Featured Post

New Post

Popular Post

Mom gift: UTILITY TOTE tutorial

Sewing  |  August 7th 2011  |  1 Comment

The most functional yet basic of bag designs. A book bag, a market carry-all, the perfect everyday tote. Carry in your hand, on your shoulder or across your chest. Brings home everything from a laptop to groceries.

Dimensions: 18″ high / 12″ wide / 6″ deep with a 42″ [1.1 m] adjustable shoulder strap and interior pocket. [45.75 cm x 30.5 cm x 15 cm]

Construction Method: Turned finish – this method may be recognized by noting the lack of machine-stitching that is visible at points of assembly on the exterior side of the bag.  This is possible by placing the material, or parts, face to face, machining and turning right-side out. It is the most commonly used assembly process.

Material Used: 100% cotton drill, 54″ wide


You will need:

  • 1 yd. [1 m] of durable fabric, 54” width [137 cm] *
  • 1 spool of heavy-duty thread
  • 1 slider buckle, inner dia. 1.5 inches [40 mm]
  • 1 bracket ring, inner dia. 1.5 inches [40 mm]
  • 1 nylon closed zipper, 6” long [15 cm]
  • 2 ½ yds. [2.3 m] of single-fold bias tape, ½-inch wide [12 mm]
  • 1 roll of kraft paper



Scale = X = >4.5 inches [ >11.5 cm]; the prototype is 6″ deep [15 cm]

The draft and formation of this utility totebag is based upon a simple flat grid, which fits into a square or rectangle, of which the size depends on the  desired depth of the style (4 1/2″ or greater).

** Add seam allowances to all pattern pieces.




* cut totebag on the cross-grain for railroaded fabric. (for a directional pattern on straight-grain you will need to purchase additional yardage.)


Body – cut 1X

Strapping – cut 2X

Facing – cut 2X

Pocket – cut 1 X

Ring Loops – cut 2 strips 4” x 4” [10 cm x 10 cm]





  1. Make up straps pieces and ring loops. Topstitch if desired. Set aside.
  2. Make interior pocket. Center and attach one side of zipper to short edge of pocket piece. Turn in the seam allowances of the pocket sides and press flat. Fold pocket piece in half, aligning short end with tape edge of zipper. Sew the sides of the pocket by topstitching around perimeter of pocket. Set aside.
  3. Do a Hong Kong finish to neaten all vertical seams of the totebag.
  4. With FACE sides together, sew the vertical seams and press open. Then, align and match the side of the bag to its bottom. Sew from corner to corner to miter the seam. Bind the raw edge of this seam with bias tape and complete a Hong Kong seam finish. Turn body of the bag right-side out. Set aside.
  5. Cut one of the strap pieces in two. These will be the bag handles.  Measure each handle strap to 18″ [45 cm] long. Center a handle on both front and back panels and pin into position. (spread of handles should be equal to “X”.)
  6. Place the bracket ring onto the ring loop and fold in half. Pin loop to one side seam. On opposite side seam, pin the long strap piece.
  7. With FACE sides together, sew the short ends of the facing pieces to create a loop of fabric. Pin the facing to the top edge of the bag, encasing the straps and loops between the layers. Sew around opening of the bag. Sew an “X-stitch” through each strap end and the facing. Turn under the seam allowance on the raw edge of the facing and press flat.
  8. Turn facing into the body of the totebag and align the side seams. Position the interior pocket between one set of strap handles so that the bottom edge of the facing covers the exposed tape of the zipper. Topstitch the upper and lower edges of the facing to the body to complete the opening, ensure the stitching catches the top edge of the pocket.
  9. Slip the slider buckle onto the long strap, and then draw the strap through the bracket loop. Return the end of the strapping back through the slider and secure in place.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,