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Free Tote Bag Pattern

Tote bags have many different uses - both in the home and out and about. Not only can they be used as sturdy shopping bags (no more split plastic bags) but also as useful storage around the home for those items that would be better hidden away. Tote bags come in many different styles and designs from small drawstring totes to large beach bag totes. They are so versatile and handy to have that making your own is really worthwhile. So whether you are a beginner at sewing or an experienced seamstress - there is a tote design out there for you!

CLICK HERE for your free tote bag pattern

What is a Tote Bag?

A tote bag is typically an unfastened, open bag made from a sturdy material used for carrying many items - tote means "to carry". Traditionally totes were made from leather or canvas but as they have increased in popularity, more are now made from heavy nylon and other easy-care synthetics, especially recycled materials. The classic tote did not have buttons or zips but now days there are many modifications and variations of the tote bag.

Tote bags were used for their practicality in the 1950's as they were simple and easy to care for but by the 1960's the tote was combining functionality and personal style. Today there are many different types, styles and uses for the tote bag, so how about creating your very own.

Tote Bag Ideas

Drawstring Tote

A clever storage idea for your home. Create a tote bag and instead of adding handles, add a drawstring top to close the bag. This can then be used to store items like plastic bags or clean tea towels and hung from hooks. Use a fabric in keeping with your interior design

Seasonal Tote

A great way to brighten up that shopping trip with a seasonal tote bag whether that is with Christmas themed fabric, floral spring fabric or nautical summer fabric.

Personalised Tote

This makes a perfect gift for friends or family, even a simple initial on a coloured background fabric can really stand out or a nickname on a their favourite themed background fabric. Try our motifs that can be ironed or stitched on for that added personal touch

Totes With Pockets

dd a twist to your tote with additional pockets, either inside or out. The pockets could be in different colours or types of fabric to make them stand out and you could even make pockets of different sizes and shape to accommodate particular items.

Ruffles Tote

A tote bag can be an extension of your outfit or an statement accessory. Why not try adding ruffles in layer on the outer side of the tote bag to give it that wow factor.

Beach Tote

Making a larger, sturdier tote bag for those beach trips is a great way to keep all those essential items together. As you are measuring up for this tote make sure that you will be able to fit your sized beach towel as well as the other smaller items like sun cream. Using a striped fabric and rope style handles will give that coastal theme.

Reversible Tote

Two bags in one, where you can stitch two different fabrics into a tote bag, back to back and then you can turn the bag inside out for a quick change of style. These fabrics would be complimentary or they could be a complete contrast to each other and you could even extend this into the handles.

Patchwork Tote

Why not show of your patchwork skills by making a tote bag out of patchwork. This is a fabulous way to show off your handy work when your out and about and its practical too! There are many different types of patchwork quilting such as sampler (using blocks of different designs) or crazy patchwork. Check out our stunning collection of patchwork fabrics or read more about patchwork quilting in our patchwork articles and guides.

What Will I Need to Make a Tote Bag?

As tote bags come in all different shapes and sizes you can use almost any fabric for making a tote bag. Remember if you are using the tote bag for heaver items or it is a larger tote bag then you may want to consider a stronger fabric like canvas. If it is a smaller, fold-able tote then you can use a lighter fabric and maybe double it up or line it to add strength. You will need:

  • Fabric of your choice
  • Lining if required
  • Fabric or webbing for the handles
  • Motifs, fabric flowers, zips, buttons or other accessories
  • Thread to match your fabric
  • Sewing machine
  • Fabric sissors
  • Basic sewing kit - pins, needles, tape measure
  • Tote bag pattern or guide


The quickest and easiest way to stitch the fabric together is using a sewing machine. Here at the sewing studio we have a wide range of sewing machines for all levels of ability. Why not have a look at our sewing machines or read through our buyers guide for more help and advice.


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