DIY Tote Bag Pattern

Equipment needed:

Note: The supplies marked with an * are provided in our DIY Tote Bag Kits and are available for purchase from our website.

Sewing machine




* Bag fabric

* Embellishment fabric 

* Pins

* Square business card 


Before sewing

  1. Make sure your sewing machine is threaded and the bobbin is full (google your machine manual if unsure).
  2. Note the seam allowance is 1cm (recommended) or the width of your sewing machine foot (easiest for beginners).
  3. Reverse sew at the start and end of each sewn line to avoid unravelling.

Lets get started checklist

  • Allow a minimum of 45 mins to complete the project.
  • For beginners, read steps 1-7 before starting the feel free to ask questions @neneandbop if you are unsure of any point.
  • Get your phone ready to take progress pics and tag us on Instagram and TikToc @neneandbop

If you want to skip straight to the finished product, jump online and buy a handmade bag from


  • This construction can be used again and again using items found around your house including linen, clothes and even tea towels.  The options are endless.


  • This pattern has been designed and produced exclusively by NeNe & Bop.  Please use these instructions for your personal use.  If this copy gets misplaced or you would like to share with a friend you can print a copy from my website at Blog


  • Please refrain from copying this for commercial reasons.


  • Thank you and enjoy, NeNe & Bop x


Making the main body of the tote bag

  1. Fold the large rectangle piece of fabric in half to make the body of the bag.  Sew both side together (remember to reverse stitch at the start and end of each seam).  This will create the basic bag 
  2. Use the square heart card to mark out your box corners.  Line up the card to the seam and bottom of the bag and draw around, repeat on each corner on both sides of the bag.
  3. Push the corner out from the inside of the bag, flatten out the corner to match your drawn line.  You should see a triangle marked out (made up of the traced lines from the front and back).
  4. Sew over  the line, remember to reverse stitch at the beginning and end of sewing.  Repeat for the second corner.
  5. Fold the bag right side out.

Well done, you’ve made the body of the bag.


Iron the top hem of the tote bag

Mini Tote

  1. Fold the top hem over 1cm, remembering to flatten the side seams as shown, then press with the iron.
  2. Fold over 1cm again and press

Maxi Tote

  1. Fold the top hem over 3cm, remembering to flatten the side seams as shown, then press with the iron.
  2. Fold over 3cm again and press


    Making the straps

    NOTE: The two lengths of fabric supplied for the handle can be shortened if desired for a hand held tote (as pictured on the front of this leaflet (grey handle).


    1. To make the straps, iron a 1cm fold on the each end each length of fabric.
    2. Fold lengthways and iron to get a centre point.
    3. Open out again, then fold both edges to the centre point. 
    4. Iron
    5. Fold in half again lengthways and iron.
    6. Repeat for both straps



    Finishing the straps

    1. Stitch around the edge of each strap to secure using a 0.5cm seam allowance
    2. Using the square heart card, mark a line across each end of the strap.  Repeat for the second strap.
    3. Fold the strap in half at the marked points and pin.  This is where you will start and then stop sewing to create the padded handle.
    4. Use the extra two pins if needed to keep the handle in place when sewing.
    5. Follow your existing sewn line, from step 1. in this section, as a guide to follow.  REMEMBER: reverse sew at the start and end of each seam to avoid unravelling.

    Hem the tote bag and attaching handles

    Before attaching handles, top stitch around the top of the bag using a 1.5cm seam allowance.

    Use the square card to measure how far to place the outer side of each handle.  (One card width for a small tote and two card widths for a large tote).  Line the card up to the side seam and mark from there for consistency.

    Carefully mark you measures and then pin handles in place.  Check they are equal both sides and you are happy with placement before attaching.


    Attaching the handles

    NOTE: When attaching the handles onto your bag you can choose to sew a simple square or follow the directions to create a cross finish.  

     For beginners, I recommend using a sewn square on the flat part of each strap to secure your handle to your bag.  

    For the more experienced, aim to follow the cross formation in the diagram, starting from the top right of each strap join. Both techniques will be secure but the cross as it will give the most strength to your handles.


    Finishing touches

    Ensure you have sewn each handle securely by checking the reverse and trim all those loose threads.

    Press your tote, ready to start decorating.

    Congratulations! You have made your very own tote bag.  It is beautiful, well done.  Please remember to share a photo of your fabulous creations via instagram and TikToc and tag @neneandbop so we can see too.

    Personalise and Decorate

    1. Now its time to personalise your tote bag using the fabrics provided.  You may want to sketch out your idea to check scale and placement.  Use a pencil to sketch out your design elements to ensure you have the correct size and shapes to fit your tote.  Magazines or the internet have a range of fonts and ideas to choose from.
    2. The fabric provided has a double layer of adhesive attached.  The fabric has a paper reverse which is perfect to sketch your design onto and allows you to cut your designs our carefully.  REMEMBER: if you are working on the paper side, your design will be in reverse.
    3. When  you have finalised your design, cut it out then peel off the white backing paper from the fabric.   Place your peeled design onto the tote bag.
    4. Set your iron to medium, hold iron for 6-8 seconds on each piece of the design then lift and press the next section.
    5. Avoid re-ironing the design as it can weaken the adhesive.

    Congratulations on creating your very one, one of a kind bag.  Remember you can use a range of fabric items including tea towels to recreate this pattern, the options are endless.  Remember to tag @neneandbop to share all your creations.

    1 comment

    • Loving the photographs and detailed step guide, I’m going to try using some tea towels, watch this space.

      Clara Winship

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