Tote-ally Cute Tote Bag – Beginner Sewing Project

Looking for a great beginner project that also makes a perfect gift? Check out this Tote-ally Cute Tote Bag! Simple enough to make in an afternoon and perfect for a gift.

This tote bag project was made using your sewing and embroidery machine, such as a Baby Lock Journey, and a Baby Lock serger to finish the seams.

Your finished tote bag is functional and can easily be customizes during the project for someone special. I can’t wait to make on for wedding shower gift — personalized with the bride’s soon-to-be monogram and stuffed with fun honeymoon items (beach towel, insulated mugs, sunscreen, etc.). Make one for a mom-to-be and fill it with other handmade baby items (blanket, burp cloths, etc.). Or, make one for friend, neice, grandkid to hold their dance shoes, sports equipment, overnight items — the list goes on!

Baby Lock Project by: Stephanie Struckmann


  • ½  yard cute fabric for the exterior of the bag, (I used a printed duck or canvas)
  • ½ yard fabric for the interior of the bag, (I just chose a basic (complementary) gray cotton fabric)
  • ½-1 yard heavy fusible interfacing (I used craft bond; note: get a yard if the interfacing is not folded on the bolt, you’ll need to get 2 – 17” x 17” squares out of your interfacing)
  • 2 – 8” squares of complementary fabric for the pocket (pocket optional)
  • 1 ¾ yd. cotton webbing trim (pre-made straps; I cut my straps 29” each)
  • Sewing Thread

Tote-ally Cute Tote Bag Instructions

1. If pocket is desired: Cut 2 – 8” squares for one pocket. If embroidery is desired, go ahead and get this started on one square so that’s running while you cut and interface the bag fabric.

2. Cut exterior, interior, and interfacing fabric 17” x 17” (I layered all 3 fabrics and cut them together to save time). Fuse the interfacing to either the 2 exterior OR interior 17” fabric squares. I interfaced my outer because it’s printed duck cloth and it fused very nicely and won’t show wrinkles, whereas a thinner, basic cotton fabric might show wrinkles more when fused (then, you would interface your interior fabrics).

3. Now, layer one lining layer (wrong side) to the wrong side of one exterior square (I put a couple dabs of stick glue (near the middle) on the fused interfacing pieces to lightly hold the layers together). Do the same with the other 2 squares. So, now you should have 2-17” squares that are an exterior, interfacing, interior layered “sandwich”.

4. Now,  layer the 2 – 17” square “sandwiches” on top of each other and cut 3” squares from the bottom corners only (as shown in the picture; this will be used to make the corners of the bag later).

5. Separate into the 2 “sandwiches” again and serge (or baste and finish the seams of) the layers of each sandwich together at the top, sides, and bottom. Don’t serge those 3” square elbows that were cut out.


6. For your pocket, (I interfaced one of the squares to give it some structure if you happen to have some extra, otherwise, I wouldn’t worry about it, especially if you are not embroidering) put the 2 – 8” squares pretty sides together and sew the sides and top (I used 1/2″ seam allowances for this project); don’t sew the bottom of the pocket. Clip the 2 corners where you pivoted. Turn your pocket right side out, gently push your corners out to make them pretty. Press flat. Then, iron the lower raw edge a ½” under to the back side.

Don’t forget to leave the BOTTOM edge open!


7. Place your pocket to your liking on the exterior of one of your “sandwich pieces”. Pin in place (if the ironed-under seam at the bottom shows on the sides at all, you can clip those at an angle just on the raw flap so that it hides better underneath the pocket as shown in the picture below). Sew your pocket on, sewing close to the edge, starting at the top right, sewing 3 sides, leaving the top open (I put my needle in the center and lined up the pocket with the inside of the foot).

8. To sew your straps on, mark 3” in at the top right and left of each “sandwich” piece. With one strap per “sandwich” piece, line your strap to the inside of the mark on the left and pin, and then the other side of the strap to the inside of your right mark making sure that it’s not twisted. Baste strap in place.

Finish your strap by serging over that edge or using fray check.

9. Place 2 “sandwich” pieces pretty sides together and sew the bottom seam first (optional: stitch twice for strength), press seam open. Now, stitch the right and left sides together (optional: stitch twice for strength) and press seams open. (Again, I used 1/2″ seam allowances for this project).

10. Pinch the openings of the bottom corners together, matching your side seam and bottom seam, stitch both corners closed (stitching a straight line even with the edge of the foot or at a 1/2″ seam allowance). Serge or finish raw edge.

11. Iron top edge down an inch to the inside of the bag. Straps will now point out of the bag. Stitch about ¾” down around the top of the bag (bag should be to the left of your needle and straps to the right of your needle). Stitch once more closer to the top edge less than a ¼” away (I reinforced the straps, backstitching and proceeding when I came to a strap for added strength).

Admire your work because you’re done!


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