Sew Easy Big Tote Bag

Quilt For Lovers again bringing another incredible pattern! This bag is super easy and super beautiful, and even better it is very quick to sew (can be made in just a few hours). The magic ingredient that gives this bag its beautiful shape is the flexible foam stabilizer, making the quilted bags look like designer bags by Vera Bradley!!

This DIY bag is big enough to store all your stuff. Not including strips, it is approximately 14 ‘high, 19’ wide and 4 ‘deep. So, let’s continue with sewing tutorial, following this tutorial you will have no difficulty!


How to Sew a Big Easy Tote Bag

You will need:

  • 1 yard of fabric for the bag*
  • 1/2 yard of fabric for the straps
  • 1/2 yard of foam stabilizer (at least 40’’ wide – ByAnnie Soft and Stable is 60’’ wide)
  • 1/2 to 1 yard of fusible interfacing for the straps**

*Please note that if you use directional fabric, the design of your fabric will be on the right side up on the outside of the bag, but will be upside down on the inside of the bag. The pink fabric in the photos, is actually directional with bouquets of roses and was purposely made for the right side up, but the bouquets inside are not, it might not bother you, but it is important to keep that in mind!!

**Interface tip: for these straps, you may like the effect of the Pellon 809 Decor-Bond, as it provides a crisp and firm feel. It requires patience to ensure that it is completely fused to the handle before folding and sewing and if you prefer, the Pellon SF101 woven fusible interface is a little simpler to work with – it melts faster and folds more easily.



  1. In the fabric of the bag, cut a rectangle 33 cm high and 42 cm wide.
  2. On the fusible foam stabilizer, cut a 16 ” x 40 ” rectangle. It may be easier to cut large pieces of foam by marking them with a pen and ruler before cutting. If you are using light fabric, cut inside dark lines so that they do not appear.
  3. On the strip fabric, cut:
  • 2 strips of 6 ” x 40 ”
  • 4 strips of 6 ” x 10 ”

The strips are cut and sewn specifically so that the seams of the strips are sewn into the bag – not directly subject to the weight of the bag and its contents.

4. At the fuse interface, cut enough 6 ”strips to cover the two 6” x 59 ”strips with a slight overlap.

Attach the Foam Stabilizer

1. Place the foam stabilizer piece against the wrong side of the bag fabric rectangle with the 40’’ long edge of the foam centered on one of the 42’’ long edges of the fabric and 1/2’’ away from the raw edge.

Pin in place.

2. Baste the foam stabilizer to the fabric, 1/8’’ away from the edge of the foam.


3. Fold the fabric over the stabilizer, smoothing it flat on both sides. At the top there is a fold and at the bottom, two fabric raw edges with stabilizer in between.

Turn the piece over so you can see the basting stitches from Step 2. Pin the raw edges together along the bottom edge.

It is not very important that the raw edges at the bottom line up. It is more important that the fabric on both sides of the piece is nice and smooth.


4. Baste again, right on top of the previous line of basting stitches. This time you are catching both layers of fabric.

Topstitching and Optional Quilting

The topstitching on this bag is necessary, but the quilting is optional.

1. Choose one side of the main bag piece to be the exterior. If your fabric is directional, choose the side that has the fabric print right side up.

The other side will be the inside of the tote.

Topstitch along the top (folded) edge of the bag, 1/2’’ away from the fold.


2. If you want to quilt your bag – now is your chance! Keep all quilts below the top stitching line.

Use the uniform feeding foot (walking foot) together with a guide and sometimes a ruler to sew diagonal lines in two directions.

Note that the diagonal lines never crossed the high point – if you always turn and sew in a different direction (this is why it is important to use your guide and the ruler).


If the raw edges of the fabric become uneven during quilting, don’t worry – plan a little extra fabric on the sides that you are going to trim.

Feel free to sew wavy lines, straight lines in a different direction or make free movements of your bag or no quilting, you name it.


3. Start with 1 cm of extra fabric on each side. Now you only need 1/2 ” of extra fabric on each side. Therefore, use your ruler to determine where the foam edge is and cut the extra fabric 1/2 ” from the foam edge.

Repeat on the other side.


4. Measure the width of the piece and use a fabric pen to draw a vertical line in the center (on the outside of the bag). You can use a Frixion pen, it is interesting because the ink disappears with the heat of my iron.

Note: the piece may shrink a little during quilting. Now it is only 40 cm wide and the foam inside is only 39 cm wide.

  1. Sew the high stitch along the vertical line, starting at the bottom rough edge and stopping at the high stitch line along the folded edge.

You can move back neatly at the top or rotate 180 degrees and sew the back to a bottom edge

Note: This vertical stitching line acts as a side seam on the finished bag. Imagine that each section on both sides of this high point becomes a side of the bag.


Make the Straps

1. For each strap, sew a 6’’ x 10’’ piece to both ends of a 6’’ x 40’’ strip to make two 6’’ x 59’’ strips (using a 1/4’’ seam allowance). Press the seams open.


2. Apply 6’’ wide fusible interfacing strips to the back of both strap pieces. Leave 1/2’’ without interfacing at both short ends and if you don’t have 6’’ x 58’’ pieces of interfacing, let the interfacing strips overlap by 1/4’’ to ensure smooth coverage.


3. Fold each strap in half lengthwise and press. Open and fold the long edges to the center and press. Fold in half again, press, and secure the folded edges together with Wonderclips.

4. Topstitch along both long edges of each strap, 1/8’’ from the edge.

  1. Now, use a fabric pen to draw 4 more vertical lines on the outside of the bag to help position the handle.

Draw two vertical lines 7 ” from the rough outer edges.

Then, measuring from the center line, draw 2 vertical lines 6 1/2 ” from the center.


6. Pin each strap to the sides of the bag as seen above.

Notice that the straps are not centered on the lines, but the inside edge of each strap is lined up against the lines.


The raw edges of each strap should line up with the bottom raw edges of the bag.


7. Attach the two long ends of each strap to the bag by sewing on top of the previous topstitching on the straps. Sew from the bottom raw edges up to within 1/2’’ of the top. Topstitch across the strap even with the topstitching on the bag. Then pivot and sew down the other edge of the strap back to the bottom edge.

Repeat this step a total of 4 times to secure both straps.


Sew the Seams

1. Fold the bag in half, wrong sides together, lining up the short edges. The straps will be on the outside. Pin the side seam.

It is important that the top edges line up nicely. Don’t worry too much about the bottom raw edges right now.

2. Sew the side seam with a 3/8’’ seam allowance.

3. Trim the seam allowance to just 1/8’’.


4. Turn the bag inside out. Sew across the side seam again with a 1/4’’ seam allowance.

You’ve just sewn a French seam! There are no raw edges showing and you didn’t have to make any binding.


5. Sew another French seam along the bottom of the bag by pinning the raw edges together (with the bag right side out).


This time sew 1/8’’ to the right of the basting stitches on the bottom of the bag.


6. Trim the seam allowance to 1/8’’ and turn the bag inside out.

Stitch along the bottom edge with a 1/4’’ seam allowance.


Box the Corners

1. Flatten each corner of the bag by making the bottom seam line up with the side seam (on one side the ‘side seam’ is only topstitching).

2. Use a fabric pen to draw a 4’’ long line across the corner. Pin the corner flat.


3. Sew across the line, backstitching securely.

Impossible not to love this bag!

Sew Easy Big Tote Bag - free sewing tutorial | Sewing patterns ...

See too: Morning Star Block

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