take the end of the zipper and the end of the fabric; just stitch it together. Stitch from the zipper side. That way you’ll be able to see where that end is and you won’t hit it with your needle. Just stitch right close to that end. Once those little ends have been stitched on, trim off any extra seam allowance on the fabric. The ¼” seam is all you’re going to need. Take that piece down and do a row of top stitching on both ends. That has made that zipper longer. With those end stitched down we’re going to sew fabric on each side of the zipper. 3″-long strips of fabric need to be sewn on each side of the zipper. Turn those sides, match up that zipper edge, and stitch them. Stitch a very small seam, as close as you can to the edge, because we’re going to need to add another piece on the other side. As you’re stitching you’re going to be able to put that seam right into the seam allowance on that fabric. You’re going to treat this just like part of the zipper. Once the two strips have been sewn on you’re going to be able to turn it over, and we’re going to sew fabric on the opposite side. We need the right side of the fabric and this is also a 3″ strip, and It’s going to go on the other side of the zipper. You’re making a little sandwich and that zipper is going to be in-between. I have both wrong sites of those strips of fabric on the outside, with the zipper inside. Now when you sew these pieces together you’re going to be able to use a bigger seam allowance. In that way, you’ve caught both of those fabrics and you have no stitching showing. We need a zipper sandwich done on both sides of the zipper. The ends of the zipper are now inside two pieces of fabric, so it looks good from the right side and it looks great from the wrong side. Take the fabric and press it towards the seam allowance on both sides. Do a row of topstitching all along the edge of that zipper. The topstitching not only give the bag a nice finished look, it’s going to add some strength to the zipper. We now can trim off this leftover fabric. Trim it right to the end of this little piece of fabric that we had inside. The entire zipper from end to end should be somewhere around 27″. Do a little row of stitching all the way around and that’s just going to hold all of those layers together. You can do a row of zigzag or do a serger stitch just to finish it off. Put the zipper aside. We’re going to work on the body of the bag. For the outside we’re going to need two pieces of the heavyweight canvas at 31″ by 20″, two pieces of the decorative canvas at 33″ by 11″. The decorative canvas is going to sit on top of the body. Both pieces are going to be treated the same way. This 11″ is going to be a pocket. The pocket is going to go along that larger 31″. On the top of the decorative canvas we need to do a rolled hem. You’re going to roll over once, roll over a second time, and topstitch that down. Do that to both pieces. For each side of the bag we’re going to need a piece of strapping. This is nylon strapping. It’s 1″ wide. You can go wider if you’d like. You’re going to need about 42″ per strap. We need to find the center of the bag and from there measure 4″ over on both sides, so it’ll be a total of 8″. These two marks are the marks for the strapping. Place the bottom of that fabric along the bottom of the canvas so both those edges match up. We’re only going to use that as a measurement for now. We’re not stitching it on. We want to hide the ends of the strapping underneath these pockets. That’s why we’re going to use this edge as a guide. The strapping is going to fit on the outside of those 4″ marks. This is my 4″. The outside of the strap is going to fit along that edge. I want it to fit underneath this pocket by at least 1″, and I’m going to make them both the same. I have 1″ marks on my strapping; my strapping is going to fit in straight. Lift this up so I can peek that underneath. I have 1″ underneath; the edge of that strapping is going to fit my 4″ mark. I’m going to do that to both sides. Pin that on. I can now remove this pocket and work on stitching those straps down. Stitch down both sides of that webbing, and at the end do a couple of rows of stitching; even do a little box stitch to hold them in. You need to stop your stitching at 3″, so when you’ve finished stitching this down, you’re going to have space at the top. The strap has been put on. I can now put on the pocket. Center the fabric onto the center of that panel. Match up the bottom edges. Now we get to make pockets I’m going to use the strap as a guide for one center pocket. Do some stitching up at the top here to secure it, then go down. With the little extra fabric we’re going to be able to make the two side pockets even bigger. By matching up the edges we have a little gap up at the to. That gap is going to work great for water bottles. If you don’t want the larger pocket, you can just leave that flat. I’m going to match up that edge and then in the center I’m just going to make a little pleat and have those edges match up. You can trim off this extra and topstitch all the way along the side and the bottom. You can also do a row of zigzag or serging to hold it together. We now have two fronts done. We need to put a bag bottom on. The bag bottom is going to be 8½” by 23″. Take two pieces of canvas and sew them together. You can do one of the decorative and one of the heavy canvas, whatever you’d like. Do a row of zigzagging or a serge stitch to hold those pieces together. That’s just going to give this a little bit more strength for the bottom. Once those two layers have been put together you need to find the center. The center is going to line up with the center of the body of the bag. I’d recommend two or even three rows of stitching. That’s going to really secure that, but you need to stop ½” from each end. Put a ½” mark and leave that open in that ½” mark, so you’re just stitching in-between. Once the one end has been stitched down, we need to stitch it to the other side, matching up the center and also leaving that ½” on each side. For strength, do another two or three rows of stitching. Once that bottom piece is on, press the seam allowances going to the body of the bag. You don’t have to press the ends. We now can make a lining for the bag. The lining needs be this shape: The shape of all of these three pieces put together. You can take this shape and put it right over top of your fabric, and cut the same shape. If you want to put pockets in the lining, make sure that the pockets are within this little area of the body of the bag. Once your lining is cut out, we can put this aside. We’re ready to put the zipper at the top of the bag. Your measurements will not be exactly the same as mine and that’s okay because this is all going to go together no matter what size you have. Find the centers to both the zipper and the bag front. The zipper pulls are up at the top. I’m going to take that and flip it to this side so that the right sides are touching, and match up those centers. I’m going to stitch this seam together, stopping at that ½” mark just like we did the bottom. A nice seam allowance when you sew with canvas is ½”, but you can use whatever seam allowance that you feel comfortable using. Match up that second side of the zipper to the second side of the bag. The right side of the zipper and the right side of the bag will be matching and stop and start at that ½” on each end. Open the zipper a little bit. From there we’re going to be able to do the sides of the bag. Match up both those side seams and stitch right from the top, coming right down to the bottom. And I’d do one more row of stitching over top of them so it’s a nice, strong, double seam. Once those side seams have been stitched, we’re looking at is a hole up at the top of the zipper and a hole down at the bottom of the bag, and that’s going to be on both sides. Take the side seam, press it open so it’s nice and flat. To finish these corners we’re going to be able to take those two flat seams and match them up. They might not match exact because your bag’s going to be a little bit different. On the body of the bag I’m going to be able to take a tiny little clip. We’re just going to snip that seam allowance right to that seam. There’s that little snip. Put the bottom of the bag down. You’re going to be able to smooth that in. Yours might come up a little bit so you have a bigger seam allowance. It might even come right to the end. We need to sew from this point, all the way to that point. If you can stop and turn and go up that seam a little bit, it’s just going to strengthen that corner. My first row of stitching just held that down. The next row I started onto that bottom and then moved the fabric and even did a little bit of backstitching right there in that corner, stitched all the way down, moved the fabric out of the way, did a little backstitching just up a little bit. Both bottoms are done; I’m going to do the zipper edge. The zipper edge is going to be very similar. Make a little hinge by snipping right to that little stitching line. This is the body of the bag. This is going to be able to come and open up flat. The zipper is going to be a little bit bigger than the bag. Smooth the fabric going to one side and smooth going to the other. Put two little pleats at the sides. Once you have that all flat, pin this down. Put the pinheads so they’re coming out of the seam allowance. Now when you turn it over you’re going to see where your stitching needs to be. Just like the bottom, we’re going to start from the one seam, stitch across right to that other seam. Once that first row stitching is done, start back. Stitch around the corner by moving this out of the way. Go around, move the next corner out of the way and stitch down just a little bit. The zipper has those little pleats in there and a nice square end. There are a few ways you can finish the bag. If you leave it, you’re going to have a flat top. You can also tuck it in and have a little lip all the way around, just by folding the top of the bag down anywhere between 1″ and 1½”. So the zipper is now going to be inside bag, not at the top of the bag. I’m going to fold it down 1″ and then I’m going to press it. The lining is the same shape as the bag. Put right sides together, stitch one of the side seams together, and then you’re going to be able to pull this apart and join those seams just like you did the front of the bag. On the second side, join a little bit on the bottom and then finish the bottom off, stitch a little bit in the top, and that’s going to leave an opening in the center. Once the lining has been stitched together take that zipper facing, roll it to the outside of the bag, and then put the bag inside the lining. You’ll be able to put it right through the top. So you will have your handles inside the right side of the bag, that zipper, and then the lining is going to sandwich everything all together. Match up the side seam with the side seam of the bag. Once you match up the seams you can stitch all the way around the bag. Once that lining has been stitched to the top, the whole bag can be turned out through this opening. We now have the outside of the bag, the lining with the zipper coming up in-between. Fold the seam allowances in and stitch closed that opening. The lining will now go inside the bag. Because I pressed the bag previously, I’m going to be able to just put it right back into that position. Move the handles out of the way, put your zipper foot on, and stitch all the way along this edge. There are a few more things that you can do. You can top stitch right along that top edge and it’ll give it a nice flat look. You can stitch this strap right up at the top if you don’t like that space. The other thing is putting a bottom into your bag. I like to have a removable bottom. I collect old signs and this is plastic cardboard. It makes great purse bottoms. I’ve measured the size of my bottom and I’ve cut that plastic cardboard the same shape. I’m going to round off the ends. You could also cover this so that it has a nice finish in the bottom of the bag. Stick it right into the bottom of the bag. We now have a nice big bag and a recessed zipper for the center. The bag is a little bit longer than 27″ and it’s about 17″ tall with a nice big 7½”-wide bottom. Big pockets all the way around and it’s fully lined. Using this heavy canvas means this bag is going to be able to hold a lot of things. It’s a big bag. We’re going to be able to put a lot in it so we want it to be able to hold up. This bag can be made in many different fabrics. Even denim would look nice. Not having exact measurements and having those little folds up at the top, it’s a really easy bag to make because we do not have to worry about any exact measurements, and I love things that we do not need to be exact for. I do hope you give it a try and as always thank you for joining me today on SewVeryEasy. Feel free to subscribe and, as always, come on back. Let’s see what we’re sewing next time
in the sewing room. Bye for now!

75 thoughts on “XX-Large Sturdy Tote Bag

  1. Everything you put in there had better be light weight or your not going to be able to use it. I think it would be great for a day at the beach or a picnic.

  2. At 14:54 you mentioned "plastic cardboard." Are those campaign signs, with spaces inside to fit over wire legs? Good timingโ€”we just had elections last week!

  3. I make my mom a tote JUST LIKE THIS once every two years for Christmas!
    She is a teacher, and loves this style of tote for all of her teacher goodies!
    Thank you for this beautiful tutorial xoxo Last Minute Laura

  4. I always enjoy your videos so much, Laura, and hope you will always continue to bring us videos that we can use!! I always learn something from you.

  5. OOOOOhhhh….yummy bag; I do embroidery and I can see making this and putting a big gorgeous red poppy on it…ooohhh Laura, you have started something! LOVE your vlogs, you are a superb teacher; you outdo yourself every time, and are a top notch teacher. I don't even care for sewing but you make it fun!

  6. Ooh, I LOVE this!! I'm just getting back into sewing and I love tote bags! I noticed a couple of bags on the shelf behind you… do you have instructions for making those? I'm new to your channel and just subscribed ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

  7. I think it would be nice if you would use contrasting fabric & thread so that we can see what you are doing. Using black is a very poor choice for demonstrations.

  8. Now I know why big bags are so expensive! I appreciate your workmanship and talents, even if I never make this bag, I enjoyed the video! Binge watching stuff like this today…what fun!

  9. Hello Laura can you give me the exact measurement of the bag I am a sewing addict I want to sew my own bags as big as that because I travel a lot

  10. If I want the width of the bag to be not as wide.. more like only 5.5ย  (the 8.5 x 23 in piece) would I still cut it at 5.5 x 23 or would the length need to be longer?ย  I want to make this bag without the zipper and thinner. I'm trying to make a bag large enough for my for my quilting mat to classes.ย  Have you made one of those?ย  Love the pockets and love the video !

  11. Your directions were too confusing to make this tote! I can find other videos to make this tote, easier to follow and make! I have been sewing since the age of 13, this is not a tote I would make!

  12. I had to make this bag today LOL. I woke up and saw this video, did a quick inventory of my stash and dug around for foam board. Hey this took some time but it came out amazingly well. It is very large and feels great on the shoulders. I made the 3 pockets on each side. One with a guset or pleat for a water bottle or whatever, Thanks again.

  13. Nice big bag with a zipper, very nice! I like the double layer of fabric surrounding the zipper and how you installed it as well as the idea to add a removable piece of plastic or other material to the bag bottom! Thanks for the tutorial!

  14. Love your video. Great instructions that I think I can make this Xl tote bag. Thanks so much for sharing!

  15. Dear Laura, I found your channel about a year ago. Iv"e watches nearly every program you have put on. I have a tulip and a duck bill. I"m 82 years old. I keep forgetting. I'm trying to make these XX-large totes for the woman in my family. My computer is in the living room and i need a cd to take with me to the sewing room. Is there a way I can buy one???

  16. Great video and thank you. I canโ€™t find any store near me that sells purse zippers. Would a regular one way heavy duty zipper work? Also, if I wanted to make my tote smaller how much do I have to shorten the bottom panel to make the gusset. Thank you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Thank you so much for this wonderful tutorial! I'm going to make this bag right now! All the extra little tips are such a blessing, and you Laura, are such a blessing! Thank you for all you do for so many~ God bless you!

  18. Thank you so much!
    I have made 2 in 2 days LOVE this bag. I made one exactly the size
    as instructed WOW what a nice big bag! My second was a little smaller with out a zipper perfect for groceries! Thanks for such a versatile bag tutorial

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